Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Friday, June 06, 2008
  People with Ideas
Eagle St:
In addition to music and bands on the sidewalks outside the businesses, the group suggested several art projects, including a sidewalk chalk activity that would give both youth and local artists the opportunity to showcase their talents.

My personal suggestion for such things on Eagle Street is to cordon it off on Saturday mornings for a Farmers/Artist/Flea Market. It is truly the perfect location for it.

Obviously people want to try. Obviously some are willing to put their own necks on the line.

Will the powers-that-be get out of the way? Maybe even help? We'll see.
I read that article with a strong sense of deja vu. Every 3 years, merchants get together downtown for meetings about making things better down there. I've heard it all before a million times and in this economy, I have even less hope for anything to work than I did a few years back.

The only thing that will help downtown is an absence of empty stores — and for those stores to be filled with something that makes sense, not just the usual crap that gets tossed in.

The MCLA effort for the summer galleries is the only real step in the right direction I've heard in ages, frankly.
Moving the farmer's market from that lot by MoCA to Eagle Street sounds like a great idea to me.
I agree with John, they can have all the community spirit they want, but if they don't have products that people want, foot traffic isn't going to boost sales.

I also like the farmer's market idea, but would see if it could be held in one of the empty store fronts maybe working with local farmers to keep the store open all week.
Oh, I failed to pipe in with the others - yeah, farmer's market downtown, definitely. That's a practical special event that any other community would see great value in highlighting in such a setting. You add in the free art on view — of which there will be a considerable amount this summer — and you have yourself more of a destination.

More stores won't really help - for the reasons I stated before (the planning board around here is so hung up on signage, they should be more hung up on good ideas — two more hairdressers coming soon!) and because in this economy, you're really dependent on people of a certain income to do the buying (which I have argued is always part of the market downtown anyhow if you are trying to siphon off MoCA dollars). Any town worth visiting has lots of free or low cost browsing opportunities — that's why art spaces make sense, it's low cost and it creates destinations that people can actually AFFORD! Once people are used to coming to a place just to come for the free entertainment, then the stores can crop up with more confidence.

Farmers market = good. Special events = more of the same.
The farmers market would be a good way to bring life to Eagle Street but I wonder what the wo groups - farmers and retailers - think about the idea. Community Supported Agriculture is a rapidly growing phenomenon, as are the concepts of "local" foods and "slow" foods. There have been some exceptional growers at the North Adams farmer's market, but most of the locals still prefer Big Y because they have no idea as to the differences in taste and nutrition you get when buy truly fresh produce grown in natural soil, not chemically treated industrial scale fields.

Last summer I approached the North Adams Farmers Market with an offer for some simple decent signage to be painted by some local artists to thank the vendors for hanging in there in the rain and cold as well as the sun and heat.

"You have to talk to Rod Bunt" about that. Well, if that is who is in charge, no wonder it is located where it is. Looks to me that the city treats the Farmer's Market more as an embarrassment than an asset.

There is an amateurish mediocre quality to much of what the city does to promote itself, not to mention that outsiders are clearly not welcome to bring any of their ideas to the table. It is all very sad.

Responses from several I have seen discussed on your blog have been downright hostile. That's one of the reasons North Adams has remained more of a backwater than it deserves to be. There is a lot of energy that could be tapped, but it will never surface if creative people continue to be told there is little interest in changing things.

It makes me sad to see the mediocrity continue by those who lead this city.
Farmer's Market on Eagle Street?? BAD IDEA------And what ideas of newbies and Ruddisitas have not been accepted--ask Tom Krens and Joe Thompson(MoCA)--- ask Eric Rudd and beach party - downtown installations-- and the Eclipse Mill----the other ideas have no practical value---but oh yeah-- you are so much smarter than the local yokels---because you're "cultured"---have a bunch of college degrees--- or are artists with creativeness---if you are so much into condemnation of North Adams---MOVE THE HELL OUT---I don't think anyone paid you to come here----and North Adams does not want to be made into the edenic
ideal of the windmills of your mind.
Clark -

When are you retiring and moving to Texas? Do us a favor and lay off the Gray Goose before you comment.

Time does not stand still and the North Adams you speak of is slowly changing.

It's not 1968, 1978, 1988 or 1998. It is 2008.

By 2018, there will be a street or a building named after John Barrett III and many of the businesses and various pieces of civic infrastructure he helped put/keep in place (library, Y, parks, etc...) will be thriving, but the city will be very different.

-The average age will be considerably lower and closer to the state average.
-Much of the housing stock will have been rehabilitated and some of the neighborhoods close to downtown will be more owner-occupied than rental.
-Your employer, MCLA, will have re-established itself as a cornerstone of the city. And it will have shed its reputation as a glorified community college, which will in turn attract better students and a faculty that doesn't commute from other towns.
-Main Street and Eagle St will have gentrified to serve the younger population. (that's an oxymoron if ever I've heard one.)
-MoCA will no longer be a fledgling institution. Instead it will be a fully endowed entity with a permanent collection that is topped only by MoMA and the Guggenheim.
-Williamstown's anti-growth policies will continue to make the North Adams an attractive place for middle class transplants.
-The school system will benefit as the proportion of students living in poverty along with transient students decreases. It is even possible that north county may be combined into a single district by then.
.... and the list goes on.

I know you hate us "carpet-baggers". I've only lived here, voted and paid my taxes for the past 6 years so for some reason my opinion doesn't count with you. But there are more like me everyday and there are fewer like you.
Those are all very interesting, Greg. I think it's inevitable — even if the employment isn't in North Adams, it's still an affordable place to live and an affordable place to start a business (now if some other aspects of starting a business got a little easier, cool). There's just a natural evolution that is going to slowly take hold.

It's sad when college edjumacated lads like Clark can barely get an intelligible sentence out of their mouths - but, worse, seem so behind the times. It must be depressing when the world — and the town you live in — are just passing you by and all you can do is bang out angry words on your computer at home. At least he can pander with his anger enough to keep getting votes from the bitter crowd.
Heh. You said "bitter."

You must be a Marxist.
Well, I have always thought Chico was underrated piano player.
your right clark....north adams doesn't want idealist windmills.....we want real windmills....on witt's the transfer the top of mt. greylock....

I'm still trying to find a bumper sticker big enough that can read "wind powered casinos on top of greylock"

I'd back it in a heartbeat.
CSA community supported agriculture it is still in its infancy. It is sustainable only in more affluent communities. Unfortunately, people in NA do not have the $$$ to afford CSA or local produce. Big Y twists wrist on producer to get competitive prices and hey someone who is struggling to pay bills does not care to support local economy but to make through the next check. Nice idea though. I would love it.
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