A Note from Patrick White/August 9, 2023
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A Well-Rounded Community

Next time you find yourself in Once Upon a Table, say hi to Dylan. Dylan is a teenager and he and his family live in town. He's passionate about skateboarding and in fact, wants to brief the Town on ways to improve the skate board park on Park Street.

Unfortunately, finding staff at Once Upon a Table has been especially difficult since the end of the pandemic. The Stockbridge eatery isn't alone, either, in experiencing this difficulty: You might have seen the news in today's paper about the closing of Max, a restaurant in Lenox. In the article, the owner attributes the closing, at least in part, to local staffing challenges.

When I was growing up here, a teenager's dream job was working was working at a local restaurant or the Red Lion Inn or the Golf Course or mowing lawns. Each paid great, but you had to work to get one of these jobs. They weren't easy to come by. Today, our businesses can't find the workers they need to stay open. Think about that for a moment.

Having locals in our local community is essential to the Stockbridge vibe, especially in our cherished summers. It takes workers to do the work after all. When local businesses like Once Upon a Table and Max struggle to find staff, it is yet another warning sign that something is very wrong with our local economy.

I remain more committed than ever to doing what you sent me back here to do: namely, ensure that we have a community that works for all residents, a recipe that includes the secret sauce that allows our community to thrive. What motivates me? The simple recognition that none of this works without a well-rounded community, and to have a well-rounded community, we need to ensure that all types of folks can afford to live here.

Patrick White

Deeper Dive: Housing Challenges

Bill Shein, editor of Berkshire Argus, interviewed me recently to discuss housing challenges and a number of other topics. It's a podcast and you can listen to the audio on the web as well by clicking here.

Stockbridge Cultural Council

2023 Community Survey

The Stockbridge Cultural Council is our local member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Its mission is to promote excellence, education, diversity, and inclusion in the arts, humanities, and sciences to foster a rich cultural life for Stockbridge residents and to contribute to the vitality of our local economy. Annually, the Council receives funding from MCC and the Town of Stockbridge to award grants that address cultural needs in our community. In fact, this year the Town augmented the state's funding of around $5,000 with another $10,000 to help it fund programming right here in Stockbridge including many of the Library's events.

Please participate in the SCC survey. The results will help inform the Council’s funding priorities.

Click here to take the survey.

Laurel Hill Day: Saturday, August 26 1pm

Laurel Hill Day is going to be especially fun for both kids and adults this year. At 1pm, Tom Riccardi of rescued raptor fame will present his program, which includes live birds of prey he has saved and cares for. Then at 2pm, keynote speaker Starling Childs will speak. He is the founder of Stonyfield Organic Yogurt and is an accomplished forester, an advisor to the Yale School of Forestry, and a land administrator. The program is free and open to the public. Join your neighbors at 1pm on August 26 at The Rostrum behind Town Hall at 50 Main Street, Stockbridge. Need a ride up the hill? Yours truly will reprise his role as driver of the golf cart!

Founded in 1853, the Laurel Hill Association is the nation’s oldest civic improvement organization. Learn more at www.laurelhillassociation.org

In case you are wondering, the above image background is a detail from a painting by LHA's own Julie Edmonds!

Of Interest... Perhaps!

Slightly Past Their Prime

These Bullard Black-eyed Susans are a bit past their prime. Kind of like how I feel most days. As an aside, I attended the SBA's annual meeting this past Saturday at the Mount. Shout out to Pat Kennelly for conducting a great program!

For the Birds

Multi-family housing in Gould Meadows! If it works for the birds...

Rabbit Run

Some summers, I see more foxes. Others, more rabbits. This summer seems much more the latter. Makes me want to reread Updike.

* * * * *

Last Thoughts: My Favorite Tree

This is the story of my favorite tree, a spruce in fact, and its relationship with the wind.

Now in normal times, a tree and the wind need each other as much as is imaginable. After all, the tree couldn't exist without the wind's carbon dioxide, and the tree returns its oxygen to the wind to feed the lungs of all the creatures that scamper up it and down it and all around it. The wind carries the seeds from the tree to far flung corners of the forest creating its progeny that sustain its kind through all of time.

Now the ground under this tree wasn't ideal: it was a little too sandy, a little too damp, a little too loose for the tree's liking. Despite this fact, the spruce made the best of it and grew and thrived for years and years and years until finally it soared nearly a hundred feet above the ground. Yet in a paradox known by many trees, the taller it soared, the more at risk it became.

And sure enough, one day the wind was blowing as it often had before, yet something in the wind was different that day. Perhaps it was a shear, or a lightning bolt from one of its clouds, or a torrential rain it brought with it, but in an instant, the soaring tree found itself uprooted from its imperfect soil and lay sideways on the ground.

Now, imagine just a second the cataclysm of that moment. You've survived, even prospered, for years and years in one place. You were one of the few seeds that became seedlings, and one of the truly lucky seedlings that was graced to soar above and look down upon most of creation. And there you had stood, strong and proud and seemingly unbreakable. Until that instant when all seemed lost, when wind taught that nothing stands unbreakable and returned you to the earth whence you had come.

Now most trees would simply die and there is no shame in that. A mortal blow was struck and this tree's life would never be the same. Most wouldn't, couldn't possibly survive.

Yet this tree was different and it is what makes it so special. You see, it had fallen in a place where the ground was wet enough to seep into its bark, to reach the place of its outmost ring where the pulse of the tree lives. This tree sensed the wetness and the ground below it, and that ring put out roots below and shoots above and became the mightiest and unlikeliest trunk of not one, not two, not three, but four new spruce trees that grew from its catastrophe.

And so, sometimes when my days have disappointments, I am drawn to this tree to remind myself of the how small my challenges are when compared to the enormity of those that others face. And to see how, even in one's darkest hours, there remains a chance to once again dream of—and indeed soar to—new and hard-to-imagine heights.

So here's a picture of not one but four of my favorite trees. Enjoy.

Patrick White

Just so it's said...

This email represents my personal thoughts. It's not from the Town of Stockbridge, it's from Patrick White. It isn't an "official" communication! You can read all issues of this newsletter at www.patrickwhitestockbridge.com

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Patrick White
81 Hawthorne Street
Stockbridge, MA

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