MassDevelopment Awards Grant to Roots Rising

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — MassDevelopment has awarded a $7,500 grant to Roots Rising for the development of its new urban youth farm in Pittsfield.
 
Funds will support community engagement, land assessment, farm research, and business planning purposes. 
 
The funds are awarded through MassDevelopment's special Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which was made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors.
 
"The Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help the vibrant centers of our cities and towns bounce back as a driving force behind the strength of local economies, and continue to be the places where we gather to dine, to shop, and to be entertained," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment's Board of Directors. "The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased that this Resurgent Places grant to Roots Rising's Urban Youth Farm will provide additional resources to improve youth development, combat food insecurity, and support an equitable recovery."
 
The urban farm's mission will focus on youth development and food justice; providing meaningful work for disadvantaged teens; addressing food insecurity within Pittsfield, including by selling food grown at the farm at Roots Rising farmers markets at affordable prices; and creating a green hub for the community. 
 
"This project is all about growth: cultivating healthy and affordable food for those experiencing food insecurity, empowering young people with the skills they need to live positive and fulfilling lives, and creating a space for the community to come together," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. "MassDevelopment is excited to support Roots Rising as it strives to turn its vision of an urban youth farm into a reality for the City of Pittsfield."
 
Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and from August – October 2020 awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 placemaking projects across Massachusetts.
 
In December 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $390,000 in funding for a second Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places. Nonprofits and other community groups can apply to MassDevelopment for seed grants of between $250 to $7,500 to fund inclusive community engagement, visioning, and local capacity building that will support future placemaking efforts, or implementation grants of up to $50,000 to execute a placemaking project. For implementation grants, up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations.
 

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BEAT: Conserving Flowers and their Pollinators

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joan Edwards will speak at the May Pittsfield Green Drinks event on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM and give a slideshow presentation about the rapidly decreasing biodiversity that is taking place globally, known as the sixth extinction. 
 
She will specifically focus on flowers and their insect visitors. 
 
This sixth extinction is primarily driven by human actions, from habitat loss to climate change. The impacts of biodiversity loss are far-reaching, resulting in biological communities that are less resilient and with diminished ecosystems services. As part of the discussion, Joan will explore the impact of biodiversity loss in the pollinator-flower world and examine how the surprising dynamics of flower-pollinator networks can help to conserve both flowers and their pollinators.
 
Joan Edwards is a botanist interested in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur in milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements, including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, the splash cups of liverworts, and the "poppers" of wood sorrel. Her early fieldwork was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. 
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