Rural Commonwealth seeks donations

  • Toby Gould and Beth Bandy of Charlemont, co-directors of Rural Commonwealth. RECORDER PHOTO/DIANE BRONCACCIO

Recorder Staff
Friday, November 24, 2017

CHARLEMONT — The former “Small Town Summit,” started by Charlemont Selectboard members to address fiscal problems common to small rural towns, has grown into a nonprofit organization.

It’s now called Rural Commonwealth, and it’s seeking donations during “Giving Tuesday” on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

The organization aims at strengthening the 170 rural towns in Massachusetts through network development, communication of community needs, and local problem-solving projects.

Tax deductible donations will help Rural Commonwealth to maintain its momentum in the coming months, and will offset such costs as fliers and mailings, according to organizers.

In the last few months, co-directors Beth Bandy and Toby Gould took over management of the Small Towns Summit, holding its most recent meeting in Goshen.

They credited work done on behalf of Small Town Summit with helping the Legislature to decide to allow small towns to staff ambulance services with one emergency medical technician and one first responder, relieving some pressure on local communities to run emergency services. The standard requirement, which isn’t as much a problem for large communities, is to have two EMTs.

Rural Commonwealth also published and distributed its first “Western Franklin County Business Report,” which has led to follow-up projects. LineSync Architects is working for free with Rural Commonwealth on a feasibility study of converting a former dairy barn into a multi-purpose space, tentatively called  the “Eight Town Center for Economic Development.” Robert W. Herdt is an adviser on this and other economic development projects.

There is also a West County Kitchens pilot project, in which Rural Commonwealth hopes to match small-batch food producers with local commercial kitchen space. A business-to-business directory is planned, and Rural Commonwealth is also considering organizing an agricultural conference.

Donations are fully tax deductible. Donations can be made online at: http://www.ruralcommonwealth.org

Also, checks can be made and sent to: Rural Commonwealth, P.O. Box 45, Charlemont MA, 01339.