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Holiday gala LENOX — Stockbridge Summer Music and Seven Hills Inn, Plunkett Street, will host a “Holiday Gala” on Thursday, Dec. 16, beginning at 7 p.m. The evening will begin with chef-prepared hors d’oeuvres, cabaret-style seating and full-service cash bar. Champagne Jam will perform music to dance to from 8 to 11 p.m., and guest vocalist, baritone Paul Nixon, will sing favorite holiday selections. Parking is on the inn grounds, and the event is wheelchair-accessible. Admission is $10 per person, payable by cash or check. Information and reservations: Eleanor Frost, 443-1138. Holiday hours GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road, will have reduced holiday hours. The center will be open on Fridays, Dec. 24 and 31, from 6 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m., and will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. The center will be open during regular hours, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on New Year’s Day, Saturday, Jan. 1. Information: 528.2810 or www.berkshiresouth.org. ‘Italian Week’ LENOX — The Lenox Chamber of Commerce’s “Italian Week,” which began last Saturday, will continue through Saturday, Dec. 18. The week, the first in a series of events showcasing international themes throughout the upcoming year, will highlight various Lenox stores, restaurants and galleries showcasing Italian made products. Antonio’s Restaurant, 15 Franklin St., will serve four-course Italian dinners on Thursday and Friday nights for $30. Church Street Café, 65 Church St., will serve three-course Italian dinners tonight [Thursday] for $20. The Gateways Inn and Restaurant, 51 Walker St., will host Grappa tastings and flights and homemade Italian desserts throughout the week. Cose D’Argilla Gallery, 93 Church St., will feature Venetian glass jewelry, photographs, pens and ceramics, while Hoadley Gallery, 21 Church St., will feature paintings from the Italian countryside and remain open until 6 p.m. each evening. Nejaime’s Wine Cellars will host Italian wine and cheese samplings in its Route 7 and Lenox Village stores and Shooz, 44 Housatonic St., will showcase its Italian footwear and handbags — both will be open until 9 p.m. on Dec. 18. Information: chamber, 637-3646 or visit www.lenox.org. Directors announced LEE — The Lee Chamber of Commerce members approved the members to serve on the board of directors at its annual membership meeting and holiday social, held at From Ketchup to Caviar, on Thursday, Dec. 9. Gloria Friedman will serve as board president. She is the owner and innkeeper of the Applegate Inn. George Crockett, vice president, is owner and innkeeper of the Historic Merrell Inn. Mary Ann Simmons of Lee Bank will serve as treasurer and David Miller of Meadwestvaco as clerk. Other members are as follows: Mary McGinnis, local racquetball instructor; Marilyn Kelly of Sullivan Station Restaurant, Marilyn Hansen of Country Curtains, Sandy LePrevost of Henry’s Electric, Pamela Loring of Pamela Loring Gifts & Interiors, Louise Lucchese of Legacy Bank, George Membrino of GEM Medical Consulting, Dawn Borst of the Ashley Inn, John Magner of Carr Hardware, Carolyn Edwards of Prime Outlets at Lee and Amy Fyden of Greylock Federal Credit Union. The board will meet on the second Wednesday of each month. Information: Chamber, 243-0852 or email info@leechamber.org. ‘The Nutcracker’ LEE — Alfred Watson, classical pianist and composer will present a free performance of “The Nutcracker Suite: A Christmas Story,” by Peter Tchaikovsky, at the Lee Library on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. Watson will perform selections from the music of the “Nutcracker” ballet and tell the story of each scene. The family event and will last about an hour. Watson has performed in recitals in the United States and Europe. According to a news release, his music bears the influence of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Debussy. He was given the honor of performing in the home of Frederick Chopin as a guest performance during the Chopin festival. Watson's CDs will be available at the program. Ventfort events LENOX — The Museum of the Gilded Age at Ventfort Hall, 104 Walker St., will host the return of “Xingu,” an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s short story, at 3 p.m. daily from Sunday, Dec. 26, through Friday, Dec. 31. “Xingu” was presented this past summer by the Ventfort Hall Association in cooperation with Shakespeare & Company. Actress Anne Undeland will return in this satire on a Gilded Age women’s literary club, appearing in seven different roles. Written by Wharton in 1911 and published five years later, the satiric tale opens with: “Mrs. Ballinger is one of the ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as though it were dangerous to meet alone. To this end she had founded the Lunch Club, an association composed of herself and several other indomitable huntresses of erudition.” The club members are “thrown into a state of awed bewilderment” when Xingu is presented by one member as a mysterious subject for discussion. Xingu is described as deep, long, hard-to penetrate and with many branches. Could it be a species of an occult philosophy or an exotic foreign language? Dennis Krausnick adapted the story, and the summer performances of the one-hour production were directed by Normi Noel, director of the Wharton One-Acts for Shakespeare & Company. Tickets for “Xingu” are $20 per person and include refreshments and reception after each performance. Undeland will be on hand to discuss the play and answer questions from the attendees. Ventfort Hall will be open for guided tours every day from Sunday, Dec. 26 to Sunday, Jan. 2 including New Year’s Day. Tours will be offered every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — the last tour will begin at 2 p.m. Guided tours are $9 per adult and $4 for children. Information: 637-3206. Grover performs GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road, will host David Grover and the Big Bear Band Holiday Show on Sunday, Dec. 26, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. David Grover, Kathy Jo Barrett and Terry a la Berry have been performing their holiday concert throughout the Berkshires