Photo courtesy of Timothy Valentine via Flickr.
There is a lot of collective knowledge in the Berkshires. There are famous authors of all persuasions and doctors who have moved here with a great understanding of how things work.
We in the Berkshires enjoy a real sense of community that won’t stop. It’s not a New York atmosphere where people are isolated and uncommunicative. We lived on 96th Street in Manhattan in a sixteen-story (not thirteenth) building with four apartments on each floor. We were in apartment B, and we never knew two of the occupants of the other apartment who had lived there as long as we had, which was basically forever. Here, when someone moves in, the password and people meet and know each other. Of course, there’s always someone who will identify a close neighbor as a “Trumper” and that’s never a compliment.
In my street alone, there are lawyers and psychologists, journalists and professors. If you stop and talk to one of these people for a few minutes, you will be blown away by the level of knowledge they have. People know I’m writing this column and I’m on the radio and they don’t hesitate to tell me what they think. Believe me, they don’t hold back.
From what I can see, no one dominates the others despite the degrees they have obtained or the jobs they hold. This may be one of the reasons people move to the Berkshires. Something attracts them. There’s something in the air; something in the spirit of our community that makes us all equal. People just seem nice. I have no idea, but it is clear that this region attracts them. It is not uncommon for people to come to visit and then settle here. It makes us unique. Maybe someone will explain to me what builds a certain permanence in our population.
It’s a place that people appreciate, which may be why housing prices continue to rise. This is both good and bad. We hear a lot of young people complaining about their inability to find an affordable rental or a first home. This has always been the case in places like the Berkshires and it is a situation that is not expected to change.
People come here for many reasons. The first is that we are two and a half hours from New York and Boston. It’s a great place to own or rent a home, although we’re not the Hamptons. Most stay once they show up. A lot of these people start out as second circuits but, like me, once they get here, they end up making it permanent. It could be the changing seasons, skiing, the arts or restaurants, the spirit of tolerance or the common understanding of equality and what it means to people in our community. We live in a place where many of our citizens hang signs that proclaim, “Black Lives Matter,” even though they are white. It exemplifies the spirit of the Berkshires: we are rooted in equality.
We enjoy so many benefits living here. Sometimes it can be as simple as sitting down in one of our cafes and overhearing a conversation. When a neighbor is in trouble, someone inevitably steps in to help. In my neighborhood, when someone is sick or has been injured, word spreads quickly. Sometimes it’s observation that brings us to camaraderie of one kind or another. On Saturday mornings, you can go downtown to the Farmers Market until it gets too cold. There you can see people coming together to talk, interact and learn from each other. In other words, I like it here.