Multicultural BRIDGE Announcements


Annual Appeal 2011/2012 Shared Leadership ....all contributions welcome and accepted!

posted Dec 28, 2011, 3:21 PM by Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant

Hello BRIDGE friends, families and supporters! 

We are asking you as we leave 2011 and move in to the new year to consider to support BRIDGE's mission in our community with a donation!  Help us celebrate our successes & connections and build on our collaboration.

A Letter from Our Board President, 2010-2011:

I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Multicultural Bridge from its inception. Gwendolyn VanSant, a woman of great courage, sensed the growing need in our community for an organization that would know, advocate and understand the changing nature of the Berkshire’s population.

In the last 4 years operating on the proverbial shoestring, she has found an organization with a strong board, a clear vision, a realistic plan and a

substantial role in the community. At a time when unsung heroes are being recognized, I believe Gwendolyn belongs in that category. She has given a voice to many who have previously been silent. She has given them and many others knowledge of cultural diversity, she has literally trained hundreds in our communities. BRIDGE’s work is far from over - there is a long way to go still.

Now the organization, in order to achieve its cogent goals, needs your resources and financial support to leap forward. A financial gift to BRIDGE of any size will make a real difference. To say that this is a worthwhile cause is an understatement.

Join us please as we strive to truly make a difference in our community.      

-Marcia Savage, Advisory Council Chair 2012




A Letter from Our New Board President:

I became involved with Multicultural BRIDGE through my work in the banking industry and serving on our Multicultural Committee. Since first working with BRIDGE on a few projects and helping to connect our immigrant population with financial services, my eyes have been opened to the many challenges and obstacles that those who come to this country for the first time face as well as those who are of non-white ethnic or racial backgrounds. As we go about our daily lives, we don’t often realize what others are encountering and I am pleased to play even a small role in helping to make our County more welcoming of all others. Gwendolyn does yeoman’s work in this effort with limited funds and staff assistance. I look forward to leading the Board toward helping this noble effort in the most efficient and effective manner.

-Lori Gazzillo, Board President 2012-2013







Dear Multicultural BRIDGE families, friends, and supporters:

Our Fourth Year has continued to pursue our mission of change and integration through  building strong relationships throughout the county, state and region.

Multicultural BRIDGE’s services continue to grow with the youngest children in our Embracing Diversity and Bilingual Literacy program to Workplace Spanish Courses and Cultural Competence Trainings. In North, Central and South County, we have increased the number of youth participating in Diversity Leadership and Conflict Resolution Skills trainings and community members participating in community dialogues and task forces regarding racial disparities.

During the Spring and Summer of 2011, we celebrated three memorable events. First, we presented Migrations of the Heart as part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, having immigrant women share their migration stories at a BRIDGE Multicultural Presentation. Second, we co-organized the first Ethnic Fair of Great Barrington in Housatonic as part of Great Barrington’s 250th Anniversary.  Hundreds of folks enjoyed food, family activities and multicultural performances. Finally, Multicultural BRIDGE partnered and participated in the first ever Berkshire African American Celebration, “Lift Ev’ry Voice” throughout the summer.

In these very tumultuous financial times, our road to sustainability has been steady.  The need for our program grows as the demographics continue to change in Berkshire County, and our approach has proven not only unique and effective but healing. We bridge communities and forge relationships to build a strong and integrated Berkshire County.

For now, I hope you will look deep into the heart of every person you meet and enjoy the inherent worth of each and every individual.  One cannot underestimate the value of mutual respect and effective communication as the key to a vibrant and thriving community.  This approach to all you meet will build strength and empower our Berkshire community and beyond.

Multicultural BRIDGE’s theme this coming year will be “Shared Leadership.”  And I invite you to step forward and join our mission, spread the word about Multicultural BRIDGE, share in the good news and celebrations, and help us develop a base of strong families and friends who will support our work.

All the best to you and your families, as we all look forward to a great New Year! --Gwendolyn, BRIDGE Executive Director and Co-founder 2007-present


Reflections on Philanthropy, Generosity, Empowerment & Support: Degrees of Giving


Please consider making a donation from $10, #30, $50, $100, $250, $500,  $1000, and $5000. With this donation you can also choose to join BRIDGE as a member that demonstrates your support of the BRIDGE  mission and our core values of  learning, empowerment, collaboration, integration and celebration!

