"We Hold These Truths" Fourth of July Community Celebration and Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Thursday, July 4, 2019
(Lenox, MA) - In special partnership with BRIDGE, Shakespeare & Company host its annual Fourth of July Community Celebration “We Hold These Truths” from 1:30-5:00pm. This yearly event is an Independence Day celebration, held on Shakespeare & Company's Campus, 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA 01240, with music, children's crafts and activities, and a public reading of one of the most stirring and influential documents in our country's history, The Declaration of Independence. This event is free, and an all-American barbeque will be available for purchase.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with BRIDGE for our Fourth of July Celebration," said Company Artistic Director, Allyn Burrows. "We find it vital to broaden the conversation around the values on which this country was founded in order for us all to evolve together."
The event will run from 1:30-5:00pm on Thursday, July 4 with ongoing activities for the whole family including free children's activities including: crafts table, face painting, and a photo booth. The Amy Ryan Band returns to perform a unique mix of country/rock blues. Shakespeare & Company artists and special guests Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Senator Adam Hinds, and District Attorney Andrea Harrington will read the Declaration of Independence beginning at 3:00pm. In celebration of our country’s diverse heritage and to inspire us to reflect on the multiple identities we hold as Americans, the day will also feature readings from Frederick Douglas, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, The 1848 Women’s Declaration of Sentiments, Harriet Tubman, and others. The event will also feature an independent community based group of dancers performing a Colombian folkloric piece in celebration of preserving their history and culture through performance.
"As we focus on multiple truths, independence and liberation are something we as US residents and citizens are all still striving for," says Gwendolyn VanSant of BRIDGE. “I have been honored to be invited to collaborate on integrating diverse voices and stories that make up our US history in the annual program. Through this honoring of our collective history, the BRIDGE and Shakespeare & Company communities have intentionally united to demonstrate the incomparable value of relationship-building within our Berkshire home."
Throughout the course of the event, food will available for purchase (credit cards will be accepted) on site from SoMa Catering. The Fourth of July Community Celebration will happen rain or shine, and is generously sponsored by David and Natalie Johnsonius Neubert.
The celebration will be followed by a preview performance of Twelfth Night at 6pm in the Tina Packer Playhouse. This classic showcases a rich, affecting, and deeply funny story of longing, love, and laughter which paints Shakespeare at his peak. Twelfth Night is directed by Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director, Allyn Burrows. Tickets are available online at shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company’s box office at (413) 637-3353. The Company’s 2019 Summer Season also includes two outdoor Shakespeare productions, The Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and a special workshop production of Coriolanus; plus Pulitzer Prize Finalist The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan, The Children by Tony nominee Lucy Kirkwood, The Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Award nominee Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies.
Food from SOMA Catering is available for purchase; Selections from Amy Ryan Band
1:30pm - 3:00pm
Children's crafts, face painting and photo booth are open to the public for free; Colombian folkloric dance performance
3:00pm - 4:00pm
Speeches, readings and the Declaration
Fourth of July Community Celebration ends
Special Twelfth Night Preview Performance
Founded in 2007, BRIDGE (dba Multicultural BRIDGE) is a grassroots organization dedicated to advancing equity and justice by promoting cultural competence, positive psychology, and mutual understanding and acceptance. The organization acts as a catalyst for change through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy. BRIDGE is a minority and women run non-profit certified by the Office of Supplier Diversity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (SDP). Their certified competencies are training, education, language access, and multicultural awareness. More information about BRIDGE can be found at https://www.multiculturalbridge.org.
About the Amy Ryan Band
Witnessing Amy’s solo performances at open mic sessions in New York’s Capital Region, guitarist Richard Green saw an opportunity to combine his own blues guitar chops with a gutsy female singer with the potential to lead a great blues band. The Amy Ryan Band was soon born. Melding together Amy’s country blues mojo and Richard’s urban blues and rock sensibilities, this musical partnership is rounded out by bassist Steve Dietemann and new drummer Al Bauman. With a repertoire that includes band adaptations of Amy’s self-penned solo tunes, newly minted originals, and select covers, the Amy Ryan Band rocks the blues.
About SoMa Catering
Providing the Berkshires, Connecticut, and upstate New York with full service catered events, SoMa believes in thoughtful and custom menus inspired by seasonality and locally grown and sourced foods. From boxed picnic lunches to dinner parties and elegant large scale events, they are driven by enhancing celebrations through professional service and simply delicious food. All avenues of SoMa from service to their chefs stand behind their core values of integrity, honesty, sustainability and going above & beyond to make a mark on their events. For more information on SoMa, visit http://www.somacatering.com.
About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the leading Shakespeare festivals of the world. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 40,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to an internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and award-winning Education Program. More information is available at www.shakespeare.org.
BRIDGE's W2W Partners with GCFU to Support Incarcerated Women in the Berkshires
This year, BRIDGE is continuing our work to support incarcerated women of the Berkshires--part of a growing partnership between BRIDGE's Women to Women (W2W) group, Greylock Federal Credit Union (GFCU) and Lindsay Maynard, a local she-ro who supports incarcerated women in staying connected to their families and reintegrating as they transition back home.
In January at the Great Barrington MLK Jr. Day service, BRIDGE invited community members to write heartfelt valentine letters to incarcerated women of the Berkshires, which were later delivered in February. And last month, for a W2W project proposed by BRIDGE CEO, Greylock Federal Credit Union approved and prepared care packages for Mother's day, a project that was generously sponsored by GFCU as part of their Day of Caring during Women's History Month, and coordinated by Cindy Shogry Raimer. Together we packed up 16 care packages with basic self-Care and personal health ítems a woman would appreciate and need and both teams together wrote 35 inspirational letters to be given to incarcerated (or previously incarcerated) women during their return home later in May.
Ari Cameron, BRIDGE Board member and participant, shares these reflections:
"Caseworker Lindsay Maynard visited the BRIDGE office early one April morning to pick up the bags compiled by BRIDGE and GFCU. She named some of the challenges faced by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women when reintegrating into Berkshire County. Lindsay said that the care bags make a difference by providing a few basic necessities and showing the women that they are cared for. She said that there would need to be a wait-list for the 16 bags to make sure they went to the folks who needed them the most. Her work as a caseworker is all about supporting women to reintegrate successfully and reconnect with their families, a cornerstone of which is treating them with respect and dignity. BRIDGE and GFCU contributed to that work with 16 beautiful care bags and many Mother's Day cards and by opening a channel for continued support."
BRIDGE is continuing to collect items for incarcerated women to reintegrate successfully, and there will have several opportunities throughout the year to get involved. We'd love to have more volunteers! For more information, please call or write to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women To Women Celebrate Mother’s Day together this past Thursday night
While our CEO Gwendolyn was being honored as 2019’s Woman of Achievement at the Berkshire Business and Professional Women of the year award ceremony, news came in that the Dr. W.E.B Du Bois initiative to rename a local Berkshire Hills school (in his hometown) passed in both West Stockbridge and Great Barrington.
The passing of this initiative speaks to the countless Du Bois lectures, celebrations, performances, forums, and much more BRIDGE has hosted. This also speaks to the community’s embrace of this education. Du Bois lived for freedom; he recognized that if some of us are not free, none of us are. He worked tirelessly and brilliantly to create the foundation from which civil rights could grow. What better way to honor that legacy than to inspire the next generations of students?
We are grateful this legislation has passed in two towns and we need the third, Stockbridge, to keep this process going. Please reach out to your networks and call for support for the next town vote at Stockbridge May 20th. Preceding May 20th, we are looking to host a community forum at the Stockbridge Coffee shop. Please stay tuned for how you can show up to this forum to support Stockbridge to understand the importance of Du Bois. More details on this event will be coming soon... you can join Gwendolyn in watching the impressive community discussion here: Berkshire Edge Du Bois coverage
On Monday May 6th BRIDGE through the Race Task Force organized a meeting between the Department of Justice and local superintendents, college and private school representatives, local racial and social justice organization leaders and DA Andrea Harrington. All but two of our Berkshire County superintendents were represented--and all expresses interest. Mildred Duprey de Robles, Conciliation Specialist with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services department presented us with the DOJ’s SPIRIT program. The DOJ CRS was born out of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and refined with the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Through community, school and consultation services the Department of Justice (DOJ) offers support for the 8 protected categories. SPIRIT stands for “Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together.” The DOJ trains local community members to facilitate student groups to identify and resolve school problems.
