“joy is an act of resistance” ~ Congresswoman Pressley
We have had an eventful Spring so far with Happiness Toolbox and our Climate Action work!
Enjoy our Earth Day celebration photos here! As our Happiness Toolbox families and friends gathered together again (reunited!), we went foraging in an original “Trailgrazing” program with Maya Richards at Bartholomew’s Cobble. Also, we returned with our BRIDGE youth leaders and team and played games, challenged ourselves with trivia about our Mother Earth, made herbal remedies, practiced our Spanish, and positive psychology & growth mindset skills in person and over Zoom in our hybrid program. Stay tuned for our summer dates.
Thank YOU!!! Mutual aid at its best!
We cannot tell you enough HOW you as a community lifted up the collective work of BRIDGE during this pandemic and how your collective time, treasure and talent have lifted the health of our community in ways that go beyond basic needs and reach the scale of our local humanity! We ask that you continue to commit to working alongside BRIDGE, making meaningful financial gifts in the form of sustaining pledges for mutual aid, speaking up and against injustice and insensitivity, and that you continually educate yourself and others.
“I now genuinely believe that self-knowledge and self-reflection is invaluable to doing good work in this world.” ― Parker Palmer
Tomorrow we end one year of our Food Sovereignty and Empowerment Program and renew with Year 2 late May within an expanded network of mutual aid including an expanded partnership of local farms! Thank you to Sweet Freedom Farm, Three Sisters, Indian Line Farm, Full Well Farm, Colfax Farm, Taft Farms/Gideon’s Garden, Random Harvest, Greenagers, Square Roots Farm and Off the Shelf Farm. Many thanks to our sponsors, donors and once again to all of you whose resources flow right through our hearts and hands to the local farms and in to our local families!
Finally Celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Month this month- read more here: https://asianpacificheritage.gov
Climate. Action. Resilience. Equity!
TONIGHT- FIELD TRIP (VIRTUALLY)! Our monthly Racial Justice and weekly Women to Women Meet up for the Town of Great Barrington MVP GB Project
6:30-8:30 PM | Zoom
EVERYONE - Feel free to join us for dinner (you can bring your own!) and an engaging session at the intersection of community, environmental justice and racial justice! Together we will decide on priorities for the town’s climate action work!
Join us for this series of three to watch our community put our thoughts and wisdom into action
“Climate change is a fundamental problem that we must solve and not merely pass on to the generations to come…We can’t let our children and grandchildren look back on this critical period in time and say that we failed them.” ~Mary Robinson
See the 10 priorities that our intergenerational, cross-cultural community members and municipal leaders highlighted in our work to date:
In loving memory of community members Mabel Hamilton and Jahaira deAlto.
We will miss you both.
I believe in the power of the human heart—in its capacity for truth and justice, love and forgiveness. ~ Parker Palmer
In People Magazine: Transgender activist Jahaira DeAlto "touched the lives of everyone around her with her passion, drive, humanity, humor, and fierce vision." Read here
Join us! We have openings in board committee service, our volunteer network, and even on our staff! Also you can join in the fun with fundraising activities like Patsy and Dottie’s Coffee Lounge (see pics below) and also our community navigator, Colleen, offering to all of her clients a free hair shine with a donation to BRIDGE.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, suggestions, or ideas you might have.
Member Spotlights: Greylock Federal Credit Union and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace!
HOT! Job Opportunities at Greylock! Take time to review the benefits and multiple levels of job opportunities. Greylock, a BRIDGE partner, and client, has committed to equity and accessibility in their diversity and inclusion efforts. Give them a call!
Thank you Guido’s for rounding up to support us in March and April!
In case you missed it - in the news
Two articles about BRIDGE:
Wishing you all the best and a Happy Mother’s Day,
- Gwendolyn, JV and the BRIDGE team
P.s. Don’t forget to vote in your local elections! It matters! Ayanna Pressley states… "policy is my love language. Because policy has created hurt and harm, but it can also create equity and justice. That’s what we deserve, and that’s what we’re going to need in order to recover from all the hurt that has been caused…”
Do you shop at Guido's? Well, if you do, be sure to round up at checkout! Details below!
