Not In Our County

Multicultural BRIDGE Launches Not in Berkshire County: Senator Hinds makes his pledge!
New Campaign Seeks to “Stop Hate. Together” With #AllHandsIn Approach
Take the Pledge Below

I commit to working together with my neighbors to create safer, more integrated communities for all residents in Berkshire County. I do not stay silent in the face of intolerance or hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, ability or any other factor. I work to acknowledge and heal all forms of hate, bigotry and bullying. I pledge to renew my commitment to this work every day.
(Print above image, and mail the bottom section to BRIDGE)

Pledge

I commit to working together with my neighbors to create safer, more integrated communities for all residents in Berkshire County. I do not stay silent in the face of intolerance or hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, ability or any other factor. I work to acknowledge and heal all forms of hate, bigotry and bullying. I pledge to renew my commitment to this work every day.

County-wide members of our Not in Berkshire County Steering Committee include: Gwendolyn VanSant, Lily Swartz, Karen Clark, Ellyn Salkin, Sharon Lazerson, Luci Leonard, Alfred Enchill, Cara Henderson, Ari Cameron, Sandra Blomberg, Adrian Dunn (& several members of Greylock Together), Rosa Zubizaretta & more!

Signers and Supporters:
  • Natalia DeRuzzio
  • Cara Henderson
  • Lorimer Burns
  • Stephanie Wright
  • Laura Christensen
  • Jessica Dils
  • Meri Haas
  • Luci Leonard
  • Sandra Blomberg
  • Barbara Mahony
  • Leslie Sears
  • Deborah Parkington
  • Tommie Hutto-Blake
  • Alfred Enchill
  • Marjorie Cohan
  • Cheryl Rose
  • Lara Setti
  • Gwendolyn VanSant
  • Olivia VanSant
  • Karen Klark
  • Beth Rose
(Lee, Massachusetts) - Local community nonprofit Multicultural BRIDGE announces today the launch of the Not in Our Berkshires campaign, a mission which aims to unify communities throughout the Berkshires to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all.

Part of on the national Not in Our Town movement, this campaign will engage Berkshire residents, businesses, town governments, schools, community organizations and others in an effort to educate, organize, and mobilize our communities to respond to -- and prevent -- incidents of hate and injustice. The Berkshires are believed to the first to launch a campaign on the county-wide level. 

Even at this early stage, dozens of organizations and individuals within the county have pledged support or signed on to assist in the campaign. Supporting organizations to date include some members of BRIDGE Race Task Force, Senator Hinds, Community Health Programs, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

“As we gather and contemplate how best to unite our community, explore our shared understanding of who is vulnerable in our Berkshire community and how to cultivate safety and trust, we are motivated by recent threats on Berkshire residents’ safety and access to a healthy thriving community to claim our County and all of its residents. “ The uniqueness of this campaign is we are united by three ideas 1. A unified visible logo, pledge and shared values 2. A commitment to not be silent when ignorance, hate or intolerance arises. 3. A collaborative approach across our county. Within those principles, each town or city can choose what the Not in the Berkshires action and engagement will be and it will be supported and amplified by the County-wide steering committee,” said Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, founding director and CEO of Multicultural BRIDGE.

Movies from the Not in Our Town documentary film collection, which chronicle community-wide responses to hate incidents from across the country, will also be screened across the county in the coming months as part of the campaign. The screenings will be followed by community conversations. 

The campaign also urges Berkshire community members to sign a pledge card in support, which reads: I commit to working together with my neighbors to create safer, more integrated communities for all residents in Berkshire County. I do not stay silent in the face of intolerance or hate based on race, religion, sexual preference, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, ability or any other factor.  I work to acknowledge and heal all forms of hate, bigotry and bullying.  I pledge to renew my commitment to this work every day.

Pledge cards are available at select community events and for download on the Multicultural BRIDGE website, www.multiculturalbridge.org. Pledgers will also carry a pledge business card for daily reminders and a decal that individuals and businesses are encouraged to display in solidarity, as well as access additional information about the Not in Our Berkshires campaign.

The campaign seeks to build on the momentum of many Berkshire cities and towns that have adopted welcoming resolutions, ordinances and policies to build community cohesion and inclusion. In the past four months, Great Barrington, Williamstown, Pittsfield and Becket each voted and passed such local policies, charters or Sanctuary Commitments. While the details of each policy are specific to the town, they each echo the same ideals of fairness, inclusion and community support. A statewide bill, the Safe Communities Act, is also currently under review for next season.

Great Barrington’s policy, called a Trust Policy, was adopted on May 1st during Town Meeting, and local community members are invited to join the Not in Our Berkshires movement a continuation of the region’s legacy of social justice and recent decision to adopt the Trust Policy. 

Great Barrington’s Trust Policy provides a broad framework to help ensure that all residents living and working in the community are fully protected and supported by the police and town government. The policy works to ensure fairness, protect civil liberties and build transparency with the town and police -- to the benefit of all community members, regardless of race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, immigration status, religious or political opinion or activity, or homed or homeless status.

The Trust Policy was initially drafted and filed by Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO and founding director of Multicultural BRIDGE, with partners Berkshire Showing Up for Racial Justice, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, and Lia Spillotes, executive director at Community Health Programs (CHP).