Hi BRIDGE family and Happy New Year once again,
We have had a wonderful start to the year! We will share some January highlights and give you a few sneak peaks on projects and events to come! We appreciate your being a part of our BRIDGE community! With you, we met our fundraising goals and it has allowed us to serve over 50 families throughout our year of training and community organizing on the front end. Behind the scenes, our staff works hard so we can support communities and individuals often overlooked. We offer community, financial assistance, tools to study or work more efficiently, and several other access points for peace, thriving and success! Our work is quiet, steady and persistent and we couldn’t do it without a BRIDGE community of supporters that contribute time, heart and treasure! Thank you for believing in us!
"The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others." ~ Bell Hooks
Racial justice and equity
This month we kicked off the year with a TRJ meeting reflecting on our caucus work in affinity groups and what 2020 calls for us to do. We identified and solidified our campaigns and unpacked our accountability towards racial justice and equity. At the Race Task Force January table, we committed our time to hearing about the Census 2020, the ways in which accessibility has been addressed and also what the outcomes and arc of change has been. The representative was responsive to culturally sensitive questions and has followed up with several subsequent meetings, requests and conversations. Many thanks to Mark Sebastiano and Barbara Mahoney for setting this up. Our Race Task Force also presented the idea of working on racial disparities in HomeOwnership as a campaign this year and we are happy to have Greylock Federal Credit Union representative Lisa Trybus and Department of Housing rep Brad Gordon with us in February to continue the conversation and look at advocating with neighbors across the state for Senate Bill 800. Thanks to the subcommittee of AJ Enchill, Tommie Hutto-Blake and Wes Gadson for that initial work!
Martin Luther King, Jr.
More Racial Justice and Equity work happened in the heart and soul of the Berkshires for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. We honored him with a Day of Service supporting our local active historically Black Church, the Macedonia Baptist Church in Great Barrington, by laying a whole new kitchen floor. We deep cleaned and spruced up rooms at First Congregational Church used by folks in recovery every day of the week — these rooms housed our summer program this past year and our women to women holiday party this past December. We also sent loads of peace and Valentine’s Cards to Fairview Commons along with more cards to the incarcerated women of Berkshire County who are housed in Chicopee. As a group, volunteers and staff led an arts and poetry corner while listening to the entire I Have a dream speech in our second annual Dream Corner. Later, we had story hour with Brad Meltzer’s Martin Luther King JR. biography and our Happiness Toolbox kids supported our volunteer Tim Likarish in a strength-spotting activity. We all agreed MLK demonstrated courage and kindness along with so much more! We enjoyed a powerful service for the 22nd annual anniversary of the MLK noon service at First Congregational. In case you missed it, you can listen to Rev. Letman’s sermon, youth testimonials and Rev. Forte and Rev. Tezlaff honor Dr. King and read about it here… in the Berkshire Edge.
To wrap up the day of honoring Dr. King, Stephanie, Vanessa and Gwendolyn read excerpts of How to be an anti-racist by Ibram Kendi in the Four Freedoms Gallery of Norman Rockwell Musuem in honor of Dr. King’s quest for a just and equitable country….
BRIDGE acknowledged for the Paul J. Aicher Award
BRIDGE acknowledged for the Paul J. Aicher Award: As many of you heard we have been identified as a finalist for the Aicher Award and have embarked on a partnership with Everyday Democracy! This is very exciting! You can read about it here in the Berkshire Edge.
Du Bois Legacy 2020
For the third annual presentation, the Du Bois Banners are flying again in Great Barrington upholding the legacy of Civil Rights scholar, activist and sociologist Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois in his hometown. The values the town amplifies from his work are Civil Rights, Progressive Education, Economic Justice and Racial Equality (Equity)! We look forward to seeing you at the Town of Great Barrington Legacy Festival. Please follow the work on duboislegacy.com and see the flyer below! BRIDGE is a happy anchor partner with the Town of Great Barrington in all of these efforts. We have an amazing lineup of scholars assembled by Dr. Emily Williams, Senior Engagement and Education Director at BRIDGE and Thasia Giles and Pam Tatge of Jacobs Pillow are returning as key partners to the Festival and bringing dance Joanna Haigood and Zaccho Dance Theatre to do some powerful community work with us. Joanna Haigood crafted this piece 20 years ago when studying at the Pillow and discovering Dr. Du Bois and we are happy to have the Between Me and the Other World here at Simons Rock. Also, we are calling for a community book read of The Souls of Black Folk with Bob Paynter of UMASS with Donna Gouger. As an outcome of the 150th anniversary, the community collected funds to have a Souls of Black Folk book read as challenged by Dr. Frances Jones Sneed and we have a free book for you to join us in reading Souls. On Feb 22nd we will host this dynamic book club of music poetry and text together with guests and local activists and the Great Barrington Legacy Committee! Call 413-394-4305 to arrange to pick up your book or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the details at duBoisLegacy.com.
Civic Engagement & District Attorney
Finally, we want you all to mark March 17th because we have been invited to co-host What A Difference a DA makes with ACLU- MA! We will be inviting our Race Task Force members as partner organizations and have identified other key partners to join this ACLU event. Please save the date for a conversation in the Pittsfield Library, Berkshire Antheneum, in the evening.
Free Community Trainings for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs:
BRIDGE has been commissioned by Downtown Pittsfield Inc., Berkshire Bank, and PERC to provide a daylong training session along with 3 follow up lunch ‘ n learns. Starting with a keynote and panel of community leaders we will have a day of workshops on March 20th!
Member spotlight: Greylock federal credit union
Our partner, member and client Greylock Federal Credit Union will run an informational Black History Month campaign on their facebook! Enjoy!
We celebrate Black History all year long and February is a month to amplify the longtime contributions of our local and national heroes and scholars. Without them, none of us would be here now. Celebrate and learn something new everyday!
One last thing!
Also our pop up Wing for Justice nights will be coming back soon! We do wings and justice conversations quarterly! Stay tuned and along with this lineup will be game night with some sort of justice theme! We need community, pleasure and fun in our activism because we have a lot of work to do!
"[O]ne of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone." ~ Bell Hooks