Bits & Bytes: Frontline workers video; Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon; Olana Eye skycam

Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Museum release video for frontline workers

Pittsfield — Berkshire United Way and the Berkshire Museum have released the above video to show appreciation and support for those in the community working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The video features essential workers in the health care field, in grocery stores and providing child care, as well as postal workers, bank tellers, emergency and safety personnel, and dedicated volunteers.

Pittsfield singer-songwriter Billy Keane’s new song “Never Give Up,” written while he was in quarantine, serves as the soundtrack for the video. Filmed by a small, masked crew in April, Keane performed his song alongside Winged Victory in an empty Berkshire Museum.

This crisis has had a devastating impact on Berkshire County. As vulnerable populations have grown and needs have increased, frontline employees are working harder than ever to meet demands. Berkshire United Way teamed up with the Berkshire Museum to create the video after their work on COVID-19 relief efforts in the community revealed a need for a morale boost for frontline workers and the community as a whole.

PJ Moynihan from Digital Eyes Film produced the video working with Berkshire United Way consultant Nina Garlington and Berkshire Museum chief experience officer Craig Langlois. The video will air during Thursday, May 28, during a Pittsfield Community Television broadcast on channel 1301 from 5 to 7 p.m. to benefit the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County.

–E.E.

 

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A palm warbler, one of the rarer birds to be found during Mass Audubon’s annual Bird-a-thon. Photo courtesy Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries

Mass Audubon’s Bird-a-thon to stay close to home

Lenox — The Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries Team welcomes birders of all experience levels, including beginners, to join its official birding team for the annual Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon. Typically sending teams of birders rambling throughout the Commonwealth in a friendly competition to identify the most species in 24-hour period, the Bird-a-thon is staying at home this year to respect social distancing. From Friday, May 15, at 6 p.m. through Saturday, May 16, at 6 p.m., participants will spend time observing and identifying species from their birding positions, solo or with other household members.

Participants will select bird observation spots such as windows, backyards or green spaces within short walking or biking distance from their homes. Participants can also earn points for their teams by completing other fun, nature-based activities or as “Bird-a-thon Boosters,” who raise money while birding for fun (or not birding at all).

Last year’s event raised $240,000 statewide and recorded 273 species, with Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries garnering $2,500 for its work through the event. BWS team co-captain Zach Adams acknowledged that: “in past years we have focused more on the birding competition. This year fundraising is especially important. Our goal is double what we raised last year.” Adams and co-captain Stephanie Bergman are working to build a strong team with participants from every town in Berkshire County. “The more team members we have, the more birds we can spot,” noted Bergman. “We have generous supporters that donate per bird species, so it is especially important to have people birding in every corner of the county.”

For more information or to register or donate, see the Berkshire Edge calendar, or contact Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries at (413) 637-0320 or berkshires@massaudubon.org.

–E.E.

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The view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains from the Olana Eye skycam on May 13. Image courtesy Olana State Historic Site

Olana launches skycam

Hudson, N.Y. — In honor of the 194th anniversary of artist Frederic Church, Olana State Historic Site has launched the Olana Eye, a live skycam from the artist’s studio tower to share the view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The view will be available online to audiences around the world at all times and in all seasons.

“Frederic Church built OLANA as an earthwork and observatory, a vantage-point high on a hill where he could witness the weather patterns and atmospheric changes as they move through the Hudson Valley over the expansive landscape of river, mountains and sky,” said Olana director Amy Hausmann.

“With the launch of the Olana Eye skycam, the whole world can share in Olana’s spectacular, ever-changing views, every day and in real time, and feel themselves immersed in Frederic Church’s vision,” said Sean Sawyer, the Washburn and Susan Oberwager president of the Olana Partnership. “Olana’s views are the reason America’s most celebrated artist built his home and studio here, and the viewshed is vital to Olana’s integrity as a complete work of art.”

–E.E.