As you head into the weekend, do not be sequestered in your house. Northern Berkshires and the Bennington, VT area are inundated with free events that include family and child friendly events. Don’t forget Project Snowshoe at the Clark Art Institute. Borrow a pair of snowshoes and investigate 140+ acres of incredible landscape on easy hiking trails behind the Clark Art Institute.Keep Reading
The Hoping Machine
We spoke first with Antonia Buckley, one of the creative minds behind the Hoping Machine, a new project of the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Mass. The effort is a collaboration among “a group of activists and songwriters coming together to generate hope, identify challenges, and collect ideas and resources for a stronger community,” and perhaps to address some of the many issues related to the current political climate of fear and stupidity.
The Hoping Machine meets weekly at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Mass.; photo courtesy the Hoping Machine, via Facebook.
Memorial Day Weekend, North Adams style
We were lucky to get Suzy Helme, North Adams Director of Community Events, on the phone during one of the brief moments she was able to sit in the last week. The incredible work she’s put into this weekend only seems to have sharpened her enthusiasm for the festivities.
From the Explore North Adams website:
This summer the North Adams Exchange (NAX) — a private-public collaboration of the City of North Adams; downtown merchants and local community members; and the North Adams Partnership, focused on increasing foot traffic between Main Street and MASS MoCA — will light up the downtown with synchronized light beacons atop four church steeples and the museum’s iconic Clocktower. Additional initiatives will provide art, commerce, and social enterprises throughout the city, all designed to extend and deepen visitor experiences across the downtown shopping district during the first season of MASS MoCA’s Phase III expansion, which opens on May 28.
Save Olsen Farm!
We went on location in Lanesborough to the Olsen Farm, owned by Christopher Wheeler and Kristen Toole. Due to a weighty debt load in the wake of the death of Christopher’s father, the fate of this legacy farm hangs in the balance. Visit the farm blog to find out more about this young couple and check out their GoFundMe page to learn how you can help.
Sensing that the situation faced by Christopher and Kristen is hardly unique, we sought out someone who could shine a little light on the types of challenges and opportunities faced by young farmers today. We found just the right person in Sophie Ackoff, National Field Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, based in Hudson, NY.
Sophie leads their grassroots campaign work, helping young farmers across the country make their voices heard in the federal policy process. She also manages the chapter network, corporate partnership program and membership program. Sophie studied biology and environmental studies at Wesleyan University and has farmed on several CSA farms in the Hudson Valley of New York.
In the wake of the November election, people across the country have seen fear and anger and exclusion become part of a national public conversation. Many people are sharing the experience of feeling that they do not belong in their familiar places. It’s called othering — making someone feel pushed to the edges, unwanted or different. It can happen in daily meetings and conversations, at work, at school, even at home.
In the Berkshires, movements are growing in response, art and lectures and performances and rallies, to explain what othering means and what it looks like — and to draw people together instead.
People are saying in different ways, I feel threatened. I feel alone. And people are saying that hate is not mine. I want to stand with you. I want to live in a country where we can all live and love and work, pray or not, speak and play music. People are saying we need to talk to each other.
In the Berkshires, efforts are growing to bring people together. In Pittsfield, on a November afternoon, young WordxWord poets and storytellers reflected on how it felt to be excluded or pushed to the edges, as part of “Othering,” a month-long show curated by the Berkshire Art Association at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.
In Great Barrington, Asma Abbas, Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy at Bard College of Simon’s Rock, invited Moustafa Bayoumi, American Book Award–winning writer and professor of English at Brooklyn College — who wrote one of the most re-tweeted tweets of the 2016 USA presidential debates, according to Twitter—to speak about Muslim American experiences in the last 15 years.
In North Adams, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel, joins Rabbi David Markus, her co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish Renewal movement, in a call for solidarity. If a national effort to register Muslims becomes real, they are calling on all Americans to register.
