Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
  True Residents
Why do so many pissed off people who run away from North Adams feel the need to lob insults back over our borders?
How much of the big dollars generated by the art-and-culture community remain in North Adams? I wonder how many true North Adams residents, or residents from local areas, can receive a living wage from the "arts payrolls?"
I'll tell you what Mr. Francis, I am a "truer" resident of North Adams than anybody living in Florida and I make a solid living off the tourist trade. Guess where I spend my money? Right here.

Sheesh! Does Florida attract more than its share of bitter New Englanders? Just askin'.....
I find that letter rather bizarre in that it frames all these things as if they were an either/or choice and that the opportunities here that exist would be exactly the same without the arts community that has moved in and pumped money into property and businesses.

Anyhow, I find it amusing that there's a guy in Florida who gives more of a shit about what goes on here than I do. If I lived in Florida, you can bet that I'd pay even less attention to this place than I do now.
I am surprised that the letter so far has only generated one letter in response -- from another guy from Florida.
This would an interesting project for an economics major at MCLA. Of course the title would have to be "Show Me The Money". Seriously though, it would be good for North Adams and it's surrounding communities to know if the "arts culture" is something they should continue to go after or should we start to look at diversification.
Of course we should look at diversification! No town can afford to be a one company town in this day and age, no matter where you live. And this may be my own personal bias, but I've met a fair number of new residents (last 5 years or so) and only a small portion of them are artists, the others are middle class professionals, who came because there was an artist community here which meant that there were services here they wanted.

I've told this story so many times, but do you know what sealed the deal for my husband and I? The fact that we could eat at a place like Gideon's, get an espresso at three different places in town (not counting the dunkin donuts) and browse a used bookstore.

If the town could support those businesses, then it could support us.

And from what I can see, there really aren't a lot of new artists moving in right now, but Waterfront Media just expanded, and Box Car Media just expanded, and the folks at VoodooVox mentioned that they were doing quite well, and MCLA is expanding, slowly, but it is expanding.

And it pains me to see Main Street so empty. But you know what, I got a parking ticket there last week when I was the only car on the street and I was running to the meter. I haven't parked downtown since, which means I haven't been to the Cup and Saucer to fuel the local economy or my caffeine addiction.
The letter-writer is all over the place. I think I agree with him at least hypothetically on a few of his points, such as his opposition to "Personally driven and excessive enforcement of building-code control" -- I've heard of such problems, although their extent is unclear to this newcomer.

I also rather doubt NA can maintain another theater, such as a rebuilt Mohawk. At any rate, with $5 million to play with, or whatever the sum is now, I'd think a better way to attract tourists would be buying out the Price Chopper and rebuilding the 18th century Fort Massachusetts there. (A replica fort existed there in the first half of the 20th century; its chimney remains.)

Some of his other points seem somewhat crazy, or consist of vague nonsequitors, such as:

"Residents should step back and rethink if they desire the MoCAs of the art world or nice, local retail stores, local highway gas stations and real-world payrolls to feed, clothe and educate children."

I don't see the trade-off. MoCA isn't some benighted presence which took over a functioning mill, and if MoCA goes away, mill and factory work ain't coming back.
I'd think a better way to attract tourists would be buying out the Price Chopper and rebuilding the 18th century Fort Massachusetts there. (A replica fort existed there in the first half of the 20th century; its chimney remains.)

You've touched on one of my pet projects. "Fort Price Chopper" is currently a very sad little place.
I am shocked, shocked, that this discussion has been limited to Greg's blog (delightful as it always is) and not brought to the letters section of the Transcript, where it originated. However, I'm with Amy on most of her observations. Except she should park in the Center Street lot or Steeple City Plaza, where you don't have to worry about the meter maid from hell. More thoughts in print in Friday's paper. Most inspired by our friend in Florida but some right here.
Glenn I have a suggestion for you, no not that one. Over the years I've contacted several reporters for the Transcript asking about lack of content or not giving the full picture and I often hear that the printed articles in the Transcript are edited down to fit the space - understandable. But would it be possible, where space is essentially unlimited, to offer the reporters full submissions in your online version of the paper?
Dave has a point - there is still a group of folks (both in and out of town) who believe that the only reason good blue-collar jobs haven't returned to North Adams is because of the artists coming in.

Sprague is gone. It ain't comin' back.

Having said that, I wish there was more economic diversity here in the Tunnel City. I think tech might be the key, but even that is, by itself, not enough.

(And Glenn - because I'm a good guy, I'll drop a similar comment over at The Transcript. I second Snoop's call for longer stories online as well.)

I *WAS* going to leave a comment at that letter, but letters don't have comment links that I can see.

I have solved the reasons for the "Florida" letters bashing the Mayor and NA---- they all moved there after JBIII had the houses torn down--lol---chbpod
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