Kate Merrigan films a piece for the North Adam Lip Dub project.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Just under 14,000 people live in North Adams.
And they are all invited to a big party — along with the thousands of other Berkshire County residents who work, shop, play in or otherwise visit North Adams.
"Everyone with a pulse is welcome," said Annie Rodgers of Northern Berkshire Neighbors, who is one of the people throwing the party.
But it's not just any party: It's the inaugural North Adams Lip Dub, coming soon to city streets near you.
For the uninitiated, a lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. Lip dubs have become popular on YouTube, and younger North Adams residents might be familiar with the lip dubs done at Drury High School annually for the past few years.
But this year is the first time the idea is being tried locally on a larger scale, and that's thanks to an idea Rodgers had after attending a conference last spring in Minneapolis. She heard a keynote presentation by Peter Kageyama, who wrote "For the Love of Cities," a book that is called on his website "a love note ... to cities everywhere that will prompt you to more closely examine your own relationship with where you live, work and play."
Rodgers did just that. After hearing about the city of Grand Rapids, Mich., planning a lip dub to combat a poll that called it one of America's top 10 dying cities, she decided to bring the lip dub idea home. She said she connected with the idea of doing something good for the city she loves, despite how other people might view the city.
"I'm not too concerned about what other people think about North Adams," she said. "I'm more concerned about what people in North Adams think about the city."
Rodgers started floating the idea of colleagues at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, of which Northern Berkshire Neighbors is a program, as well as connections at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"They probably thought I was nuts," Rodgers laughed.
Apparently not, because the idea grew legs, a committee was formed, a timetable was put into place and, of course, a Facebook page was started.
The first step? Raising $8,000 to fund the event.
"A lot of our energy has been around that," she said.
So while the lip dub itself is not scheduled to be completed until this fall, fundraising is starting now. A commercial has been filmed (and amusingly dubbed, of course) to show on local community access television stations (to generate excitement and the organizers have signed on for a 60-day challenge on Kickstarter.com, which helps arts projects get the funding they need through online donations.
That 60-day window begins this Saturday at a kickoff event scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Parlor Cafe at 303 Ashland St.
Admission is free and there will be light appetizers, performances by local musicians and poets, and videos of other lip dubs projected throughout the evening. Computers will be on site so that attendees can make pledges to the campaign.
"It's really more of a community celebration," Rodgers said.
And that community will be instrumental in the lip dub itself — all 14,000 North Adams residents and other friends of the city, who all will be invited to participate in the lip dub.
"Everyone has a role in it," she said. "That has been the objective since day one."