Emerging Berkshire entrepreneurs build ingenuity with EforAll

We are carefully spaced on the terrace in a garden — it’s still warm enough to sit outdoors in layers at mid-day. The light in the hills has moved from green to gold in the last two days, and the maples are scrims of color. Three mentors are giving time to sit with me over almond-flour scones and spin ideas together.

This fall I am getting a chance to think about how a new business takes hold. I am part of a program for emerging entrepreneurs with EforAll. And they have given me three guides to help me break trail.

We’re talking about isolation in the pandemic, and the ways people want to feel a connection to the community. We’re talking about live blues music and hiking trails, and a voice that knows inside stories and finds new places … we’re talking about how people find stories in digital space, and how the media world has been trying to survive.

In other words, we’re talking about how a writer becomes an entrepreneur. As a freelance writer I have been working with journals and publications that have their own ecosystems. It is a new experience to try to build my own.

Entrepreneurship seems to be a tool for spinning something out of nothing, and EforAll is building this program by gathering local people who know how it works. Our group is learning the difference between having an idea and building a structure to sustain it.

My companions come from many directions — farming, art and craft, health and service, oceans and augmented reality … And right now we are all in the early days of testing our ideas.

Right now we are trying to understand what people are looking for in the worlds we’re moving in. We’re trying not to give our own thoughts yet, but to ask people around us for theirs. We have been having conversations as far as we can in Covid and creating surveys to stretch farther.

I find talking to people endlessly absorbing, and orchestrating a survey daunting and ingenious. There seems to be a depth of thought in carefully designed questions. We are all trying to learn it, as we’re doing our best to begin anonymously, to try to keep fair and open. If you are curious and interested in talking with someone who wants to talk with people who …

swim in a local lake or care about conserving one

want their children to build confidence

want to help in local food and food security

enjoy objects made to express themselves

find pleasure in art in New England with a depth of craft

create events with local shops and makers and services

want to hold attention at their event until everyone dissolves in laughter

I can put you in touch.

And if you’d like to share ideas about Berkshire stories and creative life, you’ll find my quick run of questions here.

As we all talk together, we’re feeling our way in this class, like throwing clay on a wheel, trying to keep an even pressure so the vessel grows smoothly … like riding bareback or easing into the shallows after water lilies. My mentors keep me easing forward and believing creative life and possibility are here.

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