Multicultural BRIDGE launches ‘Not in Berkshire County’ campaign
Lee — Multicultural BRIDGE has announced the launch of the Not in Our Berkshires campaign, a mission that calls on communities throughout the Berkshires to stop hate, address bullying and build safe, inclusive communities for all. Part of the national Not in Our Town movement, the campaign will engage Berkshire residents, businesses, town governments, schools, community organizations and others in an effort to educate, organize and mobilize communities to respond to and prevent incidents of hate and injustice.
Even at this early stage, many organizations and individuals within the county have pledged support or signed on to assist in the campaign. Supporting organizations to date include some members of Multicultural BRIDGE’s Race Task Force, Sen. Adam Hinds, Greylock Together, Macedonia Baptist Church, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.
“As we gather and contemplate how best to unite our community, explore our shared understanding of who is vulnerable in our Berkshire community and how to cultivate safety and trust, we are motivated by recent threats on Berkshire residents’ safety and access to a healthy, thriving community to claim our County and all of its residents. The uniqueness of this campaign is we are united by three ideas: 1. A unified visible logo, pledge and shared values; 2. A commitment to not be silent when ignorance, hate or intolerance arises; 3. A collaborative approach across our county. Within those principles, each town or city can choose what the Not in the Berkshires action and engagement will be and it will be supported and amplified by the County-wide steering committee,” wrote Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, founding director and CEO of Multicultural BRIDGE.
Films from the “Not in Our Town” documentary film collection, which chronicle community-wide responses to hate incidents from across the country, will be screened across the county in the coming months as part of the campaign and followed by community conversations.
The campaign also urges Berkshire community members to sign a supporting pledge card that reads: “I commit to working together with my neighbors to create safer, more integrated communities for all residents in Berkshire County. I do not stay silent in the face of intolerance or hate based on race, religion, sexual preference, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, ability or any other factor. I work to acknowledge and heal all forms of hate, bigotry and bullying. I pledge to renew my commitment to this work every day.”
Pledge cards are available at select community events and on the Multicultural BRIDGE website. Pledgers will also carry a pledge business card for daily reminders and a decal that individuals and businesses are encouraged to display in solidarity, as well as access additional information about the Not in Our Berkshires campaign.
The campaign seeks to build on the momentum of many Berkshire cities and towns that have adopted welcoming resolutions, ordinances and policies to build community cohesion and inclusion. In the past four months, Great Barrington, Williamstown, Pittsfield and Becket each voted and passed such local policies, charters or sanctuary commitments. While the details of each policy are specific to the town, they echo the same ideals of fairness, inclusion and community support. A statewide bill, the Safe Communities Act, is also currently under review for next season.