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BerkShares names 5 new board members

BerkShares help to build regional identity, raise awareness about the importance of local ownership, and empower community-based economic decision-making.

BerkShares, Inc. is a membership-directed non-profit organization focused on responsible economic development in the Berkshire region. BerkShares, Inc. has worked in partnership with local businesses and community banks to issue BerkShares, a local currency for the Berkshire Region. BerkShares help to build regional identity, raise awareness about the importance of local ownership, and empower community-based economic decision-making. On October 20th, BerkShares, Inc. held its Annual Meeting, where the membership elected the following five of their fellows to join the Board of Trustees of the organization:

Mike Bloomberg, a graduate of Pittsfield High School and the University of Massachusetts, is an advocate for the sustainable redevelopment of post-industrial cities in his home state. He is drawn to BerkShares because he sees them as an accurate and unique representation of our community. Using them, you engage principles of sustainability and local economies while also experiencing our region’s history of manufacturing (embodied in the paper on which the currency is printed) and celebrating the creativity exemplified by the heroes and artists who are featured on each bill.

Gillette Conner has worked extensively in international development, and is now interested in lending her expertise to encouraging local investment in the Berkshires. She believes that fostering people’s ability to make a decent living in our community will help us build cohesion and resilience, and ultimately, result in the type of place in which we want to live, work and play. She is committed to playing her part, and she looks forward to working with BerkShares to help realize a vibrant and robust local economy that facilitates a stronger community.

Jon Greene has been a fan of local currencies since the days of “Deli Dollars.” Now, in this time of “one click” Amazon orders, he thinks it is even more important to promote our local economy however we can. A recently retired computer engineer, he has begun exploring several local business ideas of his own. In that vein, he is particularly excited about BerkShares, Inc.’s Entry to Entrepreneurship program, which seeks to encourage young entrepreneurs. He looks forward to serving on the Board of this unique organization, which has been so beneficial to our local community over the past decade and promises to be even more so in the decades to come.

Abe Hunrichs is co-founder of Hosta Hill, a Berkshire-based farm and vegetable ferment company. He was raised in Sacramento, Calif. After receiving his BA in Biology and Outdoor Education, leading wilderness education courses, working for California Fish & Game, baking bread and learning how to farm, he found his way to the Berkshires and started Hosta Hill with his partner Maddie Elling. He still remembers when he learned that the Berkshires had their own currency. He took it as an indication that the Berkshire community is dedicated to finding creative ways to knit together a more resilient local economy, based on responsible production.

Michael Tesoro, owner and chef of Ooma Tesoro’s, is passionate about expanding economic activity in the Berkshires and the presence of BerkShares local currency in northern Berkshire County. Ooma Tesoro’s marinara sauce, based on Michael’s grandmother’s recipe, is now available in over 250 fine food stores throughout New England and New York, but Michael remains committed to building a business that is rooted in the Berkshire Hills. With a background in political science, economics, and communications, he is extremely interested in the potential of BerkShares to serve as a tool for diversifying and deepening the Berkshire regional economy.


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