Bits & Bytes: ‘Challenging Stigma’ forum; Sameer Gupta at MASS MoCA; advocacy workshop proposal call; ‘Out on a Limb;’ child loss support group

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By Thursday, Sep 28 Life In the Berkshires
Rebecca Meek
Percussionist Sameer Gupta will perform at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday, Sept. 30 (see item below).

‘Challenging Stigma’ panel discussion on mental illness

Simon Winchester. Photo courtesy Simon Winchester

Pittsfield — On Sunday, Oct. 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, the Pittsfield Human Rights Commission will offer “Challenging Stigma: Examining the Language Surrounding Mental Illnesses,” a panel discussion featuring Dr. Kevin Cahill, executive director of clinical services at Soldier On; Officer Cheryl Callahan of the Pittsfield Police Department; Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru; Dr. Eric Plakun, associate medical director and director of biopsychosocial advocacy at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge; Julie Schwager, the western Massachusetts area director of the Department of Mental Health; Alan J. Vreeland, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community’s Pittsfield center community coordinator; and Simon Winchester, author of “The Professor and the Madman.”

The panel will touch on topics such as why society stigmatizes certain individuals, groups and conditions; how stigma is used to marginalize and silence difference and dissent; the impact of the use of stigma on people living with mental illnesses; and what communities can do to challenge stigma.

The discussion is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Drew Herzig at


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Percussionist Sameer Gupta to perform at MASS MoCA

North Adams — MASS MoCA will welcome Sameer Gupta, a percussionist with roots in the Indian classical tradition, Saturday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. for an evening of tracks from his new album “A Circle Has No Beginning.” Bang on a Can favorite and North Adams resident Todd Reynolds will open the show.

Known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drum set and Indian classical music on tabla, musician and composer Gupta did not begin mastering the tabla until well into his jazz career in the early 2000s. Gupta is co-founder and artistic director of the nonprofit collective Brooklyn Raga Massive, a group rooted in and inspired by Indian classical music. As an established voice in the jazz, world, and fusion music scenes, Gupta is recognized for melding traditional and modern improvisational styles. Gupta’s accompanying band will include Marc Cary on keyboards, Jay Gandhi on bansuri, and Rashaan Carter on bass.

Tickets are $10–$24. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact MASS MoCA at (413) 662-2111 or


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Four Freedoms Coalition calls for advocacy workshop proposals

Great Barrington — The Four Freedoms Coalition will hold a day of free public workshops with a focus on issue-based advocacy on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Monument Mountain Regional High School and is calling for workshop proposals. Workshops should be one to two hours long and contain background information about an issue and instructions and methods regarding how people can get involved at local and national levels. Possible topics include voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care, environmental issues, racial issues, LGBTQ rights, food insecurity and $15 minimum wage but other suggestions are welcome. Proposals should be submitted by Saturday, Oct. 7. For more information or to offer a workshop, contact Becky Meier at (518) 781-4686 or


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‘Orange Marsh’ by Sarah Sutro

‘Out on a Limb’ at Eclipse Mill Gallery

North Adams — The Eclipse Mill Gallery will hold an opening reception for “Out on a Limb,” a three-person exhibition of new and in-process works by Eclipse Mill residents Debi Pendell, Sarah Sutro and Betty Vera on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will run Saturday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 29.

“Out on a Limb” explores the creative process and how it engenders a final product. The exhibiting artists employ painting, collage, fiber art and preliminary drawing to embody how new ideas push change. The works in the exhibit find Pendell, Sutro, and Vera veering away from previous work and varying in their techniques and materials, but finding common ground in approaches to layering and complex abstraction using materials, surface and subject.

For more information, contact the Eclipse Mill Gallery at


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HospiceCare support group for child loss

Pittsfield — HospiceCare in the Berkshires will offer “Grieving the Death of a Child,” a drop-in grief support group for those who have lost a child before the age of 25. The group will meet Monday, Oct. 2, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at HCIB’s main office. The group is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, contact HCIB’s bereavement coordinator at (413) 443-2994.


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