February is the month to honor African American Heritage in the US. Please find intentional ways to do so both for your local community and the country at large!
I hope you all are doing well!
We want to remind you of a few meetings coming up and also have you see some of the reorganization that has happened at BRIDGE! We are excited to expand our BRIDGE team with individuals that have been engaged with BRIDGE in several ways over the past years. We look forward to working alongside you.
IDEA Institute at BRIDGE launches the first annual Berkshire Inclusive Leadership Cohort fo Social Change starting February 9!
Read more here: https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/online-training.html
Co-sponsored by Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, BRIDGE, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Community College
Please welcome our Cohort Leaders for Justice and Equity in the Berkshires from Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Bridges- Working Cities, Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Berkshire Community College, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Museum, Art Omi, IS183, WAM Theatre, Jacobs Pillow, BRIDGE, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, MCLA Institute for Arts and Humanities, Mass MoCa, Hancock Shaker Village, Williams College, Chesterwood, General Dynamics, the Mount and Shakespeare and Company.
Food Sovereignty and Sustainability
Gibran Riviera Keynote from the New Pathways Conference
Dear Friends of BRIDGE,
BRIDGE is hard at work today (re)launching our Mutual Aid for 93 families in our Berkshire Community for 2021. This is made possible by the generous end of year contributions and our ongoing and deepening collaborations in our community to make this a safer, more inclusive place for vulnerable families, especially the underrepresented and underserved Black and Brown Communities and our elders. Some families are new recruits due to the COVID impact on work security, education stability for their children or have been directly impacted by having members of the family COVID positive in the last few weeks and some families this community has seen through the rough spot to stability. We are learning daily as a staff, volunteer and community what it means to live in mutuality.
We also are still mourning the events of January 6th at Capitol Hill and stark racism and white supremacy stronghold in this Country. Nationally and locally, we have seen a multitude of events that have threatened safety and justice in our community and the only choice each of us have is to act with commensurate power leveraging your influence, resources and energy for the good of all communities.
Please find an opportunity to join us in community to co-create an MLK day of service in honor of Dr. King’s birthday and several civil rights giants’ contributions, learning together and planning for the safety of our Berkshire community on Monday. Join our BRIDGE staff and local clergy partners in making this a day of beloved community in 2021.
In honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday, we are offering a series of community gatherings from 10-3. We will start with a Day of Service where we will gather to create projects, sign up for stations for family tech help and have an “I Have a Dream” corner listening to Dr. King’s Speech in community and also reading a children’s book of his incredible life story. For the noontime, Rev. Sloan Letman IV of BRIDGE, BIO and Cathedral of the Beloved will join BRIDGE for a noontime service. We will end the day with our first New Pathways Lab of the year with DA Andrea Harrington, Director of Community Engagement Bryan House, Assistant US Attorney Scott Garland (Hate Crimes Specialist) and Community Outreach Specialist Cara Henderson to discuss safety in our community, what has been threatening it and what we want to do about it? Here is the registration link:
Community challenge: Tell us your dream for 2021. What will you do to get us there in our shared community? Take pictures and post on social media and tag BRIDGE. Find us at #BRIDGE413 on social media, on IG multicultural-bridge and friends of BRIDGE, on Twitter at BRIDGE413, tag us on Facebook. Use hashtags #bridge413 #revdrmlkjr #ihaveadream #allhandsin. Tag us and let us know at BRIDGE your dream ~families and children welcome!
Also in this bulletin, you will find a message from our BRIDGE board and finally, we do want to celebrate the work in GA and the many milestones it represents for protecting our rights and democracy as well as the work of strongly dedicated community organizers and leaders and Black women under Stacy Abrams guidance.
Locally, we have the Du Bois Middle School sign installed and also I want to alert you all to the Du Bois Legacy Committee working with the Town of Great Barrington to create the country’s first Du Bois Day on his birthday, Feb. 23rd! Read one of the articles here. In all of the darkness there is light. We look forward to celebrating Dr. Du Bois on February 23rd with the Town of Great Barrington W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee. Stay tuned!
Happ(ier) New Year and see you soon!
In the struggle together,
Board Response to the terror and injustice of January 6th, 2021
We, the BRIDGE Board, condemn the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The flagrant White Supremacy on display and lack of police response was a revealing window into the injustice at the heart of who we are as a country, particularly contrasted with the violent, militarized responses to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. While the violent events of January 6th were disheartening and infuriating, they are not a surprise to BRIDGE. This was the natural outcome of our continued failure to address White Supremacy’s hold on our society and to hold those who are actively encouraging White Supremacy to account. We recognize that this failure is deep and foundational and goes far beyond this administration or these specific events; White Supremacy has ripples of impact throughout our country and shows up in every community, including the Berkshires, in the most oppressive and harmful ways.
There can be no call to action for unity without first a call to action for accountability. We wish to highlight this recent quote from Gwendolyn VanSant, our Founding Director and CEO: “I’ve been really pushing white counterparts ... to see how really extreme things can get when everyone’s just waiting for someone else to address it. Really, everyone can participate in disrupting … the biases day to day in a workplace or any other type of institution.” This is not over - and it will not end until we all take action to hold ourselves, our institutions, and our communities accountable to reckoning with and dismantling White Supremacy.
Reflecting on our Black Lives Matter Statement from last year and the commitments that we made as a Board, there are several actions that we feel are necessary. We need to use our influence to interrupt, challenge, and dismantle the cultural systems that created and maintain disparities between White people and People of Color, at every level. We need to have authentic and painful conversations about how White Supremacy culture shows up in ourselves, our community, and our country. And we need to prioritize care and support for BRIDGE staff and other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our community, holding the impact of these recent events on their health and safety, both physical and emotional. We call on everyone to take action to confront White Supremacy in our community and to stand firm for justice, accountability, and equity. We must be vigilant in holding those who are intent on harming African American and immigrant communities accountable.
The BRIDGE Board:
Rev Sloan Letman IV, Jeff Lowenstein, Veronica Fenton, Esq., Steve Glick, Gabriela Cruz, Alexis Claytor, Elizabeth Adams, Erica Barreto, MaryAnn Norris, and Gwendolyn VanSant, Founding Director
I have a dream that we won’t have to talk about ‘restorative justice’ because it will be understood that true justice is about restoration, and about transformation. I have a dream. ~Howard Zehr
Also if you missed Greg Watson’s Keynote Presentation, Greg Watson, "Radical Civics and Civil Anarchy", at our New Pathways Social Justice Conference, you can find it here! Inspiring as always~