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Anna Farrington's 'Massachusetts Wildflowers' will be painted on Eagle Street as part of First Friday and Pride Month in June.

North Adams Art Commission Votes Flowers for Eagle Street Pride Mural

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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An illustration of how the mural will look on Eagle Street using Google Maps.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The downtown will be getting a spray of flowers on Eagle Street this June. 
Six flowers — each in a rainbow color and representing a Massachusetts wildflower — will be painted on Eagle Street by volunteers. 
The Public Arts Commission on Monday approved the street mural that will be part of the next First Friday event in June to mark Pride Month. 
The Rainbow Street Crossings proposal was presented by Andrew Fitch, an organizer of the monthly downtown event. He had initially approached the commission for support at its last meeting, which was given.
The mural will be painted on the street next to the mobile parklet that was put in place for the season on Monday morning. 
"I put out a limited request for proposals, just people I've talked to, to kind of get it done quickly," he said. "And I reached out to about seven different key individuals, some of whom are members of the LGBTQIA-plus community."
Of the submissions, Fitch brought forward four that seemed suitable for the space and easy to implement. 
In addition to the flowers, one concept was the word "love" with each letter done in a pattern of rainbow colors that one commissioner thought looked like a Sol Lewitt drawing. The other two were the rainbow colors with the silhouette of an eagle on it and colorful mountains reflecting the Berkshire hills. 
Fitch leaned toward the graphic design of the "love" image as his favorite.
"Honestly, this one excited me the most but I'm certainly open to feedback," he said. "It was just so bright and interesting."
Chair Anna Farrington thought it would be easiest to replicate with paint rollers and would have the most traffic calming effect. 
Speaking of the flowers, Commissioner Emily Johnson imagined they would "feel a bit more loose, where you're hand drawing the flowers whereas like, the 'love seems' a little bit more precise."
The commissioners weren't sure at first how to proceed, noting they had approved concepts but not chosen a particular artwork. 
In two rounds of voting, they chose first the "love" and flowers as their top choices feeling the designs would best suit the space and be visually identifiable to drivers. Then, though love had seemed to be the favorite from the beginning, they unanimously chose the flowers — and seemed a little surprised they had. 
Farrington abstained from voting as the flowers and two other submissions were her designs but Mayor Jennifer Macksey, who was in attendance, voiced her support for the flowers. 
Fitch said the next steps were to get paint and volunteers. The plan is to paint the mural as soon as the street closes before the June First Friday event. 
The mayor asked if chalk had been considered because the city is still having internal discussions about the use of paint on the roadways. Fitch and Harrington said the goal was to have the mural survive the summer with the potential for it to be refreshed each spring. They noted that the mural would not interfere with any traffic markings on Eagle (the City Council had passed on painted crosswalks last year over concerns they could affect state or federal funding). 
The commission also agreed to the mayor's request to put out a call for submissions for a mural on the concrete retaining wall at Western Gateway Heritage State Park. 

Tags: Eagle Street,   murals,   pride,   

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How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.


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