Friday, July 19, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

BITS & BYTES: Jennifer Chang reading; Dewey Drop-In with Maria Black; MCLA Commencement speaker; Berkshire Bounty food drive; “Electioneering in the Age of Jackson” talk; JWF solicits grant proposals

OLLI at BCC presents a talk by Dr. Nicholas Aieta on “Electioneering in the Age of Jackson” on Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m.

Author of “Some Say the Lark” to read poetry

Bennington, Vt. — Jennifer Chang will give a reading on Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. in Bennington College’s Tishman Lecture Hall.

Jennifer Chang is the author of “Some Say the Lark” (Alice James, 2017), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2018 William Carlos Williams Award; and “The History of Anonymity” (University of Georgia Press, 2008). She serves as the poetry editor of New England Review and since 2003 has been on the staff of Kundiman, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. A professor in the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, she is also on the faculty of Bennington College’s low-residency MFA program.

This event is free and open to the public.

* * *

Maria Black to host this weeks Dewey Drop-In Use Your Words

SheffieldOn Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. attend The Thursday Group with Maria Black at Dewey Hall’s Dewey Drop-In Use Your Words. Dewey Drop-In Use Your Words brings writers, readers, and listeners together for evenings of sharing and conversation.

Maria Black will host this evening of readers from the Thursday Group, her long standing Berkshire based writing group which has been meeting for over 10 years. Readers will include: Terry Wise, Molly Boxer, Lydia Littlefield, Joan Cohen, Julie McCarthy, Lisa Cavender, Megan Moore, and Joan Embree.

Maria has written literary fiction for over twenty-five years and has seen her stories published in numerous literary journals. She was awarded a 2022 Pushcart Prize for “Mark on the Cross,” a story published by The Sun Magazine and a Bentley Prize by The Seattle Review.  Her fiction has been included in several books on writing. She currently leads two ongoing weekly writing groups, one on Tuesday morning, and the other on Thursday afternoons.

This event is $10 at the door.

* * *

Dr. Patricia Okker to speak at MCLA’s Commencement

North Adams— Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is pleased to announce the speaker for its 124th Commencement Exercises will be Dr. Patricia Okker, recent past president of New College of Florida and former dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. This year’s Commencement will be held Saturday, May 13, at 11 a.m., in the Amsler Campus Center Gymnasium.

New College of Florida (NCF), a small public liberal arts college located in Sarasota, Florida, made headlines in January when seven new trustees (out of 13) were appointed with a mandate to transform the college into a conservative school similar to Hillsdale College, a private conservative Christian college in Michigan. At its first meeting, the newly constituted Board of Trustees terminated its president, Dr. Patricia Okker, who had been in the office nineteen months. At its second meeting, the Board of Trustees abolished NCF’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which handles the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

For more information about MCLA’s Commencement ceremony, visit

* * *

Mobile Food Drive scheduled for May 2

Great Barrington— Berkshire Bounty is preparing for another monthly Mobile Food Drive on Tuesday, May 2 from 9 to 11 a.m. The last food drive resulted in over 550 pounds of donated food going to People’s Pantry.

As you may recall from prior food drives, Berkshire Bounty volunteer Drivers go to Donors’ homes to pick up canned and/or packaged goods left by Donors on their doorstep. Food Donors may also drop their food donation at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire or at People’s Pantry.


  1. donating canned and/or packaged food
  2. driving to pick up donations at food donors’ homes.

Foods in most demand are: peanut butter; tuna fish; cooking oil; cereal; pasta sauce; kid friendly snacks.

If you are interested in participating, please email Jenny at to tell what you would like to do. Please also include your street address, email address and best contact telephone number.

* * *

Dr. Nicholas J. Aieta. Image courtesy of OLLI at BCC.

Learn “How Americans Brought out the Vote in an Era of Disagreement”

Pittsfield— OLLI at Berkshire Community College presents a talk by Dr. Nicholas Aieta on “Electioneering in the Age of Jackson – How Americans Brought out the Vote in an Era of Disagreement” on Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m.

For over two centuries, the experiment in democracy in the United States has seen the nature of voting evolve including the “who,” the “how,” the “where,” and more. Interactions between candidates and the voting population have created opportunities to grow personal connections with politicians, challenge the status quo, and use material culture as varied as music, political cartoons, pamphlets, newspapers, and other print ephemera in an effort to get elected. We will quickly explore some of the most dramatic examples connected to the 1820s and 1830s and attempt to draw connections to how political campaigning functions in the 21st century.

The Trap Sprung! 1840.

Dr. Nicholas J. Aieta is the current chair of the Westfield State University History and Philosophy Department as well as a member of the city of Westfield Historical Commission (Mass.). At Westfield State, Dr. Aieta teaches courses on early American history, Native American history, the American West and methodology.

This event is online via Zoom. Pre-registration is required. Admission is $10 for OLLI at BCC and Berkshire Museum members, and $15 for the general public. Admission is free for Berkshire Community College students, youth 17 and under.

* * *

Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires opens grant proposals from local nonprofits

Pittsfield— The Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires (JWF) is soliciting grant proposals from nonprofit organizations for specific projects or programs that further its mission of tikkun olam (repairing the world). JWF is dedicated to sharing Jewish values by meeting unmet needs in the Berkshire community and supporting social action. They fulfill their mission by providing local organizations with funds to help:

  • Address clients’ basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter
  • Promote client self-sufficiency through the provision of such services as literacy training and legal aid
  • Empower youth and young adults

Jewish as well as non-Jewish organizations are invited to apply for grants up to $5000. Only organizations with registered 501(C)3 status may apply. The application will be available online at Grant Application beginning May 1. The deadline is May 31. Final decisions will be announced in September.

In 2022, the Foundation awarded over $64,000 to seventeen local organizations. Further information about JWF can be found at

For information about the grants program please contact the Grants Committee at:


The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.

Continue reading

BITS & BYTES: Robert Hartwell at The Mahaiwe; Imani Winds at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival; Rizo at Ancram Center for the Arts; Natty &...

In June of 2020, you saw a Black gay man purchase a white house in Great Barrington in cash and it gave you hope.

BITS & BYTES: Edward Merritt at the Turley Gallery; Sarah Martinez and Ali Gibbons at David M. Hunt Library; Literary celebration at The Clark;...

Part social practice, part painting, Merritt’s works evoke a garden formed from detritus and climate anxiety.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.