Berkshires Beat: Williamstown Residents Riding in Pan-Mass Challenge
Quite a challenge: On Aug. 5 and 6, three riders from Williamstown will cycle up to 192 miles in the Pan-Mass Challenge with the goal of raising $48 million for critical research and cancer care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. During PMC weekend, Laurie Thomsen, Kris Herman and Sam Smith from Williamstown will join the more than 6,200 cyclists from more than 40 states and eight countries who will participate in the PMC, choosing from 12 routes of varying mileage that run through 46 towns. Cyclists are anywhere between 15 and 84 years old and range from seasoned triathletes to weekend warriors who trained for this event alone and everything in between.
Many riders participate in the PMC to honor a family member or friend lost to, or being treated for, cancer. More than 600 riders and volunteers are cancer survivors or current patients, considered "Living Proof" of the PMC mission to find a cure. The average cyclist trains for three months, solicits 40 sponsors and raises more than $7,000. Volunteers, spectators, donors and sponsors are part of the camaraderie on ride weekend, all working together toward a cure.
No other single athletic event raises or contributes more money to charity than the PMC. Since 1980, the PMC has raised $547 million dollars for Dana-Farber through the Jimmy Fund, its fundraising arm. In fact, the PMC is Dana-Farber’s largest single contributor, raising more than 52 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue. The PMC is presented by the Red Sox Foundation and New Balance. To make a financial contribution to a rider from your town or become a virtual rider, visit www.pmc.org, or call 800-WE-CYCLE.
Digging it: The City of Pittsfield Department of Community Development Recreation Program has announced the return of Dig This! Volleyball. The city and Advance Volleyball Academy have teamed up for the continuation of this free program which will introduce and teach volleyball including the fundamentals, rules, and key skills of the sport.
The two-day program will be held Aug. 7-8 for children ages 6 to 10 who reside in Pittsfield. It will run from 10 a.m. to noon at The Common on First Street. Pre-registration is required, and is first-come, first-serve due to limited amount of spaces in the program. Depending on the popularity of the program, additional sessions may be added. Forms are available at the Department of Community Development in room 205 of City Hall, or online on the city’s website.
Records destroyed: In accordance with state regulations, all temporary cumulative school records for students who have graduated from Hoosac Valley High School Class of 2010 will be destroyed after Friday, Sept. 15. Any student interested in retrieving their records may pick them up in the School’s Main Office Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students who received services from the Special Education Department and wish to inquire about these records should call the Special Education Department at 413-743-5202, ext. 1107. High school official transcripts are maintained for 60 years following graduation.
Looking closer: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has released "A Closer Look," a new report resulting from a yearlong assessment project designed to share key data and resident perspectives on the region while sharpening the foundation’s focus as it enters its third decade. The publication caps a process begun in June 2016 through which Berkshire Taconic — along with research partner Mt. Auburn Associates— held a series of conversations with residents around its four-county region to better understand the most pressing issues today. Through a dozen focus groups and four online surveys, the foundation engaged close to 2,300 people. Mt. Auburn also reviewed a wide range of existing reports and studies to provide a meaningful context for the discussions and report.
The report highlights a group of five themes that emerged from the research and community dialogues, and presents a combination of key facts and resident perspectives for each theme that help document the region today: Jobs & the Economy; Demographic Transition; Youth & the Future Workforce; Deepening Inequality; and Assets & Infrastructure.
Results from the project's resident survey include findings like 60 percent of all residents reported challenges accessing job opportunities for themselves or a family member; one in five reported challenges with transportation to work or school; one in eight reported challenges securing fresh and healthy food; and 44 percent of residents under age 46 answered "yes" or "maybe" when asked if they are considering moving in the next three years
In coming months, Berkshire Taconic will engage with donors, nonprofits, business and civic leaders, and residents to stimulate additional thinking and strategy development in response to this report. The foundation will also host several events in the fall to continue asking critical questions for the region’s future—including how philanthropy can make a difference. A Closer Look can be downloaded online.
On the court: Shakespeare & Company has received a $15,000 grant from Berkshire United Way to support its Shakespeare in the Courts program. Through this program adjudicated juvenile offenders in Pittsfield work with Shakespeare & Company Education Artists for six weeks exploring Shakespeare's text while preparing their own fully produced Shakespeare production.
In conjunction with the Berkshire Juvenile Court System, adolescent offenders in the Shakespeare in the Courts program study, rehearse, and perform Shakespeare as an alternative to more punitive consequences. For the past 17 years, Shakespeare & Company Education artists have worked closely with Berkshire Juvenile Court Judges and Probation Officers of Berkshire County to engage adolescent offenders and at-risk youth, and provide an alternative to traditional punitive measures.
This innovative, effective and action-oriented program has recently garnered local and national media attention, including a morning segment on CBS News earlier this year. Shakespeare in the Courts was also nationally recognized and celebrated at a White House Ceremony as a recipient of The Coming Up Taller Awards, and honored as an outstanding community arts program with a Gold Star Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Wild women: The Abode of the Message, an Eco-Sufi Village in New Lebanon, N.Y., will host the fourth annual Wild Woman Fest atop the Abode Mountain Camp. This year's festival is divided into two sessions: Waxing, from Aug. 2-6, and Waning, from Aug. 9-13, united by its theme, the Mystic Moon. Both sessions invite women from all over the world to gather for five days and four nights of dance, yoga, meditation, experiential workshops, bonfires, and more.
The Wild Woman Project was founded by Chris Maddox in 2012. At once a philosophy and international movement, The Wild Woman Project aims to strengthen the hearts and souls of all women through a rich weaving of creativity, interspiritual teachings, self-inquiry, and a love for the natural world. Wild Woman Fest is a celebratory time for women to explore the hidden facets of themselves and manifest new possibilities in a supportive environment grounded in the necessity to heal.
This year's lineup includes a variety of educators, artists, yoga practitioners, and spiritual teachers dedicated to the Wild Woman Project’s mission. Teachers and participants will take a collective look at mysticism, lunar wisdom, sacred sisterhood, and soulful celebration. Participants are welcome to attend one session or both. The program is open to all who identify as women. Register online.
Lake closed: Pontoosuc Lake will be closed on Monday, Aug. 7, for a second round of herbicide treatment. The lake will be closed to all uses that day. Activities such as swimming, fishing and boating, as well as the use of lake water for watering livestock, can resume on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Please note there are restrictions to other activities in the wake of the treatment. Lake water for drinking and cooking is prohibited for three days until Aug. 10; and the use of lake water for irrigation is prohibited for five days until Aug.12.
The target species for this treatment is the European Naiad plant. The second treatment is necessary as this plant does not flourish until mid-to -late July, and would not be impacted by the initial herbicide treatment implemented in late May/early June.