Latest Videos from New Pathways:
Hey y'all, JV here! I'm hoping that you are doing well! I just wanted to pop in at the top of this update to let you know that we've got some various things coming up in the next few months. The easiest way to keep in touch and join our groups is to do the following two things:
I hope this information helps you stay in touch with us! If you need additional assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to JV@multiculturalbridge.org.
This past week, we witnessed violence and more domestic terrorism against Asian Americans and women in it the Atlanta shootings. We commit to our sustained solidarity with Asian American Pacific Islanders and all marginalized, oppressed and terrorized groups.
As an organization dedicated to race equity and Justice, we commit to ending cycles of physical emotional and psychological violence through Education and Training alongside active and engaged disruption. Please join us. Sign these stop hate pledges and recommit to being a positive bystander.
Actions: Sign the national stop AAPI hate pledge in alignment with commitment: https://stopaapihate.org
Sign the local pledge: Not In Our County
Some folks have decided to donate their Stimulus Checks to BRIDGE, which is greatly appreciated. Here is some testimony from these people.
When I got my first stimulus check, I decided to donate most of it to local nonprofits, including BRIDGE. As an anti-poverty worker, I've seen firsthand how badly many folks in our community are struggling and how much help is needed, and I wanted to use that money to give some extra help to someone who needed it more than I did. COVID has highlighted how deeply interwoven we are with everyone else in our communities - if we want to succeed we have to look out for one another, not just ourselves. That goes for how we use our resources just as much as how well we follow precautions to prevent the virus. COVID has also highlighted the systemic racism in our society, and who gets left behind and suffers the most when times get tough. BRIDGE is deeply connected with the communities of color and immigrants who are among our most vulnerable folks, and I was happy to support BRIDGE's efforts to reach, engage, and support these communities. BRIDGE's work has made an enormous difference in helping keep these families safe and stable through the pandemic. When I receive my next stimulus check, I plan to donate again to support this critical work, and I hope you will as well! If we can stand together as a county and those of us who have a little to spare can help those who need it the most, we'll come out of COVID as a stronger, more connected, and more just community!
Tim & Lily Ellis:
My family decided to donate our stimulus check because there's no better way for us to 'spend' that money and support our community. COVID is stretching an already fractured social service network even thinner. Plus, not everyone is eligible to receive a stimulus check due to immigration status or other factors--and often the people who are left out are the same folks who are excluded from other social services, and are at greater risk. But BRIDGE remains true to its mission, no matter what--during the pandemic, BRIDGE pivoted to providing food, resources and care for hundreds of people throughout the county. As someone who works in public health, I'm confident that by listening and responding to the needs of vulnerable families with care and humility, BRIDGE has helped to keep people healthier--keep our entire Berkshire community healthier--and save lives.
We would like to highlight our Food Sovereignty and Sustainability Program.
More information located here.
Connect with BRIDGE this month! Visit our events section for upcoming events.
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~
Dear BRIDGE Community,
This year has contained multitudes! With the grace and perseverance of BRIDGE’s expert team and dedicated volunteers, constituents across the Berkshires and beyond have felt the tangible impact of BRIDGE’s work-- in the form of connection and training through New Pathways, in the form of groceries, meals, PPE, and bills paid, in the form of accountability for local businesses and organizations to show up for the communities they serve.
Over the last few years, I have had the honor of being a board member at BRIDGE. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Gwendolyn (who in her BRIDGE coaching role provides high-level consulting and direct support to other boards) on continuing to bring BRIDGE’s board policies, processes, and members into alignment with BRIDGE’s mission and work. We have worked to integrate accountability practices into our board culture, and will be officially making our TRJ Accountability a subcommittee of Governance. Our abilities to communicate, collaborate, and strategize as a board have grown as we form intentional ways of connecting and coordinating.
As BRIDGE grows to meet the scale and scope of demand, I want to highlight that the organization has continuously stayed connected to its original mission to act as a catalyst for change. The level of integrity practiced throughout the organization is one of the pieces that drew me to working with BRIDGE and something that remains central to BRIDGE’s organizing and work. I am so excited to see BRIDGE continue to flourish and be recognized as a leading changemaker and a model for grassroots organizing across the state and country!
