WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Williamstown Chamber of Commerce will combine its annual meeting with a fund-raising event on Tuesday for The Community Fund for the Spruces & Higher Ground.
The event is set for Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Orchards, 227 Adams Road, Williamstown. The cost at the door is $30 per person, 100% donated to The Fund.
"Due to the devastation that happened during Irene, and the holiday season upon us, we don't want to forget about our neighbors at the Spruces," says a chamber statement. "Many of whom will never be able to go back to their homes. Representatives from the Community Fund and Higher Ground will be on board to give us all an update on what we as a community have been doing along with what we see happening in the coming future."
Higher Ground was established as a nonprofit group on Oct. 21 and is dedicated to providing immediate relief for those affected by Tropical Storm Irene, preparing for future disasters, and creating more affordable housing in the area.
Higher Ground is providing services and raising money to meet long-term physical, emotional and spiritual needs associated with the disaster, which is perhaps the greatest in Williamstown.s history.
The Orchards has graciously given us their ballroom and Chef Chris Bonnivier with his many contacts, is getting donations from various Berkshire County Restaurants for a wide array of food for the evening.
Call the Chamber at 413-458-9077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or get more information.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass., has a story on their website today updating the status of the Route 2 Irene-related closure. It says state officials still expect to have the damaged section reopened by Dec. 15. Here's the link:
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- In this three-minute video, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor weighing a Democratic bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., wraps up a pitch to party faithful at the Berkshire County law office of former state Rep. Sherwood Guernsey on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Some 80 people attended; Warren's core theme -- focus on restoring the American middle class.
ADAMS, Mass . — Three personally cheerful authors delivered nonetheless sobering messages on Sunday about the state of the planet – expressing deep concern that we are using up resources seemingly still oblivious to the need for shared sacrifice necessary to prevent profound changes in living standards.
The authors were summoned to the top of Massachusetts’ highest peak, the 3,491-foot Mount Greylock, for a 90-minute discussion with an editor of Orion Magazine. It drew more than 60 people on a clear, hot summer evening. Orion, published by a non-profit foundation and focusing on “nature, culture and place,” is based in Great Barrington. It carries no advertising. All three authors have current articles in Orion.
“The future of small, walkable cities looks pretty bright to me,” said Charles C. Mann, author of the book 1493 and the forthcoming 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Mann, who lives in Amherst, is also a consultant to the state on managing the Mount Greylock State Reservation. He said he is seeking to spearhead formation of a "Friends of Mount Greylock" group to lobby for more support for the 12,500-acre state park. Mann's current Orion article is "The Dawn of the Homogenocene."
The whole premise behind the Interstate highway system is “ridiculous,” declared Ginger Strand, an Orion contributing editor who is working on a book about America’s love-affair with roads and cars. “If there is a future for the car it’s probably going to be electric, but the more I think about that, the more I wonder. We still have to generate all that power somehow.”
Author James Howard Kunstler dismissed the idea that technology advances will someone prevent our world oil consumption from overtaking supply without profound disruption. “I’m supremely confident we’re not going to have electric cars . . . we are going to be dragged kicking-and-screaming from motoring,” he said, adding: “I’m writing a book now about wishful thinking in technology because this is a bunny hole we are going up.”
Kunstler, author of the book The Long Emergency, (and the article, "Back to the Future") predicted skyscrapers will become obsolete liabilities and big cities “will contract substantially.” Smaller cities with navigable an clean water will be revitalized, he added. He said we are entering a period of crisis in both resources and capital.
In talked among each other, with Orion Editor Jennifer Sahn, and with audience members, the writing trio appeared somewhat in dispair about how the United States would achieve changes in social and political policies that might slow down increasing resource consumption
Strand told a story about a town she had once written about that, a century ago, powered the town’s electric grid with a small water-powered generating station in the middle of town. In winter when the river water slowed to a trickle because of ice, townsfolks accepted the necessity to go a day without electricity to power their heating furnaces. No one grumbled about it, Strand said because they could see the problem clearly, saw it was temporary, predictable and manageable, and the loss was equally shared.
