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Woodlands Partnership Considering Name Change
By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff
10:41AM / Thursday, September 22, 2022
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership is considering changing its name to more closely align with its organizational goals. 
The group discussed a potential change at its meeting on Monday, voting to recommend bringing the question to the organization's full board meeting next month. Executive Committee Chair Henry Art said the group has explored the possibility, highlighting numerous reasons to change the name.  
"There's a feeling that, number one, the Mohawk trail only cuts through five of our communities," he said. "And furthermore, the Mohawks were present on the trail. But they were not the native indigenous peoples of this region, which were those three tribes named in the land acknowledgment. So they're feeling that this appropriation of an indigenous name was not entirely appropriate. If we ever wanted to expand our territory, it would become even less appropriate." 
The group unanimously approved the recommendation, with the first proposed suggestion being the Woodlands Partnership of Western Massachusetts. Board Vice Chair Richard Chandler said he is in favor of the name change, noting that the current name has helped to make the organization's boundaries arbitrary. 
"I would love to see us draw the boundary more logically overlapping the forest maps that we've all seen to include the significant forests in other towns that are not currently able to be represented by ourselves," he said.
While the name Woodlands Partnership of Western Massachusetts is one idea for a new name, Art explained that it could still be edited going forward. 
"The reason that this came up was there's an opportunity at the state level to actually have legislation that would recognize the name change from Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, which was a name that came up early in the process," Art said. "... [The proposed name] gives us a fair degree of latitude because we are enabled, by state legislation and our bylaws, to increase the geography upon a majority vote of the board to adjacent communities and to include other organizations as they meet our general mission goals." 
Art noted that "Western Massachusetts" is a term that seems to change depending on where in the state you are. Former board member Whit Sanford said keeping the organization tied to the Berkshires is important. 
"The more we're identified as part of the Berkshires, rather than this amorphous Western Massachusetts, I think is good," she said. "It's more productive in terms of the economics of the region as well as what environment we're trying to protect." 
In other business, the board discussed the two listening sessions the group hosted for its 10-year plan. Lisa Hayden, administrative agent for the partnership, said they got some interesting feedback. 
"At the first one there was some suggestion that we need to have more focus on climate change and talk about some of the state laws that were relevant. So Sophie [Argetsinger] and Hank did some work to restructure and pull out material to create a separate chapter. So that was a good suggestion," she said. 
A final draft will be sent to the full board ahead of its meeting next month. Sanford suggested that the plan also be sent out to past board members, as well. 
"I'm a past board member. I still want to be involved ... It just makes sense to me to try to keep board members, even though they're no longer on the board, involved. And maybe send out information about grants and stuff, because you never know who can help you." 
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