Alex Marshall, who will be speaking on Thursday night at St James Place, will help put our local situation in broader context, and provide a jumping-off point for a fresh conversation about the future of Berkshire County. There will be time to talk and ask questions before the lecture as well as after it, and Nat Karns from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, and a member of the working group for the “Berkshire Flyer” proposal, will be with us, so there will be lots of expertise to draw on.
Alex Marshall, by the way, was recommended to me by the literary executor of Lewis Mumford, the eminent writer on cities who lived most of his life in Amenia, New York. I came to the Berkshires in 1993 because I was taken with Mumford’s utopian ideal of regional cities as the best solution to our global environmental problems. Mumford’s idea was that small cities could offer the best of urban life – enough people, educational and cultural opportunities, and jobs – together with the best of rural living.
In theory, modern telecommunications make that easier than ever before. But the fact is that rural areas are neglected, and face an unhappy spiral today. Trains are one of the major transformational technologies in history, and can transform our future. Harvard professor John Stilgoe puts it this way in his book Train Time: “When the railroad returns, not if, it will not only transform the half-forgotten jewels that lie along the nation’s obscure operating railroad routes but also reshape regions far from existing tracks. Return will alter everyday life more dramatically than the arrival of personal computers, internet connections, or cell phones.”
There is lots to talk about. Join us Thursday for a fascinating program and important conversation!
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