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Small town doings

After the SIIA Content Summit in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m looking forward to having most of February at home in Great Barrington. I had flu last time I attended an SIIA event and remember chatting to people in a feverish haze, so it’s frustrating to be nursing a mega-cold this weekend as I prepare for two days that ought to be very helpful in moving our online publishing plans forward. The virus has been making the rounds here, and when I look back at how much everyone got done this week I’m amazed. (Here’s a preview of one new projectnow in beta: Love US or Hate US? What the World Thinks about America.)

There’s some bustle on the home front: a growing interest in W.E.B. Du Bois, who grew up in Great Barrington, with the inevitable efforts of some to make commercial hay. Ignoble but predictable behavior, I know, but the sad part is that it’s the outsiders, the white and wealthy newcomers, who are trying to benefit personally from the legacy of an African American while ignoring the local African Americans who have worked since the ’60s to keep Du Bois’s memory alive here, and who continue to be disadvantaged in this increasingly affluent, second-home-owner region. I’m encouraging David to write an article about this, because it is a story of several social divides: black and white, rich and poor, local and newcomer.

Rachel and I went to Town Hall on Friday to apply for her new US passport. This required, because she’s 17 and doesn’t yet have a drivers licence, a copy of her birth certificate, which came from London and is for a “US Citizen Born Abroad.” I’ve been something of a mystery as a newcomer from London 14 years ago, though I became well-known and controversial during my years on the School Committee. Now, thanks to that detailed birth certificate, the ladies at Town Hall have a lot of information about my antecedents. When we left work the lights in Town Hall were on. “They’re still photocopying it,” David quipped.

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