Last Chance to Sign up!
Join us for the Cultural Competence Foundation Fridays, starting TOMORROW, Friday, September 10th, 2021!
IDEA Institute: Cultural Competence Foundations
FRIDAY, Sept 10 & FRIDAY Sept 17th 9- 1PM
Meeting ID: 895 5176 5971
Here are some recent photos from the Happiness Toolbox 2021 Summer Program! Our youth had a great time!
Congratutions to Gwendolyn and the BRIDGE team on this amazing award from #CAPCON21!
Read all about it!
We are back after an enriching restorative pause! Thank you all for your grace and patience so our team can reboot in service to our mission!
We have an abundant amount of good news to share! For today, we want to share with you that our CEO and Founding Director, Gwendolyn VanSant, has been published in a book compiled by Dr. Emily Williams on IDEA work. Get your copy here!
Also our partners at BCAC nominated our fearless leader for our community action award to have made the pivot to impactfully and intentionally activate in support of communities facing poverty issues. We will be honored alongside our client and partner Greylock Federal Credit Union who also was one of these National Community Action Awardees. Be in touch if you want to join in the Boston celebration in September! Keeping the Berkshires on the map with our collective Equity and Inclusion efforts!
Our summer program Happiness Toolbox is relaunching for its 12th consecutive year! We have several enriching programs in person and online. We are thrilled to have Drive Forward back with us online—clowns that focus on empowerment and joy. Don’t forget to visit our online video library from last year! We will have Spanish, French, Coding, Foraging, Yoga, HANDLE, Bookmaking, photography, Berkshire legends, Character strengths Sports, dance and activities with youth leaders. We will be celebrating Mother Earth! Join us. Financial aid available! Register here!!
Special thanks to Canna Provisions for our Pride month SJIA raising $1415. Also deep gratitude to our partners at Three Sisters Farm and Sweet Freedom navigating our stormy weather and supplying our mutual aid goods for our families. Big thanks to First Congregational Church for supporting our second year of mutual aid. We want to also congratulate Colleen Goewey on our team on her promotion as mutual aid coordinator. Growing our team step by step!
2021 August Engagements:
Please email@example.com to attend any of the above events!
JV and the BRIDGE team!
🤎 We appreciate your support, sustaining pledges and engagement! Thank you! Donate here! This month we are collecting for Happiness Toolbox and Mutual Aid Food Sovereignty program! 💕
Dear BRIDGE friends:
We are going in to a holiday weekend and asking that you all consider what Independence and Liberation is for all.
We are writing to you to invite you to revisit the classic Frederick Douglass speech which our BRIDGE community read in 2019 with Shakespeare & Co. And what was most important is that we read the entire piece.
A way BRIDGE is practicing our values is we are taking a break! Our offices will be closed for a planned restorative retreat. We will be closed July 12th - July 23rd. I was thrilled to see this notion of a resilience retreat be captured here in Vu Li’s article. We have made this suggestion to several of our clients that kept working through the pandemic and a few have found meaningful ways in both 2020 and 2021 for a resilience retreat for their employees. This is a way to honor the labor of our teams. We all need time to restore and reboot.
If you have urgent needs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org during 7/12-7/13 AND if you are able to help us with our mutual aid distribution on 7/16, please email email@example.com by July 9th! Many hands make light work.
While we are away, we hope you spread the word about our hybrid Happiness Toolbox program and join us for a fun day on July 30th.
Our Race Task Force will be meeting in subcommittees on July 12th. We will use the same Zoom Link.
Also, we have just finished up our IDEA Institute Cultural Competence Foundations and we will resume with Systems of Oppression on July 30th. If you have taken BRIDGE’s Cultural Competence, we invite you to sign up for these three sessions or a deeper dive into a race, gender and poverty analysis.
Also, we begin the Foundations course again in September followed by Systems of Oppression which are prerequisites for our Train-the-Trainer course in the Fall hosted in partnership with Berkshire Community College.
Here is a sneak peek into our IDEA Institute Inclusive Leadership Cohort to see the topics covered as we begin to design our community projects.
Thank you to Canna Provisions in Lee, MA for celebrating Pride Month with BRIDGE and thank you Hop Brook Community Club for hosting a Social Justice in Action event on Juneteenth and raising consciousness about white privilege and its impact.
“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.)