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Are We There Yet?: Take Comfort in the Community
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:43PM / Thursday March 27, 2014
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When my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010 and then another rare autoimmune disease last fall, several well-meaning people said to me, "It could be worse. At least it's not cancer."

I know how much it hurts to hear that, because when you're in the middle of a personal crisis, it doesn't really matter if it could actually be worse. It's bad enough in that moment.

So I won't say that to the hundreds of people who have lost their jobs with the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital, and their families, who now face an incredibly uncertain future. I know they are all hurting right now. All I can do is offer some fun ways to encourage community spirit with the family.

So how about some puppets?

MCLA Presents! is offering up the latest event in its inaugural MCLA Puppet Fest this weekend. On Saturday, March 29, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m., puppeteers Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin will perform "Who's Hungry" at the Puppet Lab at Gallery 107 at 107 Main St. in North Adams. "Who's Hungry" features an all-star cast of actors, dancers and puppeteers  following the lives of five hungry residents of Santa Monica, Calif., to weave elements of those five life stories into a 55-minute theatrical spectacle featuring a variety of puppetry styles, high velocity dancing and spirited music. The audience is seated before a 24-foot dinner table, which transforms into a runway-style puppet stage. Admission is $10 and the show is most appropriate for tweens and pre-teens.

Have younger kids? Consider a pajama movie night screening of "Frozen" at the Mason Library on Friday night, March 28, at 6:15 p.m. (My daughter and I just can't get enough of this music, especially the music ... though I wish I could sing with more conviction that "the cold never bothered my anyway.") Or on Saturday, March 29, take kids 5 and up to a bat house-making workshop at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. From 1:30 to 3 p.m., Rene Laubach talk about bats in our area and their natural history before the workshop on building the house. The cost is $20 for adults and free for children; registration is required. Register by calling 413-637-0320. And on Sunday, March 30, Project Native will be showing the movie "Flight of the Butterflies" - in 3D! - at 10 a.m. at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington. Following the year-long annual migration cycle of the butterflies, the award-winning production team filmed hundreds of millions of monarchs in their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and again in 2012 and also along their migratory routes from Canada, across the United States and into Mexico. How cool is that? Even cooler, admission is free.

One more thing to mention, if you're in the mood to help out those people who actually do have cancer: Moments House is hosting its fourth annual Slice of Life Pizza Competition at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. Come sample pizza from all over the county and vote on your favorites. Awards will be given to Best Crust, Best Sauce, Most Unique Pizza and Best Overall Pizza in Berkshire County. Adults are $25 at the door and children are $7 at the door (4 and under are free).

Take strength in the community right now. We're all in this together.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



     
Are We There Yet?: Is It Spring Yet?
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:53AM / Friday February 21, 2014
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Are you there, God? It's me, Rebecca.

Please God, don't make it snow on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or any other school day before July. And please God, don't make it so cold that even if it's not snowing it hurts to go outside. Or raining so that everything turns to ice. Or all of the above. All at once. It's New England, after all.

Everything that can be done in the house has been done. Kids are stir crazy and cranky. Parents are short­-tempered  and cranky. If I have to watch another ice-­dancing routine on my living room floor, I'll be completely twizzled. If I have to play another game of "Operation," I'll need to be hospitalized.

I know, God, there are a few fun things to to do this weekend. The "Ten Days of Fun" imagination extravaganza continues daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Berkshire Museum, which is also hosting Berkshire Theater Group's performance of "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22 (berkshiremuseum.org). The play about a king who is so consumed with designer clothing that he thinks about nothing else in his kingdom sounds like fun, even though the only fashion I personally can wrap my head around right now is something, well, to wrap around my head. A hat. A scarf. Anything to keep the snow and rain and cold off of me.

Is there sleet in Heaven, God?

And I know, God, that there are two great (indoor) family fundraisers this weekend, and I do love a good cause, even though my favorite cause right now is Being OK With The 8­Year­Old Watching Eight Hours of Television Today, Tomorrow and the Next Day. Yes, we can go miniature golfing inside the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to raise money for the Literacy Volunteers of Berkshire County (pittsfieldlibrary.org). And yes, we can go bowling at Greylock Bowl & Golf in North Adams on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 6 p.m. to raise money for Child Care of the Berkshires' Youth Mentoring Program (ccberkshire.org).

