Sunday, July 14, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: 10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival; Community Voices Collection; immigration workshop; Sue Morse wildlife presentations; Berkshire South Swim-a-thon

'We believe that our immigrant population is an essential and rich part of our Berkshire community...' -- Berkshire Immigrant Center Executive Director Brooke Mead

10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival to celebrate seventh anniversary

Pittsfield — Organized by Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development and Barrington Stage Company, this year’s 10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival will run from Thursday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 25, and feature 66 events in 12 different venues that will highlight dozens of artists, actors, musicians, playwrights and performers. The festival will kick off Thursday, Feb. 15, with five events: IS183 Art School of the Berkshires’ “Kids Create Show: A Learning Through Arts Showcase” featuring artwork from every student artist in the LTA program; 10×10 Turning Points, a collaborative exhibit between the Berkshire Historical Society and the Berkshire Athenaeum; the first preview night of Barrington Stage’s 10×10 New Play Festival; the Mastheads Lit Party, with 10 writers and thinkers reading historical poems along with some original work written by local authors; and an ice-skating workshop with Jacob’s Pillow Dance.

Ted Rosenthal. Photo courtesy Berkshires Jazz

Berkshire United Way’s Pittsfield Promise early childhood coalition will partner with the festival to present 10X the Fun at the Common and Zion Lutheran Church for two hours leading up to the free, community-wide 10 Minutes of Fireworks at the Common on First Street Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. Jacob’s Pillow Dance will present a Pillow Pop-Up featuring Montreal, Canada-based ice-skating pioneers Le Patin Libre Friday, Feb, 16, at 8 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires.

Choreographer Jamal Ahamad, seated, with, from left, Olga Dunn Dance Company dancers Rosa Barnaba, Bea Kiggen, Olivia McCarthy, Brenden Chee, Sage Macken, Jordyn Stockwell and Leah Moran will perform Ahamad’s hip hop dance as the Dance Ten performance finale. Photo courtesy Olga Dunn Dance Company

The Berkshire Museum will host daily 10 Days of Play events featuring collaborations with the Berkshire Music School and Hancock Shaker Village. The museum will also host Berkshires Jazz’s “10, By George” featuring the Ted Rosenthal Trio performing 10 George Gershwin compositions Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.; WordXWord’s 10 New Voices poetry program Monday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.; and the Berkshire Art Association’s Real Art Party Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 to 8:30 p.m. Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre will host two events: dog thrill show “Mutts Gone Nuts” Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; and “Billy Budd in the Breadbox” by Jana Laiz, a new play about Herman Melville as seen through the eyes of his granddaughter Eleanor, with multiple performances taking place Sunday, Feb. 18, through Saturday, Feb. 24.

Other returning highlights of the festival include Dance Ten, a performance showcase of 10 community dance groups and schools from throughout the Berkshires; Berkshire Running Center‘s group runs; and Berkshire International Film Festival shorts at the Beacon Cinema.


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Community Voices Collection highlights effects of drug, alcohol abuse

Great Barrington — Railroad Street Youth Project and the Southern Berkshire Community Health Coalition have launched the Community Voices Collection, a project for young people to share how drug and alcohol use affects southern Berkshire County.

The CVC is a youth-led initiative guided by RSYP’s community health advocate Mason Amman, theater artist Emma Dweck and independent radio producer Sara Paul. Since November, the CVC has been gathering stories from South County residents about their experiences with substance use. The stories will be used as source material for an original performance piece to be created collaboratively by a group of young performers, artists, musicians and storytellers, between the ages of 14 and 25. The piece will be performed in April in various locations throughout South County.

The program welcomes community involvement. Call (413) 591-0156 to add to the collection of stories. All contributors are welcome to remain anonymous. Youth ages 14–25 interested in being part of the performance may audition Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Mixed Company. A stipend will be provided to those selected to perform.

For more information or to host a performance, contact Mason at


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Berkshire Immigration Center to offer immigration consultations

Pittsfield — On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Berkshire Immigrant Center will offer free private consultations with experienced immigration attorneys who also provide pro-bono counsel and support to the Center. The workshop will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at BIC’s offices at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

“With the ending of the TPS and DACA legal protections, many of the 10,000 immigrants in the Berkshires have urgent questions,” said BIC’s executive director Brooke Mead, adding, “We believe that our immigrant population is an essential and rich part of our Berkshire community, and a key service we provide at the Center is to help immigrants navigate the incredibly complex federal labyrinth of laws and regulations,” said Mead. According to BIC, immigrants comprise 10 percent of Berkshire County’s population, and are currently the only growing segment of the county’s workforce.

The event is free and open to community members in need of immigration law consultations; all types of immigration law inquiries are welcome. Consults are offered by appointment only and pre-registration is required. Spanish-speaking interpreters will be available. To register, contact BIC at (413) 445-4881 or


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Photo: Sue Morse

Wildlife tracker Sue Morse to give presentations

Pittsfield — Photographer and wildlife tracker Sue Morse will return to the Berkshires for two programs: “Bear with Us! Living with Bears in the North County” Friday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Berkshire Community College and “The Mysterious Mustelids” Saturday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington. The events are jointly presented by the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, the Trustees of Reservations, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Green Berkshires, Mass Audubon’s Berkshire sanctuaries, Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center, Sheffield Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, Flying Deer Nature Center, New England Forestry Foundation and BCC.

Photo: Sue Morse

“Bear With Us!” will include information on black bear biology and ecology with emphasis on the field identification of tracks and signs. The program will also offer comprehensive discussion of bear scent-marking behaviors illustrated with dozens of Morse’s original images. “Mysterious Mustelids” is an exploration of the world of Mustelidae–the weasel family. Attendees will learn that animals such as fishers, ermines, minks, martens, otters, wolverines and badgers belong to the largest and most diverse order of carnivores on the planet. Morse’s photography will illustrate what the habits and lives of the often-misunderstood animals.

Morse is the founder of Keeping Track, highly regarded as an expert in natural history and one of the top wildlife trackers in North America. Since 1977, she has been monitoring wildlife with an emphasis on documenting the presence and habitat requirements of bobcat, black bear, Canada lynx and cougar.

Both programs are free and open to the public. For more information contact BEAT stewardship manager Elia Del Molino at (413) 429-6416 or


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Participants in Berkshire South’s 2017 Swim-A-Thon fundraiser. Photo: David Edgecomb

Berkshire South to host Swim-A-Thon fundraiser

Great Barrington — Berkshire South Regional Community Center will hold its eighth annual Swim-A-Thon fundraiser Saturday, March 3. This year’s goal of $15,000 will be used to support adaptive-needs programing and equipment. Participants may sign up to swim as individuals or as relay teams. They may collect donations based on either the length that they swim or a flat rate. Swimmers will have up to two hours to swim up to 200 pool lengths, but may choose to swim any shorter length or timeframe.

Swim-A-Thon is open to swimmers of all ages and abilities. Registration packets are available online and at Berkshire South’s front desk. Registration is open through Thursday, March 1. For more information, contact the aquatics manager at (413) 528-2810 x12 or



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