Sunday, July 14, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: ‘A History of Searles Castle’; downtown Pittsfield trick or treat; ‘The Perfect Pitch’; ‘Interreligious Illiteracy’; ‘Stone Pears’ book launch

The fifth annual Western Mass Film and Media Exchange will feature Hollywood screenplay consultant, author and pitch expert Pilar Alessandra.

Great Barrington Historical Society to present ‘A History of Searles Castle’

The Searles Castle drawing room. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Historical Society

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Historical Society, in cooperation with John Dewey Academy, will present “A History of Searles Castle” Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. at John Dewey Academy. Local historian A. David Rutstein will present a program outlining the story of the castle with emphasis placed on important people associated with it, and explain why it is located in Great Barrington. The talk will be followed by a tour of the castle as well as refreshments.

The cost of the program is a donation of $25 per person. Proceeds will establish a Great Barrington Historical Society/Berkshire Hills Regional scholarship. Space is limited and reservations are encouraged. For more information or to make a reservation, contact the Great Barrington Historical Society at (413) 591-8702 or


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Downtown Pittsfield to offer trick-or-treating in 37 locations

Pittsfield — Downtown Pittsfield Inc. and 37 downtown businesses will host trick-or-treating Thursday, Oct. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. Children of all ages are invited to visit downtown businesses in their Halloween costumes to score candy and treats during the event. An orange “Heart of the Berkshires” pumpkin will be displayed in the window of each participating location.

Participating businesses, in walking order starting on upper North Street, are Golden Phoenix; Funky Phoenix; Framework; Berkshire Community College at Framework; Empire Pizza; J&M Pipe and Tobacco; Pittsfield Health Food Centre; Methuselah Bar and Lounge; Aerus Electrolux; Sparrow Singing; Berkshire International Market, 340 North St.; Liberty Pizza; Berkshire Paint and Sip; K’s Merchandise, 301 North St.; Dory & Ginger; Hotel on North; Berkshire Family YMCA; Kingsbread; Steven Valenti’s Clothing for Men; Panchos; Garden; ServiceNet; Berkshire Fitness and Wellness Center; Bigg Daddy’s; the Kinderhook Group Real EstateBarrington Stage Company’s Wolfson Center, 122 North St.; Rond de Jambe Dancewear; That’s a Wrap Café; Rainbow Restaurant; Berkshire General Store; Beacon Cinema; J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille; Marketplace Café; Hot Harry’s; Deidre’s Special Day; South Congregational Church; and Patrick’s Pub.

The event is free and open to the public. Young children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, contact Downtown Pittsfield Inc. at (413) 443-6501 or


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Western Mass Film and Media Exchange to feature script consultant Pilar Alessandra

Pilar Alessandra. Photo courtesy Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative

Springfield — The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative will present its fifth annual Western Mass Film and Media Exchange, “The Perfect Pitch,” Saturday, Oct. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place.

This year’s Exchange is designed for aspiring and established screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, producers, directors and anyone wanting their idea heard by industry decision makers, but the template for pitching is useful for marketing professionals and executives, as well. Hollywood screenplay consultant, author and pitch expert Pilar Alessandra will conduct seminars on creative screenwriting and “Pitching Your Project,” and some participants will be able to pitch their projects to Alessandra. The Exchange will also feature Daniel Fierst from the entertainment law firm of Fierst, Kane & Bloomberg LLP, who offer a session on the legal aspects of selling a screenplay or project.

Alessandra started her career as senior story analyst at DreamWorks SKG. In 2001, she opened the Los Angeles-based On the Page Writers’ Studio, dedicated to teaching and consulting with screenwriters and TV writers at all levels. She’s the author of the scriptwriting book “The Coffee Break Screenwriter,” and host of the On the Page podcast. An in-demand speaker, she’s been a guest instructor at Disney, DreamWorks Animation, ABC, CBS and others, and has taught screenwriting and pitching at production companies and film festivals all over the world.

Tickets are $159 for the general public and $75 for students, and include continental breakfast, lunch and parking. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Berkshire Film and Media collaborative at  (413) 528-4223.


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‘Interreligious Illiteracy’ to be discussed at Knosh & Knowledge

Terry Schmitt. Photo courtesy Jewish Federation of the Berkshires

Great Barrington — On Friday, October 19 at 10:45 a.m., the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires will welcome Terry Schmitt, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding, to its Knosh & Knowledge program at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire for a talk about interfaith outreach and understanding titled “Interreligious Illiteracy.”

Schmitt is an ordained member of the United Church of Christ, and was the senior minister at Center Congregational Church in Manchester, Connecticut, for 11 years. Prior to that he was a project director at the Yale University Program on Nonprofit Organizations as well as interim minister as several Connecticut churches.

About his talk, Schmitt said: “I will talk about the problem of religious illiteracy, and about our seeming struggle to have open conversations around sensitive topics. The reality is that most people are religiously illiterate, starting with their own religion, but moving on to include lack of awareness and understanding about denominations and diversity within their own religion. This ignorance gets worse as one goes on to awareness of other religions.”

The program is free and open to the public and will be followed by lunch, which will be available for $11. For more information or to RSVP for lunch, contact the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires at (413) 442-4360 x10 or


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Fox-Martin to launch ‘Stone Pears’ at Lauren Clark Fine Art

Image courtesy Lauren Clark Fine Art

Great Barrington — Writer, poet, artist, United Church of Christ minister and Edge columnist Belle Fox-Martin will launch her new book “Stone Pears” Friday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. at Lauren Clark Fine Art. The event will include a reading and book signing.

“Stone Pears” is Fox-Martin’s sixth book and reflects her eclectic experiences as a Congregational minister, artist, social worker and writing teacher. Fox-Martin writes as a witness to a wide sweep of themes embracing old love, peace, nature, solitude, revenge, aging and fantasy. The book contains pieces of linear, conversational prose as well as abstract, metaphorical and playful poetry. Fox-Martin lives in Glendale with wife Cheryl Hutto and their three dogs.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lauren Clark Fine Art at (413) 528-0432 or



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