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CET has won an award for its work on promoting composting.

Berkshires Beat: Center for EcoTechnology Wins 2017 Composting Challenge

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The winner is

The Center for EcoTechnology, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Pittsfield, has been awarded top honor in the North American 2017 Rathmann Challenge, "Mitigating Climate Change: Expanding the Use of Compost," for its pioneering work over the past 20 years to expand the use of composting to reduce wasted food, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The announcement of the award was made on Wednesday, November 1, by the Rathmann Family Foundation. The Rathmann Challenge, which was launched in 2014, seeks to advance organizations possessing the creativity, entrepreneurial ethos, and innovative spirit to make a positive difference in the world. CET receives $100,000 for its past work and the exclusive invitation from the Rathmann Family Foundation to apply for an Even Bigger Idea grant of $200,000.    

Approximately 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, at great cost to communities, the economy and the environment. Every year, American consumers, businesses and farms spend $218 billion a year, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. About 52 million tons of food is sent to landfill annually; another 10 million tons is discarded or left unharvested on farms. When disposed of, wasted food creates greenhouse gas emissions and is a significant contributor to climate change. Meanwhile, one in seven Americans is food insecure.

In 2011, CET worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to establish the Massachusetts RecyclingWorks program. RecyclingWorks provides businesses and institutions in Massachusetts with free consultation and expert technical assistance to put into place cost-effective waste management programs, including composting. In 2014, Massachusetts implemented one of the first statewide food waste bans in the United States, banning landfill disposal of organic waste by large scale producers such as supermarkets and colleges. To date, CET has helped spur an expansion of compost production in Massachusetts by approximately 25,000 tons annually.

CET is embarking on a new, long term effort to increase its impact by sharing its expertise in wasted food reduction across the Northeast and beyond. CET has begun performing food waste diversion work in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Massachusetts. CET is also collaborating with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic to produce a white paper that will share food waste diversion information and advice nationally, and developing other national partnerships as well.

Pies for sale

The women of the First Congregation Church North Adams are selling their homemade apple pies. The pies are 9 inch, two crust, and prepared using a treasured family "grandma's apple pie recipe."

Pies are $12 each and must be ordered by Nov. 13 by calling Helga at 413-664-9743. Pies can be picked up Nov. 18 at the church, ready to bake for Thanksgiving.


Birding book

The Hoffmann Bird Club of Berkshire County published its first-ever book, "An Annotated List of the Birds of Berkshire County, Massachusetts,"  in September. The book consists of descriptions and historical records for every known bird ever recorded in Berkshire County, and includes a history of the club, and its namesake, Ralph Hoffmann.

The book contains three main sections. The first and largest section is the life's work of former Berkshire County naturalist Dave St. James, who studied, recorded and catalogued Berkshires' avian life for his entire lifetime. He also draws on all known historical sources. The second section deals with the history of the Hoffmann Bird Club, the Berkshires' premier ornithological society, founded in 1940. And third, a history of Ralph Hoffmann is included. Hoffmann was born in Stockbridge in 1870. He was a very prominent American ornithologist and botanist, and the Environmental Center at Berkshire Community College is also named for him.

The book is not a guide book, but a catalogue of our local birds and their sightings through history.   The book consists of 160 pages, and has two indexes, one for common bird names, and one index for the scientific names. The book can purchased locally at Wild Birds Country Store and the Book Loft in Great Barrington, the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bookstore in Lenox, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield and the Williams Bookstore in Williamstown.

The public is welcome and invited to the many birding trips and forays within the Berkshires and surrounding areas. The public is also welcome to the Monthly Meetings, which usually include presentations. For further information, see the club's website. The next meeting is Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at Guardian Life Insurance, 700 South St., Pittsfield.


The giving trees

Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity will hold its annual Christmas Tree Showcase at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Williamstown on Saturday, Dec.2 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., as part of the annual Williamstown Holiday Walk. Last year more than 130 trees were raffled off.

Members of the community, schools, churches, local businesses and community organizations are invited to purchase miniature artificial trees for $7 each to decorate and contribute to the showcase and raffle, or for personal use. Trees may be purchased at the following locations: in Williamstown at St. John's Church (church school entrance), 35 Park St., First Congregational Church, 906 Main St., Harsch Associate, 311 Main St., Alton and Westall, 77 Water St., and Goodman’s Jewelers 32 Spring St.; and in North Adams at DiLego Jewelry Store, 16 Ashland St., the First Baptist Church, 131 Main St., Mount Williams Greenhouses, 1090 State Road.

Trees can also be picked up at the Habitat Office at 61 Main St., North Adams, on Monday through Friday 9 a.m. until noon. If you have questions, please call the Habitat office at 413-664-4440.


Survey says

The Pittsfield Community Preservation Committee has released a public input survey as part of its efforts related to the development of a Community Preservation Plan. The survey is designed to be completed in less than five minutes, with the ability to provide substantive input, if desired. The results of the survey will be incorporated into an overall plan that will assist the committee in decision making as to the allocations of Community Preservation Act funds. The committee plans to complete this work by early 2018.

The plan is a required step that allows the community to develop priorities in how Community Preservation Act funds are spent within four allotted categories: parks, open space, historic preservation, and community housing. The survey can be found online. Paper copies will also be made available for pickup/drop-off through the Department of Community Development.


4-H meeting

Teens ages 12 to 8 are invited to join the local 4-H group. There will be a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Brattle Farm, 600 Williams St., Pittsfield.

This group meets once a month, planning the annual Berkshire County Youth Fair, a one-day fair that happens in Pittsfield on the third Saturday in August. Contact the Berkshire 4-H Office for more information at 413-448-8285.


Developing diversity

The Creating Connections Consortium (C3), a consortium that promotes diversity in higher education, has received a $5.5 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund tenure-track positions in the humanities at Williams College and 27 other American liberal arts colleges.

The five-year grant will help Williams and other participating colleges accelerate their efforts to diversify their faculty. By including a range of member schools from the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers consortium (LADO), the grant will also broaden C3’s reach beyond its lead liberal arts colleges, Williams, Middlebury, Bates and Connecticut College.

The grant replaces the consortium’s Postdoctoral Fellows program with C3 Professorships that will offer up to two years of funding for tenure-track positions in the humanities. A minimum of 16 such positions will be allocated across the participating schools. Graduates of any institution will be eligible for the C3-supported positions. Previously, Postdoctoral Fellows were only selected from among graduates of the C3’s four partner universities: Berkeley, Columbia, Michigan and the University of Chicago.

The new grant will also fund the New Scholar Series, departmental events that bring emerging scholars from underrepresented populations to participating campuses to speak about new and developing areas of their disciplines.


Swim lessons

The Dalton Community Recreation is registration for Session 2 Swimming Lessons. Lessons run from Nov. 13 through Jan. 27. A General CRA Jr. Membership ($40) is required and everyone must wear a swim cap.

The Dalton CRA offers a full range of swimming lessons including: Parent-Toddler (6 months to 3 years, parent needs to be in the pool with toddler); Pre-School (3-5 years, not in Kindergarten); Beginners (5 years and up); Beginners Deep End (5 years and up - no bubble); Advanced Beginners (Saturday morning class now offered), Intermediate Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer. Cost for lessons is $65 (plus Membership) for 10 week session (Note, Mon, Thurs, Fri and Sat classes run nine weeks and cost is $58.50 plus membership.) Parent Toddler lessons are $30 (plus membership).

There will be no lessons Nov. 23-24 and Dec. 23 through Jan. 1. Register at the Dalton CRA. For more information and class schedule, call the CRA at 413-684-0260.


Rainbow women

The Women's Group of Berkshire Rainbow Seniors meets the fourth Saturday of every month in the Garden Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church, 175 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Rainbow Seniors is a social group for LGBTQ seniors and their friends, supported in part by Title III of the Older Americans Act. Visit the website at for more information.


Come together

Democratic Committee members from Adams, Williamstown, North Adams and Lanesborough held a Unity Gathering at the Holiday Inn Berkshires in North Adams on Saturday, Oct. 21. All primary candidates for state representative - Lisa Blackmer, Stephanie Bosley and Kevin Towle - were on board as well as the nominated candidate John Barrett III, who launched the next leg on the journey to the State House. Barrett praised the other candidates for their professionalism during the campaign and addressing the issues confronting the 1st Berkshire District

State Sen. Adam Hinds addressed the audience on the importance of rallying behind the winner of the hard-fought four way race. He also gave an update on two major issues to be worked on in Boston - health care subsidies and criminal justice reform. He also spoke about proposed expansion of rail in the Berkshires.

Democrats in North Adams are reminded that there will be two separate ballots for state representative along with the local election candidates on Nov. 7. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All North Adams wards cast their ballots at St. Elisabeth Parish Center. The next meeting of the North Adams Democratic City Committee will be held in the conference room at the North Adams Public Library on Nov. 9 from 6:15 to 8 p.m.

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Marie's North Street Eatery Cuts Ribbon in Pittsfield

By Brittany
The owners of Marie’s North Street Eatery and Gallery hold a ribbon cutting recently.

PITTSFIELD, Mass.- Marie’s North Street Eatery and Gallery brings grab-and-go offerings to North Street in a revamped storefront.  White it has been open since December, a ribbon cutting was held last week as a formal debut. 

Owner Neil Davis wanted a place to “put my foot down in the community” while making social connections. Partner Ashley Marie handles the kitchen and menu curating, focusing on breakfast and lunch favorites.

“We want to have grab-and-go availability for the downtown worker crowd but also we have a made to order lunch menu,” she said.

This includes sandwiches, soups, a salad bar, a rotating hot or cold dip, and future made to order breakfast items. The turkey avocado on farmer's bread has been a customer favorite.

Former tenant Maria Sekowski won’t be found singing karaoke regularly, but the legacy of Maria’s European Delights is honored with her well-known kielbasa on the menu. There is also a “Maria’s Pantry” section with favorites like her packaged pierogis.

The new name pays homage to its predecessor.

“The last week before she closed the business, I sat here with her every day all day and learned her customers,” Marie said.

“I do have a lot of returning customers that came back so I learned what people come in here and look for and mainly we found that it was the kielbasa and the frozen pierogis so they could take home and cook later.”

She added that her and Sekowski spent “a lot of time” talking about recipes for soup and kapusta, a Polished cabbage dish, and she will always be there to lend a helping hand while enjoying her retirement.

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