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Save Great Barrington from ‘super-sizing’

In their letter to the editor, Bobby Houston and Beth Carlson write: "Sometimes it takes guts and commotion to save an authentic small town from super-sizing."

To the editor:

We heard that some of you are wondering, who are these Save Searles School people, anyway? Who is writing that glorious newsletter, that beautiful website? Who is running that fascinating FaceBook Page?

Allow us to introduce “The Team.”

As it turns out, The Save Searles School team has been a fierce, impromptu gathering of several dozen people! We started on email, organizing a first “tsunami” of support at the Planning Board meeting where Jane Iredale made a bit of history — “Do I want a big hotel in my back yard? Not particularly….”

Then there were a couple of potluck meetings at Laury Epstein’s home on Copper Beech. The first group included Tim Lovett, Paul Ivory, Steve McAlister, Sharon Gregory, Geoffrey Young, Beth Carlson, Robin and Dai Ban, Eric Shamie, Bobby Houston, Carol Diehl, Ron Blumenthal… and others — who will forgive me a senior moment now and then.

Within two days we had a Facebook page and a website (ace design by Clayton Bagnall). FaceBook hit over 1,000 likes in a week, and the website seemed to spark ANOTHER website with a BIG ad buy: “We Are Listening”(We sincerely hope that’s true. So far, the jury is out. (Way out.))

The next potluck at Laury’s brought some strong new voices: Clare and Richard Proctor of the Briarcliff Motel, Mark Firth of Prairie Whale, Anne Fredericks, Lydia Littlefield, Gabrielle Senza, Carolyn Dunn, Nan Wile, and others. After that it was homemade pizza at Bobby and Eric’s and another thousand emails…

Continuance for the Public Hearing until December gave us time for the formation of a legal support group, “Citizens Upholding Bylaws.” And various members of town boards have bravely stood up for Historic Preservation — notably Paul Ivory, Malcolm Fick and David Rutstein.

At this point, the movement to Save Searles School has spread all through town and the county beyond. There are some extensive petitions from groups, including “The Independents Of GB — which over 60 independent merchants have joined in signing. (Stand by on that! It’s a bombshell.)

So to answer the question — just who the heck is “Save Searles School” — it’s darn close to most of Great Barrington. People who understand that sometimes it takes guts and commotion to save an authentic small town from super-sizing.

And especially from those of us (Bobby, Beth, Sharon, Ron) who have put in a few hundred hours each — we just want to say thank you to everybody in this Great Barrington of ours, for stepping lively and keeping your eye on the ball.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and prayers for a peaceful New Year.

Bobby Houston

Beth Carlson

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