John Seven: Thanks for taking notice, PolicyMic


NORTH ADAMS -- Dear PolicyMic, I wanted to thank you for the nice things you said about my city, North Adams, in your round-up of 15 Cities For Creative 20-Somethings ( I wanted you to know that we appreciated it because I expect you’re catching hell over your portrayal of Austin, Texas. I don’t think they want any more 20-somethings there.

But we do. And 30-somethings, 40-somethings, 50-somethings, 60-somethings and on up.

Your article inspired much discussion here. Some were fine with it as is, others had nitpicks. Some people worried North Adams would become Brooklyn. Hardly anyone thought North Adams wasn’t a wonderful place to live. In my experience, most people who move here tend to love it.

Here are my own thoughts on why North Adams is a great place to be. Others will have different thoughts.

The article mentions getting "a two-bedroom apartment for $450 a month." I’m not sure those are easy to find, but I’ll tell you something that is -- affordable houses. We have more houses than we know what to do with. How about a two-bedroom house for a $700 mortgage a month? It is possible. You get more square footage and probably even a yard. If you are an artist, you get the greatest gift of all -- space to work. The initial investment is daunting for some, but it’s worth considering if you can figure it out.

The 21 art galleries mentioned are a bit more complicated, but I think it’s a good complication. There are less than that year-round, though the ones that are, are really great. Come spring and summer, the number booms. You’re probably referring to our summer-long arts festival Downstreet Art, which creates a lot of art destinations in the downtown, as well as concerts, monthly celebrations outdoors and tons of public art projects. Lots of successful and interesting contemporary artists from all over the world exhibit during that stretch, as well as all of those who call North Adams home.

Citing 21 art galleries doesn’t quite capture the reality, because the city itself has become an art gallery, which is even better, I think.

Although you mentioned Mass MoCA as an art museum, you didn’t say that it features three huge music festivals -- Solid Sound, Bang on a Can and FreshGrass -- and hosts tons of other concerts, films, dance performances, dance parties, lots more. A beer garden even!

One thing differentiating North Adams from other cities on your list is its instant access to nature. Tons of it, and not all of it in Massachusetts. New York and Vermont are literally on our doorstep. Tons of skiing if you like that. And because it’s so rural here, local agriculture is abundant. The natural world is one of the biggest plusses to living here.

Proximity is a strong bonus. Did you know we’re really centrally located to New York City, Boston and Montreal? Each is a few hours away, easy for long weekends. That’s a huge advantage.

And North Adams is actually part of a larger cultural corridor. Each town in Berkshire County piggybacks off each other for maximum appeal. Plus, we’re really close to great places like Brattleboro, Northampton and the Hudson Valley. That last place was on your list, too.

North Adams is a little eccentric. That’s what keeps it interesting. It can be very sleepy in late fall and through winter, which means you can grab concentration and get to work.

There’s other great stuff, too, but this is a tiny newspaper column.

I’ll let each 20-something decide for themselves if this is the place for them. If you’re curious, come down to the beer garden and ask us questions. We’re pretty friendly.

John Seven, a writer, lives in North Adams. He can be reached at
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