Thursday, April 06, 2017

Anne Skinner Receives Fulbright Fellowship to Research in Brazil


Media contact:  Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email:

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 6, 2017—Anne Skinner, senior lecturer emerita in chemistry at Williams College, has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to spend four months  doing research in Brazil in 2018.

Skinner's project, "Shining Light on the Early Human Occupation of Northeast Brazil: A Multi-Institutional and Multidisciplinary Approach," will combine excavations in the UNESCO Human Heritage region of Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara with lectures and demonstrations at four Brazilian institutions, using excavated material to improve inter-laboratory collaboration. Her research dates fossils by measuring the accumulation of radiation damage during burial. Her previous studies in Brazil have challenged the "Clovis First" paradigm of the settlement of the Americas.

"I feel fortunate to have international recognition of this type of work and my research," Skinner said. "And I am grateful for the opportunity to investigate the early occupation of Brazil in depth." 


Over the last 30 years, Skinner has been involved with determining the age of prehistoric sites on every continent except Antarctica. Her lab at Williams is the only one in the United States doing this type of work. She has received multiple grants, most recently a Dreyfus Foundation Senior Mentor grant. She has been featured on a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) program about the Homo erectus in Africa. Skinner involves students in her research, including presenting materials at international conferences.

A physical chemist by training, Skinner's work is multidisciplinary, combining chemistry, biology, geology, anthropology and archaeology.

Teaching at Williams since 1977, Skinner has a bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Yale University.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college's 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students' educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student's financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.



Noelle Lemoine
Williams College Office of Communications
phone: 413.597.4277

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

BART taps Southern Vermont College provost to replace Julia Bowen as head of Adams school

This news release was received from Leah Thompson, BART development directo r(, and lists Charles Swabey, board chair, as contact:  413-743-7311. 

ADAMS — The Board of Trustees of BART Charter Public School has named James "Jay" C. White II, Ph.D., as the school's Executive Director, starting June 19.

Trustee Chair Charles Swabey said White will bring to BART more than 30 years of teaching, administrative, and fundraising experience in a variety of settings, including middle and high school, colleges and universities, and national and international nonprofit organizations. White serves as Provost, Dean of the College, and Professor of Physics at Southern Vermont College in Bennington, Vt., which he joined in 2015.

Swabey said White was inspired to apply for the executive director position by a visit to BART last year, where he said the dedication of faculty and staff to student success was palpable to anyone entering the school. White's experience during the interview process at BART, which included classroom visits and meeting a variety of BART community members, increased his admiration for BART and further fueled his desire to lead the school as an advocate for the academic excellence and transformative education that BART provides for its students.

"The Board of Trustees is confident that Jay has the background and skills to lead BART to the next level of academic performance and student achievement, as well as strengthening the ability of BART graduates to thrive in college," Swabey said.

Swabey added that White has a track record of successful friend- and fund-raising, both of which are critical to BART. Swabey said the Board found White to be a collaborative leader and agreed that his description of administrative leadership as "facilitating the work of his peers" is the right approach for BART.

White said he is looking forward to joining BART because, "As a seasoned administrator, I enjoy working closely with colleagues to improve and advance programs and whole institutions and to make more evocative and powerful the education we provide."

Swabey said that White will succeed founding executive director Julia Bowen, who has led BART since 2003 and has resigned effective July to pursue new opportunities. Swabey added that the Board is pleased that between White's arrival and Bowen's departure, there will be an overlap during which the two will work together to facilitate a smooth transition for BART.

Prior to relocating to New England and joining Southern Vermont College as its Provost and Dean of the College, White has had a career concentrated within national and international education and has lived and worked within education at all levels. Highlights of White's career include:

  • From teacher of science and mathematics to head of school at Linden Hall, the nation's oldest boarding school for young women.
  • Chief academic officer and a physics professor for Washington & Jefferson College and Gettysburg College.
  • Executive director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and program manager for the International Astronomical Union's science and education development programs in countries around the world.

An elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, White holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Birmingham-Southern College and master's and doctorate degrees in astronomy from Indiana University, Bloomington.

"My life has been one dedicated to exploration and education—for my own curiosity and, more importantly, for helping to create learning environments in which children and colleagues can explore." White stated. "BART Charter Public School is an important institution, and I am absolutely thrilled to help the teachers and families of the school's students help these children emerge as the great souls we know they are. Our nation and our global society need them, and BART is a perfect place to help prepare them before they are set loose on addressing the world's challenges."

Swabey said the Board of Trustees wished to thank the Executive Director Search Committee for its service. The nine volunteers – four BART trustees, a BART Foundation Board trustee, a teacher, parent, administrator, and community member —reviewed 29 applications for the position in a process that involved phone and in-person interviews, a full-day visit to BART for three applicants, and a final interview with the Board of Trustees. Swabey said the committee conducted a thoughtful and rigorous process that resulted in the successful recruitment of Jay White.

