Tech Impact Collaborative Advances Effort to Grow Digital Economy of the Berkshires

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Tech Impact Collaborative, an ongoing collaboration of 1Berkshire, the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at BCC, completed their initial two phases of work to grow a more inclusive digital and tech-enabled economy in the Berkshires. 
 
This collaborative of three organizations, initially formed in 2020, has held over a dozen classes, workshops, webinars and panels through the OLLI platform, engaging more than 1,000 individuals across the Berkshires and beyond. 
 
In September 2021 this collaborative, through staff capacity of 1Berkshire and the BIC, and volunteer capacity from OLLI, began working with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) through a facilitated assessment of the Digital Economy of the Berkshires. This assessment was immediately followed by a three-month-long series of deep dive strategy development workshops and focus groups with CORI, leading to the eventual establishment of a series of seven core strategies to grow the region's digital economy over the next five years. 
 
Supported by financial support of Greylock Federal Credit Union, National Grid, and Berkshire Bank, the Tech Impact Collaborative shares the results of its work to date as it begins the process of building a network and programming Board of Directors. This Board will utilize the assessment and strategy as a scaffolding through which to develop and launch programs, efforts, and initiatives that tactically and strategically develop this emergent and high-growth industry set in the Berkshires, with a heavy focus on equity and support for populations historically underrepresented within this industry. 
 
Both the assessment report and the seven core strategic components of this ongoing work are now publicly available on 1Berkshire's website at https://1berkshire.com/tech-impact-collaborative/.
 
"Working hand in hand with the Center on Rural Innovation has linked us to immense talent capacity and meaningful validation through an outside lens," Benjamin Lamb, 1Berkshire Director of Economic Development said. "To hear we are a prime candidate for scalable digital economy growth is not only reassuring, but also inspiring as we now seek to activate the opportunities in front of us." 
 
As the first two phases of this work came to a point of completion, the Tech Impact Collaborative also became new members of the Rural Innovation Network, a group of 26 rural regions and communities from across the country all tackling the issue of rural tech innovation and digital economy growth. 
 
"The caliber of work by CORI, and the access to a talented peer network from across the country, is truly laying a fantastic foundation for us to build off of," Ben Sosne, Director of the Berkshire Innovation Center said. "With our partners across the region, we can see how valuable and meaningful this work is, and how beneficial it will be as we launch into applying for funding to bring potential opportunities to reality." 
 
By making both the assessment and seven core strategies publicly available on the 1Berkshire website, the Tech Impact Collaborative hopes that individuals, organizations, and partners from across the region can leverage this resource to both join in on the collaborative's work, and also take ownership and action through a collective impact approach. 

Tags: 1Berkshire,   BIC,   

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Pittsfield Rallies for Reproductive Rights

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 200 people gathered at Park Square on Sunday in solidary with reproductive rights and to mourn the Supreme Court's overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

"My wish is that we can take this energy that's here today and all the people that didn't work out to be here today, to really take this energy and to funnel it so that we can take real action," state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said.

"And the change is not something that's going to happen in a couple of months or even a couple of years but we have to be as strong as the opposition because we know we're that we're the majority, it's just that so far, we're not the majority that votes. So we've got to get to work, we need to do it strategically and persistently."

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday voted to reverse the 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation. This ruling means that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion and it undermines other right to privacy decisions including contraception, marriage and medical issues. 

"It's pretty shattering," Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick said. "It brings us back more than 50 years."

Massachusetts is one of 35 states, including the District of Columbia, where it is still legal to have the procedure after the ruling. Abortions are potentially illegal or soon to be illegal in at least 11 states and illegal in five, according to Politico.com.

On Friday, Republican Gov. Charlier Baker signed an executive order protecting access to reproductive health care services in the commonwealth. The order gives health-care professionals protection from legal liability from professional sanctions issued under the laws of other states.

"I am deeply disappointed in today's decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services," Baker said. "The commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman's right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access."

Numerous officials have weighed in, with District Attorney Andrea Harrington saying the reversal "threatens the health and safety of women nationwide by limiting access to safe reproductive health care and undermining the public's trust in law enforcement."
 
"Abortion bans disproportionately harm sexual abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking, and domestic violence victims," she said. "This decision will only strip survivors of gender-based violence of their safety, dignity, and autonomy and severely jeopardizes our ability to hold criminals accountable."
 
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it a "five-alarm fire" and with other Democrats called on the president "to mobilize a whole-of-government response to protect abortion rights."
 
Two Republican candidates for office cheered the decision, with gubernatorial hopeful Geoff Diehl and Leah Allen, endorsed by the party for lieutenant governor, said they supported "the proper interpretation of our Constitution" by placing the question of abortion back to the states. 
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