North Adams honored by 1Berkshire

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WILLIAMSTOWN —
It was a diverse group of people, but it represented what the North Adams area is becoming, not what it used to be.

A community volunteer, a creative economy specialist, an art gallery owner, an academic. There were 16 people in all, and most of them were young.

They gathered in front of a podium Thursday night to accept the "Putting the Berkshires on the Map" Award, which was given to the community of North Adams, the keynote honor at 1Berkshire's seventh annual "Celebrate the Berkshires" event at Bloom Meadows.

Over 300 people attended the event which also honored the winners of 1Berkshire's annual Berkshire Trendsetter Awards, given to individuals and entities in seven different categories.

The keynote honor specifically recognized the community of North Adams, not the city itself. It was given to the community for its contributions to enhancing the overall image of the Berkshires through the exceptional collaboration by its private and public entities over the past year. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Cultural Council awarded North Adams a coveted cultural district designation, a major honor for this former mill town.

"We may be the smallest city in the commonwealth," said community volunteer Annie Rodgers, who spoke as the 16-member group accepted the award. "But I challenge you to find one with a bigger heart or more sass."

"What's happening in North Adams is just beginning and there's a lot more to come," said outgoing North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright. "I'd like to say we're humbled, but you just handed us bragging rights."

The influx of all this culture doesn't mean that North Adams has completely shed its blue collar roots.

"We can enjoy this Berkshire County that includes lounging on the grass and listening to classical music with flutes of champagne and that's a lovely thing," said Joseph Thompson, the director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. "But we can also come to North Adams and drink beer on asphalt and listen to indie rock."

That last comment was greeted with a rousing cheer from the audience.

In the Trendsetter Awards competition, state Sen. Adams G. Hinds, a former North Adams resident, received the Newcomer of the Year Award. The Pittsfield Democrat also received a standing ovation.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket was honored as Creative Economy Standout; McCann Technical School in North Adams received the Nonprofit Impact Award; and Jessica Vecchia, the executive director of the Pittsfield-based Alchemy Initiative, received the Under 40 Changemaker Award.

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox received the award for Comprehensive Marketing Campaign, an honor that went to the city of North Adams last year. Tad Ames, the outgoing president of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, was honored as Entrepreneur/Visionary of the Year. Allegrone was honored for Growing and Advancing the Berkshire Economy. Each category had five finalists.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at 413 496-6224.




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