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A series of photos were shot of city employees to help show the work they do.

Pittsfield Highlight Employees' Work Through Photo Project

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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This is one of the dozen or so professional photos that will be on display to help with not only breaking down barriers with the community but also to recruit new employees.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When people think about "the city" or "the government," images of politicians,  the pillars at City Hall, a logo, or a badge jump into their mind. 
They don't necessarily see the city as being made up of individuals, humans, who have regular lives just like anyone else doing jobs just like themselves.
The city has just launched a campaign to help break down that perception. City officials hired photographer Emma Rothenberg-Ware to shoot a series of photos, one of which is on a billboard on Merrill Road; the rest will be hung in City Hall, to show the faces of those who do the work of keeping Pittsfield running every day.
"The idea for the project came about in 2018 and honestly, it was about finding a way to highlight employees and go beyond City Hall or city government as being this entity that doesn't have a face or a name. There are so many hardworking people that work for the city of Pittsfield and it was really about making sure they were acknowledged in some way," said Director of Administrative Services Roberta McCulloch-Dews on Wednesday when the series was unveiled at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.
McCulloch-Dews said funding was limited but about a dozen or so professional photos were taken of city workers. They will be displayed in City Hall and in the future be used for other outreach efforts and on social media -- and be on file for uses in the future. 
McCulloch-Dews said the campaign hits on three fronts: It recognizes the employees for the work they do, breaks down barriers between the city employees and the community, and helps recruit new workers.
"When you humanize government there is more of an ability to break down those barriers, have those different conversations, and be able to relate to one another better. That's what this is all about. It is about breaking down those barriers," she said.
The campaign is called "Proud to Serve You." She characterized it as another way to further engage the public in the same way as the Citizen's Academy.
"These are people, everyday people, who are behind this city working hard every day. But it is service. We are serving the people of Pittsfield. Here we are and we are serving you," McCulloch-Dews said.
The funding came through the Personnel Department's recruitment budget. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said the city, like many employers, struggle to find workers. Putting the city at a further disadvantage is that people don't think of the city as a place to work or people don't know about the vast types of opportunities that the city has available.
"We wanted to show how eclectic the work that is available. We have engineers, we have laborers, obviously public safety, administrative, every various aspect you can think of there is probably a place here at the city and we hope people will think of us when considering our next employer," Taylor said. 
Taylor attends job fairs frequently and sets up a table for attendees to see what's available and said often people would question what he was doing there.
"They don't think of their city as an employer. It is not the first thing that comes to people's minds. That really took me back," Taylor said.
He said the photos are in stock to help with recruitment material in the future. He said there was a priority placed on showing the wide range of jobs available as well as the diversity in the workplace. He hopes the campaign will help others think about potential opportunities and deepen the pool of potential for employment when jobs are available.

Taylor said a priority was to show various departments and employees to depict the wide-ranging job opportunities available.
"When I am looking through a candidate pool and bringing people in for interviews, I wish for a more diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds. We have gotten better but there are opportunities for growth there," Taylor said.
McCulloch-Dews said the campaign puts even a little seed into someone's head of "that could be me" and hopefully they'll keep an eye on potential job opportunities the city has to offer.
"We want people to see themselves. When people see pictures, pictures are a visual invitation of 'that could be me,'" she said.
"We want people in the community to see that they too can be part of the city of Pittsfield if it is the right fit for them."
But overall, both McCulloch-Dews and Taylor want the project to shed some light and give some recognition to those who show up to serve the public every day while seldom being noticed or recognized for it.
"I felt it was really important to recognize our employees because they are out there doing this amazing work. Doing this photo campaign is a way to really put the face to the names doing the work," Taylor said. 

Tags: employment,   public employees,   

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DA's Office, Pittsfield Schools Collaborate on Early Intervention Grant

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, explains how the program works. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A collaboration of the Berkshire District attorney's office and the Pittsfield Public Schools is using $25,000 in seed money in hopes of growing a sustainable program for social emotional learning in the schools. 
The program, Tuned Transitions, is being funded through a grant from the state Department of Probation and will be implemented in the Conte and Morningside community schools for Grades 2 through 5. The curriculum was developed by Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, a mental health advocacy and coaching organization.
"I have to say, as a parent, I understand how much the closing of schools and the switch to virtual learning has impacted children," said District Attorney Andrea Harrington at a press conference at Conte School on Wednesday. "And the disparity between children who are able to live in a safe home, children who are able to have access to education, and those who do not during the pandemic is going to be the social justice issues of our time."
Bridges will be the facilitator for the program, which will use personal storytelling as the focus to aid children in working through their experiences and challenges. Her business was inspired by her overcoming her own mental and social challenges as a child actor in Los Angeles. The program is evidence-based and is based off the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, program used in schools. 
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