This program attracted us because it is student led, has the potential to sustain the work we are doing in schools and complements the work, like A World of Difference, schools are already doing. CBRSD will be the first school district in our area to begin the SPIRIT program by hosting the DOJ to offer a facilitator training for 2019-2020 school facilitators. For close to 10 years BRIDGE has being developing a relationship with the DOJ and the benefits of that are being brought to the community. The feedback from the local superintendents and education leaders was positive and we hope CBRSD’s lead paves the way for all school districts to follow. Additionally Pittsfield and Lenox superintendents have expressed interest and more are gathering information and gauging interest still. June 4th is our first SPIRIT facilitation training.
After the superintendents BRIDGE Race Task Force hosted a meeting for its partners and members to learn about how SPIRIT can be implemented city or county wide. Mildred shared an example of Easthampton’s (MA) experience with the SPIRIT program. After their school district used the SPIRIT program and presented the city with the student-created solutions the city was so impressed they took on the program city-wide. The impact of SPIRIT-CITY has been very positive evidenced by Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle’s offer to promote it.
For more information: Article on Easthampton's SPIRIT Program. We look forward to continuing the discussion of SPIRIT countywide and supporting schools to make use of this free government inclusive support service.
The Woman of Achievement award ceremony capped off a full May 6th. With DOJ meetings in the morning, networking Du Bois town meeting throughout the day, and last minute ceremony details it was a full day to say the least. Around 150 guests helped BRIDGE celebrate Gwendolyn’s award. You can hear this piece on WAMC in anticipation of the event and reflecting on her work at BRIDGE, and click here to see a program from the event.
Close to 20 speakers gave short and poignant invitations to honor Gwendolyn through their personal connection to her. A local author, a banking executive, social justice activists, dancers, co-workers, BRIDGE supporters, family, friends and her husband all shared gratitudes for Gwendolyn and the impact of the work she’s supported for years. Yes! It was beautiful as we represented our diverse community. Yes! we celebrated and Yes! we were back at work early the next day. Click here to read tributes from Christy Daignault, BRIDGE Vice Chair and Development Co-Chair, and John Bissell, President and CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union.
The evening was capped off by a beautiful speech Gwendolyn gave connecting integrity, accountability and living for justice as a sustained and sustaining way of being in the world with immediate results and praise being rare. Please find her acceptance speech, Opening The Gates here.
Dear BRIDGE family:
As many of you have heard, I was unanimously chosen as the 2019 Woman of Achievement by Berkshire Business and Professional Women. Our Berkshire chapter has held this tradition for decades and I am honored to be selected for my professional achievements here in the Berkshires and beyond. I can only imagine that the BBPW choice to choose me as this year’s BBPW WOA honoree is not only about me and my work but also representative of their effort to echo the BBPW support of the mission and work of
Did you know that our members like you are amazing and that we want to thank you?
Yes, you are amazing and we are deeply grateful for our community--YOU!
The Town of Great Barrington’s W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy committee held a dinner reception for Jeff Peck after 38th annual Schumacher Lecture, co-sponsored and co-hosted by Multicultural BRIDGE with host/sponsor Schumacher Center for New Economics, with Schumacher guest lecturers, Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm and Ed Whitfield of Fund for Democratic Communities.
Gwendolyn, Stephanie and Lisa work alongside BOAPC (Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Coalition). Stay tuned for our upcoming joint article in the Berkshire Eagle on BRIDGE public health role within opioid prevention and the capacity building with the Recovery Coach Academy trainings for our staff & volunteers. Thank you to our fearless BOAPC leader Jennifer Kimball for the invitations and her coalition leadership in public health and community health work!
Giving Tuesday—a global day of giving that harnesses our collective power to help give back and invest in our communities—is right around the corner, on November 27th.
Can you donate to BRIDGE and help us build the strength and safety of our local communities, while advancing equity and justice for all? Any amount—$5 or $500—makes a big difference! Click here to donate, or donate directly on Facebook.
Thank you again for your ongoing support—we couldn’t do it without YOU. Here’s just a quick snapshot of some of BRIDGE’s work, which you’ve helped to make possible: