GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Berkshires have been a magnet for those seeking to enjoy the simple things in life, from the Shakers and their aesthetic frugality to the "masters of the universe" who built gilded mansions in its bucolic setting.
While sharing little in common, both groups sought renewal in both spirit and body with the land.
So it's no surprise that documentarian Pamela Boll selected the region for her new film, which will follow the latest seekers of land and spirit: a crop of local farmers working to connect people with the land and the region's growing industry in yoga and wellness.
Berkshire Film & Media Commission reports that the Oscar-winning documentarian will be in the county over the next few months researching the simplification of live and true happiness in "A Small, Good Thing."
Boll, who won an Academy Award in 2004 as co-executive producer of "Born Into Brothels," will be filming in Lenox, Great Barrington and Lee.
She told the film commission her latest film will be about "chucking the big life and pursuing what makes you truly happy."
"We will be filming Tim Durrin working at Kripalu and riding his bike around the area; Mark Gerow teaching a yoga class in Lenox and spending time with his family; Jen and Peter Salinetti at Woven Roots Farm in Lee; Sean Stanton at North Plain and Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington; and Dominic Palumbo at Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield."
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Humane Society's new monthly television talk show, "Purr, Wag, Adopt ... with the Berkshire Humane Society" debuted on Tuesday on Pittsfield Community Television.
The 30-minute show, which is scheduled to run on Tuesdays at 4:30 and 8:30 p.m and Wednesdays at 4:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Channel 16 is hosted by Executive Director John Perrault.
"This is something that we've wanted to do for a long time," Perrault said in a phone interview. "Our hope is that you'll learn something new every time you tune in. We'll be addressing current events issues, basic pet health and behavioral health plus we'll be highlighting animals available for adoption."
Different pet themes such as Adopt-a-Bunny and Prevent-a-Litter will be the focus of each new episode as will individual pets in need of good homes.
"We want to bring more awareness to people about the animal situation and, of course, we'd like to promote more adoptions," Perrault said. "People want to do the right thing with their pets but in this economy many can't afford it. Last year, we served more than 700 families from our food bank. That's not including our satellite locations. We're not going to hide behind this."
Since 1992, the BHS has placed more than 16,000 animals into new homes. While it has had no trouble bringing awareness to the younger generation of school-aged pet owners, Perrault said it is time to reach the "the grown-ups" and the best medium for this is television.
"This is definitely going to reach more adults," he said. "We hope to be able to air the show on CTSB and other local stations as well. We want to stay relevant."
Update: The meeting for Wednesday night has been canceled because of weather concerns, also known as snow. The EPA says it is rescheduling and we'll post the new time as soon as possible.
LENOX, Mass. — Just a reminder to concerned citizens, sportsmen, environmentalists and anyone else whose life will be impacted by the Housatonic River cleanup (namely all of us), that there is a meeting Wednesday night, Jan. 26, at 5:30 at the Lenox Town Hall auditorium.
The EPA Housatonic River Citizens Coordinating Council, which includes representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, GE, the state Department of Environmental Protection and local environmentalists and officials will meet to discuss the status of the Rest of the River Project.
The purpose of the meeting is to provide updates since the last meeting in October on several proposed projects surrounding the PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, dumped into the river by GE. These options include dredging the river to remove PCBs, proposed dump sites for PCBs, dredging and destroying PCBs using a new bacteria technology and letting the river remain as is, to name a few.
While several area organizations, including Berkshire Creative and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau are advocating for the "low-impact solution" that does not involve extensive dredging, still other groups, especially environmentalists, are demanding that the river be completely dredged and the PCBs removed and destroyed.
All opinions and suggestions are welcome as the EPA plans to move forward soon. In addition to this meeting, the EPA will continue to take public input and suggestions regarding GE's plan for Phase II of the cleanup until Jan. 31. To submit comments, you can visit the EPA website or e-mail Susan Svirsky, project manager for the EPA Rest of the River.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Co-Act and other area human service organizations are moving forward with a plan to open a day center for the homeless at the United Methodist Church on Fenn Street. According to Co-Act Director Paul Deslaurier, the day center will open on February 3 and will be open from roughly 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. two days a week.
"There's a lot happening in terms of the day center," he said in a phone interview. "Anyone who needs support can come during the day and use the resources there. We're having a training for intakers and greeters on February 1 and then on the third, that will be our dry run. We're trying to coordinate with other facilities and existing organizations which offer meals and services and shelter. We're trying to find the best way to address and support the needs that people have."
These needs have increased as the temperature drops to brutal lows and the state unemployment rate stays steady.
"There are about 20 people here who are chronically homeless and who, for one reason or another, have been blackballed from the shelters here. Sometimes they can hang out at Dunkin' Donuts or the library, or maybe the hospital corridors," Deslaurier said. "This number does not include people who are in shelters and trying to stay clean, people who are couch hopping or living four to six families to an apartment and people who are living in their cars."
The day center will offer basic literacy and computer support and training as well as access to other support services in the area. It will be staffed by trained volunteers including retired social workers, college students studying social services as well as an intake clinician. Yet even in its intitial phases, he said that he knows that more is needed, especially from the city itself.
"We have 14 organizations that are participating in this effort. We're really drawing on the support of the faith-based community," he said. "This kind of collaboration has been uplifting. Unfortunately, I've been very disappointed in my city. In September I asked if there were some place they could propose that we could have a shelter. The mayor pointed me to the old prison on Second Street where we could only use the cell blocks in the basement. This was unacceptable. Where we are located is right across the street from City Hall. We're practically right in their face and there has been no support from the backdoor politicians. I've petitioned the city to pay for the utilities on the building, so far I haven't gotten a good response."
Utilities are not the only necessity required by the center, which Deslaurier and others had hoped to turn into an emergency night shelter as well. In addition to heating costs, the center (and possibly the shelter) also requires more volunteers, furniture, computers, printers and, of course, money.
"We are definitely going to need more staff and we need to be prepared for it to evolve," he said. "We have no funding and so we are reaching out to the community for help."