So I know, God, that's it's pretty selfish of me to complain that there's nothing to do and... That. We. Have. To. Get. These. Kids. Back. In. School.

Now.

Please!

Pretty please?

Surely, God, you can arrange so that spring come a little early to New England, can't you? I would really appreciate it.

From, your friend, Rebecca.

h the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.


     
Are We There Yet?: Start Vacation With Indoor, Outdoor Options
By Rebecca Dravis On: 04:40AM / Friday February 14, 2014
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Another week, another snow day — or maybe even two.

How fabulous, right before February vacation.

Happy Valentine's Day to us!

We're now facing 10 days of sheer boredom... or, how about 10 Days of Play? For the second year, the Berkshire Museum is transforming its Crane Room into anything a child might imagine, using readily available and recyclable materials from cardboard to fabric and tape. Presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop­-Up Adventure Play, this is the epitome of child­-directed play, something pretty much everyone agrees that today's kids don't get enough of. Haven't you ever been tempted to just throw your kids into a room with no screens, just lots of random stuff, and see what they can come up with? Here's your chance!

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Feb. 14 through Feb. 23 and is free with museum admission. For more information, visit berkshiremuseum.org.

That is my definite stay-inside choice for the weekend and upcoming vacation week. But if you are game for going outside, consider a North County tradition: Winter Fest in downtown North Adams on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature ice sculpting, music, pony rides, a fun run/walk at 10:30 a.m., the annual Chowder Cook­-Off from noon to 2 p.m., horse­-drawn wagon rides and more. It's a fun day out for the whole family... even though the weather forecast right now shows a high of only 20 degrees. Or maybe the cold is a good thing for Winter Fest. It depends on how you look at it, I guess! For more details and a specific schedule of events, click here.

And if you're looking for more vacation week fun, beyond the Berkshire Museum, check out another area museum: the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. They are running drop-­in workshops in which all ages can explore how the art of Norman Rockwell, Ruth Sanderson, and Wendell Minor tell stories in pictures, and create artworks in mixed media that express their own ideas. These run from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and are free with museum admission. For more details, visit nrm.org.

Stay warm, stay sane ... and I'll be back next week with some ideas on making it through the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.


     
Are We There Yet?: Animals Everywhere!
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:57PM / Friday February 07, 2014
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After a recent snowstorm, my husband beckoned our daughter to the front door and told her to look out on the front sidewalk. There, clear as day in the fresh snow, was a trail of animal prints.

Noelle was delighted, and we spent the next few minutes from the warmth of the house guessing what animal could have left those prints. It was a probably a cat, we decided, although we rarely see stray cats in our neighborhood. We do have woods behind our house so we regularly see rabbits and deer and a woodchuck every now and then.

Say what you want about winter and snowstorms and snow days from school (oh, joy!), but the opportunity fresh snow presents in seeing the wildlife around us is amazing. That's why this weekend I am recommending a family tracking day at Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, families with kids ages 6 and up are invited to join Flying Deer Nature Center instructors for a day of mystery, intrigue and family fun in the forest.

At the Family Track Detective Workshop, families will learn to identify common animal tracks and trails and embark on a journey that will hone their skills of awareness and observation. This day will be filled with fun and learning for everyone in the family.

Space is limited, so registration is required at berkshiresouth.org. The cost is $50 per adult/child pair, with $20 per additional family member, and there is a maximum of two children per adult. Saturday's weather looks to be cold but sunny, a perfect day for an educational hike through the woods!

If your kids would rather see some live animals -- not just their prints -- in an indoor setting, head on over to Berkshire Community College on Sunday, Feb. 9, for the 13th annual Not Your Average Dog Show. The family­-oriented event, which is open to all dogs (not just purebreds), is free for both human and canine spectators. Donations are encouraged and will benefit students through the college’s annual fund. State Representative William Smitty Pignatelli will emcee the show and Gene Dellea, president of the BCC Foundation, will serve as ringmaster. Contests include Best Trick, Best Dressed, Best Smile and more.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For registration forms, event rules and regulations, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/dogshow or contact Ann at aphillips@berkshirecc.edu or 413­236­2185.

One last note, looking a little past the weekend: For those Red Sox fans out there, the 2013 World Series trophy is coming to the Berkshires on Monday, Feb. 10. There will be public viewings from 1 to 2 p.m. at St. Mary's Elementary and Middle School in Lee, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill in North Adams (inside Greylock Bowl), and from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Infield, an indoor multi­-sports complex located at 10 Lyman St. in Pittsfield.

Even with this snow and cold, let's remember our boys of summer!



     
Are We There Yet?: Big Games & Family Fun
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:24PM / Friday January 31, 2014
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It's Super Bowl Sunday weekend.

(Wait: Am I allowed to say that? I just read that the NFL won't let companies say "Super Bowl" unless they pay for it, explaining why all the Price Chopper and WalMart ads on TV say "the big game."

I think the media is exempt from the NFL copyright police ... for now!)

While I hated seeing Peyton Manning beat my beloved Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game, I have to admit I enjoy the game more when the Patriots are NOT playing in it. Too stressful. This Sunday, I can sit back and root for the Seattle Seahawks to pound Peyton into that cold, hard New Jersey turf. Hey, I can dream.

But besides the game, there's another Super Bowl tradition in Northern Berkshire County: the Williamstown Youth Center's annual family extravaganza known as Snowfest.

A few years ago they moved the date from early January to coincide with the big game also known as the Super Bowl, offering families a fun, active afternoon that benefits the youth center's programs and scholarships.

Never been to Snowfest? You are in for a treat: Activities include ice skating in the rink (rentals cost a couple bucks), Wii games, caricature artists, an inflatable obstacle course, pickup sports games facilitated by Williams College athletic teams, photo arts and crafts, and more. New activities this year include a soccer exhibition and clinic hosted by semi­professional soccer players from Vermont Voltage, and winter Olympic events to get you into the mood for the upcoming Sochi games.

Of course, I have found that the kids just enjoy running around in an indoor, contained space!

The cost is $35 per family or $5 per student. Scholarship assistance is available. Families can register online at williamstownyouthcenter.org or at the door the day of the event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m. (plenty of time to get home for the big game also known as the Super Bowl) at the Williams College field house and skating rink in Williamstown.

Can't wait for Sunday to give the kids something active to do? Saturday, Feb. 1, is Kids Day Out at Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington. Parents of kids ages 2 to 12 can drop them off between 9:30 and 12:30 for a morning of swimming, games, and the all ­important gym (or outside, depending on the weather) time.

The cost is $15 for members and $17 for non­members and includes a snack; registration is requested at least 48 hours in advance at 413­528­2810, so hop to it!

One more Saturday event to mention: Berkshire Community College will host its second annual Wellness Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event, which is open to individuals of all ages and abilities, will be held at BCC's Paterson Field House, located at 1350 West St. in Pittsfield, and will feature free educational booths as well as exercise classes and chair massages ($4 per half­-hour exercise class or 10 minute chair massage). Exercise classes will include Zumba, Pilates, aikido, self­defense, creative dance and yoga.

Proceeds will benefit Empower SCI, a nonprofit corporation that serves the needs of individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Entry to the event is free; however, donations will be accepted. For more information, visit berkshirecc.edu.

I know this cold weather has caused the kids to have a lot of pent-­up energy. Hopefully these ideas will give you ways to get them to let off steam ­ and stop jumping on the couch already — especially during the big game also known as the Super Bowl.

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.



     
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News Headlines
BHS Closing In On Deal To Acquire NBH
Edith Wharton Writing Competition Winners Announced
Volunteers needed for the Y's Tie Dye Dash
Lanesborough Loses Lawsuit Over Laston Park Construction
Williamstown Board Rejects Housing Panel Developer Choice
Save NARH Campaign Looks to Drum Up Wider Support
North Adams Closes Beaver Street Over Mudslide Fears
2014 Alma Riello Scholarship Deadline May 9
Bunny Hop Race Will Support Homeless Shelter
NARH Advocates Bringing Petitions to Beacon Hill

 




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Are We There Yet?: Animals Everywhere!
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