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Plant Connection Co-owners Bonnie Marks and Emilee Yawn at the grand opening of the pop-up shop.
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The shop will look different than the North Adams location.
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The shop will also host various planting events, among other things.
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Plant Connector Pop-up Opens in Pittsfield

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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The store originally opened in North Adams.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — North County business owners Emilee Yawn and Bonnie Marks brought their community-loving plant shop, Plant Connector, to Central County. 
The pop-up shop, located at 64 North St., will be open until Dec. 31. The pop-up shop will replicate the much-loved North County store with an assortment of plants, home decor, and events.
Yawn said the Plant Connector, which opened on Eagle Street in North Adams in 2020, is all about connecting people with plants and each other.
"So, the Plant Connector is just about connecting people to each other and to the world around them," she said. 
In 2022 the shop outgrew the Eagle Street storefront and moved to a larger location on Main Street - Now the two are looking towards Pittsfield.
Although the shop will be similar to the North Adams location, Yawn said because of the different architecture the pop-up shop will be different.
Although the space brings the area aspects of the North Adams location, the different architecture of the building makes the aesthetic of the space different, Yawn said. 
Yawn said the North Adams location is "poppy" "pink" "joyful" and "quirky." 
"We call it dangerous pestle," she added. 
The Pittsfield pop-up aesthetic is still developing based on how the customers use the space and the needs that arise from the events but it currently brings a more "industrial," "rustic," "natural" and "concrete," aesthetic.  
The two have set up the pop-up shop to see if there would be an interest in such a business in Pittsfield. Co-owner Bonnie Marks said it has been hard for some of their customers to visit the North Adams store as frequently.
"So, the reason that we came to Pittsfield is we thought there was a need for another community shop that would really try to build the downtown," she said. 
In addition to that they would like to better connect North, Central, and South County.
Yawn and Marks are very capable, passionate, and motivated individuals, Massachusetts Development Transformative Development Initiative fellow Julie Copoulos said. 
Copoulos said the owners don't just look at the bottom line. They are trying to "create an ecosystem here for growth." 
"We're very excited to see Plant Connector in downtown Pittsfield because we see it as the heart of the Berkshires and the space that ties together the ecosystem of the Berkshires at large," Copoulos said. "We love to see budding businesses like Plant Connector come here into the heart of our community into downtown Pittsfield and bring in people from all over the Berkshires which is a beautiful place to work, live and play."
When community organizer and CozQuest owner Liam Gorman connected Yawn and Marks with the Massachusetts Development Transformative Development Initiative and Allegrone Companies the pieces all came together, Copoulos said. 
"I think this initiative represents a really beautiful combination of partnerships," Copoulos said.
Yawn said over the years it feels like the communities have built their own "stereotypes." She added that new people seem to be moving to the area, which is exciting.
"I moved to North Adams from San Francisco eight years ago, and I'm just seeing a lot of people are moving from other places." 
"No matter where people are from they are still people, Yawn said. "So, we're just trying to connect." 
The two were impressed by the response that Marks said has been overwhelming.
"When we opened in North Adams, we had the same kind of response. So, people have been stopping by during the day as we've been setting up and they're super excited," she said. 
Yawn has lived in North Adams for seven years and has gotten to know a lot of people there. Now that they are looking into a Pittsfield location she is really enjoying getting to know the vibe of the city and the people who live there.
The collaboration does not just stop at the opening of the pop-up. The Plant Connector has also worked with some of the surrounding businesses and organizations including WitchSlapped, and Berkshire Pride. 
Events to look forward to include holiday wreath making, terrarium workshops, a do-it-yourself terrarium station, air-plant centerpiece making, and other activities.


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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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