TLC #40: PopCares, 350Mass, Zoning for Ganj, Top Left Connections, Weege!

May 12, 2017
The morning mist rises in the distance over Bloom Meadows; submitted photo.
The morning mist rises in the distance over Bloom Meadows; submitted photo.

Today is Friday, May 12, 2017, I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I thank you for tuning in to Episode #40 of TLC here at the Greylock Glass. On today’s show, we’ll be finding out about a new community event to support PopCares, explore what’s new with 350Mass—Berkshire node, and try to make our way through the haze of issues surrounding retail pot zoning in Williamstown. We also launch our first installment of our occasional check in with podcasters around the globe who talk about life, culture, food and more in their towns. And we’ll end with a tune from our friend Lexi Weege, who performs with with her new band Lexi Weege and the Wonder Twins May 14 at the Dreamaway Lodge. It’s a huge show this week so let’s get going and get started with our story on PopCares.

Links Mentioned in the show:

Bloom Meadows currently provide private, romantic quarters for two; submitted photo.
Bloom Meadows currently provide private, romantic quarters for two; submitted photo.


Pop Cares

The Spirit Shop

Bloom Meadows

Crisp Event Planning and Catering

Berkshire Mountain Distillers

Adams Community Bank

First Congregational Church of Williamstown

Town Of Williamstown

Annual Town Meeting Warrant
Fiscal Year: July 1, 2017 To June 30, 2018

Zzipp Media

350 Massachusetts (“350MA”)

Lexi Weege





I make the mistake over and over of thinking that I know how a story is going to unfold. I mean, I know what the piece is going to be about. I’m going to put together a segment on a fundraiser for a local charity. Easy, right?. I’m going to talk to these organizers about this gathering where people are going to do some thing. I love that I’m always, always wrong. Because it’s not about a charity event. In fact, it’s never about the event. Or the organization. Or even the cause that gave rise to the organization. The story is about the dozens of separate stories that thread their way through a particular time and place to give life to a gathering of humanity. All these separate stories belong to people who have motivations and memories that shape their decisions about how they react to the plot twists in their own lives. Maybe experiences that left permanent imprints on the inside, that we can’t see behind the polite smiles of daily life.

When the catalysts are particularly powerful, and painful, it’s natural for people to collapse into themselves for a spell. But then sometimes a strange thing happens. Some people emerge from sorrow and say, “I know what devastation feels like. I want to lift another person’s burden of suffering, even just a little.” And then they go out and prove that compassion is still what holds the human race together. They seek out friends and neighbors to join with them, and for reasons of their own, these allies come together and commit to very purposeful acts of kindness. Kindness that’s amplified by the current of community.

But then, Dolores St. Pierre, of PopCares could have told me all that. The local support organization for people affected by cancer has been putting the power of kindness to work in our community for a few years now. They’ve been so effective that other people have come up with some pretty creative ways to support the cause. Like the wine tasting going on Saturday, May 13, at Bloom Meadows, the dreamy new event venue in Hancock, just on the edge of Williamstown.

That’s Greg Holland, who with his wife Sarah, owns and operates Bloom Meadows, a new wedding and event space that redefines elegant rustic. Greg is well aware of the impact that PopCares has had in improving the quality of life for cancer patients in the area. For the St. Pierre family, that impact comes from a very personal place. Dolores explains.

When the two of them got together with friends Tracy and Jonathan Baker, owners of the Spirit Shop in Williamstown, the choice of which organization to support was based, in part
And this is where the community connections start clicking into place. Tracy and Jonathan Baker are the owners of Spirit Shop, one of the the aforementioned organizers. I asked Tracy to talk about how she and her husband arrived at place where they could put together a fundraiser like Saturday’s wine tasting.

Jonathan and Tracy Baker, owner of the Spirit Shop, Williamstown

Jonathan and Tracy Baker, owner of the Spirit Shop, Williamstown; photo courtesy the Bakers, via
Jonathan and Tracy Baker, owner of the Spirit Shop, Williamstown; photo courtesy the Bakers, via

Tracy, from Williams 2003, is now solidly local by marriage. Both she and Jonathan left the Berks to sharpen their chops in Boston and later Connecticut, but were feeling the pull of Williamstown as thoughts of domestic life crept in.

By now, people are pretty familiar with the ways locally owned businesses, like the Spirit Shop and Bloom Meadows help keep local capital in the community. What isn’t always so obvious though, is that behind signs on storefronts, on the other side of websites, there are local people who are looking for ways they can be a force for good in town, ways they can keep local heart in the community, too.

This coming together for a cause can have a dramatic effect when the dedication is multiplied by others individuals and organizations throughout the region that PopCares serves. Dolores St. Pierre described a few of the other events that have tranformed compassion into critical living expenses for cancer patients in the Northern Berkshires and Southern Vermont.