BART is a nationally recognized, award-winning, tuition-free public middle and high school focused on preparing students for college. In 2015, US News & World Report ranked BART the 7th best high school in Massachusetts. To date, 100 percent of BART's graduates have passed a college course and have been accepted into college prior to graduation. BART does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Hoosic River Revival Receives Two Grants for South Branch Restoration Project

Contact: Judith Grinnell, Hoosic River Revival; (413) 212-2996;

North Adams, MA — The Hoosic River Revival (HRR), a non-profit organization whose mission is to revitalize the Hoosic River in North Adams while ensuring the safety of residents from flooding, has received two grants to advance their goal of making the South Branch a place with year-round recreational, environmental, and economic opportunities.
Patagonia, the world-wide outdoor clothing company, has provided the River Revival $8,000 to supplement the cost of soil testing for contaminants at Noel Field, the Phase One restoration site. Patagonia's World Trout Council supports small, innovative, grassroots groups working with provocative direct-action agendas.  
"We are honored to receive this support from Patagonia, and especially pleased to learn that we are one of only 17 grant recipients in Massachusetts," said Judy Grinnell, founder of the Hoosic River Revival.  In 2016 Patagonia donated over $7 million dollars to 825 environmental organizations around the world.
The River Revival has also received a $2,500 matching grant from the Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund for a community art installation. David Buckley Borden, who was an Assets for Artists Resident at MASS MoCA in 2016, has been chosen by HRR to create a project at the Phase One river restoration area. During his artist residency, Borden developed a body of visual artwork focused on promoting the value of the Hoosic River watershed.
Borden will build on this work in the collaborative creation of an eye-catching, thought-provoking art installation to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation for the Hoosic River in North Adams. Reached in Cambridge, MA, where he lives, Borden shared this thoughts about the upcoming work: "As an artist focused on using accessible art to promote a shared environmental awareness, I am thrilled at the prospect of working with the Hoosic River Revival and making a contribution to the North Adams community and its appreciation of the Hoosic River.Borden's works can be viewed at

The mission of the Hoosic River Revival is to reconnect the community to a healthy, scenic, accessible, flood-controlled river, which will enhance North Adams' recreational, cultural, and economic vitality. The Board of Directors meets monthly at North Adams City Hall on the second Monday of each month at 9 am and welcomes attendance from the public. Comments, questions, or inquiries about the Hoosic River Revival can be sent to or by telephone 413.212.2996.   #
Caption for attached photo: A digital print in a series created by Borden during his Assets for Artists residency at MASS MoCA in 2016.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

North Adams synagogue sets April 20 free, public discussion on refugees: "Welcoming the Stranger"


​Submitted by Tela Zazsloff. For more information contact 
Jack Hockridge, Administrator,
​ Congregation Beth Israel --    Phone 413 663-5830

              NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- ​

Congregation Beth Israel (53 Lois Street, North Adams), will present, on April 20, 7:30pm, an up close look at the current refugee crisis. 

Joanna Slater, an award winning journalist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, will discuss her first-hand account of the current flight of refugees across Europe. She will also reflect on the role of journalists in bringing the refugee crisis to light. 

Deirdre Griffin, director of the New American Program of the Jewish Family Service of Western MA, will review plans to bring 50 Syrian refugees to the Berkshires, and update us on where this program now stands.

Suzanne Graver, professor emerita of Williams College and chair of CBI's Speakers Committee, will discuss how rabbis, synagogues, and Jewish agencies and journals have been taking to heart the Torah's 36 commandments to welcome the stranger. 

 Discussion will follow.  The program is open to the community free of charge.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Adams details spring construction plans for first two miles of Greylock Glen trail network

Peck's Falls (Paul Jahnige photo supplied by the state DCR)
This is a news release supplied March 31, 2017, by the Town of Adams.
For more information contact Donna Cesan, Community Development Director, Town of Adams: 413-743-8300 x 131;

ADAMS, Mass. – The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Town of Adams, Massachusetts have announced plans to begin construction of the renovated trail system at Greylock Glen.  This spring, DCR will commence construction of the 2-mile, Class 1 “Glen Meadow Loop” trail in the heart of the Glen.  Eventually, plans call for a 30-mile improved trail system for hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and skiing.  Approximately half of the trails will be built over existing trails, and half are new trail construction in fields or woodlands.  “We are incredibly excited to begin on-the-ground trail construction at Greylock Glen as a part of this model for environmental conservation, active recreation, and economic development,” said DCR Commissioner Leo P. Roy. 

The $50 million Greylock Glen Resort, currently being developed by the Town, has been designed as an environmentally sustainable ecotourism destination that will include a lodge and conference center, a campground, an outdoor recreation center and environmental education facility, a performing arts amphitheater, an environmental art garden and dozens of miles of multi-use trails. The construction of the Class 1 trails will be the first phase of the project.  Donna Cesan, Community Development Director for the Town of Adams said, “Getting a jump start on construction of the trails system will not only be a boon for public enjoyment but help the Town attract private developer partners for the other components of the Glen resort development”.

The recreational opportunities and experiences that are anticipated at the Greylock Glen Resort include:
  • Hiking trails that will highlight scenic features of the Glen and include three hiking routes to Mount Greylock State Reservation and the Mount Greylock summit;
  • Mountain-biking trails that will wind through the forest and provide a variety of difficulties and destinations;
  • Cross-country ski trails for both skating and class styles that will provide for a variety of loops, difficulties, and distances;
  • Downhill back-country skiing, most notably the historic Thunderbolt Trail and a new proposed Thunderbolt Glade and Meadow route that recalls the original alignment from the 1930s;
  • Snowmobile connections that will allow snowmobilers to connect from adjacent properties to and across the Greylock Glen; and
  • Camping in the Greylock Glen campground, for which the Town is currently seeking a development partner.
In improving the Glen trail system, DCR and the Town are also working together to protect the wetlands and waterways on the property, and the many rare species that the Glen supports.  “There are beautiful streams, waterfalls, ponds and marshes at the Glen and many rare species.  Over the past few years, we have completed extensive mapping, planning and permitting to ensure that we avoid impacting the resources at the Glen that make it so magical,” said Paul Jahnige, DCR Director of Trails and Greenways.
One of the central pieces of this trail system is what is defined as Class 1 trail loops in the center of the Glen development area.  These trails are expected to be 8-10’ wide crushed stone surface with an appropriate sub-base and drainage.  In addition to walking, hiking, and biking, these wider trails are suitable for X-country skiing and even carriage and sleigh rides.

The entire Greylock Glen site is 1,063 acres, of which fewer than 50 will be developed. Approximately 95% of the site (1,008 acres) was permanently protected last year by the Baker Administration and announced by the Secretary of Energy and Environment, Mathew Beaton.  Greylock Glen is adjacent to the 12,500-acre Mount Greylock State Reservation which includes the tallest peak in southern New England.  Users of the Glen’s trails system will be able to enjoy hiking, climbing, backcountry skiing and boarding, snowshoeing, mountain biking, nature walks, birding and many other outdoor activities, while being only a short drive from the Berkshires’ world famous tourist destinations such as Tanglewood, Clark Art Institute and MASS MoCA.

Approximately 3 million people visit the Berkshires each year to attend its many cultural events and museums, as well as to enjoy its beautiful scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities.
# # #

Williamstown-born "Nandi Rose Plunkett’s Freewheeling Art Pop" - from The New Yorker

Contents below copyright, The New Yorker. Best to click on the link above to read it although this is provided as a non-profit application of fair use for analysis, comment and education. 

This article appears in other versions of the April 10, 2017, issue, with the headline "Follow Ahead."

It rained in New York last May 6, and music completists felt the downpour the heaviest. New albums from James Blake, Skepta, Death Grips, Anohni, and Kaytranada all came at once, a spread of vivid artists who had risen from self-contained music pockets as captains of focussed styles and subcultures. "Probable Depths" arrived more quietly that same day, and the cassette might have been lost in the spring shower if it hadn't been for the loyal followers of Nandi Rose Plunkett, a singer and producer known as Half Waif. College-radio jocks and B-side bloggers picked up "Turn Me Around," the record's agile second single, and dished out praise that the ethereal pop song wholly deserved but was too opaque to earn more widely; like Plunkett's path to performance, the track is a study of pivots. A mournful choral intro gives way to a hand-clap bounce fit for a Rihanna song—"I don't even know what I'm here for," Plunkett sings, never letting on where "here" may be.

The twenty-eight-year-old has rarely played it straight. The daughter of an Indian refugee from Uganda and an Irish-American, she grew up in Williamstown, Massachusetts, versed in traditional bhajans and Celtic pop. As a music major at Kenyon College, she inhaled varied forms—musical theatre, classical, folk, world music—and mastered few, instead working through her own experiments with upstart bands and nursing solo material by night. Her ideas jelled best with Evan Stephens Hall, and she joined his band Pinegrove. The group made their way to northern New Jersey after graduation, and became immersed in a close-knit music community that had produced bands like Ducktails and Real Estate—after crashing in Hall's childhood bedroom for a summer, Plunkett found the confidence to pipe up on her own once again.

With Pinegrove, Plunkett helps to broaden the band's blooming alt-country rooted deep in the New Jersey woodlands; as Half Waif, she makes room for globe-twirling prism pop in search of a home. At Silent Barn on April 6, she'll play songs from "form/a," the latest Half Waif EP (which she produced herself), swaying between the electronic bass of new tracks like "Night Heat" and the light step of "Turn Me Around," nudging everyone near her into motion.