Nicholas Malnati leads a group of Adams residents and other interested people in a discussion on how to revitalize the Mother Town.
ADAMS, Mass. — The group was small but the ideas were inspirational.
A cluster of Adams proponents who have meeting occasionally at the Firehouse Cafe to discuss the town's potential are broadening their exposure.
On Friday, they gathered at the new 5 Hoosac St. Gallery with invited facilitator Nicholas Malnati.
Malnati of Lenox, who owns Northstar Analytics, led the conversation about a grassroots approach of changing Adams and saving it from economic and population decline.
"Today we are building a ... better community in the Berkshires," Malnati said during rambling conversation. "We also need to talk about the history and the culture of this place we call home."
Using notes on wooden blocks, breakout groups, intermittently having people switch seats and reading off a lengthy scrolllike spreadsheet, Malnati propounded on the idea that Adams was special. It may not have large locations, but the locations are plentiful and less expensive.
"In Pittsfield, I am used to this nice buzz all the time and I come to Adams and I see all this possibility," Malnati said. "What makes Adams so unique is that we have a lot of spaces, but what makes it a challenge is that they are really small compared to what you may find in Boston today.
"It means we have a very exciting opportunity to do something that the rest of the Berkshires can't do."
Malnati feels many of the small storefronts on Park Street and other locations could be used as artisan shops, cafes and galleries. He said these businesses will only work if they can be utilized by both tourists and locals.
"We look around and there is no one downtown, and businesses are struggling," he said. "We want to have something for the locals so local business can be supported all the time, but also something that will make us a destination."
Malnati said change must come from the "conversation" people have. He asked those in the audience to converse with each other and talk about ways to better serve Adams. He asked the group to bring more people for the next meeting so the message has more support.
He said this kind of interaction thrives in a place like Adams.
"By having this conversation and being able to get real close; this is something about Adams you can't get anywhere else," he said. "People would be willing to pay a lot of money to live in this wonderful town, and we just have to figure out how to get them here."
He said the creation of economic development in Adams should come from the people of Adams.
"I went to Town Hall and they told me to get the heck out, and it is not because Town Hall is bad, it is because they aren't the right people to run the ship," he said. "That comes back to all of us; we are the people trying to build a better town."
He said local government can help facilitate things but residents need to get together and come up with ideas and strategies.
Malnati said he would like to facilitate the people of Adams and their ideas.
"I am the bridge between the higher-ups and you guys, and I just want to make sure the town knows what it needs to do to carry that football because we want to score a touchdown, but we keep dropping the football."