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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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The Rural We: Wanda Houston

Singer, actor and vocal coach Wanda L. Houston grew up performing – acting in her father’s theater company and singing with her mother, brother and sister in the Houston Singers. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance (with a concentration in Opera), Houston moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to continue her work on the musical theater and concert stages, which included touring with Mary Wells, The Platters, and Martha and The Vandellas; singing in Las Vegas at the Sands Hotel in Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon; and acting in theater productions that toured the world. A stint in NYC saw her performing on and off Broadway, and singing with a Grammy-nominated gospel choir. Since 2011, Houston has lived in the RI region (most recently, she settled in Sheffield, Mass.) but that hasn’t put the brakes on her busy schedule. You can find her at venues throughout the Northeast performing with The Wanda Houston Band, as well as with the gospel group Brothers and Sisters, the HBH Band and in jazz duos and trios, and at the Goshen Congregational Church where she directs the choir.

I’m originally from Chicago but after college I moved to Los Angeles, for far longer than I ever should have. While I was there, I toured in a show that visited Germany, Austria and then went off to Australia for a year. I nearly stayed in Australia, but I’d always wanted to live in New York City. It had been my dream since I was a kid; my mom brought me there when I was 15. I was the second runner-up in Miss Teen Talented Chicago in 1975; I didn’t win, but we went to New York anyway. They were building the World Trade Center towers at the time. When I moved to NYC in 1999, I performed in an off-Broadway show and I was working in the producers’ office when the towers went down. Right after that I ran into an old friend from Chicago who had a theater in Sharon, Connecticut, and that’s when I first came up here, to do a show called The Diva at TriArts Sharon. That got me coming up here every weekend.

I moved here full time in 2011, which was when I moved everything, including my piano. I’ve had it since I was 7 years old and I always say, “If my piano’s there, I’m home.” When I was younger, we’d take camping trips – we were probably the only black family doing this in the ‘60s – and I always wanted to live in one of those places we’d visit. And now, it’s incredible to be able to live in one of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of the country. I’ve lived up here for 10 and years and I still turn the corner and think “how beautiful.”

I’m really fortunate to have met musicians here in the Berkshires that I get to work with. There’s so much talent in this area, it’s mind-boggling. They’re just as good or better than musicians in the city.

My parents were both in the business and also raised a family, though it was tough for them to do both. For me, it was too much to also have a family. But there’s something beautiful about what performers get to do; we get to meet people and share their lives in a way that other people don’t. The arts help people experience other ways of life. We’re in rough times right now politically and we need each other more than ever. Some people say we shouldn’t talk about religion and politics, but we should talk about that because that’s life. And art helps us do that in good times and bad; we turn to it to make sense of it all.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 02/13/17 at 11:18 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Maria Nation

Photo: Andre Baranowski of MDN.

Maria Nation is a prolific screenwriter who lives in Ashley Falls, Mass. Born and raised in California, she moved to New York in 1984, where she first started selling scripts. She moved to the Berkshires in 1997, and has been able to sustain her career without living in LA. “It’s very weird that I’ve done my entire career in the wrong city,” she says. This week and next, the Berkshire International Film Festival’s Reel Friends Film Society is holding special screening events of “A Street Cat Named Bob,” for which Nation was the screenwriter. The events (last night and next Thursday, Feb. 16) are co-sponsored by Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Conn. and Berkshire Humane Purradise.

I don’t think anybody really knows what I do. In LA I’m a dime a dozen, but unusual here. I love that “the industry” isn’t out here.

I mainly write TV movies, but that business has shrunk to almost nothing over the years. I’m often called upon to be a script doctor for European films, which is how I initially got involved with “A Street Cat Named Bob.” The director, Roger Spottiswood, who is well-known in the business, is someone I’ve worked with on various projects for 15 years. He called me out of the blue on this one. The original script suffered from a problem; it was a mix of genres. Is it a silly cat movie? Or a dark movie about a heroin addict? It’s actually both, and trying to establish the tone of these two disparate elements was a challenge.

I had three weeks to rewrite the whole script. The roles were not well written for the women characters (one of whom is played by Joanne Froggatt of “Downton Abbley” fame). I was actually writing while Roger was shooting.

Maria Nation with producer Adam Rolston at the NYC premiere of the film.

Mountainside Treatment Center has come in as a partner to show the film. They realized the element of connection is so important in dealing with heroin addiction, which is the theme of this story. If addiction is stigmatized, that just makes the road to success worse. This is trying to turn that around. I wanted to have that aspect in the film so it’s socially relevant and experientially accurate.

Sony Pictures released the film in Europe at a royal opening in London. Theatrical releases are so expensive, and the distributor in the U.S. is very small, so there was a small opening in New York.

I just delivered a movie that Andie MacDowell will star in called “The Beach House,” and I’ve got a couple of projects planned again with Roger. So many of the projects come in in the summer. In the last three years I haven’t had a summer because I’ve been working, which is a shame in the Berkshires. I hope to get a summer back!

My partner Robert Flores and I have touched or gardened every one of the eight acres of our property. We cleared invasives along the river, so now we have a river walk. Our garden has been on the Lenox Garden Club and on the Open Days garden tour many times. The garden used to be an extreme riot of color and very exuberant. Then two things happened: I realized it was killing me to do all of it, and that it owned me. Over the years I changed from the perennials and bulbs to boxwoods. It’s very calming, very serene — the antithesis of exuberance.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/06/17 at 12:21 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Alison Larkin

Photo by Sabine von Falken

Alison Larkin is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, actress, producer, screenwriter and the award-winning narrator of more than 150 audiobooks, many of them New York Times bestsellers that have appeared on countless “Best of the Year” and “Pick of the Month” lists. The Stockbridge, Mass. resident also is the bestselling author of The English American, a novel based on her life. Larkin was born in Washington, D.C., adopted by British parents and raised in England and Africa, and returned to the U.S. at age 28 when she discovered her birth mother living in Bald Mountain, Tenn. Her celebrated one-woman show based on the novel has been performed on both sides of the Atlantic and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable organizations. Larkin was recently named Ambassador of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation in the United States, and for every Jane Austen audiobook purchased through her website, Alison Larkin Presents…, $5 will be donated through the Foundation to the Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet).

I was raised in England by adoptive parents, and I came to America when I was in my mid-20s to find my birth mother, who lived in Tennessee. Afterwards, I moved to New York to become a standup comic. I realized the beauty of comedy is that you can talk about anything you want as long as you make it funny. I started talking about this life-changing experience I’d had, finding her, and wondering how I could describe it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a lunatic. I ended up creating a one-woman show about it, told from an adoptee’s point of view. This led to its sitcom development, but then I had kids and realized I loved being with genetic relatives that I actually liked, so I turned the show into a novel.

I’d been in Los Angeles, doing a lot of voice work, when we decided to move back east, but I felt I couldn’t return to the mentality of the part of Northern NJ I’d been living in or raise kids in that environment. A friend of mine asked if I’d ever thought of the Berkshires, so I came up to Great Barrington on a whim… in February. Everyone told me not to go up in February, but I came here in a snowstorm and thought “this is where I want to raise my then 9- and 7-year-old because there will be like-minded people here… and I love to ski.” That was six years ago. It’s England without the English.

The way we were able to stay up here, is the novel turned into an audiobook, and a company then guaranteed to publish a bunch of audiobooks with me, and built me a studio in my home. I call it the “audiobook cottage.” My most recent audiobook is Fairy Tales of the Fiercer Sex, which I released on Jan. 21 in celebration of the Women’s March on Washington. It’s a collection of fairy stories of girls who go on their own adventures and don’t wait around, just brushing their hair, for princes to come rescue them. One of them is the opposite of Sleeping Beauty – a girl rescues a prince. Some of the stories were written down by famous writers like Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm, but many have been folk tales for centuries. Some I knew, like The Snow Queen, and some I’d never heard of before. I found it quite inspiring; for centuries, women have been breaking the norm and passing down these tales. Being a producer of audiobooks, I’m having a merry time bringing out stories of nontraditional, complex females.

On March 17, I’m directing and emceeing a comedy improv sketch and standup show with local teenagers at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. This is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a while. It’s all original material; the teens are speaking in their own voices through comedy. Change will come from the next generation, and that’s where I want to put my attention.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/30/17 at 02:11 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Karen Bussolini

Karen Bussolini is a widely published garden photographer, speaker, writer, NOFA-Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and eco-friendly garden coach. Although trained as a painter, and boasting a successful career as an architectural photographer, she now focuses her lens on gardens. Her own garden is South Kent, Conn. has been featured in many publications, including Anne Raver’s feature, “A Hillside of Feisty Beauties,” in The NY Times. Her garden photography and writing have been published in House Beautiful, House and Garden, Better Homes and Gardens, Metropolitan Home and many other magazines throughout the world. Among the hundreds of books to which she’s contributed photos, Bussolini was the sole photographer for six of them, including The Homeowner’s Complete Tree and Shrub Manual, and Elegant Silvers: Striking Plants for Every Garden, which she co-authored. Bussolini will give the talk “Planting The Year-Round Pollinator Garden” at Kent Town Hall this Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.

I grew up in Canton Center, Conn., with Italian and Swedish immigrant parents, and we grew all our own food. We were composting in the ‘60s! When my father heard the term “organic gardening,” he was amused that there was a name for it. It just seems natural that you don’t poison your environment.

Bee on sunflower photo by Karen Bussolini.

When you look at “traditional” landscape practices, they’re so destructive. A lot of what I do is counter the mindless maintenance, the “mow, blow and know-nothing” kind that does so much damage. Herbicides and motorized equipment are untenable.

Plants that aren’t native don’t feed insects, and if there are no insects, there are no birds, and it goes right up the food chain. There’s a general awareness that pollinators are important, but some people might not understand why. Seventy-five percent of plants on earth require animals to pollinate them, but some plants and insects are more important than others. Some animals inadvertently pollinate plants, but you want to attract efficient pollinators such as bees, hornets and beetles. Bees are most important, because they don’t just sip the nectar, they collect pollen on purpose.

Bees are going extinct because the spraying of systemic pesticides is changing the quality of their food. The CO2 and nitrogen is making the pollen less nutritious, but bees haven’t evolved fast enough to tell what is “junk” pollen. To help them, don’t use chemicals, and plant to feed native bees and all pollinators from early to late season. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three things blooming at all times. Pussy willows are an important early season plant (January and February), native holly, and other things we don’t normally think of. Some flowers don’t bloom until July, but trees are almost permanent food sources. Some of the “best of the best” things to plant are willows, blueberries, monarda (bee balm), sunflowers and goldenrods. You want diversity in flower shape, as well. Flowers that open wide are easy for small bees to get to.

Bee on bee balm photo by Karen Bussolini.

When you’re shopping for plants, ask questions about pesticides. If things look too perfect, be suspicious. I encourage people to go to independent garden centers, garden club plant sales, and other places where you can talk to the people who work there. Paley’s Garden Center in Sharon is good about bringing in organic plants. I also recommend Gilbertie’s herbs, which are organic.

We can create, restore and protect bee habitat, which is beneficial to us, as well, since solitary native bees usually can’t or won’t sting, and yellowjackets will eat the caterpillars that eat your plants. We can all make a difference in our own yards, that’s why I’m pleased to be able to present this talk locally. As I say, “one yard at a time.”

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/23/17 at 01:45 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Christina Lowery

Girl Rising CEO Christina Lowery has traveled the world working on documentary films and producing programs for The Documentary Group, ABC, CNN, A&E, Bill Moyers and The History Channel. Now, from her home in New York’s Hudson Valley, Lowery builds on the success of the three-year-old documentary ‘Girl Rising’ with a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment.

We live in Spencertown, and we chose this area after chancing upon the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School when my eldest son was 4. It seemed like a magical place for children to go to school and grow up, steeped in nature, farm life and the arts. I love so many things about living here – how much time we spend outside, the variety and size of farms around, and the amazing community of people, as well as the practical side of it being a relatively easy commute to New York City, where my husband and I both still work.

I have long had these dual passions in my life – storytelling and international development. I didn’t know people were filmmakers when I was growing up, but then I went to Brown to study comparative literature and met classmates whose parents had creative jobs. I was exposed to the arts, and I fell in love with theater. After college I stumbled into a job on a documentary about Cuba because I spoke Spanish. Then I thought I wanted to work in international development and so got a masters in Community and Regional Planning. But at the end of graduate school, I got the chance to work on a Bill Moyers documentary about women in the developing world and went to Mexico as a translator. That swung me back into filmmaking, and I remembered how much I loved the process of making a film about something I cared about.

Next up: a Girl Rising book launches in February.

We were living in NYC, after our first child, and I realized I didn’t want to travel so much, so I joined The Documentary Group as a supervising producer. We were approached by a funder about making a doc about ending global poverty. We talked to experts in many areas, and the thing that struck us is they all underscored that one of the keys to ending poverty is to get girls in school and keep them there. We looked at the statistics on girls’ education and those numbers blew us away. Educated girls have fewer and healthier children, and are less likely to be victims of violence or trafficking. For every year of secondary school, a girl can earn 10-20% more, contributing to the financial well being of her family. Educating girls causes a ripple effect of positive things and is the single most powerful intervention to end poverty. We wanted to bring that truth to the public. Our goal then became to make a film about girls’ education that people would actually want to see.

But in documentary film, even when you hit it big, it means you’re in theaters for maybe a month, if you’re lucky. We wanted to change minds, lives and policy. We thought, if this is such an incredible way to address poverty, why aren’t people doing it and why isn’t more money being devoted to it? The barriers keeping girls from school are many. Sometimes it’s resources – no schools, no supplies, no money to pay tuition. But in many places it’s also a question of social norms and of how girls are valued. Girls need to be valued not just for their bodies – for their ability to have children and work – but also for their minds and their potential. We’re working to change the way people think about and value girls, and the decisions the “gatekeepers” to girls – their parents, community leaders, etc. – are making about them. We’re trying to spark community-led discussion, as well as change and catalyze investments in girls’ education. We’re currently working in India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have created a free, Common Core-aligned curriculum for educators in the U.S. We’re launching new campaigns in Central America and the Middle East this year.

You can watch Girl Rising, as well as last year’s We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which we also produced, online. Girl Rising is on our website and both are available through Amazon. In terms of what people can do to get involved? My advice is to do something that is meaningful to you and makes sense for your life. Have a fundraiser, be a mentor, host a screening of the film and talk about the issue with your friends and colleagues. Find something you can commit to together. Big problems can seem so daunting, but there are things you can do even if you only have 5 minutes. To me, the education and empowerment of girls is one of the most important human rights issues of our time and we can all do something to help.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/17/17 at 02:10 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Van Shields

If you’ve been hearing more and more about the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass. over the past five years, that has a lot to do with its executive director, Van Shields. Under his benevolent watch, the venue has become a powerhouse of creative programs for kids, wide-ranging workshops and lectures for adults, and engaging hands-on exhibits for all, as well as being the site of some of our favorite fundraising galas. Before coming to the helm in late 2011, Shields was the director of the Culture and Heritage Museums in Rock Hill, S.C., and before that worked at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. Besides his main gig, Shields is a board member of 1Berkshire and Downtown Pittsfield Inc., and is on the BerkShares advisory board. In his downtime, Shields, along with his wife, painter Peggy Rivers, take full advantage of all the culture and natural beauty the Berkshires affords, and you’ll often see their smiles at art openings and community events up and down the county.

The Berkshire Museum is my third museum position, but way before that I owned a restaurant in Humboldt County, California, where I met Peggy, at our annual holiday party. After we were married, she decided to go back to school at Columbia, and we had a bicoastal relationship, which was hard. She was telling me I should move to New York City, too, because there were so many museums there, and that’s a job I’d always wanted to have. I shrugged it off, but eventually she said “Well, I’m not coming back” and I was forced to move. I ended up getting a job at the Museum of the Moving Image, where I worked for seven years.

After that, I was the director of the Culture and Heritage Museums in Rock Hill, S.C. for 15 years. When I decided it was time for a change, in 2011, I started looking for a new job and I was so happy to obtain my current position because the Berkshires seemed like the kind of community we’d left behind in California years ago. It’s a community where people tend to be alive from the shoulders up, meaning there’s cultural and intellectual stimulation. This area has all of the indoor and outdoor things we like: arts, culture, a fantastic natural environment for camping, hiking, fishing and biking. Socially, culturally and politically, the Berkshires was to our liking.

As for the Museum, there will be two new exhibits opening at the end of the month called Tell Me More, and The Science of Color. Curiosity Incubator, a brand new experience, will open Feb. 17. Coming this summer will be a major show, Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World, and the 2017 Wine Gala and Auction on June 24, plus we’ll announce the final phases of our master plan. It’s a dramatic re-envisioning of what the Museum will be and how it will serve the community, so stay tuned.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/10/17 at 06:55 PM • Permalink

Rural We: Kelley Drahushuk

Kelley Drahushuk is the manager and owner (along with husband Alan Coon) of Hudson, New York’s Spotty Dog Books and Ale. For the past decade the bookstore/pub/art supply store, housed in a historic firehouse named for a family ancestor, has become a hub for locals and tourists alike. It’s also a vital performance space for musicians and literary events like the excellent Volume Reading Series. Drahushuk is, in some ways, like her business. She’s versatile, connected to the community and its history, a supporter of its literacy (she’s involved with both the Hudson Area Library and the Hudson Children’s Book Festival), smart, funny and an appreciator of a quality craft beer.

I have an extremely old Hudson pedigree. My great-great-great-grandfather, Cornelius H. Evans, was a mayor of Hudson. He built the building we are in, which used to be the C.H. Evans Hook and Ladder #3, and brought the brewery started by his father into modernity. A lot of my family still lives around here and my uncle Neil Evans is still brewing the beer, so it’s kind of come full circle.

We’re in our 11th year here at the Spotty Dog. People think we went into this with some sort of plan, which is nice. We had an art supply store down the road and my Uncle Neil bought the building with the intent of making a branch of the Albany Pump Station, but running one was enough work so he approached us. My husband, in his wisdom, said “Oh, we would want to open a bookstore.” I thought that was not the greatest of ideas, but he won out and my uncle said “Well, how about a bookstore with beer?” and that’s what we ended up doing. It was a pretty good idea in hindsight.

There seems to still be something about a bookstore, where you can walk in, browse and find things serendipitously. That said, when you walk into any bookstore now you see a mix of things. Here you see a bar, coffee, calendars, greeting cards, stuffed animals, games and whatever else because those are the things that help you make the money so you can have the books.

As far as being a performance venue, I wish I could take credit for being some sort of genius but generally what I do is if someone comes and asks if they can do something here, I just say yes. We have two or three shows a month, and then with Volume, they came to us and said they wanted to do a reading series. They do such an amazing job of it and bring such talent. It’s really become quite the event to be seen at every month.

The other thing that’s really important to us is that we sell the books at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival every year. That’s such a labor of love and they do such an amazing job. We’re trying to get the kids now while they’re still young! Readers are readers. They’ll get books at the library, they’ll get books here, or they’ll buy books online. As long as people are reading, we’re happy.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 01/02/17 at 10:17 AM • Permalink

The Rural We: Margie Metzger

Being open to possibilities, curious and a possessing a willingness to take on challenges have lead Margie Metzger into an astonishing number of careers and positions. Originally from New Jersey, she received a master’s degree in social work and acquired her ACSW. She was working as a psychotherapist and decided she wanted to change professions, so she moved to the Berkshires in 1979 to study exercise therapy and myotherapy with Bonnie Purdden in Stockbridge. But that was just the start of the Pittsfield resident’s shape-shifting career.

I met my husband, a periodontist, here and had my children. I’d started a prenatal and mother/infant exercise class program for Berkshire Medical Center, and opened a myotherapy center, but without any backup, I had to close that down. I also taught senior exercise classes for the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and in other places throughout the Berkshires.

In 1990, when the Soviet Union was allowing people to leave, the Berkshires was asked to take in refugees. There was a feasibility study done to see if that was realistic, and it was, but there needed to be a paid person to be in charge. I applied for that position, and being a social worker, got the job, so I served as head of the Soviet resettlement for nine years. I was asked to be on the Hebrew school committee at Congregation Knesset Israel, and the director, who had a background in theater and film, had the idea to do a small Jewish film festival. I knew nothing about film, but volunteered to run it. It was small for a few years, and we had to figure out how to step up the game. Three years later, we moved it from Knesset Israel, where 30 to 40 people would show up, to the Duffin Theater in Lenox, which now sells out. I ended up being the artistic director — and everything else — for 30 years.

I was always interested in mediation, but I didn’t know where to get training. About 10 years ago I found a place, and decided that’s what I wanted to do. Now I mediate in court in North Adams and also privately. I work with criminal, civil and small claims cases, and do divorce, family and community mediation.

