Monday, July 22, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service; ‘Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms’; Leah Penniman at Darrow School

In Interfaith Celebration program will begin with a service opened by Rev. Cara Davis and officiated by Wray Gunn of the Legacy Festival and Clinton Church Restoration with a performance by Olga Dunn School of Dance and songs from local congregations.

Du Bois Legacy Festival adopts Martin Luther King Jr. annual interfaith celebration

Great Barrington — The town of Great Barrington, Multicultural BRIDGE and the Du Bois Center at Great Barrington will celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Monday, Jan. 21, to initiate the town’s W. E. B. Du Bois Legacy Festival.

Volunteers will gather between 8:30 and 9 a.m. at the First Congregational Church, 251 Main St., for refreshments and to check in. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., volunteers will either work with local organizations gathered in the church or disperse to do remote work at the organizations’ sites. Volunteer opportunities will include painting and loving touches at the Macedonia Baptist Church; making Valentine cards for active service members deployed overseas and incarcerated Berkshire women separated from their children; cleanup at the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site; visiting seniors from Kimball Farms and Fairview Commons; and Multicultural BRIDGE’s Dream corner, creating poetry and art with dreams for all people, the community and the collective future. Children of all ages can enjoy a story about King as read by BRIDGE staff. An additional early morning volunteer opportunity is available working with the Sheffield Food Pantry at 8:30 a.m.; and an early evening opportunity is offered at 5 p.m. doing community meal prep at Berkshire South Regional Community Center.

Longtime Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church parishioner Wray Gunn describing the importance of the church in his life, and the life of the community. Photo: Hannah Barrett

After completing their morning tasks, volunteers will return to the church for the 20th annual Interfaith Celebration from noon to 1 p.m. that the Legacy Festival has now adopted. The program will begin with a service opened by Rev. Cara Davis and officiated by Wray Gunn of the Legacy Festival and Clinton Church Restoration with a performance by Olga Dunn School of Dance and songs from local congregations. A panel discussion titled “Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Struggles Past, Present and Future” will take place with scholars Frances Jones-Sneed of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Wesley Brown of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, moderated by Justin Jackson, also of Simon’s Rock. A potluck reception including food, fellowship and the opportunity to share the experiences from the morning volunteer work will follow the service. At 3:15 p.m., Randy Weinstein of the Du Bois Center at Great Barrington will speak and preview the exhibit “W. E. B. Du Bois: Global Citizen Rooted in the Berkshires” at the Mason Library.

Families are welcome to participate, but all children must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers are asked to register in advance. For more information or to register, see the Berkshire Edge calendar.


*     *     *

‘Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms’ to explore enduring message of freedom

Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms. Images courtesy Scoville Memorial Library

Salisbury, Conn. — On Saturday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m., Stephanie Plunkett, deputy director and chief curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, will give a talk titled ‘Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms’ at Scoville Memorial Library.

On Jan. 6, 1941, in his annual address to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear should be accepted as human rights not only in the United States, but across the world. A prolonged marketing campaign ensued through the efforts of the White House, the Office of War Information, and scores of artists to make the Four Freedoms palpable to the American people. Most prominent among these artists was Norman Rockwell. In her talk, Plunkett will explain how those interpretations became a national sensation in early 1943 when they were first published in the Saturday Evening Post.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Scoville Memorial Library at (860) 435-2838 or


*     *     *

Darrow School to host book talk with Leah Penniman

Leah Penniman. Photo courtesy Schumacher Center for a New Economics

New Lebanon, N.Y. — The Darrow School will host a book talk with author, sustainable farming expert, activist and educator Leah Penniman Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:15 p.m. in the school’s Dairy Barn building. Penniman, who teaches environmental science at Darrow, is the author of the book “Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.”

Penniman has dedicated her life’s work to racial justice in the food system. She is the founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, a people-of-color-led project that works to dismantle racism in the food system through a low-cost, fresh-food delivery service for people living under food apartheid; training programs for aspiring farmer activists and food justice leaders; and coalition-building for farmers of color advocating for policy shifts and reparations. She has been recognized by the Soros Equality Fellowship, NYSHealth Foundation Emerging Innovator Awards, the Andrew Goodman Foundation Hidden Heroes Award, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, the New Tech Network National Teaching Award, and others. She has contributed to two published volumes, authored numerous online articles and given dozens of public talks.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, contact Sarah Frederick at (518) 794-6555 or



The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.

Continue reading

BITS & BYTES: Robert Hartwell at The Mahaiwe; Imani Winds at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival; Rizo at Ancram Center for the Arts; Natty &...

In June of 2020, you saw a Black gay man purchase a white house in Great Barrington in cash and it gave you hope.

BITS & BYTES: Edward Merritt at the Turley Gallery; Sarah Martinez and Ali Gibbons at David M. Hunt Library; Literary celebration at The Clark;...

Part social practice, part painting, Merritt’s works evoke a garden formed from detritus and climate anxiety.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.