Her message: Get ready for more such decisions, which she said may be easier to reach if those affected have a shared sense of community.
Kunstler spoke of the world needing to “take a time out from this idea of progress” as defined by continuous economic growth.
Strand added: “But we can continue to hold onto the idea of making the world better.”
In response to an audience-member’s question, Kunstler said he thought it is “disgraceful” how poorly The New York Times – as a proxy for traditional media – has covered the issue of climate change and energy policy. “They should be ashamed of themselves,” he said, without elaborating on specific covering problems or improvement suggestions.
Strand said she was unsure that information technology such as the Internet and mobile devices is improving our quality of life. Kuntsler said network technology is producing diminishing results and it “destroys time.”
“The climate-change discussion is exhausting,” said Strand. “No one is talking about it.” Speaking with this blogger after the formal discussion, Strand express optimism that the “millennial” generation is more accustomed to thinking of resource-depletion as a given and may be more billing to adapt than older people.
“I think this is a pretty demoralized, discouraged nation,” said Kuntsler, pointing to a nation saddled with personal and national debt which he fears will make it impossible to repair infrastructure as it ages. “We are in danger of having a permanent class of losers, who are ashamed of not being able to support the family.”
Strand used the example of the Interstate highway system in a positive way. She noted it largely displaced over 50 years the system of “interurban” light-rail networks that ran within and among U.S. cities. If that feat was possible, she said, it should be equally as possible to restore a focus on rail transit.
Questioner Sam Smith, of Williamstown, estimated that roughly half the world’s population owns no land or significant property and he wondered how they would be included in the political calculus over sharing world resources. The authors offered no ready answer.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Eight high-achieving Chinese teen-agers -- ages 16 or 17 -- are touring the U.S. northeast looking at elite colleges they may apply to -- and one of their stops was Williamstown.
The eight students are from Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province. They are on a 12-day tour covering 19 universities and colleges -- Columbia, Barnard, Fordham, Kean, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Loyola (Baltimore), Rutgers, Skidmore, Williams, Amherst, Harvard, MIT, Boston University,Babson, RISD/Brown, Connecticut College, Wesleyan, and Yale - for the purpose of giving them a first-hand experience with the college selection and admissions process.
The students and their instructor, Stephen Wilmarth, arrive in Williamstown on Friday, July 15, ate dinner at an Indian restaurant and attended the Williamstown Theatre Festival's "free theater" production of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors."
On Saturday morning, they visited with the New England News Forum and answered questions about their aspirations, their biggest surprises about their first visit to the United States, their use of technology, what the care about and why their parents are willing to commit to $100,000 or more to underwrite college outside of China.
In a 43-minute video, the students talk about their parents, their school, what the care about, how they find and use the news, and offer some admirable perspectives on human behavior and aspirations. They are surprised at how rural parts of the northeast appear, how many old buildings there are, and how polite people are with each other.
(Due to a video-editing error, in the introduction, the Clark Art Institute is not identified in the audio narrative when its directional sign is shown.)
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- There are four more chances to see Shakespeare for free -- and and get a glimps of this year's crop of Williamstown Theatre Festival apprenti cavorting -- with a hint of bawdiness -- in "Comedy of Errors," one of The Bard's most slapstick situation comedies. (click/tap photo to enlarge)
The 2011 Free Theatre production is back in an outdoor venue -- which is perfect if the weather is good -- at Poker Flats Field (45 Stetson Road, Williamstown) -- the extreme western edge of the Williams College campus. The show opened last week and there are performances July 19-22 at 7 p.m. For details go to the WTF website or check out GailSez, the arts-review site of Williamstown resident and writer Gail Burns.
In this half-hour excerpt, Amy Kacala of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission outlines the three-year process for conducting a "Sustainable Berkshires" master-plan development process. She spoke July 6, 2011 at the All Saints Church in North Adams.