Bits & Bytes: River Walk cleanup; Kenyan children exhibit at St. Francis Gallery; Primamore trio at Eastover; The Torah in verse

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By Tuesday, Apr 21 News
The Housatonic River Walk in Great Barrington, Mass., a National Heritage Trail, that is conducting its annual cleanup and renewal this Saturday, April 25.
Housatonic River Walk annual Earth Day cleanup April 25

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk — Berkshire County’s National Recreation Trail — will hold its annual Earth Day workday on Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Greenagers oversee the annual cleanup of the River Walk.

The Greenagers oversee the annual cleanup of the River Walk.

This year’s work season includes a variety of restoration techniques for River Walk’s severely abused river location — planting thousands of native plants propagated from locally collected seed, while ridding the riverbank of knotweed, bittersweet, garlic mustard, multiflora rose and other exotic-invasives. For more than 15 years, River Walk has propagated the bulk of its inventory with species genetically native to Berkshire County. Work plans also include trail repair and maintenance and river bottom cleanups. Fragile riverbanks compromised by recent storm events will be stabilized with bioengineering techniques.

Volunteers will meet at the W. E. B. Du Bois River Garden Park by the former Searles Middle School parking lot on River Street, near Bridge Street. Morning coffee and lunch will be provided. Tours will be given in the afternoon.

Work at the River Walk site is managed by Berkshire County’s Greenagers, the local organization that fosters the ethics of service and stewardship in area youth. Greenagers manage trail improvements and riverbank reclamation, and participate in educational outreach. Volunteers are invited to work alongside Greenagers on other days. Special workdays with other schools and groups may also be arranged. On-site educational programs include student workdays, tours, and lectures about river ecology and the river’s rich historical heritage.

The Housatonic River Walk

The Housatonic River Walk

River Walk — a National Recreation Trail — is a public walking trail entering between Rite Aid and Pink Cloud on Main Street. An additional section follows the river adjacent to the former Searles Middle School and the Berkshire Corporation parking lot. River Walk easements are granted in appreciation of volunteer clean-up activities, including the removal of 400 tons of rubble and debris from various sites. To date, 2,700 volunteers have worked to restore the riverbank to its native ecology and to produce a half mile of public trail. River Walk easements are managed by the Great Barrington Land Conservancy.

For more information, visit or contact Rachel Fletcher at 528-3391, or e-mail  For information about Greenagers visit or call Will Conklin 413-644-9090.

— H.B.

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Local artists, work of Kenyan children at St. Francis Gallery
A sculpture made from damaged roofing scraps that were painted on by Kenyan children, then cut.   Proceeds from sales of the children’s art go towards future roofing projects in Kenya, which cost about $300 per home.

A sculpture made from damaged roofing scraps that were painted on by Kenyan children, then cut.
Proceeds from sales of the children’s art go towards future roofing projects in Kenya, which cost about $300 per home.

South Lee — “Returning to the Berkshires from Kenya, with a renewed and stronger sense of the value of people, art and creativity, as well as the freedom to become, is a gift,” says Phil Pryjma, owner of St. Francis Gallery in South Lee. The Gallery, at 1372 Pleasant Street and Rte. 102, will celebrate the renewal of spring with the work of local artists and Kenyan children, through May 25th, with an artist reception on Saturday April 25th, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Pryjma just returned from a mission to Kenya with other local volunteers as part of the Sawa Sawa Foundation, which he co-founded with gallery business manager, Karen W. Smith, to improve infrastructure and medical care, as well as to lead art projects for children. Both Smith and Pryjma have made several trips to Kenya.

The Gallery will display the children’s “unbelievable work,” Pryjma said. “Their creative journey turning discarded tin into works of art demonstrated that exploring the artistic possibilities and learning how to joyfully and creatively move outside boundaries is as essential to life as food shelter and health care. As they became absorbed in the making of these creations they became empowered in the process of finding themselves by what they touched and how they transformed these rusty pieces of tin into beautiful art. These colorful sculptures will be on sale in the gallery so that the profits these children generate can be put back into their community as money to buy new needed roofs for other homes.”

Proceeds from the children’s sculptures will go back into future roofing projects in their village.

There will also be colorful abstract works by local artists. “All of these works of art bring ideas to life and enlist the viewer to join in the exploration and find their own voice emerging from these paintings and sculptures in a remarkable way,” Pryjma added. “Please come to the gallery to find yourself on our walls.”

Pryjma said that there are countless examples of artists extending their reach to include others as they work to excite, heal, enrich, and dramatically reshape the lives of people in their community.

One is Drew Cameron, an Iraq war veteran who with Drew Matott founded the Combat Paper Project. The two make paper out of cut up combat uniforms. “They create a new story by transforming and deconstructing these garments of war,” Pryjma said. “Their creative process is both humbling and inspiring as well as empowering and creative. It becomes bigger than themselves and creates a new sense of purpose for all those they touch.”

Artists Carrie and Alton Barron believe that creating objects “by hand” is an important part of wellness and being surrounded by this inspiration is essential, and “enables people to deal with life’s challenges by encouraging creative action.”

Washington, D.C., glass artist Therman Stantom also has a strong belief in the transformative power of art. He uses his talents in hospitals, schools and communities in need, encouraging those around him to share in both the concepts and the actual creation of the sculptures.

All proceeds from the Gallery benefit the Sawa Sawa Foundation.

For more information contact (413) 717-5199 or visit  

— H.B. 

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Peter Primamore jazz trio at Eastover Resort

Peter Primamore Trio


Lenox — The Peter Primamore Trio will be playing at Eastover Resort on East Street from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25.

Andrew Bloom writes: “This is a world-class trio that will knock your socks off (hear me now, believe me later). Please support jazz in the Berkshires by attending this first Saturday evening performance at Eastover Resort (The PPT will be there most Saturdays throughout the spring and summer). Show Eastover that if they bring in great music the people will come!  I’ve seen this group numerous times and they are, again, a knock-out, world-class group including legendary drummer Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls…).  It ends at 7:30 so you’ll still have the whole night ahead of you.”

For details on the trio and information about Eastover, click here.

— D.S.

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‘From God to Verse’: The Torah in rhyming couplets

Pittsfield — The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires will host a talk Monday, April 27 by local author and columnist Seth Brown, who will discuss his book From God To Verse, a line-by-line translation of the Five Books of Moses into rhyming couplets. The talk will begin at 1 p.m., following the Federation-sponsored Older Adult Kosher Lunch at Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road.

The presentation is open to the public, and is free with the Older Adult Kosher Lunch. Program only is $3.

Brown is a freelance writer and performer who writes an award-winning humor column “The Pun Also Rises” for the Berkshire Eagle. He will discuss the complete journey of this immense project, from his background, to the decade he spent writing the book, to his thoughts on the text now that it is complete. Along the way, Brown found himself learning about nuances of translation, and attempting to distinguish between the sacred and the sacrosanct.

In addition to discussion of these themes, and some readings from the book, there will be a Q&A after the program that may include some of Brown’s infamous impromptu rhyming.

For more information, please call the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires at (413) 442-4360, ext. 10.

— H.B.

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Carol Mallory, 69, of Great Barrington

Friday, Feb 16 - She began her nursing career in the newly formed geriatric unit at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut, where she worked for nearly 26 years, retiring in 1999.