CNN just compared North Adams breathlessly (if perhaps prematurely) to an enclave of the wealthiest people on the planet.
I’m going to put this out there right up front: I don’t believe for an instant that CNN’s Ayan Chatterjee visited North Adams before penning his recent piece, “The New England town reinvented as a tourist hotspot.”
First of all, the copy feels canned and reads like a travel brochure constructed from Wikipedia entries — no real evidence of personal experience whatsoever. Secondly, summing up the categorical features list by suggesting that North Adams is The Hamptons of New England is off-key in so, so many ways. Chatterjee has either never been through North County and/or he’s never been to the Hamptons. Or even watched an episode of Revenge.
The comparison may not be particularly apt today, but does add fuel to recent fiery, contentious discussions surrounding the issues of income disparity and class in the Northern Berkshires. With fewer and fewer middle class jobs available, and more tourism and hospitality positions to support the leisure of the seasonal or second-home class, some people have openly wondered if a de facto feudalism is forming in the Berkshires.
Rupert Neate, in his 2015 reporting for the Guardian, documented an economic dynamic that left local minimum wage workers slaving away all summer just so they could stash it away to survive the barren winters. The cycle isn’t even one of feast or famine, either. When salon owners, for example, charge a couple hundred dollars for a service of which the employee only sees five or ten dollars, one group is feasting all year while the other is earning bare subsistence wages. The workers can even end up too poor to leave their situations or relocate to a more hospitable area.
Massive amounts of wealth are flowing into North Adams these days. How this quiet economic transition will influence policy and affect the various groups within our community remains to be seen.
Are you excited to see the North Adams area become the new stomping grounds for the millionaire/billionaire set?
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