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Corpse flowers were first planted at Darrow in 2009 in the sheltered confines of the school’s Samson Environmental Center (SEC). Four bloomed in 2012, six in 2013, and now, according to Lily Corral, biology teacher, sustainability coordinator, and director of the SEC, as many as 10 flowers have sprouted, several of which are at the blooming stage.

Berkshires Beat: Corpse Flower in Bloom at Darrow School

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Corpse flowers bloom

It’s spring at The Darrow School in New Lebanon, N.Y. That means the sap is rising, the birds are singing, the sun is lingering, and something in the air stinks. This means that the rare corpse flower is in full bloom. Corpse flowers were first planted at Darrow in 2009 in the sheltered confines of the school’s Samson Environmental Center (SEC). Four bloomed in 2012, six in 2013, and now, according to Lily Corral, biology teacher, sustainability coordinator, and director of the SEC, as many as 10 flowers have sprouted, several of which are at the blooming stage.

"The corpse flower is a rare plant that is challenging to grow," Corral said. "It wouldn't be possible in this region without a facility like the Samson Environmental Center and the careful attention of both students and faculty. It's a real triumph for us as a secondary school, and yet another visible symbol of Darrow's commitment to global education and to environmental stewardship and preservation."

The corpse flower is an Indonesian plant, also known as the konjac arum (Amorphophallus konjac). It boasts the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, and the third largest flower of all known plants. The flower gets its name from its distinctive odor, which many liken to the smell of rotting meat. The corpse flower, a relative of the calla lily and the jack-in-the-pulpit, grows wild in the rainforests of Southeast Asia from a large underground corm. The plant first flowered in cultivation in London in 1889. Fewer than 50 of the largest variety of corpse flower, the titan arum, are known to have bloomed in the United States, with the smaller konjac arum, typically found only in botanical gardens, museums, and private greenhouse collections.

The flower's large green bud grows at a rate of about an inch per day, until it finally blooms into a central stem that can reach up to four feet tall, as well as a huge, purplish-brown blossom that resembles an asymmetrical collar. Its powerful fumes, which last for days, help to attract pollinating insects. After about a week, the plant wilts and goes dormant for its next phase, a branching, treelike structure.

Built in 1988, the SEC features many green-design elements, from photovoltaic panels to wind turbines, and is the destination for more than 500 visitors annually from schools, civic and municipal organizations, urban planning firms, and the general public. The SEC also houses the Living Machine, an innovative wastewater treatment facility that uses a natural ecosystem to clean wastewater from campus dorms and buildings before returning it to the Hudson River watershed.


North Adams Historical Society Meeting

The North Adams Historical Society invites its members and interested public to the annual dinner Sunday, April 7, beginning with dinner at 1 p.m. at the Boston Sea Foods Restaurant. Registration forms were mailed in the March 2019 issue of Hoosac Trails or may be obtained by contacting 413-664-4700 or Registration forms with prepayment should be returned by April 1. The business meeting begins at 2 and the program at 2:15 of "The Forgotten Ledge of Fort Massachusetts" by Wendy Champney. The program is free and open to the public. 


Mary Rentz feted

Longtime community leader and arts and culture advocate Mary Rentz will be honored by the Berkshire Art Association on Thursday, March 28. A free reception at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, previewing the BAA's annual College Art Student Fellowship Show, will be followed by a ticketed event on Hotel on North. All proceeds will benefit the BAA, which supports the visual arts and especially visual arts education in Berkshire County.

Rentz created Sheeptacular in 2004, a public arts initiative that brought accessible public art by local artists to the streets of downtown Pittsfield, and raised almost $300,000 for public art projects(BAA)  in Pittsfield. Rentz also led the City of Pittsfield's creative celebration of its 250th birthday, as well as The Art of the Game, a public arts project that celebrated Pittsfield's long history and love affair with baseball.

In addition, she served as the BAA's president for many years, helping to organize annual shows showcasing the work of college art students, and to establish the annual Pittsfield Arts Show, an outdoor juried arts festival held downtown every summer for a number of years. In 2015 she was honored with the Berkshire Award by Berkshire Museum for her community efforts,

Rentz has also been a longtime active supporter of Hancock Shaker Village, serving on its board for many years.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts reception will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, and is free and open to the public. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is located at 28 Renne Avenue in Pittsfield and is a city-owned arts center featuring a gallery, artist studios and a ceramics studio. Immediate following there will be a fundraising reception at the Hotel on North, located at 297 North Street in downtown Pittsfield. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online or at the door.


Tobacco Cessation Class

Catamount Connections, RiseVT, and Southwestern Vermont Health Care, along with Anytime Fitness, are working with the Vermont Blueprint for Health to entice those who smoke to attend the Blueprint’s quit-smoking program. A new FreshStart Tobacco Cessation Class is scheduled 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, April 4, 11, 18, and 25 at Catamount Connections, 504 Main Street, Suite 1 in Bennington, Vt.

Developed by the American Cancer Society and associated with Vermont Quit Partners and 802 Quits, the four-week session will provide all of the educational material as previous sessions, including an opportunity to learn the facts about tobacco, find new ways to quit, get free nicotine replacement, and meet others interested in quitting. Additional benefits for participants in the upcoming session include free childcare, snacks, and giveaways. Notably, each participant who finishes the program will receive a one-month membership to Anytime Fitness.

The after-work time slot and walkable location will make it easier for those interested in learning more about quitting tobacco to attend. The program is free. Those interested in quitting tobacco should contact Kathy at 802-440-4098 or by email to register.


BFAIR accreditation

BFAIR (Berkshire Family & Individual Resources) received a three-year Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities accreditation for their Community Integration and AFC (Adult Foster Care) services. The accreditation extends through 2022.

During the evaluation process BFAIR was praised on the dedication of the leadership, board, and staff being strongly invested in the mission of the agency. Consumers, families and stakeholders are highly satisfied with the level of services and communication that BFAIR offers including health and safety.

BFAIR is person-centered in service delivery with plans for each person served and ensures that individuals, staff, and leadership are continuously involved in the local community through activities and partnerships with local organizations.  



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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

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