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Shown seated, left to right, are Castletonís Jacob Godfrey, LINAO founder John Werner, and Castletonís Abby Ferrara. Standing, left to right, are the Cancer Centerís Jean Huntington; Castletonís John OíConnor; Judy Werner, Johnís wife; the Cancer Centerís Mary Weinfert and Jenny Coutu; and Castletonís Eric Ramey and Brigette Olson.

Berkshires Beat: Sports Teams Donate Blankets to Cancer Center

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Losing Is Not An Option

Staff from Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, a department of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and the founders of the LINAO grassroots fundraising movement, accepted a donation of more than 20 handmade blankets from the Castleton University softball and men's soccer teams on Jan. 9. The blankets will be given to patients undergoing treatment at the Cancer Center.

The blankets were given in honor of John Werner, who coached both the Castleton University softball and men’s soccer teams and who founded the LINAO movement. LINAO stands for "Losing Is Not An Option." It was a motto that Werner adopted to encourage strength in his battle with cancer. A year later, when he learned that his former player Brandon Smith was also battling cancer, Werner shared the motto with him. Smith designed a bumper sticker featuring the slogan. Through social media, many former players, friends, and colleagues have requested bumper stickers. They have been sent to 34 states and internationally. Many people replied to bumper stickers they received with donations. The effort quickly raised $10,000 for the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center and shows no sign of slowing.

The blankets were made by members of both teams, in conjunction with Kristen Ramey's fifth-grade class at Rutland Intermediate School. The students made more than 40 blankets in all, the other half of which were given to the Foley Cancer Center of Rutland Regional Medical Center. To make a donation, visit the website and include LINAO in the “tribute” field.


Toter talk

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer will be hosting several neighborhood meetings to discuss the proposed toter initiative for the city of Pittsfield. The proposal seeks to modernize the city's trash removal services through the use of automation and toters. Mayor Tyer, along with city officials, will discuss the program, including the benefits for residents and the city overall.  Samples of the proposed toters will be on hand for review.

The meetings will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Morningside Community School, 100 Burbank St.; 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center, 330 North St.; 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Conte Community School, 200 West Union St.; and 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, at Herberg Middle School, 501 Pomeroy Ave. For more information, call 413-499-9322.


Looking at Lenox

The town of Lenox will hold two public workshops on Feb. 6 (in Lenox Dale) and Feb. 7 (at Town Hall). Both meetings will start at 7 p.m. The purpose of the workshops is to gather community input on historic preservation priorities, opportunities, goals and strategies.

The town is working with Heritage Strategies through a combination of Massachusetts Historical Commission funding and local funding to develop a plan to guide and support continued historic preservation through the town of Lenox. This process will feed directly into the upcoming Master Plan update. These public workshops will complement a set of focus groups also taking place.

Lenox has not updated its Master Plan since 1999, and it has not taken a comprehensive look at historic preservation at the community scale in a long time. Having recently celebrated 250 years of Lenox history, the town is looking forward to map out at least the next decade and how it can most effectively and uniquely leverage its historic, cultural and landscape resources. Questions may be directed to Land Use Director Gwen Miller by email or by phone at 413-637-5500, ext. 1203.


Winterfest sponsors sought

The weekend of Feb. 17-18 marks the 21st annual WinterFest celebration in North Adams. The Office of Tourism & Community Events is seeking participants to take part in several of the weekend events. Applications are being accepted for the annual Chowder Cook-off and the Handmade Artisan & Farmers Market through Feb. 5.

Chowder Cook-off participants must be licensed by the city and chowder must be prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen. Chowders are voted on for People's Choice Awards, Judges' Choice Awards, and the "Only in North Adams" Award for most unique chowder. Artisan & Farmers Market applicants must handmake their goods to be eligible to vend at the market. Applications can be found online. Space is limited. Acceptance to the market is at the discretion of the department.

Additionally, the city is seeking sponsors for ice blocks to be carved, and artists/craftspeople to carve them. Sponsorship of an ice block costs $80 for a laminated 8.5”x11” company sign mounted to a wooden base in front of the ice sculpture. To sponsor an ice block or volunteer to carve one, please contact the Office of Tourism & Community Events by phone at 413-664-6180 or by email.


Learning through baseball

Baseball in the Berkshires has launched its Educational Outreach Programming that is debuting at the Boys and Girls Club's After School Program and at various locations for the Berkshire Family YMCA After School Program.

Each presentation is literature based and encourages the participants to learn through reading. The 40-minute lessons titled "Sliding Baseball Across the Curriculum" incorporates math, science, history, economics, civil rights, cultural diversity, visual arts, communication arts, special abilities, women's history, music, physics, technology, art, geography, language arts and character education using baseball as the vehicle for education.

This curriculum is based on the National Baseball Hall of Fame Curriculum "Baseball in the Classroom" and is written to the Core Curriculum Standards. The instructor are retired teachers Jeff Wallace (Pittsfield Public Schools) and Larry Moore (Central Berkshire Regional School District), who also are part-time educators with National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This program is sponsored by funding from the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank and Lee Bank.


In production

The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative will present a non-credit workshop, "Film Production 1," in partnership with Berkshire Community College at BCC's Main Campus in Pittsfield. The course will meet for eight sessions on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Feb. 7.

This introduction to film and video production provides a foundation in the principles, techniques and equipment involved in production. Students will write, produce, direct, and edit individual projects. On completing this course, students will understand the basics of scripting, camera operation, direction, lighting, sound, and non-linear editing. They will achieve proficiency in camera operation including framing, exposure, focus and movement as well as demonstrate competency in non-linear editing software. To register, go online under the Professional Development category. The cost is $320; students must be 16 years or older to participate.


Aiding culture

The Pittsfield Cultural Council has announced more than three dozen grants to be awarded to a broad array of projects and initiatives by local artists and cultural organizations. In all, more than $26,500 will be awarded to those presenting cultural events and arts projects that will benefit Pittsfield residents.

The grants are part of the council’s annual grants program, which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that supports public programs and educational activities in the arts, interpretive sciences, and humanities. PCC is funding all or part of 39 projects that will occur during 2018 in the following categories:  Art (13), Multi-media (2), Music (12), Nature/Science (2), Song/Reading (1), Theater (8), Writer Retreat (1).

The Pittsfield Cultural Council is part of a grassroots network of 329 local councils that serve every city and town in the state. The program is the largest, most decentralized one of its kind in the United States. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which then allocates funds to each local council. Decisions about which activities to support are made at the community level by a board of municipally appointed volunteers. The Pittsfield Cultural Council will seek grant applications again in the fall. For more information, visit the website.


Diversity at MCLA

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts "Diversity Fellows" Marc Boucai and Reya Sehgal will serve a two-week residency beginning on Monday, Jan. 29, to demonstrate how students and faculty might use the arts and performance as the campus conversation on diversity continues to move forward.

Several "Diversity Fellow" events will be open to the public. An Artist Talk will take place at MCLA Gallery 51 at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, when Boucai and Sehgal join Michelle Daly, director of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, in a conversation to answer the question, "What is critical camp as an artistic practice?" The event is free and open to the public. In addition, on Friday, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Diversity Fellows will hold a workshop on how to create a performance response to a political topic. This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the MCLA Church Street Center Social Hall.

The residency will culminate in two "Training Day" live arts diversity workshops that explore the languages and performances of diversity and multiculturalism in American institutional spaces. Although one performance is for students only, a second performance, to take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, in the MCLA Church Street Center's Social Hall, is open to the public. Tickets are $10.

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