Sunday, July 14, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: Wray Gunn at Dewey Hall; ‘Sweet Berkshire’ dessert auction; ‘Using Theatre to Extend Community and Deepen Empathy’; tree care workshop; Williamstown Repair Cafe

Attendees of the Sweet Berkshire fundraiser will be able to bid on desserts donated by Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Wheatleigh, Canyon Ranch, Patisserie Lenox, Barrington Brewery, Taft Farms and other area food producers.

Wray Gunn to discuss history of Great Barrington’s Clinton Church

Clinton Church Restoration board member Wray Gunn signs the purchase agreement for Great Barrington’s Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church in May. Photo: Ed Abrahams

Sheffield — The Sheffield Historical Society will welcome its own Wray Gunn to Dewey Hall Friday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. to give a presentation on the history of Great Barrington’s Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church. The presentation will look at the history of the church, which was the first African-American church in Great Barrington, as well as prominent figures associated with the church such as NAACP founder W.E.B. Du Bois and Rev. Esther Dozier. Gunn will also discuss the efforts that he—as chairman of Clinton Church Restoration—fellow former congregants and the Berkshire community have undertaken to restore the building.

The church was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. After the death of the church’s first female pastor, Rev. Esther Dozier, in 2007, the building and church membership fell into decline and the church closed in 2014. Three years later, when the building was put up for sale, Gunn organized a group to purchase the church he had been attending since he was a boy. Clinton Church Restoration raised the money to not only to buy the building, but also to repair and restore it through grants and fundraising.

Gunn first began attending Clinton AME Zion Church as a boy in the 1940s and has been a pioneer in breaking the barriers of segregation. In the early 1950s, he was the first black basketball player on the UMass Amherst team. After earning a degree in chemistry and physics in 1952, he went on to work as a chemist until his retirement in 1996. Gunn has been dedicated to Sheffield and the greater Berkshire County community for over 50 years, volunteering and serving on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, holding positions in local government and coaching youth sports.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the Sheffield Historical Society at (413) 229-2694 or


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Sweet Berkshire dessert auction to support Berkshire Baby Box

Pittsfield — Berkshire Baby Box will debut its Sweet Berkshire dessert auction and fundraiser Saturday, May 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Country Club of Pittsfield.

Attendees will be able to bid on desserts donated by Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Wheatleigh, Canyon Ranch, Patisserie Lenox, Barrington Brewery, Taft Farms and other area food producers. Attendees will also be treated to light brunch fare and entertainment from Release the Penguins, Balloon Ben, Roger the Jester and harpist Elizabeth Morse. Sweet Berkshire will also have a keepsake cookbook available for purchase featuring 50 dessert recipes and anecdotes provided by Berkshire residents.

The cost of the event is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 and under. For more information, contact Hinda Bodinger at (917) 696-9192 or


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Theatre talk to discuss shared humanity

Daniel Elihu Kramer. Photo courtesy Chester Theatre Company

Great Barrington — Congregation Ahavath Sholom will host Chester Theatre Company artistic director Daniel Elihu Kramer Thursday, May 10, at 7 p.m. for a talk titled “Using Theatre to Extend Community and Deepen Empathy.”

Said Kramer: “At Chester Theatre Company, we produce contemporary plays that inspire audience engagement and thoughtful, productive conversations, and that create and extend community. Every play opens us up both to difference and to shared humanity: coming to know the stranger, coming to love the stranger, seeking a world where strangers are embraced.”

Kramer works nationally as a theatre director, playwright and a film director. became producing artistic director at CTC in the fall of 2015 after four years as its associate artistic director and produced his first season in 2016. He has directed shows at CTC including “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Sister Play,” “The Turn of the Screw,” “Tryst,” “The Amish Project” and “Blink.” In 2011, CTC produced his play “Pride@Prejudice” and. in 2016. CTC premiered his play “My Jane.” Chair of the theatre department and a member of the film studies program at Smith College,

Kramer holds a master’s degree in directing from Yale School of Drama and a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society as well as the Dramatists Guild, and was a founding artistic director of Salt Lake Shakespeare, associate artistic director of Spiral Stage and assistant to the artistic director of Circle Repertory Theatre.

The first play of CTC’s 2018 season will be the American premiere of “Bar Mitzvah Boy” by Mark Leiren-Young. Those who who attend Kramer’s talk will be eligible for discount tickets for the first week of performances. The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Congregation Ahavath Sholom at (413) 528-4197 or


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Berkshire Athenaeum to host tree care workshop

Jay Girard

Pittsfield — Department of Conservation and Recreation urban forester Jay Girard will lead a tree care workshop Friday, May 11, from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

During the workshop, Girard will discuss young tree care, pruning and common maladies. He will also provide hands-on experience for workshop participants. The event is part of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, which provides free trees to property owners in select planting areas in order to lower energy costs and beautify the city. As part of the program, DCR urban foresters provide initial site visits to property owners and return with their professional crews to plant trees. Since Pittsfield’s program began in 2016, more than 1,173 trees have been planted around the city.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Orenstein at (413) 717-1255 or


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Repair Cafe to offer help with small fix-it projects

Williamstown — The South Williamstown Community Association and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation will hold a Repair Cafe Saturday, May 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Sheep Hill.

The event’s volunteer fixers will include people who can do small electrical repairs, wooden furniture repair, blade sharpening, costume jewelry repairs and small bike repairs as well as the ever-popular darners, knitters and sewers. A computer expert and a dog trainer will be on hand. There will also be a continuation of the repurposing to shopping bags of feed and grain bags and other items otherwise destined for local landfills with help and material from the Bagshare Project.

Repair Café is free, although donations will be accepted. For more information, call contact Bette Craig at (413) 458-5257 or



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