for many years and sold out both of their shows at the community center last year. Tickets are $10 for adults and children age 13 and up and $5 for children ages 2 through 12. Children under 2 are free. Information and tickets: 528-2810 or www.berkshiresouth.org. CPR programs GREAT BARRINGTON — Fairview Hospital's CPR Plus Program will present Basic Life Support CPR Renewal classes for health-care providers at the Fairview Education Office at the Andrews House, 23 Lewis Avenue, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and Thursday, Dec, 23 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants should park at hospital. Registration is required for each class. Hospital CPR instructors are also available to conduct classes in private homes or businesses, day or evening for a minimum of five people. Information and registration: Nanci Race at 229-3386. Holiday signing GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire County author Alice O. Howell and artist Maggie Mailer will sign copies of their new book, “Lara’s First Christmas” at a free holiday party at the Berkshire South Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The party, given by Bell Pond Books, a not-for-profit publisher, will also host booksignings by Morgan Bulkeley Jr., the illustrator of “Berkshire Stories,” and Paul Margulies and Famke Zonneveld, author and illustrator of the children’s storybook, “What Julianna Could See ”— a retelling of a tale often told to Paul’s daughter, the actress Julianna Margulies, when she was 6 years old. “Lara’s First Christmas” tells of 9-year-old Lara who, along with her refugee parents, finds herself marooned in an isolated little hotel in snowbound Norway before World War II. Left all alone, she meets two eccentric old English guests who teach her to ski, and discovers deep love and wisdom from the grandfatherly carpenter Andreas — who teaches her that Christmas really is a universal event, open to every heart and every faith. Based on Howell’s own experience as a small child in a little town in Norway, the book shines a light on the universal meaning of Christmas and its relationship to the winter solstice and the many traditional winter holy days that celebrate the return of light to the world. “I wanted to show that Christmas is for everybody, because it coincides with the light returning,” Howell said in a news release. “All the great religions, as far as I can see, celebrate the solstice and the return of the light. In the Gospel of St. John it says, ‘I am the Light of the World.’ Both Diwali and Hanukkah are festivals of light and rebirth. And the winter solstice — the coming of the light — is especially important in Norway because it’s so far north that the night is almost all winter long.” An 82-year-old great-grandmother, Howell is also a poet and the author of the “The Beejum Book,” “The Dove in the Stone: Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace” and “The Web in the Sea: Jung, Sophia and the Geometry of the Soul.” She has also written extensively for journals on Jungian psychology and other topics. “Lara’s First Christmas” features 30 drawings and a cover painting by artist Maggie Mailer, a native of Berkshire County who paints and works with unconventional materials like glycerin soap. In 2002, Mailer founded the Storefront Artist Project, a literal and metaphorical interface between artists and the public that encourages artists to set up studio practice in commercial storefronts — providing artists with a continuing presence in the public mind. Ferrin Gallery in Lenox represents Mailer’s artwork. “Secretly I had always wanted to do book illustrations,” Mailer said in the release. “I’m a big reader, and it gave me another way of reading. It was exciting to participate in the process of creating a book and an honor to work with Alice. She’s effervescent, incredibly wise and quite loving.” Howell said she enjoyed the collaboration as well. “I love Maggie’s illustrations. The cover shows the symbolism of the light on the outside and the light on the inside, and she did a beautiful job,” she said. The book is available at local bookstores on online at www.steinerbooks.com. Information: www.bellpondbooks.com. Smith exhibits SHEFFIELD — The work of Debbie Detwiller Smith will be exhibited in the public areas of the Banknorth, 271 Main St., throughout January as part of Sheffield Art League and Banknorth’s “artist of the month" program. Smith’s paintings, cropped and framed from larger canvases, feature aspects of elegant old interiors. The strongly colored rooms and objects in them are often out of proportion, exaggerated or unrecognizable. Smith has lived and worked in the Berkshires for more than 30 years. Her appreciation and love of architecture and interior design has been ingrained since childhood — her grandfather and father were architects, her grandmother was an interior designer and her mother was a fashion illustrator. Smith has worked in the field of interior design intermittently for the last 30 years. The Sheffield Art League promotes the appreciation of fine art in the community. Information: www.sheffieldartleage.org or P.O. Box 296, Great Barrington, Mass. 01230. Healthy Arts GREAT BARRINGTON — Healthy Arts: A Morning of Entertainment and Swimming will present the “Dr. Marmalade Puppet Show” at Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road, on Saturday, Jan. 8, beginning at 11 a.m. The show will feature the puppetry of Marmalade Productions. Community Access to the Arts faculty member and artist Meredyth Babcock will star as Dr. Marmalade. Healthy Arts is underwritten by Berkshire Life Charitable Foundation and is a collaborative program between Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Community Access to the Arts and Community Health Program. The creative socialization program is for families with young children, and individuals with developmental, physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Each free Saturday event offers one hour of entertainment followed by one hour of swimming. The program will feature Roger the Jester, (a.k.a. artist Roger Reed) on Feb. 5 and May 7. Vicki True will lead singing and drumming on March 5 and the “William K. Whiskers Puppet Show” will be performed on April 2. All