Thank you to the BRIDGE team for all the ways you have shown up this year and prioritized care and collaboration. Thank you to BRIDGE’s volunteers for all your behind the scenes work to support your neighbors and BRIDGE’s programs. Thank you to my fellow board members for your partnership and generosity. Thank you to Gwendolyn, for your mentorship, vision, and the depth of care that you bring to all the spaces you and BRIDGE inhabit. Towards a new year filled with justice, transformation, sustainability, and joy!
The BRIDGE board condemns the hate crime that our local partners, Macedonia Baptist Church, experienced this weekend. We send our love and support to the Black women, elders, and families all impacted by this hateful act. We stand in solidarity with the congregation, its leadership, and the local Black and Jewish communities, as BRIDGE works to support and coordinate responsible actions that center on the safety of Black people. We want to acknowledge the varying degrees of impact of erasure and carelessness at play from news media not identifying that the antisemtic graffiti was written on a Black church, in a neighborhood in Great Barrington that continues to be gentrified, and not making the efforts to speak to the church leaders before reporting identifying information alongside the incident.
At the close of a week where Breonna Taylor’s family received no justice, we continue to witness immense anti-Black violence and a lack of accountability and regard for the lives, safety, and well-being of Black people, nationally and locally. Berkshire County is responsible for the fact that we have created and maintained a community in which Black people are not experiencing safety. In Great Barrington, numerous incidents of hate and discrimination have occured just in the last few years, and people continue to experience anti-Blackness and the muting of Black history, voices and experiences. What is required of our community in this moment is that we LISTEN to Black youth, elders, and leaders about their experiences of white supremacy living here and take concrete daily action towards creating safety and equity. Please watch the recent PBS NewsHour segment and listen to and sit with what Black individuals and leaders in our community share about the impacts of anti-Black racism in the Berkshires and the experiences of living here.
BRIDGE, as an organization designated by the Commonwealth as minority and women run in the Directors (led by a Black and immigrant staff alongside a Black woman CEO, Gwendolyn VanSant) has been organizing our community around racial justice for over a decade, providing support to marginalized communities and transforming the realities and structures that keep people marginalized. BRIDGE and the Great Barrington community have organized to pass the Trust Policy, create a Du Bois Legacy festival, and most recently, supported and catalyzed community efforts to rename the middle school after W.E.B. Du Bois. Often it is these efforts that white community members lift up to show “progressiveness” as a town, while simultaneously our Black residents and visitors experience racist violence and a lack of safety on a daily basis. The work of ending white supremacy in this community must be every day, all day, by all those who benefit from it. That work must hold the safety and well-being of Black people as absolutely paramount.
BRIDGE has been working alongside and advocating for our partners at Macedonia Baptist Church and the surrounding community throughout this time, as we have in other incidents of hate in our community. We are moving intentionally, listening to and prioritizing the safety of the impacted communities. BRIDGE is calling for everyone in our community, individuals, organizations, and businesses to take the pledge and commit to being active positive bystanders with a visible presence and a commitment to collaborate and use your voice and influence to stop hate and disrupt violence of all kinds. We ask that you move as an antiracist, considering the five A’s our CEO and founder has laid out as a framework. This means Acknowledging the reality of what is happening to Black and Brown people in America, Align with historically marginalized communities, Amplify BIPOC voices, especially Black women and the efforts of Black organizers, Ask people and communities what they need, and Activate your power and privilege for justice and to shift resources to BIPOC communities.
As a town and BRIDGE’s hometown, Great Barrington has committed to ending racism and honoring the legacy of W.E.B Du Bois, whose work laid the foundation for the Black Lives Matter movement. BRIDGE has been working alongside our Race Task Force partners in DA and United States Attorney office. We also have worked with the town in their role in making this community more safe and it is important in our roles to support the town by holding them accountable to their recent direct statements by way of Police Chief and most recently the Selectboard Chair at the town meeting. The values that Du Bois fought for - racial equality, progressive education, economic justice, and civil rights - must be upheld and lived into. Great Barrington made this commitment in 2017 when we voted by an overwhelming margin to adopt the Great Barrington Trust Policy, which states "Great Barrington will continue to ensure civil liberties of all and enforce protection from discrimination for all residents regardless of their race, skin color, [and] national or ethnic origin." We are ALL responsible for keeping each other safe. Trust and safety require listening to and learning from each other at all times.
Additionally, BRIDGE is calling for Reparations in collaboration alongside the church leaders with deep historical roots in the Church and African American community. To repair the harm to Macedonia Baptist Church, we echo the ask from Macedonia's leaders for funding for cameras, motion sensor lights, sensitivity training for law enforcement officials and just acts of kindness and acknowledgment of harm in letters for the congregation. You can mail checks to BRIDGE made out to Macedonia Baptist Church or make contributions to Macedonia Baptist Church on our PayPal Link by noting in the memo that the donation is for Macedonia Baptist Church. To repair the broader harm, we are calling on everyone to take daily action in your family, workplace, school, and at every other table you sit at to make this town and community a place where racism and racist violence does not exist and Black people feel safe raising their children and living their lives in peace.
The BRIDGE Board
Ari Cameron, Gabriela Cruz, Christina Daignault, Dr. Lara Setti, Veronica Fenton, Esq, Steve Glick, Rev. Sloan T. Letman IV , Mary Ann Norris and Gwendolyn VanSant (2020.)
Dear BRIDGE Community:
We are writing you to welcome the Fall season and share recent happenings and also engage you all with BRIDGE for the season. To our friends of Jewish faith and tradition, Yom Tov and we hope you have a meaningful fast. It is an intense time in our country and we are grateful to all of those in deep reflection on Yom Kippur.
We are STILL celebrating the renaming of the W.E.B. DuBois Regional Middle School and the national coverage it received! We are clear that it has taken steady advocacy in education for decades and BRIDGE Is proud to align with our community to activate and hold strong in the eleventh hour when we were all challenged to take this courageous RIGHT step in our history! Read here and please review the beautiful letters that cascaded to the school committee on Sept. 3rd in excess of 350 in 24 hrs to hold steady with our tri-town commitment!
DuBois, native son, songwriter of the future.
“A great song arose, the loveliest thing born this side the seas. It was a new song. It did not come from Africa, though the dark throb and beat of that Ancient of Days was in it and through it. It did not come from white America - never from so pale and hard and thin a thing, however deep those vulgar and surrounding tones had driven. Not the Indies nor the hot South, the cold East or the heavy West made that music. It was a new song and its deep and plaintive beauty, its great cadences and wild appeal wailed, throbbed and thundered on the world’s ears with a message seldom voiced by man. It swelled and blossomed like incense, improvised and born anew out of an age long past, and weaving into its texture the old and new melodies in word and in thought. They sneered at it– those white Southerners who heard it and never understood. They raped and defiled it– those white Northerners who listened without ears. Yet it lived and grew; always it grew and swelled and lived, and it sits today at the right hand of God, as America's one real gift to beauty; as slavery's one redemption, distilled from the dross of its dung.”
BRIDGE receives President's Medallion from MCLA
BRIDGE is very excited to accept the President's Medallion for the MCLA 125th anniversary. We are one of three recipients and were also honored with a Special Toast afterward, hosted by Greylock Federal Credit Union.
See a recording of the 125th Anniversary Celebration, including Gwendolyn's speech, here: https://app.mobilecause.com/e/5HiCpw?vid=c2r8t
Moonlight Mile Art Auction
Local artists including Diana Felber, Pops Peterson, Melissa Bissell, Clemente Sajquiy Ramirez, Samuel VanSant, and many more artists support BRIDGE through our Moonlight Mile Auction. Please see our Virtual Auction page and spread the word! We have a few more pieces dedicated and uploading soon. Auction runs through November and will make great holiday pieces! Stay tuned for a Moonlight Mile gathering for all supporters during this SJIA, social justice in action event! Follow us on Instagram to find out more about the artists who are supporting BRIDGE with their original work!
New Pathways Social Justice Conference Nov. 6-9 with Dr. Angela Davis live on Zoom!
Just days following the election whether hopeful and optimistic or concerned about the next four years, we need community for any real sustainable change. During this conference we will renew our commitment and collective agency through civic engagement! In true BRIDGE New Pathways style, we present a Justice, Transformation and Healing conference Nov. 6-9 with a focus on continuing the movement for gender, race and economic justice!
We are calling for proposals and sponsors to join us!
