Pittsfield Moves!

When Jacob’s Pillow director, Pamela Tatge, came to us last year about a community building grant opportunity, it was unclear what would really take shape. The question: Can you build community through movement? If yes, then how? From it, Pittsfield Moves! was born.  A collaboration with Jacob’s Pillow, Working Cities Pittsfield (Berkshire Bridges – A Working Cities Initiative), and Angela’s Pulse artists & dancers, as well as several other partners, including Manos Unidas, NAACP, and many local residents. Our charge was to create an original performance drawing from the people and stories of Pittsfield and the surrounding region.

people sitting on floor one person writes on wall
Residents discuss community assets and community movement.–Photo Noor Emaan

Angela’s Pulse (AP) worked with us over a 6 month period, spending time in the community, attending meetings, visiting with residents, and asking the questions: How does your community move? What makes it stop moving? What gets it moving again? Over ten days in July, those questions were deeply considered in workshops throughout the city where dozens of local residents from all walks of life participated.

people dancing in line
A workshop at Funkbox Studio facilitated by Angela’s Pulse–photo Christopher Duggan

Key to the partnership was keeping with the Working Cities promise of valuing resident input and participation. Answering that promise, Jacob’s Pillow budgeted to pay participants of the project for their time and input into the creative process. Everyone who provided their valuable insight and creativity was paid for their time and expertise. Really.

Dancers in black on outdoor stage
Community dancers on stage at Jacob’s Pillow outdoor stage–photo Noor Eemaan

The outcome? A beautiful, soulful, performance (in progress) by residents, for residents. Pittsfield Moves! was performed on the outside stage at Jacob’s Pillow on July 26 and again at the Gather-in festival in Durant Park on July 28 for the community. And yes. The answer is yes. You can build community through movement.

Pittsfield Moves! is a year-long project. Angela’s Pulse will be back in September, October, and November to continue the work. We will keep you posted on opportunities to get involved.

Click here to view a short video on Facebook of part of the performance at Jacob’s Pillow. A full version will be available soon to share.

Working Cities Pittsfield Celebrates 2 Years of Success

On July 25, more than 100 people gathered at the Christian Center, despite the rain, to celebrate community. Many people are a part of this work. Some attend Working Cities Wednesdays, others embody our strategies for community change within their organizations, and still, others are building their leadership skills to become another voice for change. We are all working toward a Pittsfield that is just, thriving, and safe.

So how are we doing? Below is a list of some of the progress we’ve made together. We shared it at the event, but want to make sure you didn’t miss any of the good news.

53 graduates of Getting Ahead
• 4 placed on city boards and commissions
• 4 hired by the city
• 8 got better jobs/were promoted
• Businesses who hired graduates report learning from them
• Spanish graduates report feeling less isolated
• 6 graduates reported improving their finances without getting a new job or raise

15 Bridges Out of Poverty trainings for 236 people

Working Cities Wednesday
• 72 unique residents engaged
• 7 resident-led projects (3 completed)
• City Candidate Mixer

Initiatives building inclusion into their models
• Pittsfield Moves!
• Pittsfield to Pillow Express
• Community-Based Research barriers to the arts
• Organizations paying people with lived experience for their time and expertise
• Child care, food, and transportation being offered for more meetings and community events
• More events providing Spanish interpretation

Additionally, the Mt. Auburn Associates, the evaluator hired by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, our main funder, noted the following in their midpoint evaluation:

• “WCP is a model for other organizations in the city for engaging residents meaningfully and authentically.”
• “WCP has seen early, anecdotal progress of increasing resident leadership in broader community forums across the city.”
• “Interviews suggest that WCP has contributed to early, fairly anecdotal, but positive system changes.”

Click here to read the Berkshire Eagle article.

group of people at table looking a question on poster
Working Cities Pittsfield celebrated its two-year anniversary Wednesday with a community cookout in the Christian Center. Participants ate and talked about what they’ve accomplished, and looked to the future. GILLIAN JONES – THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE