Bridging Divides Healing Communities

Our Bridging Divides, Healing Communities initiative supports community-building efforts to bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level.

GRANTS

We have distributed more than $83,000 in grants to organizations in Berkshire, Columbia, northeast Dutchess and northwest Litchfield counties for projects that seek to bring people together to explore shared interests, address problems through dialogue and action, and consider issues through a range of perspectives.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation distributed over $48,000 to 21 organizations through the first round of its Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program.

 

BERKSHIRE COUNTY

Arts in Recovery for Youth: $2,500 for its first-ever Art for Social Justice Project, in partnership with Barrington Stage Company, pairing mentor guest artists with young people from varied backgrounds for dialogue, engagement with civic leaders and a community art event

Berkshire Area Health Education Center: $2,500 for a virtual continuing education program for health and human service providers from across the region on food insecurity as a social determinant of health and lessons from COVID-19 response on meeting the needs of vulnerable residents

Downtown Pittsfield: $2,500 to conduct a facilitated learning experience with downtown stakeholders as part of the process prescribed by Pittsfield’s Community Development Board for ensuring ongoing communication between management of a local homeless shelter and the surrounding neighborhoods

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center: $2,500 for a two-night program, in collaboration with Clinton Church Restoration, using LeLand Gantt’s one-man show “Rhapsody in Black” to explore how performing arts can advance ongoing discussions of racial justice

Norman Rockwell Museum: $2,500 in support of its public discussion programs based upon Rockwell's Four Freedoms that will bring together members of the general public from different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs to discuss aspects of freedom today

Regional School District Planning Board: $2,500 for training and facilitation in conflict resolution for the eight-town, 24-member board currently evaluating the educational and financial feasibility of consolidating the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire regional school districts

Sheffield Historical Society: $2,500 for an interactive art installation sharing the story of the local indigenous people who inhabited the area until the 18th century, in partnership with the Stockbridge Munsee Community and the Southern Berkshire school community

Stanton Home: $2,500 to launch an outreach and education program for police, firefighters, EMTs, first responders and other public service employees focused on identifying and responding to emergency situations that involve residents with intellectual and developmental abilities

 

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Art Omi: $2,500 for “The Community Voices Virtual Tour,” a series of short videos to feature youth and adults of different races, ages and abilities as they gain insight into the creative process and experience onsite artworks that address immigration, land acknowledgement, racism and accessibility

Claverack Free Library: $1,145 to create “The Immigrant Experience: Remembered and Imagined,” a youth-led project to investigate personal and familial immigration experiences through various forms of expression, culminating in a free public performance

Free Columbia: $2,450 for a series of six facilitated discussions among diverse residents of Philmont to share individual experiences of and perspectives on systemic racism and social injustice, building on a successful initial session last summer

Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood: $2,200 to expand on and engage Hudson residents in the work of the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission, through which civic and business stakeholders are examining topics such as trust between police and citizens, incidents of misconduct or brutality, and police response to mental health and substance use issues

 

NORTHEAST DUTCHESS COUNTY

NorthEast-Millerton Library: $2,500 to continue an anti-racism book group, which brings together a diverse, multigenerational group of residents with a noted author for discourse on the effects of racism, the prevalence of racist ideas and beliefs, and how to create a better community

Town of Amenia: $2,500 to partner with Wassaic Boarding School to provide weekend skateboard sessions where youth and adults from different backgrounds can learn together the art of skateboarding, which a recent study suggests can improve mental health, foster community and encourage resilience

The Wassaic Project: $2,500 for a free high school art club organized around a group project that will encourage creativity and facilitate social-emotional development among youth of diverse backgrounds through peer engagement, the creative process and adult support

 

NORTHWEST LITCHFIELD COUNTY

David M. Hunt Library: $2,100 for “Small Town, Big Talk,” a documentary photography installation by Rebecca Bloomfield that will share stories and portraits of dozens of residents with diverse experience and identities, to be exhibited on the library’s popular Art Wall gallery and online

Friends of the Goshen Public Library: $2,300 for “Telling Our Stories,” in which high school students and new town residents will be partnered with a range of community members to produce videos that showcase Goshen’s diversity and the hardships of current times

Litchfield Performing Arts: $2,500 for Litchfield Jazz Camp, a weekend program this spring for teens and adults of all abilities and backgrounds to improve skills, explore the varied cultures and histories that have influenced jazz music and help students forge connections with one another

McCall Center for Behavioral Health: $2,500 to hold a virtual event on behavioral health disparities among people of color for providers and community leaders, with an aim to address cultural stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment and promote awareness of available programs

Salisbury School: $2,500 to create a day of celebration and a permanent witness stone honoring James Mars, the last slave bought and sold in Connecticut, in a partnership of the junior and senior history classes at Salisbury School, the social justice team of the Church of Christ Congregational, Norfolk, and the Norfolk Historical Society

Scoville Memorial Library: $1,000 for a series of online community discussions tackling subjects such as societal polarization, bias, the climate crisis and strengthening the social fabric, with prompts from pre-assigned articles, podcasts and videos as a starting point for exploration

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation distributed nearly $35,000 to 14 organizations through the second round of its Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program.

BERKSHIRE COUNTY

Alliance for a Viable Future (with fiscal sponsor Good Work Institute): $2,500 to expand its Indigenous Peoples' Day programming by connecting communities in Berkshire and Columbia counties with Native American leaders who will share their perspectives, values and experiences.  

Berkshire Pulse: $3,000 to help immigrants engage in the arts and celebrate their heritage through a weekly Moving Life Stories free dance workshop. 