To Register, click here! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-the-dial-on-race-class-and-justice-strategies-new-pathways-tickets-123088425795
For more information and to download flyers: https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/new-pathways-social-justice-conference-2020.html
CALL FOR PROPOSALS & PRESENTATIONS
We are inviting leaders from the arts, business, education, human service, DEI, faith groups, philanthropy and public safety. Please submit a proposal (for pre-recorded and interactive sessions) in at least one of the following areas:
SCHEDULE (subject to change, info to follow)
CALL FOR SPONSORS
We are inviting organizations from all sectors across the nation to co-sponsor this event or sponsor an individual, smaller or group or non-profit's participation.
Sponsored by Lennox Foundation, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Williams College Davis Center, Urban Labs, and Willow Investments for Loving Change.
By the Way Berkshires covered our food distribution in this article: https://btwberkshires.com/food/food-sustainability/.
PBS NewsHour covered Race in Berkshire County this past Sunday!
Hear from intergenerational Black Activists on aspirations and reality around race equity in the Berkshires. Watch PBS Newshour for a segment on the Black Lives Matter movement in rural communities across the U.S. Earlier this summer, our Founding Director and CEO was interviewed alongside other local racial justice leaders and asked to speak about my experience leading this work in a predominantly White rural area in New England. I am honored to play a part in connecting our Berkshires to the collective national anti-racism movement. Our interviewer is a Berkshire native and fellow Rocker, Zachary Green!
Also, if you missed our New Pathways event with Dr. Beverly Tatum and Central Berkshire School District on Aug. 31st: You can view the Facebook Live recordings here!
Here is where you can see the live recording from Facebook:
Our local partners at Macedonia Baptist Church in Great Barrington experienced a hate crime this past weekend with vandalism with a racialized slur. We are calling for Reparations in collaboration with the Black Church leaders. I remind you all that these are women of color in leadership and to follow their lead. We need funding for cameras, motion sensor lights and just acts of kindness in letters for the congregation. Mail checks to BRIDGE made out to Macedonia Baptist Church or make contributions to Macedonia Baptist Church on our PayPal Link by noting in memo for Macedonia Baptist Church.
Stay tuned for the local action of our Stop Hate Campaign in Great Barrington! We are asking all residents and businesses to adopt the pledge and be accountable to intolerance in our community.
Reports have been made to the Local Police Department and the Department of Justice and investigations have ensued.
Reminder of our Safe Communities Trust Policy in Great Barrington! This is a community responsibility! #allhandsin
Ways to support BRIDGE
A special thank you to local small businesses aligning with the anti-racism work and mission of BRIDGE! Thank you! ❤❤
Thanks to our Accountability & Volunteer Coordinator, Sara Mugridge, for this quote…
“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”
Please join us to move in our anti-racism work.
Week of 9/28:
MCLA 125th Anniversary Toast where Gwendolyn is being honored on 9/29 4-6pm
Men's Caucus for Racial Justice on 9/28 7-9pm
Towards Racial Justice on 10/1 6:30-9pm
Week of 10/5:
BRIDGE Race Task Force Meeting on 10/5 12:30-2pm
SSS Garden Class on 10/7 5-7pm
Update: Recent Canning Class held on Sept. 9th 5-7pm on Woven Roots Farm with NOFA Mass
Week of 10/19:
White Caucus for Racial Justice on 10/22 7-9pm
Week of 10/26:
Men's Caucus for Racial Justice on 10/26 7-9pm
POC Caucus in 10/28
New Pathways Conference on Nov. 6th, 7th, 8th
#sayhername - Breonna Taylor
The Heart of a Woman? poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson of the Harlem Renaissance
The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.
The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.
You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light … Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won."
Dear BRIDGE community:
We just had a fantastic time with 11th annual Happiness Toolbox Program in a hybrid model of pre-recorded, interactive Zoom and five socially distanced excursions. Thank you to our youth leaders for mentoring, teaching and coordinating alongside the BRIDGE staff! Teamwork! Thanks to our BRIDGE educators and our friends far and near—we had lessons in bookmaking, clowning with DRIVE forward, Character Strengths, Beekeeping, Coding, Sewing, Drawing, Barn Sessions with Solstice, HANDLE, Mindfulness & Growth Mindset, Music with Jim and Otha and Berkshire Art and Cultural History. Our field trips were to Chesterwood, BNRC Thomas and Palmer Brook Reserve and Gideons Garden at Taft Farms and Woven Roots Farm! Enjoy some of the photos here!
Thank you to our 2020 sponsors, Lennox Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and Grace Church (thanks to Rena Zurovsky for Chesterwood books for HT students.) The abundant joy and connection among the participants and educators was unforgettable!
Learn more about our pedadogy behind Happiness Toolbox here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-J903ic8AE&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3cFKnoSj7XPU560mSPoLZbzHAA5Gb-hu360l9Jz-auOLOP-arUG4-fxWs
Enjoy some of the virtual Happiness Toolbox lessons here. Scroll through the pages of lessons to revisit with young ones in your life! You can start here: https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/happiness-toolbox-sessions/ht2020-drive-forward-productions-on-bravery-and-creativity
-- Keep an eye out on this page as we learn from some of our youth participants about Science, Cooking and more with more posts!
Also, we want you to know that this weekend Big Elm Brewery launched a new Chocolate Coffee Stout as a part of the national Black is Beautiful Campaign and the proceeds come directly to BRIDGE! These funds support our Towards Racial Justice and Equity Programs & Campaigns in the Berkshires and our Food Sovereignty and Solidarity program feeding 90+ families weekly for 24 weeks! Read more about the Food Sovereignty Program in September issue of Berkshire Trade and Commerce. Read here: http://www.btaconline.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/September-2020-BTAC.pdf
"We must work together to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth, opportunity, and power in our society.” – NELSON MANDELA
Tomorrow Aug. 31st at 8:30 AM, in partnership with Central Berkshire Regional School District, we welcome Dr. Beverly Tatum to the Berkshires for a New Pathways Lab! Be sure you register on zoom or we will broadcast on Facebook Live! We already have over 175 participants to benefit from Dr. Tatum’s wisdom on Racial Identity Development and Education as we re-enter this school year in a time of reflection on the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter uprising, and the need for social emotional support of ALL students facing the race crisis of the 21st century. We are looking forward to the discussions, strategy development and also the book study with Dr. Tatum. Thank you to Williams College Davis Center, Berkshire Money Management and Berkshire United Way and North Adams Public Schools via Stacey Parsons for joining CBRSD and BRIDGE as co-sponsors.
Looking ahead in September, BRIDGE has accepted the honor of receiving 1 of 3 of MCLA’s 125th anniversary Presidential medallions in recognition of our decade of partnership with MCLA Thomas Alexander and Campus Conversations on Race, hosting interns, stewarding Greylock Teach Fellows partnership among Pittsfield Public Schools, Greylock Federal Credit Union and BRIDGE and benefitting from the expertise of the MCLA staff and faculty serving on the BRIDGE board and staff ( thank you Dr. Ingrid Castro, Dr. Frances Jones Sneed and Dr. Emily Williams.) We are grateful to have a recent alumna, Don’Jea Smith, on our team right now who was former chair of the Black Student Union at MCLA and a student activist herself. We hosted interns through CCoR in Race Dialogues with Race: the Power of an Illusion and Not in Our County Campaigns!. We have provided training for MCLAs Departments of Admissions, Financial Aid and provided coaching and education for MCLA Faculty. Most recently we provided training for MCLA students with WAM Theatre on Microaggressions in Education. Most relevant is the partnership on the Equity and Inclusion Conference of 2019 with Dr. Williams and launch of the Arts and Humanities Institute with Dr. Lisa Donavan also in 2019.
Please join us for the event on September 29th at 4 PM as MCLA renews its commitment to justice and equity and striving for excellence, safety and thriving for all in education.
On September 3 at 6 PM please come to discuss and vote on the renaming of the middle school of Berkshire Hills Regional School District after Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois! BRIDGE activist and allies have been supporting Great Barrington’s efforts to honor Du Bois’ Legacy and are thrilled after our 2019 campaign that we have full school committee and Selectboard endorsements as well as the support for this important forum from all voting residents of Stockbridge, West Stockbridge and Great Barrington! Learn more on interview with WAMC here: https://www.wamc.org/post/web-du-bois-legacy-committee-member-previews-vote-rename-school-after-civil-rights-icon
"The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.” – W. E. B. Du Bois
We are so happy to have Not in Our County -- Berkshire adopted by Williamstown and we now have an accountability structure to activate and engage all residents in the safety of the County! Way to Go Williamstown! Join the BRIDGE Race Task Force if you want to advance or renew these commitments to the county and national campaign for your town!