Nick Cave’s “Until”
And in December of 2016, MASS MoCA, offered free admission for Berkshire residents until the solstice, as Nick Cave’s installation, Until, opened to take a close look at the ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” — and what happens when it becomes “guilty until proven innocent.”
Soprano Brenda Wimberly and organist Sereca Henderson perform at the opening of Nick Cave’s ‘Until,’ at MASS MoCA. His installation fills the Rauschenberg gallery, and everyone who walks in stops at the doorway. The room is as large as a football field. And it is full of light.
It’s like walking into an optical mobile. It’s a maze of stars and spirals and suns on 16,000 strings. They spin like tops, and they transform from pinwheeling color to faint lines, until they become invisible. In some of them, at the core, he has set the image of a hand gun.
Nick Cave is known for Soundsuits, wearable sculptures that cover the whole body, and he often performs in them. But here he has created something new. It’s a landscape. It’s a cloudscape made of chandelier crystal. It’s a place where he invites other people to perform.
Benjamin Clementine gave a concert on opening night.
Nick Cave created this installation holding in mind the lives and deaths of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith and Michael Brown and more like them. Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish speaks about his work.
Moustafa Bayoumi and Asma Abas
John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme,’ a jazz classic from 1965 has echoes of Middle Eastern scales in its improvisation, and echoes of Islamic prayer in its inspiration, professor Moustafa Bayoumi writes in his 2015 collection of essays, “This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror.”
Coltrane often performed with Muslim musicians, he says, and anyone with an ear attuned to Islamic influences can hear them in Coltrane’s words and music.
He quotes Coltrane’s liner notes: “No Matter what … it is with God. He is Merciful. His way is in love, through which we all are. It is truly — a love supreme.”
Moustafa Bayoumi is an internationally recognized journalist. He is a columnist for The Guardian; his writing has appeared in journals from the New York Times to the Nation; and he has appeared on CNN, FOX News, National Public Radio and many other media outlets around the world.
He is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, and in 2008 he won an American Book Award for “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America.”
“How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?” takes its title from writer, Civil Rights activist and Great Barrington native, W.E.B. DuBois, who asks that question in Souls of Black Folk.
In his book, Bayoumi tells the stories of seven young men and women in their 20s living in Brooklyn after 9/11.
Rasha and her family were imprisoned without trial and without evidence; Sami served in the military in Iraq; Yasmin fought discrimination in her diverse high school — and won.
In December, professor Bayoumi came to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington to talk with professor Asma Abbas, and her students and the community, about the experience of being Muslim American in the past, in the last 15 years and today.
Many Americans misunderstand a great deal about what Muslim Americans believe and how they live their lives, he said.
To begin with, Muslim Americans have lived in this country for almost 400 years.
Aleph takes a stand against othering
Rachel Barenblat of Williamstown is the rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, and she will serve as the interim Jewish Chaplain at Williams College in the spring semester. She is also co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish renewal movement, with David Markus, associate spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El of City Island in the Bronx. He has Berkshire ties as well — like Rachel, he is a Williams College alum. (In full disclosure, I am also a Williams alum, and Rachel is an old friend.)
Jewish Renewal, founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is a movement across Jewish denominations. At its center, Aleph includes a rigorous liberal seminary and a growing network of congregations and communities around the world.
In response to the U.S. president-elect’s campaign promise to require all Muslims to register with the government, Aleph has sent out a call to all Americans, if that day comes, to register as Muslim in solidarity.
That call comes out of values central to Renewal, Rachel and David say, from a respect for all faiths, and a core Jewish value (Lev. 19:18), to love your neighbor as yourself.
The experience of being treated differently — the ‘Othering’ that David Markus talks about — is also the name of the Berkshire Art Association’s biennial juried show. In November, it filled the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield with abstract paintings, collages and drawings.
The art association sent out a call for work reflecting on experiences of exclusion and separation. More than 30 artists from throughout the Northeast had work in the exhibit — from a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. military who served two tours in Iraq to an African-American Pittsfield High School graduate now studying art at Williams College.
On Nov. 13, the Pittsfield organization WordxWord hosted an afternoon of poetry and storytelling on the same theme — WordxWord uses spoken word, poetry and storytelling to celebrate diversity and creativity and make connections.
Four of those poets have given us permission to share there work here. We thank Izzy; our second poet, who has asked to remain anonymous; Sage; and Doni Smith.
On Saturday, Jan. 7, on the 76th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, a new Four Freedoms Coalition will invite the Berkshire community to unite against hate and bigotry in all its forms. The Berkshire County branch of the NAACP, BRIDGE, Berkshire Immigrant Center, United Africans of the Berkshires, and the United American Muslim Association of the Berkshires and others will gather for a rally and march in downtown Pittsfield.
The Four Freedoms Coalition is a non-partisan, diverse coalition of community organizations and people working together to unite the community and reaffirm the American values outlined in President Roosevelt’s speech:
Freedom from fear
Freedom from want
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion.
All are welcome. To find out more, check out the Four Freedoms Coalition on Facebook or email email@example.com
On Jan. 29 at 3 p.m., Doni Smith and WordXWord will welcome the new year with a free poetry reading to celebrate sharing and caring and reflect on the consequences of greed at MCLA’s Gallery 51, at 51 Main St., North Adams.
Nine days after the presidential inauguration, poets and spoken word artists will bear witness to a world where greed appears to have no limits, and yet every day holds moments of generosity and compassion. The event will accompay Josh Ostraff’s exhibition, OFA ATU, which opens Jan. 26.
Also in Pittsfield, Georgene Poliak has formed All Band Together as an initiative in compassion and solidarity. At the holiday Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary, she showed arm bands with a crescent and a star that she is making out of upcycled t-shirts and sweaters. They recall the bands that Jews in Europe were made to wear under the Nazi occupation. But these mean the opposite — they mean that people of many faiths can stand together.
And in the spring, new artists will come to Mass MoCA to create and perform work inspired by Nick Cave’s ‘Until.’ Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones will present a new solo work on March 4.
And choreographer, writer, and actress Okwui Okpokwasili will create and offer a site-specific dance on April 7.
Grammy-winnter and living legend Mavis Staples, known worldwide as a voice in R&B, Gospel, Soul, folk, rock and blues, will also perform at Mass MoCA on March 25.
And Toshi Reagon and Dorrance Dance will return to the ’62 Center at Williams College with tap masters Derick Grant and Dromeshia Sumbry-Edwards.
A Talk with Beryl Jolly
You’re listening to 52 of Will Call, released on a brilliant and beautiful Saturday, November 19, 2016. I’m your host, Jason Velázquez, and I thank you so much for joining us. We just heard a snippet of Ghost Town Girl from the eponymous new release from California-based Roots band, Echo Sparks. Not because we’re featuring them on this show, but because I recently recorded a video interview with them and I’ve got that tune stuck in my head. Go to greylockglass.com and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when that episode of INDIEcent Exposure goes live. In the meantime, go to their website to find out more and to listen more songs from Ghost Town Girl. Keep Reading
About Andrea Harrington
(excerpted from submitted materials)
For Andrea Harrington, this district is home. She grew up here, she attended Taconic High School in Pittsfield, and now with her husband Tim, she’s raising two young sons as a mom herself. Having spent the past decade of her life in the district, she knows on a personal level that it is defined not by its geography, but by its people.
Get in touch with Andrea Harrington
Andrea is a practicing attorney and started her law practice 13 years ago. While working to defend those who had trouble affording representation and fighting to overturn wrongful convictions, she saw first-hand the problems that plague our criminal justice system. Andrea also gained a deep understanding of the importance of listening to people and earning their trust.
As a small business owner, an attorney, a parent, and a true local, Andrea Harrington has the unique experience and perspective to represent this district Her experiences have reaffirmed the importance of hard work and being responsible; the very values that her parents and teachers instilled in her from a young age. She’s proven herself a competent businesswoman and attorney, a doer who can seize the initiative and who knows what it takes to succeed.
