hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires





Inner voices, inner strengths

Brad Morrow had his first encounter with the mental health system in his late 30s: In the space of about 15 minutes, a psychiatrist he’d never met before told him he had bipolar disorder, gave him some prescriptions and told him to come back in a month. The diagnosis and its stigma, he says, were worse than the psychic pain for which he was seeking help. What ultimately did help was a local mental health organization that’s based on the principle of mutual support, rather than interventions and treatment by professionals. read more



Banking for the common good?

Consumers angry at the U.S. banking system could soon have an alternative way of saving and pooling their resources for the good of the community -- at least if some people in western Massachusetts have their way. Members of the group Common Good Finance announced in November that they plan to launch a new local money system in Greenfield, Mass., in early 2012. If the rollout is successful, organizers say they’ll expand the program to Berkshire County. read more



Berkshires adjust to new loss of clout

It’s a long way from the days of Silvio Conte, the beloved Pittsfield Republican who represented the Berkshires in Congress for 32 years until his death in 1991. In the Conte years, Berkshire County was the center of Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, a universe that extended from the New York border east to the northern tier of the Pioneer Valley. But under a new political map approved in November, Berkshire County was merged with a Springfield-area district whose urban population will dwarf its own. read more



Exhibit tells story of children who toiled in area mills

A visit to the Bennington Museum this month is a trip back 100 years to the lives of children who once worked in the region’s mills. “The Mill Children,” part of a larger exhibition originally shown at the Eclipse Mill in North Adams, features works of two local contemporary artists -- one realist, one abstract -- as well as photographs by Lewis W. Hine, who documented the conditions of child labor in the 1910s.read more



Farm-to-plate’s newest frontier

The ideal of farm-fresh ingredients has taken the restaurant business by storm over the past decade or so, but now the newly reopened stainless-steel diner on Hudson’s main street is taking the farm-to-table concept to a new level. At Grazin’, as the classic 1940s diner is now known, the farm and the tables are under the same ownership. The diner serves as a showcase for the pasture-raised, grass-fed meat and eggs produced by its sibling, the Grazin’ Angus Acres farm in Ghent. read more



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