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR FULL SEPTEMBER CALENDAR OF EVENTS
A heartfelt shoutout of gratitude to the many many volunteers that make all of this happen! Together we win the fight for justice and equity!
This has been another hard week in our country. Please take a moment of silence to review your stop hate pledge and commitment.
Take a deep look at where you can intervene on a personal, family, community and workplace level to disrupt violence, ambivalence, hatred and ignorance at its roots. Do it in the honor of Mr. Jacob Blake and his children. Join me to send up prayers for his family and the many terrorized by the legacy of race and racism in this country. We must collectively stomp out ignorance and fear.
Make sure your Vote counts this week—and straight in to November!
At BRIDGE, we will continue to fight as we have for 13 years without stop but as a staff complete and full with intersecting identities as Black, gender diverse and immigrant folks, we feel this pain intensely. First and foremost, we are committed, principled and yes (!) we are exhausted. Despite that, we show up with energy, love, optimism, hope and generosity each day! Please join us in the fight for safety and justice! We all deserve an abundance of being valued, being safe and being heard. And it requires steadfast commitment, unrest and discomfort until change happens! All of our families deserve to thrive in generational health and all of our aspirations. How will you engage in the struggle together towards equity and peace?
"Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet." ― John Lewis on political change & activism in Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change
Your donations are needed and welcome. We have raised and put back in the hands of Black and Brown families alongside economically vulnerable families in excess of $100,000 of funds and in- kind contributions over the last 5 months in our mutual aid network here in the Berkshires. The needs are food, medical bills, rent, school supplies, car insurance, tuition, garbage removal, technological access for work and school, etc. due to the adverse impact of COVID-19. Those dollars represent your donations that are supporting our constituents & families. We will continue to steward your support as directly as possible. So please continue to give and direct your networks to our programs. And thank you! 🤎💯❣️
Please contact us if you are interested in making sustaining pledges monthly or would like to make a designated contribution. You can write to Donations@multiculturalbridge.org or make your contribution here: https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/ways-to-give.html
In gratitude - serving justice forward,
Gwendolyn + the BRIDGE team
“You often say, ‘I would give, but only to the deserving.’ The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” —Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
We are so grateful to our BRIDGE community! With you all, we have accomplished amazing things as a community in these trying times. Families have felt closer and more engaged in our local community and we have found new spaces to find joy and connectedness!
We have tons of work to do still as we see and experience intolerance and encounter cultural blind spots. I ask that you stay focused on equity, safety and justice in all of your interactions. We can only be healthy if our entire community is healthy.
"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret J. Wheatley
Leaders are being asked to think differently and create new pathways to an equitable future.
Please stay connected in our learning community!
Gwendolyn & the BRIDGE team
New Pathways Lab: Towards Racial Justice South: Prioritizing Black Lives in White Allyship August 6th at 6:30 PM
Newell Eaton (New Pathways Lab) and Aseante Renee join Gwendolyn VanSant for a conversation on White Allyship in the time of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Join us for probing questions and deep dialogue on how to advance racial justice in authentic relationship, care and action.
Black Community members: Join to make the asks and requests of White People in your community for racial justice and equity. Submit requests ahead or come to the New Pathways Lab for an intergroup dialogue and action planning.
White Community members: Whose Black Lives are you prioritizing, protecting and honoring? What Black Communities are you supporting? Whose Black Leadership are you amplifying?
How do white allies support Black people in the pandemic facing injustice and disparities and the threat our future holds in communities and workplaces?
When: Aug 6, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Fireside Chat - July 26th : Solidarity & Justice in the Black Lives Matter Movement : A conversation with the Jewish community
In the article "Skin in the Game", educator and advocate Eric Ward explores the relationship between racism, antisemitism, and other forms of bias and hate. If we are to be the best allies for one another, this context matters. Join with Gwendolyn VanSant and Rabbi Neil Hirsch for a conversation about this important article, continuing our community’s exploration of Black-Jewish relations.
