Neighbors: Local man’s film recognized by United Nations

Hello neighbor.

We all spent the last few days mourning the loss of young children and brave educators who lost their lives in the heinous school shooting in Connecticut last Friday, and I’m sure we won’t forget about those folks any time soon.

You good people of Franklin County have shown time and again that your sense of neighborhood expands beyond the county’s borders, the state, and even the country when trouble strikes and need arises, and that’s how it should be.

Just make sure you are taking care of yourself and if something is bothering you, especially this most recent tragedy, talk with a friend, a loved one, or one of your neighbors — we’re here to help.

Now, before I tell you about what’s going on in the county over the next week, I’d like to tell you about one of our neighbors.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Steve Alves’ 15-minute film, “Food for Change: The Twin Cities Story,” has received an award from the United Nations.

The film includes a brief history of the Franklin Community Co-op, which is Green Fields Market in Greenfield and McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls, and showcases food cooperatives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota, an area with the greatest concentration of food cooperatives in the United States.

“I wanted to explore what happens when food co-ops have a strong presence in a region and the effect that has on jobs, local food and local economies,” said Steve. “Big agribusinesses and giant supermarket chains like Walmart are altering our country’s food system for short term profits. Food co-ops are one of the few entities that stand in opposition to them.”

The short film was shown at the United Nations last month with six other films from around the world as part of the closing ceremony at the United Nations-designated International Year of Cooperatives.

I talked with Steve a week ago and he said he was thrilled and honored to have received the award.

“The Twin Cities Story” is a chapter from the feature-length documentary Steve is producing, “Food For Change,” which will be released in the spring.

Greenfield Community Television will broadcast the 15-minute film, along with Alves’ collection of films, on Friday nights at 7 through Jan. 25. His collection was produced over 20 years by Steve’s company, Home Planet Pictures of Turners Falls. Several films in the collection have received international acclaim and have been shown theatrically and were aired on public television.

For a list of the films to be aired, visit:

“The Twin Cities Story” will be shown on Friday and again on Jan. 25.

Steve said it has been wonderful for him to have a career making films, something he really loves, and living here in Franklin County, something he also said he loves. He said he also enjoys being recognized internationally.

Congratulations Steve!

DO YOU HAVE A WEDDING STORY to tell? Recorder editor Chris Harris is looking for your stories — stories that led to weddings.

Call Chris to share your story about an unusual or special tying of the knot at 413-772-0261, ext. 265 or email her at: Please do so as soon as possible. Thank you.

A REMINDER THAT NEW SALEM Public Library, in collaboration with the New Salem Central Congregational Church, will celebrate Winter Solstice tonight from 5:50 to 7 p.m. with lights and “noise to bring back the sun.”

Participants will make noisemakers at the library and then head to the church to sing carols and light candles. Refreshments and hot cocoa will be served at the library.

A FUNDRAISER is being held for the MacDonald family of Orange, who lost just about everything in a fire on Nov. 18. The 11-member family did not have insurance on their home, so cleanup and rebuilding costs will need to come out of the family’s pocket.

A fundraising dance will be held Jan. 5 at the Athol-Orange Elks, which has donated space.

“The MacDonald family, also known as the MacDonald Family Singers, has done so much for the community and citizens through their music and it is a great time to help repay them for what they have done,” said Jason Royal, one of the fundraiser’s organizers.

Donations may also be made to the family by sending a check to: MacDonald Family Fire Dinner, c/o Jason Royal, 64 Mystery Lane, Athol, MA 01331.

Organizers are also asking for donations of money and raffle items to help pay for the dance. Those funds will go into the Witty’s Community Fund and anything above the event costs will be added to the money used for the MacDonald’s to rebuild.

Any business that donates $250 or more and responds by this Friday will have its business name or logo on the event poster and in a newspaper advertisement as a “generous donor.”

For more information, call 978-895-5036.

THE BALLET RENVERSE’S seventh annual Holiday Recital will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School. The recital is free and open to the public.

Young dancers will present a classroom demonstration and perform Chinese, Russian and Angel variations from “The Nutcracker.” A reception will follow.

There will also be a raffle for an Angel Quilt, a handmade, one-of-a-kind art quilt created and donated by local fiber artist Eileen Lively.

Raffle tickets, $2 each or three for $5, are available at Nancy L. Dole Books & Ephemera, Boswell’s Books, Baker Pharmacy, A Notion to Quilt, and from Ballet Renverse board members. They will also be available the night of the recital.

The Angel Quilt is on display at Nancy L. Dole Books & Ephemera at 20 State St. in Shelburne Falls.

A Teacup Auction on the night of the performance will give the audience a chance to bid on other items donated by local crafters, individuals and businesses. Tickets will be sold at the recital beginning at 5:15 p.m.

ONE OF THE EDITORS here at The Recorder told me last week that while he was watching the benefit concert for the Hurricane Sandy victims on television, clips of volunteers and others helping the victims were shown.

To his surprise, he recognized, by the hat he was wearing, former Recorder reporter George Claxton, who is now working for FEMA.

Claxton, who has a lot of experience doing interviews because he worked at The Recorder for more than a decade, was interviewing a victim.

VALLEY GIVES put out a call to residents throughout Western Massachusetts recently to give to their favorite charities and within 24 hours received 6,646 calls from donors who gave $974,737. Organizers had raised another $200,000, so the total raised is $1,174,737.

The following county organizations received money:

Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society received $43,172 from 533 donors

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Inc. received $34,236 from 328 donors

Franklin Land Trust received $29,567, but the number of donors was unavailable.

A full list of the nonprofits that benefited can be found at:

EDUCARE FOR KIDS has been recognized for 30 years of service in Orange.

Rep. Denise Andrews recently presented a citation to Susan Heinricher of Educare for Kids for providing local communities with quality preschool and childcare services.

I am told Educare opened its doors after Gale Brooks School in North Orange closed more than 30 years ago.

It was first located at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Orange, but quickly expanded. It has been located on East Main Street for the past 15 years.

“After all these years, we remain excited about our future,” said Heinricher. “We love this community so much. We get kids ready for kindergarten and we have a lot of fun doing it.”

For more information about Educare, call 978-544-6372.

HAVE A GREAT WEEK, and I’ll see you on Friday.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to or 413-772-0261 ext. 280 or her cell at 413-388-6950. You can also reach her on Facebook at Anita’s Neighbors. Information to be included in Neighbors may also be sent to: the day before you want it to run.

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