Instead of focusing on what people were afraid of with new challenges of community investment, participants in the October forum were asked to instead look at what "inclusive development" they would like to see.
But when the topics are narrowed down and announced, Executive Director Amber Besaw warned, people in the room on Friday shouldn't be surprised if they saw ideas they hadn't heard mentioned in the room at The Green. That's because, for the first time, the Coalition held a call-in session on Aug. 23 to gather ideas. And, Coalition staffers will be hitting the streets and community events to talk to still more people about the needs.
Parts of that hole, however, could be filled by the inspiring and uplifting words of the speakers who came to the podium on Friday to share what the idea of "building community" — the theme of the meeting, complete with a Lego brick motif and cake — meant to them.
Elena Traister, professor of environmental studies at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, got the ball rolling by reminding the audience of the importance of those "three Rs" - but also of their pitfalls.
Seven youths from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Youth Leadership Program led the Coalition's monthly form on March 12. Representing all four North County high schools, the teens talked to the adults about why adults don't always listen to the point of view of teenagers - and how that can change.
The topics brought together people from all walks of life with an interest in the health and well-being of North Berkshire children, including school nurses and pediatricians, child care providers and social workers, education officials and many, many parents with first-hand interest and experience.
The group of about 60 guests gathered on Friday, Nov. 16, to watch "Resilience," James Redford's film that chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists and educators who are using cutting-edge brain science to develop trauma-informed communities.
Friends, family and many supporters gathered to honor and congratulate individuals and groups in the Northern Berkshire communities whose acts of kindness and volunteer efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of their neighbors and the community.
Nelson's work on that project and his inspiration within the community in leading by example won't be forgotten. During a tribute on Monday night for Nelson, who died in July at age 83, the pantry's new name was revealed as the Al Nelson Friendship Center.
The most visible of the efforts made since March is the formation of Men Initiating Change In North County (MIC INC), a group founded by North Adams City Councilor Benjamin Lamb that aims to fill a "gap in the ecosystem" of support for victims of relational violence.
The word is being thrown around North Adams circles as more property is being bought and developed by "outsiders." Two recent projects included the development of the former Cariddi Mill into Greylock Works and the former Redwood Motel property in the Tourists resort.
Wendy Penner said that several years ago, the coalition decided for a couple of reasons to direct its efforts away from the compliance checks and toward at-risk behavior it perceived as more prevalent in the region.
Former North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, who has been collecting myriad honors and awards since leaving office in January after eight years as mayor, was given the Northern Berkshire Hero Award at the Coalition's annual meeting at the Williams Inn.
The Freeman Center offers 24-hour support for these victims - mostly women but a small percentage of men, as well, around 2,000 every year from all towns, races and ages — from a telephone hotline (866-401-2425), offices in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington, and a secure shelter in Pittsfield.