Register in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sf-GqrjssG9BdE3MZDTnEq-dZwd4Pk3_1
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Happiness Toolbox (virtual program) coming soon!
We are happy to announce a hybrid program for August. Our “Happiness Toolbox” will launch with pre-recorded sessions on our website for all to access.
Special (social distancing) in-person visits in August in small groups of 10 at special outdoor Berkshire locations for some cultural history and special guest appearances.
Upon enrollment, you will receive kits, an interactive Zoom schedule and a sign up sheet for small socially distanced visits at beautiful Berkshire locations.
Watch for videos from:
Stephanie Wright, Berkshire Legends
Florence Afanokue, Leadership & Culture
Carmen Silva Baker, Character Strengths/Las Fortalezas de Carácter
Maya Richards, Yoga and Mindfulness
Lesleye Bautista, Spanish
JV & Tim, Coding
Curtis Mraz, Beekeeping
Gwendolyn VanSant, Chesterwood & Abraham Lincoln
Otha Day, Drumming
Jeanne Bassis, Play
Suzi Banks Baum, Bookmaking
Leah Abel, DRIVE Forward
Jessica Hampton, Handle & Equine Therapy Sessions
Youth Leaders return with special lessons and program support:
Soka Vanegas, Westley Hampton VanSant, Damari Taylor, Julianne Harwood & more!
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King
I want to thank all of the individuals and partners in our community who have supported BRIDGE in the mutual aid effort of getting supplies to families who have been underresourced over the last 20 weeks or have been especially vulnerable during this pandemic. We are also supporting communities in response to the traumatic events leading up to the Black Lives Matter Movement who have felt exponential isolation and exhaustion in this time. We are 350+ donors strong in this effort alone! We have put all of these resources back in to our community and thank you all for resourcing a healthier, safer Berkshires. Our “Soil, sun and water” program with Woven Roots is underway along with beautiful veggies delivered weekly to families from Woven Roots, Taft Farms/Gideon’s Garden, and Random Harvest. Thanks to Greenagers for installing raised beds in our BRIDGE families’ homes! Special thanks to the Janey Fund, Paul Clark, Hsu Family Fund, MaryAnn and Bob Norris, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Berkshire Urgent Covid-19 response. Our efforts are not only for now but for the sustainable future!
Thank you also for standing for Racial Justice in Sheffield and across the County! Together we will make the change towards equity and justice ~ there is no turning back. Stay vigilant, active and disruptive!
Read here: https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/after-racist-graffiti-shatters-sheffield-protests-aim-to-help,609480
New Pathways Lab - August 31st at 8:30 AM
Dr. Beverly Tatum joins CBRSD and BRIDGE on August 31st for a fireside chat, book club and strategy session. Thank you to Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Money Management and Williams College for joining as sponsors!
Join us on Zoom for Dr. Beverly Tatum as she supports Central Berkshire School District’s Equity & Inclusion Committee in launching our Berkshire academic year.
Members of the Berkshire educational system and larger community will spend the entire morning with Dr. Tatum.
Dr. Tatum and Gwendolyn VanSant of BRIDGE will be engaged in a fireside chat. The morning session will be moderated by Aseante Renee. Then participants will break in to small groups and return for a debrief in our New Pathways Lab format.
Register in advance for this meeting:
President Emerita, Spelman College
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, is a clinical psychologist widely known for both her expertise on race relations and as a thought leader in higher education. Her thirteen years as the president of Spelman College (2002-2015) were marked by innovation and growth and her visionary leadership was recognized in 2013 with the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award. The author of several books including the best-selling “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations About Race” (now in a new 2017 20th anniversary edition) and “Can We Talk About Race?” and “Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation” (2007), Tatum is a sought-after speaker on the topics of racial identity development, race and education, strategies for creating inclusive campus environments, and higher education leadership.
Also, one more New Pathway Talk has been uploaded. Join me and Amber on a New Pathways reflection.
In case you have missed any of the New Pathways Labs, we invite you to listen to our podcast as we upload two a week.
Keep an eye out on our website for events and updates!
Stay healthy and connected!