you're reading...

“Back Where I Come From…”

Learning to love my hometown: Great Barrington, MA

I grew up in the kind of place where you could ride your bike around until sunset with the neighbors, then come home to eat dinner. The veggies were right from my dad’s garden. My mom would cut fresh, juicy watermelon for dessert. Afterwards, I would sit on the back porch (if the mosquitoes weren’t too bad). I would lay out in the hammock reading until it was too dark to see the words on the page.

I saw an article recently that ranked Great Barrington the number one small town in America. This made me reflect on all the time I have spent in The Berkshires.

“Big-city smart meets New England natural in an art-rich mountain setting.”

Now, you can read the article if you want to hear what Smithsonian Magazine has to say about Great Barrington, MA. I am only going to tell you what I know.  The article, after all, reads like a vacation brochure by painting a pretty perfect picture of my quaint hometown. The reality is that the wholesome people who eat local produce and appreciate the arts do so, because that is who they are. It is not some grand gesture to change the world; it just makes sense to them.

I guess I do not see G.B. with all the shine as Smithsonian paints it, because I grew up there. I sat on the bench outside Soco Creamery eating mocha chunk and people watching with my best friend. I went and saw films that would never make it to the Regal Cinemas, but touched my heart more than any Nicholas Sparks film ever could. I strolled Main Street, ate the Berkshire CoOp’s produce, saw shows at the Mahaiwe Theatre, and hiked Monument Mountain.

In a way, it is sad that the magic of this place is lost on the locals. We take it for granted that not all small towns in America are so diverse, so culturally rich, so interesting. A certain bit of this is lost on the second-home owners, too. They see this place as an escape from their “real” lives in New York City, but this implies that living in The Berkshires means living a less than fulfilling life.  This could not be farther from the truth. Although it may not be the place for me, I know countless people whose life work has made Great Barrington what it is today.

So, as I read this article, I couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride for my hometown. It opened my eyes to how lucky I have really been.

As a high school student, I was far more concerned with sports games and dances, than I was with concerts at Tanglewood or the Norman Rockwell Museum.  I still experienced it all. I once had artwork displayed there for a student gallery. I participated in festival and attended classical concerts. What never occurred to me, though, was that this was an unusual experience for a high school student. I never stopped to think how nice to have (within the boundaries of my town): one of the best private schools in the state, so many lakes and rivers, so many castles, so many small businesses, so many unique people, so much culture.

What I am getting at is that I am grateful. I am proud to call The Berkshires my hometown. I am glad that so many people recognize the value of a place like Great Barrington, MA.

Here is the Smithsonian article.

If you didn’t catch the Kenny Chesney reference, watch this video.

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: