Business Briefs: Pittsfield Better Block; new BCC education department; reading app aids literacy; BIC pop-up fundraiser; Williamstown Community Chest grants

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By Thursday, Aug 24 Trade and Commerce
The concept plan for the Pittsfield Better block on Tyler Street. Image courtesy Pittsfield Better Block

Pittsfield Better Block to highlight revitalization

Pittsfield — MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative program, in partnership with the City of Pittsfield, the Tyler Street Business Group, Berkshire Community College, the Berkshire Realtors Association and Team Better Block will present Pittsfield Better Block at the Morningside fire station at 235 Tyler St. on Saturday, Aug. 26, from noon to 7 p.m. The event is intended to demonstrate how a section of the city could be revitalized and test an upcoming streetscape engineering study on Tyler Street. The event will feature temporary bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly crosswalks, improved pedestrian lighting, public seating, a transit stop, a beer garden in front of the Morningside fire station at 235 Tyler St. and a pop-up mini-golf course. Pittsfield Better Block aims to fill vacant storefronts between Smith and Courtland Streets with community arts programming, a homeownership and real estate shop, a new cafe, a grocery store, and other neighborhood services. For more information and a schedule of activities, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact info@teambetterblock.com.

–E.E.

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BCC launches new education department and cohort model for students

Pittsfield — Berkshire Community College has launched a new education department, combining and expanding the early childhood education and elementary education programming into one unified field of study.

Patricia Kay, associate professor and chair of BCC’s education department, designed the new education department, working with community partners, coalition groups and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams to ensure the new department fit the needs of childcare providers. The new education department will introduce learning as a cohort model–students will go through the same classes together as a group, with online and face-to-face component.

The signing of an articulation agreement in July by BCC and MCLA precipitated the creation of the program. Students who graduate from BCC with an associate degree will be eligible to continue their studies in a bachelor’s degree program or early childhood education licensure pathway through MCLA. There are currently 22 students enrolled in the first cohort model, which BCC is offering this fall.

–E.E.

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New reading app intended to aid literacy

Mary Kay Duffy. Photo courtesy waatd.com

Mary Kay Duffy. Photo courtesy waatd.com

Pittsfield — After decades in New York City working in the creative business community, artist and graphic designer Mary Kay Duffy moved to the Berkshires in 2013. After working with poet/illustrator Nathan Smith on the cover design for a book of poetry, Duffy was greatly moved by a manuscript and drawings by Smith that had been sitting in a drawer for over 20 years.

Nathan Smith. Photo courtesy waatd.com

Nathan Smith. Photo courtesy waatd.com

“My creative engine started up,” said Duffy, “it was humorous, lyrical, magical, truthful storytelling and the drawings were completely alive. I started working immediately to bring this story to young people in the best possible way.” After considering various formats, Duffy gave Where Are All the Dragons? the full treatment: she gathered other professionals to handle the non-standard verse, added music and sound effects, and let the storytelling begin.

The duo has begun a Kickstarter campaign to gather funding to create a one-of-a-kind storytelling app for smart devices and computers. With features such as animation and voiceovers by local actors as well as from students at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, the child-safe app is free from in-app purchases and advertising and will include interactivity, language building and more.

–E.E.

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Berkshire Immigrant Center, Mulberry Hair Company partner for fundraiser

Great Barrington — Mulberry Hair Company will host a pop-up market to benefit Berkshire Immigrant Center on Thursday, Aug. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring more than a dozen vendors of jewelry, scarves, pottery, artwork and more. The event will include a performance by the Hoping Machine, an activist chorus founded this year by Sarah Lee Guthrie. From 5 to 5:30 p.m., join Berkshire Latin dance instructor Alan Franco will offer a free lesson. The market will also have refreshments as well as raffles for prizes donated by local businesses and artisans. Twenty-five percent of proceeds will go to BIC. Mulberry Hair Company hosted its first pop-up market in May, raising more than $1,000 for Railroad Street Youth Project. For more information, contact Mulberry Hair Company at (413) 644-9385 or mulberryhairinfo@gmail.com.

–E.E.

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Williamstown Community Chest accepting grant applications

Williamstown — The Williamstown Community Chest is accepting applications for its 2017 Mary and Henry Flynt grants. The application deadline is Friday, Sept. 15. The bequest that established the grant program specifies that grants will be made annually, based on a competitive process to “…persons or entities (including the Town of Williamstown) that provide services to the town or its residents (although not necessarily exclusively).” The criteria for reviewing applications will “…relate to the maintenance or improvement of the quality of life of the residents of Williamstown, defined broadly.” An online application form is available. For more information, contact the Williamstown Community Chest office at (413) 458-2443 or info@williamstowncommunitychest.org.

–E.E.


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