Wednesday, May 22, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

BITS & BYTES: ‘Qualia’ at The Foundry; BAV expands staff; mentor meet-up; ‘Intimate Apparel’ at MCLA; Simon’s Rock commencement speaker

Ben Dobson, founder and president of Hudson Carbon, will address the graduates at the 53rd commencement ceremony of Bard College at Simon’s Rock on Saturday, May 21.

Choreographer Fiona Scruggs’ “Qualia” to be performed at The Foundry

WEST STOCKBRIDGEThe Foundry will present “Qualia,” choreographed by Fiona Scruggs, on Friday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. The performance, featuring Scruggs, Veronica Bone, Gillian Ebersole, Kendra Lassor, and Shannon Nulf, is a multi-piece work that illustrates the concept of qualia, defined as one’s own individual experience and consciousness. The work illustrates the cyclical and ephemeral nature of time, space and energy, and their relationships to our perception of transient experiences.

Research for this performance includes Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” (1931), Giorgio De Chirico’s metaphysical paintings, essays and articles expounding on the relationship between time and history, and the artists’ unique personal perceptions of time, space, and energy.

Born in Tübingen, Germany, Fiona Scruggs moved to the U.S. as a child and is currently a New England based dancer, choreographer, researcher, and educator. Her choreographic interests are driven by history, visual art, and music. Fiona’s choreography has been presented at The Foundry, Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre, the 5×5 Dance Festival in Connecticut, the New Rochelle Arts Fest, and Radford University.

Scruggs is currently a Teaching Artist Fellow through the Massachusetts Cultural Council Creative Youth Development program. She is a teaching artist at Berkshire Pulse and is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher. Her research interests relate to the history of ballet, the jazz and African diaspora, and early modern dance. Scruggs has received several fellowships and grants to conduct research and choreography in France and the U.S. on the life, career and legacy of Josephine Baker, and presented at numerous regional conferences.

—A.K.

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Berkshire Agricultural Ventures expands staff

Jake Levin BAV
Jake Levin. Photo courtesy BAV

GREAT BARRINGTONBerkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) recently added two new staff members to expand its capacity in two critical aspects of regional agriculture: meat processing and Climate-Smart Agriculture.

Jake Levin is the new Project Coordinator for BAV’s Livestock Support Program. In this role, he will help implement and manage programs and services for livestock producers in the Berkshire-Taconic Region. Along with Kitchen Table Consultants, a nationally recognized farm business consulting firm, Levin will work with existing USDA-certified meat processing

facilities in the region to expand their processing capacity and improve their profitability, reducing many of the “bottlenecks” common to meat processing. Other plans include exploring expanding regional storage capacity, a community meat locker, and regional branding opportunities.

A Berkshire native, Levin has managed a whole-animal butcher shop and a USDA-inspected dry-cured pork production facility, and is the author of the 2019 book “Smokehouse Handbook.” He sits on the Board of Directors for Berkshire Grown, the Berkshire Food Co-op, and the New Marlborough Land Trust. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from Bard College.

Ben Crockett BAV
Ben Crockett. Photo courtesy BAV

As Program Manager for BAV, Ben Crockett will develop and implement Climate-Smart Agriculture solutions with farms in the Berkshire-Taconic region. These include methods such as agroforestry, cover cropping, and other practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture while preparing farms for ongoing climate change intensification.

Crockett has worked in agriculture from a young age, throwing hay bales for local farmers, picking peas with his mom, and helping his dad with apple orchard chores. In recent years, he has worked as the department chair for the Kennebec Valley Community College Sustainable Agriculture associate degree program. Through UMaine Extension, he became a Master Food Preserver, and has mentored start-up farm businesses in the Hudson Valley with Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming. Crockett earned his BS in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture at the University of Vermont, and recently completed the Climate Adaptation Fellowship for farmers and foresters.

—A.K.

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18 Degrees to hold mentor meet-up March 31 

PITTSFIELD18 Degrees will host a mentor meet-up on Thursday, March 31, from 5:30–7 p.m. at Zucchini’s Restaurant in Pittsfield. The public is invited to speak with current mentors and staff of 18 Degrees’ Pittsfield Community Connection to see how they can “Be the difference. Be a Mentor.” Mentors work with young people from Pittsfield once a week to help with homework, play a game, or just hang out. The event is free and open to anyone interested in mentoring. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Gail Krumpholz at 413-822-4196 or info@18Degreesma.org.

—A.K.

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MCLA Theatre to present “Intimate Apparel” beginning April 1

NORTH ADAMS — The Theatre Program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will present “Intimate Apparel,” a delicate play about a fiercely resilient Black woman during the dawn of the 20th century, in person at MCLA’s Venable Theater, Friday, April 1– Sunday, April 10.

Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, “Intimate Apparel” was the winner of the 2004 Steinberg New Play Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award, and is here directed by Sara Katzoff, co-founder of Berkshire Fringe.

The show follows Esther Mills, a Black seamstress who supports herself by sewing beautiful corsets and women’s undergarments. Set in Lower Manhattan in 1905 at the very cusp of the Great Migration, the play shows a Black woman taking control of her life during a time when tens of thousands of Black folks were making their journey to New York City from the American South and tens of thousands of immigrants were passing through Ellis Island from Europe.

Esther sews for clients ranging from prostitutes to wealthy debutantes, and quietly dreams of opening a beauty parlor to give the Black women of her community the royal treatment she sees her white clients enjoy. A warm affection develops between the Orthodox Jewish man who sells her fabric, but any relationship between them is forbidden. When she receives a romantic letter from a mysterious Caribbean suitor, her life changes. Ultimately, she realizes that only through her own self-determination will she be able to refashion a new life for herself.

Based on the life of her grandmother, Nottage described her creative process as “searching for this woman who was part of the fabric of my life, but who was very much a mystery to me.”

—A.K.

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Ben Dobson to be Simon’s Rock 2022 commencement speaker

Ben Dobson Simons Rock
Ben Dobson. Photo courtesy Simon’s Rock

GREAT BARRINGTON — Ben Dobson ‘00, founder and president of Hudson Carbon and Simon’s Rock alum, will address the graduates at the 53rd commencement ceremony of Bard College at Simon’s Rock on Saturday, May 21 at 11 a.m. The ceremony will be held in person and will be livestreamed for those unable to attend.

Dobson received his associate of arts degree at Simon’s Rock and went on to plan, implement, and manage the transition of 3,000 acres of conventional farmland in New York’s Hudson Valley to a regenerative organic grain and livestock system. In 2018, he co-founded Hudson Hemp and is currently a member of its board. As founder and president of Hudson Carbon, Dobson facilitates the implementation of regenerative organic food and agro-ecological systems that provide healthy food for people and positive ecological outcomes.

Hudson Carbon is a public benefit corporation dedicated to the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices and systems, and their potential to mitigate climate change, reverse environmental degradation, and rebuild communities across the globe.

—A.K.

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.