Literacy Network of South Berkshire: $1,462 to create LitNet’s first Learner Advisory Council of adult students to provide input on programming for enrolled learners, who are predominantly immigrants working on their English language skills.  

Sheffield Historical Society: $3,000 to support the planning, staging and presentation of a play and discussion celebrating the life of Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman. 

Williamstown Chamber of Commerce: $1,500 to offer a free virtual training workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion for businesses and community members, in partnership with BRIDGE. 

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Free Columbia (as fiscal sponsor for Loki Anthony): $3,000 for a three-month Hip Hop Culture 101 workshop that will help young men explore different points of view through the creative process. 

Free Columbia (as fiscal Sponsor for Roxanne Wilkins): $2,900 to host monthly Philmont Diversity Conversations that will focus on diversity issues in Philmont and nationwide, as well as support a youth group. 

Friends of Oakdale Lake: $3,000 to bring together community members to clean Oakdale Park and remove invasive species. 

NORTHEAST DUTCHESS COUNTY

Bridging the Gap Games (with fiscal sponsor Millbrook Library): $1,000 to bring together young adults and residents at the Fountains at Millbrook retirement community to play card games, board games and chess. 

Rock Steady Farm and Flowers: $3,000 to share the stories of queer and transgender farmers through short videos. 

Stonewood Community Project: $3,000 to expand outreach for its First Harvest Community Garden and Pantry to engage individuals from across the spectrum of social identities to participate in their charitable and educational offerings.   

Wassaic Project: $3,000 to create a 16-week program for middle and high school students to participate in the new Troutbeck Symposium on racial history in Amenia and creatively express their findings through film, writing and art. 

NORTHWEST LITCHFIELD COUNTY

Housatonic Valley Association: $1,500 to host virtual sessions with land trust members and faith-based groups in northwest Litchfield County to reflect upon the intersection of religion and ecology. 

Salisbury School: $3,000 for the new Troutbeck Symposium, which will explore and share the region’s significant role in the early history of the civil rights movement and the Harlem Renaissance, in partnership with area schools and organizations.

Speaker Series

Speaker Series Returns with Evan Osnos on May 10, 2022

Join us for an evening with New Yorker staff writer and National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Evan Osnos as he explores current divides through the lens of three American communities on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. at Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer Playhouse. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required

In his latest book, “Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury,” Evan Osnos reports on ordinary Americans in a time of pandemic, political turmoil and the pursuit of racial justice. Returning to three communities in which he has lived, Osnos traces changes in American politics and culture through the period from the attacks of Sept. 11 in 2001 to the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Osnos will be joined in discussion by Renée Loth, an opinion columnist and former editorial page editor at The Boston Globe. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, and Osnos will sign copies of his book.

This event is presented by Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Authors Guild Foundation, The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank.

Register today


2021 Speaker Series

Our four-part speaker series in 2021 explored some of the forces and trends creating disparities and division, and how to take action locally to build common ground and solve problems together. Topics included race, social cohesion, the media’s role in polarized times and promising local engagement efforts. It was hosted in partnership with The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank.

Part 1: The Inclusive Future

Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts, and Antonio Delgado, U.S. representative, N.Y.-19, in conversation with Dr. Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, vice president for institutional diversity, equity and inclusion at Williams College. They discussed the systems and structures that for generations have oppressed people of color, and opportunities for reconciliation and repair through government and community-level action.  

Part 2: Moving From 'I' to 'We'

Dr. Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett, co-authors of “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again,” in conversation with Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. They shared analysis and stories from the Gilded Age to today to inspire thinking about the future. Local community college students questioned the panelists on what is needed to change course.

Part 3: How Modern Media Can Create and Bridge Divides

ProPublica's Alec MacGillis and Charles M. Sennott, founder of the GroundTruth Project and Report for America, in conversation with Berkshire Eagle President and Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg. In an era many describe as post-truth, cable news and social media are amplifying narratives of discord while local news organizations that provide timely, unbiased information to their communities are disappearing. Two nationally known journalists discussed the impact of these shifts on our discourse and institutions, and how to repair the damage.

Part 4: Resident-Led Solutions

Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, David M. Hunt Library Assistant Director Meg Sher and Clinton Church Restoration Board Member Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed in conversation with Berkshire Taconic Board Member Suzette Brooks Masters, who is an expert on social cohesion. This panel of grantees discussed their projects, which explore trust between police and residents, the role of the arts in advancing racial justice, and changing beliefs and belonging in a village of Connecticut’s second-smallest town.

 

YOUTH FILM CHALLENGE

Young people ages 14 to 24 who live or attend school in our four-county region participated in our new Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge to make their voices heard and compete for cash prizes. These young storytellers explored divisions and inequities in society, and how they are tackling challenges in their families, schools and communities. 

Yonah Sadeh, a student at Bard College at Simon’s Rock from Falls Village, Conn., received first place and $2,000 for his film on affordable housing, “In Our Backyard”; Tommy Tranfaglia, a student at Endicott College from Lenox, Mass., was awarded the $1,000 second place prize for his film on learning and attention disabilities, “Misunderstood”; and Danny Wilkinson, a student at Mount Everett Regional High School from Sheffield, Mass., earned $500 and third place for his film about body image and self-esteem, “Self Image.” The winning films and a selection of other submissions were screened at the Crandell Theatre in Chatham and Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, followed by short panel discussions with the audience.

The challenge was led by the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative and the Civic Life Project, with funding from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. 

View the winning films

SheffieldHistorical

The Sheffield Historical Society used a Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant to mount a new exhibit that shares the story of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. Pictured are Sheffield Historical Society President
Paul O'Brien, left, and art teacher Stephanie Graham. Photo by John Dolan