Local stories reimagined? Take a look at what’s going on out here in the hills of Western Massachusetts — come out with me, and we’ll get under the surface, close enough to know what an artist feels or an event feels like.

I’ve been a storyteller and journalist and oral historian here for 20 years — and I’ve fallen for my field in a time when my field has been falling — the country has lost almost a third of its newspapers and almost two-thirds of its newspaper journalists (according to Northwestern’s Local News Initiative).

So I’m joining a growing movement of storytellers across the country who want to keep on talking with people and exploring, and understanding how our communities work. I’m creating a web of stories, a digital source of local news, and a creative world I have not seen anywhere else.

You’ll find art and music and theater and dance here, in stories and a Berkshire arts and events calendar — you’ll find hiking trails and canoe trips and restaurants linked to local farms. Most of all, you’ll find conversations. You’ll find people coming out to meet you and share the world we live in.

And you’ll find a creative community here which has been growing for years. Over time, diverse and wide-minded people have given me the chance to know them and help share their stories.

Some myths to dispell

Can I get a wand for this? First of all, in answer to a question I hear often — this website is not a chamber of commerce, and journalism is not advertising — or PR either.

I am a freelance writer and journalist, and I write for Berkshire publications as well as this website, so an editor or another news source may have paid for my time to write some of these stories — but you will never see a story here because someone has paid me to write *about them*.

This is also not a comprehensive list of every place in the county. I am writing about a place I love, and I’m working with freelance writers and interns whenever I get the chance — and I want to share what gets my blood moving.

This site was designed and coded by Kate Krolicki.
Hancock Shaker Village runs a CSA from its historic gardens in the warmer season.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Why is it By the Way Berkshires?

I’ve been writing as By the Way since 2008. I moved back to the Berkshires that winter to take a job as editor of Berkshires Week in the Berkshire Eagle, the local daily paper, and my editors invited me to write a weekly column.

When I was looking for a name for the column, I pulled out Henry David Thoreau’s essay about climbing Mount Greylock and read about him picking raspberries By the Way — so I called it that, and I wrote my first column about it.

In 2015 I went freelance, and I launched the first version of this website. People in the Berkshires knew me by my column, so I brought the name here. I liked the feel of casual, friendly storytelling. And as Kate Krolicki began working with me in the winter of 2018, we kept the name to carry that feeling on.

Boston University's Tanglewood Institute will perform at Tanglewood in Lenox. Photo by Natasha Moustache for Boston University.
Photo by Natasha Moustache

Why explore the Berkshires?

Open country and open minds make a rare combination. Out here we have open ridges and a slice of the Appalachian trail, canoe trips on the Housatonic River — and we have the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, theaters that send plays to Broadway and museums that gather internationally known artists. Our creative life is becoming known around the world.

Hikers at the summit of Mount Greylock look out over the town of Adams.
Mount Greylock / Photo by Kate Abbott

Where are the Berkshires?

The Berkshires are hills on the Western edge of Massachusetts. They run along the border with New York state from Connecticut north to Vermont, 50 miles from end to end.

I live in a high green country with a vivid creative life. It is a rare place. In some ways it’s an in-between place, across the state from Boston and up the Hudson River from New York, and as a cultural area and as a geographic one, it spills over the state line.

Berkshire Towns & Cities

The meadow at Jones Nose on Mount Greylock blooms in July.
Photo by Kate Abbott

So who’s writing these stories?

By the Way Berkshires begins with a local writer and journalist, and it is growing. You will find voices here from many perspectives — Williams College students and young alums, a longtime Berkshire naturalist and freelance writers. Let us introduce ourselves …

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BTW Berkshires