And LEST we forget…Andrea Harrington was the only candidate to correctly identify the Western Mass (Un)Official Salutation…
About Rinaldo Del Gallo
(excerpted from submitted materials)
Rinaldo Del Gallo III has not only been in the Berkshires for the last 16 years, he was raised in Pittsfield. He is one of us and has not been living elsewhere. He has also been a highly visible member of the community during the entirety of that time.
Get in touch with Rinaldo Del Gallo
Since returning to the Berkshire 16 years ago, Del Gallo ran a free legal clinic for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, for non-custodial parents (and sometimes custodial parents) for over a decade. With the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, he has appeared in the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade, the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade, and the Pittsfield Halloween Parade on over 35 occasions, turning the organization into a community group benefiting the community.
From doing the pro bono work of any 30 average attorneys in Berkshire County for the indigent; to writing about progressive causes for local papers (as well as other topics) without compensation; to his endless volunteer hours at the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition both lobbying and running a weekly free legal clinic for over a decade; to his fight for the First Amendment pro bono or for almost no cost; to his volunteer efforts to have good zoning laws; to his fight for animal’s rights and the environment (done also without pay); to his involvement in numerous other causes and issues of public interest too numerous to enumerate without recompense; to volunteering as an usher and greeter at both Tanglewood and Shakespeare and Company; Del Gallo has shown a willingness to give and volunteer for the betterment of his community over and over again. He has big heart that will serve him well in the legislature.
About Adam Hinds
(excerpted from submitted materials)
A native of the district, Adam was raised in Buckland and attended Mohawk Trail Regional High School, where his mother was a librarian and his Vietnam Veteran father was a school teacher. He studied at Wesleyan University before studying international law and negotiation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Get in touch with Adam Hinds
Adam has been a resident of Pittsfield in recent years, where he started Pittsfield Community Connection, a program designed to proactively engage at-risk youth before exposure to and engagement in violence and crime. He, along with Pittsfield City officials, was successful in winning a grant that will bring up to $5 million to Pittsfield to move young men engaged in illegal activities towards education, jobs, and counseling. He continues to serve as the Chair of the program’s Steering Committee and is an active Board Member of Downtown Pittsfield Inc., dedicated to fostering local economic development.
Adam is currently the Executive Director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition based in North Adams. As the leader of this organization, he works to connect, engage and empower regional residents and actors to respond to local challenges. This includes issues related to employment, health and addiction.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Youth empowerment organization, Railroad Street Youth Project , serving young people in southern Berkshire County, is getting ready for dinner. Its much-anticipated Annual Culinary Arts Celebration will take place on Monday, December 7th at 5:30 p.m. at Crissey Farm. This evening is the culminating event for the RSYP Apprenticeship Program (RAP), which offers work-based apprenticeship opportunities to young people in southern Berkshire County.
By WILLIAM MCGUIRE III
special to the Greylock Glass
The Mass Live Arts festival at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington continued this week with “Send for the Million Men.” This critically-acclaimed reexamination of the trial and execution of Sacco and Venzetti explores the circumstances that led to the pair of Italian immigrants being wrongfully accused of a robbery and murder committed in Braintree, MA in 1920. The piece features writing, direction and mechanical prop design by Joseph Silovsky, video design by Victor Morales, and music by Catherine McRae.
“You Are Nowhere” left audiences open-mouthed; “Send for the Million Men” and “Tarzana,” as well as gallery installations, film events, and works in progress yet to come.
ADVISORY: Explicit, potty-mouth language throughout much of this episode,
MLA is dedicated to presenting large-scale bold new works of contemporary performance in the Berkshires. MLA is also committed to fostering the creation of new American works through development residencies culminating in work-in-progress showings. This residency is for highly-talented companies or performing artists in need of space and time to create new work.