Saturday’ wine tasting is certainly a new variety of event for PopCares, and Tracy Baker suspect that the gorgeous setting, ample food from Crisp Catering, and, of course, wine, beer, and spirits from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, will be the perfect pairing of festivity and fundraising.

When this episode launched, there were still a few tickets left for this celebration of generosity. Tracy explained how to get in on the action.

If you’re still undecided about going, I’d encourage you to check out some pics of the venue. I think you’ll be convinced that the price tag would be worth it just for the party in a great location even before we start talking about the cause. We have pics in the shownotes, of course, but you can also visit Bloom Meadows online to see more.

Hey, thank you Tracy and Jonathan, and Greg and Sarah, Crisp Catering, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, and everyone else who participates in this great event. We’ll provide a link to PopCares, too, so you can find out more about the organization. A lot of people are used to medical emergencies being frustrating to the point of tears these days, just due to bureaucratic or administrative complexity and confusion. We asked Dolores whether getting help from PopCares requires jumping through a lot of hoops.

Remember that you can get all the info about this event you need through the links in the shownotes at Next, we stay with the theme of making a difference by acting locally, but this time with global intentions. We speak with Judy Eddy and Al Blake of 350 Mass, Berkshire Node about their organization’s efforts to combat climate change. In addition to educating the public about the issue, they provide a lot of opportunities to get involved in what may end up being humanity’s greatest challenge, include through events this weekend and next week.

Greylock Global Connections—Peter Lythgoe of Zzipp Media, Weymouth, U.K.

Peter Lythgoe's walking video tours of Weymouth bring you breathtakingly close to one adorable town! video capture courtesy Peter Lythgoe, via YouTube.
Peter Lythgoe’s walking video tours of Weymouth bring you breathtakingly close to one adorable town! video capture courtesy Peter Lythgoe, via YouTube.



I ran into Peter Lythgoe, of Weymouth, in Dorset, England in a podcasters group online. It didn’t take long for us to realize that, except for his luscious coastal views, our two communities had a lot in common. Both the Berkshires and Dorset are packed with natural beauty, abundant arts and culture offerings, and a love of good food. We kicked around ideas on how to collaborate and finally settled on just having a casual conversation about what’s going in our respective hometowns. We have a couple other potential collaborators lined up, and hope to check in with new media pioneers from around the world. Here’s an excerpt of our first talk, the whole of while you can hear by linking from the show notes.

So, I’ve also included links to both Peter’s video walking tours and the drone video tour, both of which make me yearn to explore his lovely town that seems strangely familiar, like maybe there’s a bridge you can cross in Newburyport to get there…

The Williamstown Smoke Zone Issue

By Khalid Mahmood (Own work) [<a href="">CC BY-SA 3.0</a> or <a href="">GFDL</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>
By Khalid Mahmood (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Now let’s turn to our conversation withs Williamstown Selectwoman Anne O’Connor, who does a mercifully great job helping us understand the issue of retail marijuana zoning in town—the piece of the pot puzzle that was missing from the referendum that legalized recreational use just six months ago.

So, if you’re thinking about opening up a pot shop or cafe in Williamstown, I’m thinking this meeting is going to be the place to be. Not just for the info, but to get the idealogical lay of the land, if you take my meaning. Wherever you come down on the issue, I can almost guarantee that the meeting will be better entertainment than you’re going to find on Cable T.V. And then, of course, there’s the town meeting which will probably eclipse that.

Well, I promised myself that I’d keep this show to an hour, but I promised you Lexi Weege. I think I’m going to stick with the second promise. That sounds like a lot more fun. I interviewed Lexi for an upcoming episode of “INDIEcent Exposure,” and, it’s just a tad bit raw for the Top Left Corner, but I thought you’d enjoy whetting your whistle with an excerpt of that conversation with one of the most powerful women in blues I know.

Lexi Weege vows to get even realer.

Lexi Weege and the Wonder Twins will be rockin' the Dreamaway Lodge in Becket, Mother's Day night; submitted photo.
Lexi Weege and the Wonder Twins will be rockin’ the Dreamaway Lodge in Becket, Mother’s Day night; submitted photo.

In case you’re wondering, Lexi’s talking about the chilling political climate artists are facing since the inauguration. I LOVE that her response is double down on honesty. An inspiration to us all, that’s what that woman is.

And that’s our show this week. Thanks for listening and don’t forget to let people know you heard about all this good stuff at the Greylock Glass. If you’ve got news items you think we should know about, shoot me an e-mail at Until next week, I hope I see you somewhere here in the Top Left Corner.








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