HVAC Trading Cards? Sure, Why Not?

HVAC doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic to write about, but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The industry has long been a leader in energy efficiency, for instance. New technologies are always being applied to the development of products, and in the U.S., the “Made in USA” logo truly means something — creating not just exemplary products but jobs and expanding opportunities for those of us who live here.

It’s also an industry that has welcomed new forms of communication as social- and public relations continue to bloom. Part of the reason why is that there’s always new information to share in the HVAC biz, and even better, we have myriad places through which to share that content.

These guiding principles were behind a recent writing assignment I took on in tandem with Winstanley Partners for the KN Series of hydronic, cast-iron boilers. Starting with the idea of a technical brochure that would extol the benefits of the product to its key audiences, we took the assignment a step further, creating pieces of ‘mini-content’ that were even more targeted to core audiences.

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We didn’t negate that first idea of a one-sheet technical brochure, but rather created it to include components that could stand alone, and therefore speak directly to engineers, architects, builders, managers, and others.

As the copy and design started to coalesce, we soon noticed that the end-result was not unlike a set of trading cards.

HVAC trading cards? Well sure, why not? They’re shareable, printable, scale-able, and (yes) trade-able. That’s what we want when it comes to sharing information about a decidedly niche product. Plus, there are plenty of uses for such a thing – from social media content to trade-show giveaways.

These one-hit wonders were designed by Victoria Fiorini — copy by moi.

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Truckin’ at Wahconah Park

With a Memorial Day forecast that left a lot to be desired, we didn’t have particularly high hopes for our outdoor-itinerary this weekend. But the clouds parted around lunchtime on Saturday, so we jetted down to historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. for their First Annual Food Truck Feastival and gathered some tastes, sights, and sounds to share.

There were a few familiar trucks on the grounds, but also some new trucks and a great breadth of choices, from Asian to Mexican to American and back again. Several musical acts were scheduled throughout the day — enough that we heard three different acts in a two-hour period — and plenty of arts, crafts, clothing, and vendors of other sundries that I think add to a food-truck fest as long as they don’t overtake the food.

I also really love this park. We’ve attended games and other events here before and it’s a family-friendly destination with a chill vibe and a lot of cool things to see and do, no matter what the occasion. It’s one of the last ballparks in the U.S with a wooden grandstand, more than 200 “Pittsfield Players” have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, and it’s surrounded by decidedly historic looking signage, service buildings, and snack stands.

On to the food, though: because she had a “big girl” breakfast and lunch, Juli was able to start off with a super-fancy French vanilla sundae from the Krispy Cones soft-serve truck.

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Kid ate just about the whole thing, then went on to share Ben’s hand-cut fries and pulled-pork sandwich from The Chuck Wagon.

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I went off in search of something new while they were noshing, and ordered some fried beef gyota from the aptly named Nom Nom Hut, and a local brew (“brown“) from Bright Ideas Brewing.

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Let me know if you hear of any food truck fests in New England this summer that we might want to hit up!

A Hidden Gem in the Berkshire Music Scene: Berkshire Lyric

Great post about a organization for which I used to volunteer. Check it out!

When I Survey . . .

The Berkshires are widely acknowledged as a mecca of culture, especially for great music. We all know about Tanglewood and South Mountain Concerts. We read about them in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

These venues, and several others, feature some of the world’s best professional talent, and we are grateful for it. But what often flies under the media radar here is a number of homegrown, grass-roots community organizations that produce some first-rate music.

I am privileged to be a singer in one of them, the Berkshire Lyric Chorus, which is part of a larger Berkshire Lyric program of intergenerational teaching and music development that is quite unique. Artistic Director Jack Brown has a vision that brings in singers of all ages, and helps them develop and grow their talent. It is not unusual to have singers in two (and sometimes three) generations singing…

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In Apple Blossom Time…

It’s Apple Blossom Time here in the Berkshires… not as well known as the harvest season, maybe, but no less quaint and New England-y.

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This weekend, we were able to attend the Second Annual Blossom Fest at Bartlett’s Orchard, right in our hometown. This isn’t an event teeming with crowds, vendors, bouncy-houses and beer tents — although there was, in fact, one beer tent — but rather, a gathering space that felt very community-minded, welcoming, and calm.

With the apple trees nearing full bloom, the orchard at Bartlett’s was opened to the public for strolling and picnicking. Burgers and dogs on the grill were offered up for a few dollars each, plus soft drinks and a few selections from Wandering Star Brewery – an awesome, local craft brewery with a great team of folks at the helm. I’ve seen its founder, Chris, a few times at nonprofit events and he’s not only always friendly, he’s always got a new IPA on tap for me (this time, an 8.9% ABV brew called Loopy Juice.)

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Local (and a little legendary) musician David Grover, with special guest Linda Worster, was on hand to provide chill tunes — a lot of James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and a few kids’ selections that Grover is known for in the Berkshires.

We’re hoping to attend the third Blossom Fest next year, but if you’re keen to visit Bartlett’s before then, apple-picking season starts as early as August and the farm store is open year-round. (Two words: cider donuts)