Imagine us a river under North Adams’ sky — #berkshireweekend

Imagine you’re in charge of North Adams, and you have the resources to create the river you want to see … what do you see? Voices mull over answers — a swimming hole with pebbles in the shallows. An artist working with local kids in school, the way one came for half a year a generation ago. A bike path like the Ashuwillticook along the South Branch.

People are filling the UNO Community Center and spilling out the open doors on a warm summer evening, as Nicolas Howe opens the first community listening session for the new three-year study of the river.

He is speaking a board member of Hoosic River Revival and a professor of environmental studies at Williams College, giving a timeline for what happens next. After years of work, the city and local groups including HRR have convinced the Army Corps of Engineers to take a new look at the river.

Over the next three or four months, he says, they will be gathering information. They are looking into the flood protections we have — many of them more than 70 years old and increasingly unsound — at the lowhead dams and the flood chutes downtown. And they will offer alternatives, ways to make sure people can live safely along the river and come to the river and enjoy it and to restore the ecology and life of the river.

Today is a time to dream. In the middle of downtown, people who have lived here for generations and people who have moved here in the past few weeks are imagining a river where kids can swim and local folk can walk along the banks on warm nights, and catch a glimpse of trout and mergansers and blue herons … and, in the words of Rachel Hailey, founder of DEI Outdoors — where everyone can have a sense of belonging. …

Community abundance

Apples ripen on the young fruit trees at UNO Community Center in North Adams.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Apples ripen on the young fruit trees at UNO Community Center in North Adams.

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

A glass of white wine shimmers against dark green trees. Creative Commons courtesy photo
Oct 10 2023 @ 7:00 pm
Naumkeag's horticulturist will lead a after-hours tour of the gardens while sipping on a glass of wine. Each month will offer a different topic for the garden.
The Hoosic River runs through Hopkins Forest in Williamstown. Photo by Kate Abbott
Oct 19 2023 @ 5:30 pm
Justin Adkins and Arianna Alexsandra Collins of HooRWA will lead a walk along the Hoosic River, identifying wild edible and medicinal plants and fungi.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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