For 19 years my husband and I were caregiving for our parents. That was a major part of our lives. So right now I’m not actively looking for another opportunity. I’m still involved in fitness activities, though. During the winter, I go to the gym at Berkshire Community College almost every day. In the summertime, we do a lot of walking, swimming and tennis, and sculling at Onota Lake.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/13/16 at 08:41 AM • Permalink

The Rural We: Maddy Stevens

At fifteen years old, Maddy Stevens is already the owner of a successful online business called MissMaddyMakes. The Kent, Connecticut homeschooled 10th grader began selling her handmade cat and dog toys at a roadside stand in 2012. But with the launch of her Etsy store this past January – and a foray into costumes for dogs, cats and even guinea pigs – business has really started booming. Even if you’re not in the market for animal couture or catnip toys, a visit to Maddy’s site is sure to put a smile on your face.

I’ve always loved sewing and making things. A few years ago I set up a stand selling my cat toys during the summer sale days in Kent. I started with only toys, then I added costumes. People said I should open an online shop, and it was pretty easy to do. I set up my Etsy page in January of this year and I started getting busier when Etsy featured my shop in their “editor’s picks” for Halloween costumes.

Now’s it’s a real business but it’s still so much fun. People from all over the world view my page and I just got some international orders today. I have a lot of ideas and I’m always making new things. Some of them are memes, like pizza cat or the cat with its head in a slice of bread. But I try not to make too many products at once because it can be overwhelming. I love the holidays, so I made pilgrim hats for Thanksgiving, and a Chanukah hat and Santa hats for Christmas. My most popular product overall is the wizard cat hat, which I just made into a glow-in-the-dark version.

Some people think that my models look depressed, but when I put up the backdrop to take photos, they run right over because they know they’re going to get treats. I built the cats a walkway around my room and they also have an outdoor cage where they hang out. The tiger cat is Tiki and the orange cat is Steve; the little white dog is Higgely and the one with spots is Milo. Carl is the guinea pig. My dream is to someday have a cat cafe, or a shop selling my products with a real cat in the store.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/04/16 at 06:53 PM • Permalink

The Rural We: Sal Lopes

Less than a year ago, master stylist Sal Lopes opened his Salvatore Anthony Hair Studio in New Preston, Conn. Like many in the Rural Intelligence area, Sal is still doing the city/country commute, but with a home in Cornwall Bridge and now his own studio open Thursdays through Saturdays, we sense his growing attachment to this region.

My husband and I had a house in the Catskills for eight years. We decided to sell that home, and came to visit a friend in Sharon. We literally crossed the borderline and fell in love with the area.

We bought an 1840s farmhouse and are just about done with the restoration, which has been a labor of love. When we made the commitment to make this house our “home,” we sold our apartment in Brooklyn earlier this year, and now have a crash pad on the Upper East Side. My husband is vice president of creative services at Ralph Lauren. I still work two days a week in the city at Scott J salon, at the Upper East Side location.

Photo by Bleacher and Everard Photography.

We decided to be more here than not, but I thought, what am I going to do up here? Ira Goldspiel, who was our real estate agent, kept asking me when I was going to open up my own hair salon. I didn’t even know where to begin, so Ira suggested I look between Litchfield and Washington, Conn. I started scouting around, peeking into storefronts that were for rent. One day we were in New Preston and looked at the old Oliva (restaurant) building. It was a small space, but that was good because then I wouldn’t have to fill a lot of chairs. I’ve always worked at other salons and had to figure out what line of color I’d be working with. I’d only worked with Aveda and I called them up and asked if they’d be willing to take me on, which they did.

The doors opened on April 15, and I’m doing it! The response has been amazing. The biggest surprise for me is that there was a need for this in the area. I haven’t done any big advertising; it’s mostly word of mouth. But people like the two-chair salon. It’s so intimate that I have to introduce my clients as one comes and one leaves. I’m doing everything myself – booking the appointments, cleaning up, checking out.

The past two years have been spent working on our home, and now my studio as well, so we haven’t really explored much. We have two long-haired dachshunds that are everything to us. We’re just enjoying this beautiful area.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/28/16 at 12:32 PM • Permalink