children must be supervised and swim diapers are required for non-toilet-trained children. Information: community center, 528-2810. $2,500 awarded GREAT BARRINGTON — The Massachusetts Bankers Association Charitable Foundation has awarded $2,500 gift to Berkshire South Regional Community Center, and will present the gift to the center’s board of trustees and staff at noon today [Thursday, Dec. 16]. The community center is a non-profit organization that offers programs for all ages based on its mission to build a sense of community and common purpose throughout the southern Berkshire region. Programs are created with a focus on enhancing the recreational, educational, cultural, health and social well-being of the participants, and membership and program community aid are offered to ensure access to all who want to participate. Since opening in July 2002, the center has awarded over $100,000 in community aid, most notably to families in need of quality, affordable out-of-school childcare. The center also collaborates with other area non-profit organizations such as Community Access to the Arts and Community Health Programs to bring necessary human-service programs to the community-at-large. Information: 528-2810 or www.berkshiresouth.org. Now in its ninth year, the Massachusetts Bankers Association Charitable Foundation — representing more than 220 commercial savings and cooperative banks and savings and loan institutions in New England — makes annual gifts to local community-service organizations nominated by its member banks. Daniel J. Forte, president of the association, emphasized that the foundation's goal is to lend a helping hand to highlight the many other charitable gifts banks throughout the state make to deserving organizations in many communities. On behalf of the industry, the foundation annually makes major gifts to deserving causes nominated by member banks. To date, it has dispersed over $400,000 in awards and supporting activities to non-profit organizations. Nominations of foundation awards are made on the basis of nominations by member banks. Information: www.massbankers.org. Fresh beginning GREAT BARRINGTON — Amy Cotler, past director of Berkshire Grown, has started a consulting business, “Fresh,” at 22 Elm St. The broad focus of the business will be on education, food and community organizing. "But the reality is that if it is a Fresh concept, I'll can make it happen!” Colter said in a news release. At Fresh, she said, she will ignite ideas, manage programs, write, teach and help shape concepts. "So far, my clients have been diverse and that excites me," she said. "Because it enables me to use all my skills, including getting projects off the ground, bringing people together, writing everything from books to proposals to food pieces, developing classes and lecturing and organizing community projects.” Cotler has used her previous experience as director at Berkshire Grown, where she developed the Business to Business Program — connecting chefs and farmers to national level — with her latest client, The Chefs Collaborative. The collaborative is an national organization of about 1,000 chefs who are dedicated to providing farm fresh food to their customers. "I've just begun to manage a large project with the collaborative to develop chef-farmer networks in both Ohio and Montana, a challenging task that will help provide a national model for this work," she said. Another client, The Massachusetts Food Service Association, has hired Cotler to teach school food-service professionals how to procure and prepare farm products for public school students. Additionally, The Culinary Institute of America has hired her to broaden their textbook by researching and writing chapters on the cuisines of different cultures. “Mostly, I’ve been taking on the consulting work solo,” Cotler said. “But I’ve started to coordinate projects that require additional skills, such as Web site design, so I’ve been developing a team, mostly local entrepreneurs that are great at what they do.” Buddhist economics GREAT BARRINGTON — The E. F. Schumacher Society, 140 Jug End Road, has gathered copies of Schumacher’s 1966 essay, "Buddhist Economics," to share with a new generation through the Internet. In his essay, Schumacher imagined an economic system informed by the teachings of the Buddha, according to a society news release. The key to such a system, he said, was simplicity and non-violence. From a Buddhist perspective, he argued, the most rational form of production is from local resources for local needs — work is not something to avoid but "blesses those who do it" when conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, so favoring a system of full employment. Schumacher emphasized the simple reminder that our economic systems should reflect our highest aspirations as a culture — whether people find the source of those aspirations in religion, philosophy, communion with nature, or sympathy with others. Schumacher, the economist, demonstrated how to transform the material laws of economics through actions infused by principles. Translations of the essay in German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian and Russian may already be viewed at the society's Web site. Danish, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Spanish and Swedish will be added soon. The society seeks new translations for inclusion. Schumacher's original English text of "Buddhist Economics," Jane Jacobs' "Economy of Regions," and other society lectures may be read on-line at any time or purchased in pamphlet form. Schumacher did not limit his exploration of a value-based economics to Buddhist thinking. His daughter and biographer, Barbara Wood, said that before his death her father was preparing an essay on "Islamic Economics." The society has spent 24 years stewarding a legacy of knowledge and practices for renewing local economies, and seeks financial support to help share these community economic tools more broadly. A tax-deductible contribution can be sent to the E. F. Schumacher Society, 140 Jug End Road, Great Barrington, Mass. 01230, or use the membership/donation form at www.smallisbeautiful.org. Information: society, 528-1737 or www.smallisbeautiful.org.
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