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North Adams, MA October 26, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Drove into work this morning in the dark, through mists and fog, to arrive at North Adams, one of the Commonwealth’s smallest cities.  Dawn revealed a tableau of sad shops, proud steeples and under-utilized factory buildings:

North Adams was known world-wide as “Tunnel City,” sitting as it does between the infamous Hoosac Tunnel to the east and this shorter tunnel to its west:

An eerie mist drifted from it’s dark maw as the sun struggled to burn through the gray blanket above us:

The Hoosac River runs through town, tamed by an Industrial Age concrete channel:

The Autumn colors make the place look almost hopeful – in fact, the sprawling Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, occupying the old Sprague Electric plant, is a ray of hope, drawing both tourists and stimulus dollars for roadscape improvements:

This afternoon the sun came out, illuminating a scene of ridiculously red maples beneath a deep blue sky:

The day ended warmly, with tee-shirts all around.  There won’t be many more like this one until Spring.

Good evening, my friends!

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Comments»

1. Bob - October 26, 2010

Beautiful town shots, Cuz.

And some glorious fall foliage!

2. clairz - October 27, 2010

Shots like these go straight to my heart.

3. sherry - October 27, 2010

touching.

4. susan - October 27, 2010

It seems to me that for things to get better it would be cool to see people returning to these smaller towns. A beautiful place like this still has much to offer by way of resources to tend and a community to care for.

The pictures are wonderful.

5. littlebangtheory - October 27, 2010

Thanks, you guyz. Yeah, it’s a cool little town, but pretty depressed, with lots of societal problems (starting with joblessness and poverty, from which so many others spring.)

But I think it’s well worth fighting for these places, fighting as a society, instead of hoarding our own advantages and kicking the less privileged to the curb.

Plus, yes, it’s beautiful in a stark and paradoxical way, the brick and concrete and rusted steel of a different era cradling art and framed by Nature’s awesome finery.

I dig it.

6. dcmartin - February 3, 2011

OMG, your photographs are just STUNNING. I wish i had that skill. I could spend all day on this blog getting lost in nature and enjoying your words.
BEAUTIFUL.

7. littlebangtheory - February 3, 2011

Grrrl, you’re hired.

😉

And thanks for the props on the photos.

As for words, I used to write a lot more (as in the Politics and Society tab), but it got so all interconnected that I couldn’t find a beginning or an end, and I retreated into my photography.

I’m not proud of running away from The Issues, but it was making me nuts. Bad for the “presha,” you know. I’m certain that I’m close to bursting a dam of words and emotions and will soon be scaring the chilluns with my ferocious observations, but for now I’m just trying to figure out how to work this damned camera thingie.

Again, thanks for your encouragement, and thanks for blogrolling me (if I can remember how I did it before I’ll return that favor, as I’m really digging your style!)

8. The Truth - March 30, 2011

Amazing photos but the overall tone of this article really makes me think your suffering from depression and that you have spent very little time in North Adams. What town does not have unemployed individuals at this moment in our history? What town can say that some of its residents are not under the poverty line. The big problem with North Adams is people who are always negative (its pretty easy to be negative all the time), in a small area such as this negativity spreads like wild fire. Add in the internet and people continually think that everywhere else is a better place to based on the opinions of a few individuals who are continuously negative. Is it true that some people will be happier else where? Of course it is. But the opposite scenario also exists. You say that these towns are worth fighting for but you paint a picture of the city being a horrible place to live due to all the “societal” issues stemming from joblessness and poverty. I hope this does not come off as harsh but its this type of behavior that will be the end of North Adams and your adding to the shit storm of negatively by making unsubstantiated shallow claims. Keep up the good work.

9. littlebangtheory - March 30, 2011

Hi, The Truth, and welcome.

NA is in one of the most beautiful spots in southern New England (and that’s saying a lot,) and has a really cool and growing art scene.

That being said, it’s economically depressed to an extent rivaled in this State only by Holyoke and Fall River. It has the sad privilege of having not only obscene unemployment rates, but also breaks records for poverty, “food insecurity,” teen pregnancies… the list goes on.

“The big problem” with North Adams is NOT with people who notice these things, and in fact may more correctly be connected to people who deny their existence.

If I say, “You have spinach in your teeth,” I’m not the depressed fount of negatively [sic] who put it there.

I do understand that Sprague Electric screwed the place by keeping other employers out for generations, then picking up their shop and leaving. But understanding the consensus root of a problem doesn’t solve it, it just sheds light so that it can be properly considered.

NA has some really good people working hard to move it in the right direction (which I hope will make better use of their spectacular natural environment,) and I wish them great good luck. Meanwhile, they’re in a tough spot as our economy flounders.

Thanks for liking my photographic efforts, and please come again soon.

10. The Truth - March 31, 2011

Thanks for the response.

I do not have complete faith in these numbers as being 100% accurate but it is what it is and its the only data we have. This data seems to disagree with your statement about the jobless rate – http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_17730016

While the number itself is not all that great it shows that we are actually doing better then the national average. I would assume as well as hope that this number will actually improve in the coming months as more seasonal laborers start to get back to work.

Could you please provide some backing data for your other statements regarding poverty, food insecurity and teen pregnancies? I would really like to see that.

If anything I think your statements were correct in the past, but now seem to be losing some validity.

When you have a moment check out the following- http://www.northadamsblog.com/2011/03/berkshire-county-population-trending.html – Take a look at the two links provided for North Adams. Look at the poverty information for the year 2000 then look at the poverty information for 2005-2009 you will see that based on this information our numbers not only improved drastically but are slightly below the national average.

11. littlebangtheory - March 31, 2011

TT, my statements are based on news reports, comments of record by City officials and spokespersons for human service agencies. I don’t have hard data to corroborate their statements, but these are people in positions to know.

What you’re presenting here is welcomed news, and I’m totally inclined to take your word for it.

The word count of this back-and-forth now far exceeds that of the original post. I’m not “about” North Adams, and split my limited time finely between many other obligations, so let’s end it on your positive note.

And thanks for doing that legwork for any who want to pursue this subject further.


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