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Berkshire Train Campaign is going full steam

The Snow Express at Grand Central StationThat’s “Berkshire” as in the region, not just Berkshire Publishing. But at Berkshire Publishing we are taking the lead in campaigning for train service from New York City’s Grand Central Station to the little station right down the street from our offices – and to other locations in the beautiful Berkshire Hills. Here’s a marvelous photograph of skiers waiting for a train to Great Barrington – just what we want to see happen again. We have a newsletter devoting to bringing back the trains, and there’s lots to be done as this effort is now very much underway. Read the background and get details about whom you can write to and how you can help the Berkshire Train Campaign:

The Berkshire Train campaign background and contact information

I’ve had some great responses to a recent email about the launch of the Berkshire Train Campaign, so I’m sending an update to a larger list of my own contacts in the Berkshires. I’m awfully sorry if I’ve somehow included you and you are not in the Berkshires at all, and I also apologize to those who just aren’t interested. (In that case, could you do me a huge favor and click Unsubscribe at the bottom of this message? You won’t receive any more mail about this topic, I promise.) An article on the front page of this week’s Berkshire Record has led to a flurry of phone calls and meetings. And Bruce Garlow of Becket wrote that the contact information I had was out of date, so you’ll find a fresh list and some web links at the end of this message. Please do send a letter or email to any and all of your representatives! This is vital to engaging them in the effort to bring 21st-century train service to the Berkshires. But what to say? Someone wrote to me that she was a strong supporter but didn’t know much about how to write to a representative and could I give her some advice. For her, and anyone else in the same boat, here are a few basic points I’ve gleaned, combined with my own professional knowledge of how to write persuasively. I would love to share further advice from any of you who have more experience in political lobbying.


* Focus on the letter or email’s recipient and what they are likely to care about. Political representatives want his or her constituents to be happy and prosperous, they want good press, and they do not want bad press. Suggest that that they will benefit from doing what you propose, especially if they take a leadership role. And provide them with sensible arguments and telling anecdotes that they can use to persuade others to pay attention to your issue. * Make clear that you are a constituent and a voter. * Present the argument for investment in train service in terms of things they know about and understand. Right now, job creation is probably the best argument to use, but there are many other benefits to good train service. * Make it clear that you will not only use the trains but will encourage others to use them. You may want to say that you have talked to a certain number of other people who share your opinion. * If you have a public platform of any kind (lots of Twitter followers, even) or particularly strong, relevant network because of your job or role in local organizations, make sure to say that you’ll be speaking and writing to your friends and colleagues. * Add a personal note if you have any other special connection with them. * Praise and thanks are always welcome, so if you have good things to say about their past efforts, do so. OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO * Forward this email to everyone you know who might be interested. * Pull together any contact lists you have and make sure everyone in your network knows about this effort and joins in. Ask them to “Like” BerkshireTrains at Facebook – again, a way to build our numbers. Here’s the link: Facebook * Post your comments, news items, local history, etc. at the Facebook page. I’ve posted links to a couple of terrific articles about the history and importance of railways, and why they are so relevant today. * Upload photos, too – I’m eager to have photos of all the Berkshire train stations. * Follow @berkshiretrains at *Wear a “Bring Back the Trains!” tshirt (we’re designing something now and will send news when they are available) and give them to your friends. * Get kids involved – this is a campaign for the future, too, and we need young people. * Ride the train whenever you can – get to know the service we have, and dream about the service to come (I imagine traveling to Beijing from my home without every getting into a car). * Speaking of cars, how about setting up an online carpool to get to Wassaic and Hudson—anyone want to help with that? Please do email me a copy of what you send and about any responses you receive. Emailing is easiest and worth doing, but I’m planning also to send printed letters on my company letterhead. It’s also worthwhile to call their offices and say, “I want Representative So-and-so that I support the Berkshire Train Campaign.” You may have to leave a message, or you’ll get a staffer or intern who will simply record your information. These “votes” are counted, too. All good wishes, Karen.


For up-to-date email and telephone contacts, visit these pages. Bruce Garlow writes: “The first is the Mass. Government home page, with links to all state agencies. The next is the General Court where you can check on legislators and legislation. The last is the Mass. Municipal Assn., representing cities and towns. Good luck!” Senator John Kerry 304 Russell Bldg., Third Floor Washington D.C. 20510 Senator Scott Brown 317 Russell Senate Building Washington D.C. 20510 Congressman John Olver (1st Congressional District) United States Representative 1111 Longworth HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 Gail Cariddi (1st Berkshire District) State Representative State House, Room 42 Boston, MA 02133 Paul Mark (2nd District) State Representative State House, Room 134 Boston, MA 02133 Christopher n. Speranzo (3rd Berkshire District) – resigned State Representative State House, Room 443 Boston, MA 02133 William “Smitty” Pignatelli (4th Berkshire District) State Representative State House, Room 448 Boston, MA 02133 Benjamin Downing (Berkshire, Hampshire & Franklin Counties) State Senator State House, Room 413-F Boston, MA 02133 Richard Davey Secretary of Transportation Massachusetts Department of Transportation 10 Park Plaza, Suite 3170 Boston, MA 02116 Tel 617-973-7000 Toll Free 877-623-6846 Fax (617) 973-8031 Email: Finally, send letters of support to: John Hanlon, President Housatonic Railways 1 Railroad St. Canaan, CT 06018 SAMPLE LETTER 12 August 2011 Richard Davey Secretary of Transportation Massachusetts Department of Transportation 10 Park Plaza, Suite 3170 Boston, MA 02116 Dear Richard Davey, I write to you from Great Barrington, in Berkshire County, to ask for your leadership and involvement in bringing 21st-century transportation options to a region that needs them in order to prosper. Our train service to and from New York City, via MetroNorth at Wassaic (50 minutes’ drive from Great Barrington), is deteriorating and wasn’t great to start with. Amtrak in Hudson is expensive and unreliable. Neither is sufficiently close or frequent to encourage economic development and create jobs. We have no reasonable train or even bus service to Boston, which creates a sense of disconnect with our own state’s government and limits the visitors we get from Boston. This cause has a tremendous amount of local support, judging from all the positive feedback I’ve received. The Berkshire Train Campaign (which has just been set up at Facebook and Twitter) is featured on the front page of the Berkshire Record this week (please see attached copy of the article). Improving rail transportation isn’t just a matter of convenience or reduced environmental impact. Excellent public transportation makes sustainable economic development a real possibility because businesses that could offer substantial numbers of professional jobs would be far more likely to relocate (or grow) in Great Barrington if we had good access New York, and to Boston. Think of a major Boston university establishing a research center or thinktank, or a high-profile conference business, or an Internet or media company looking for a base convenient to both New York and Boston with inexpensive commercial property and fabulous quality of life for their employees. In every case, transportation would be a primary consideration. My own business would grow—and I could create much needed jobs—with better transportation. Thank you for your attention to this important challenge, and I look forward to hearing about the efforts you are making. Yours sincerely, Karen Christensen CEO, Berkshire Publishing Group Facebook Twitter @BerkshireTrains ENDS

2 thoughts on “Berkshire Train Campaign is going full steam

  1. I’m one of several Berkshire Lions who monthly present discussions of twenty minutes on our Lions Den programs about non-profits in Berkshire County on Pittsfield Cable TV Community Access channel. We are wondering if you would like to appear. Call me at 413-329-2136c or 413-634-5009.

  2. I certainly would!

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