Happy New Year to all! Hoping we have a year filled with  prosperity and peace,

The Multicultural BRIDGE team

Towards Racial Justice in the Berkshires MLK/DuBois/Black History Month Film Series

posted Dec 16, 2011, 10:19 AM by Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant   [ updated Dec 28, 2011, 3:24 PM ]

Race: The Power of an Illusion Film & Discussion Series

TV Screen Ad.jpgBRIDGE Multicultural Task Force mission (2009): We are a network of local leaders dedicated to education and dialogue on the issue of race, ethnicityeaders dedicated to education and dialogue on the issue of race, ethnicity and effecting change to create a safe and inclusive community.

Downloadable flyer below!

RSVP instructions below!

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., W E B DuBois and Black History Month our Community Dialogue on Race (TRJ) continues:

Race: The Power of an Illusion

Race - The Power of an Illusion questions the very idea of race as biology, suggesting that a belief in race is no more sound than believing that the sun revolves around the earth. 

Yet race still matters. Just because race doesn't exist in biology doesn't mean it isn't very real, helping shape life chances and opportunities.

Episode 1- The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science - including genetics - that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits. 

Episode 2- The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as "natural." 

Episode 3- The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions "make" race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.

Statement from the Film’s Executive Producer, Larry Adelman

In producing this series, we felt it was important to go back to first principles and ask, What is this thing called "race?" - a question so basic it is rarely raised. What we discovered is that most of our common assumptions about race - for instance, that the world's people can be divided biologically along racial lines - are wrong. Yet the consequences of racism are very real.

How do we make sense of these two seeming contradictions? Our hope is that this series can help us all navigate through our myths and misconceptions, and scrutinize some of the assumptions we take for granted. In that sense, the real subject of the film is not so much race but the viewer, or more precisely, the notions about race we all hold.

Perhaps then we can shift the conversation from discussing diversity and respecting cultural difference to building a more just and equitable society.


“They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it…..And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. “

—James Baldwin

Showing County Wide ( Three part series)

Beacon Cinema January 16, 23, 30 5:30 PM Mondays

Mahaiwe Triplex February . 12, 19,& 26 11:00 AM Sundays

Images February 28, March 6, March 13 5:15 PM Tuesdays

Film & Discussion (Reception to follow)

Free Admission to film and discussion, Donations to Multicultural BRIDGE encouraged & accepted!

Followed by facilitated discussions led by Multicultural BRIDGE Race Task Forces

Confirmed Mulicultural BRIDGE Board speakers:

Francse Jones Sneed, PhD, Social Jusice Award Recipient, MCLA

Stewart Burns, PhD, Civil Rights Scholar, MLK Biographer, Williams College

Lara Setti, MD, Environmental Racism Scholar, CHP Medical Director

Eden Renee Hayes, PhD, Social Psychology, Bard College at Simon's Rock

Some committed Dialogue facilitators (and building):
Ariane Blanchard
Reverend Natalie Shiras
Chief Wilcox
Gwendolyn VanSant 
Rodney Mashia
Crystal Haines
Akash Persuad
Marge Cohan
Dr. Eden Renee Hayes
Lawrence Davis-Hollander


RSVP required for limited seating

Please call BRIDGE 413-274-1001 or email (Subject line: TRJ Race Film RSVP) with the location and dates that you will be attending along with the following information.

We will need the following information:
Organization affiliate (if applicable)
Age range (please circle one)
Additional guest: you may only list one other.

**Please call us if you for any reason cannot make it. We anticipate high interest and want to offer seats to as many as possible!
Tickets will be available day of the showing!

Additional information:

donation pledge amt (not required...suggested amt $15-30 for the series):

Please indicate if you plan to view film only...(we will provide age appropriate facilitators for young folks)
(please circle one)
film & discussion
film, discussion & reception (first come first serve for reception space)


Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education, Inc. 
Founders (2007): Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, Bob Norris, Marthe Bourdon.
PO Box 320, Housatonic MA 01236 • phone: 413-274-1001 • fax: 413-274-1033

Obama Will Triumph — So Will America.

posted Oct 5, 2010, 5:20 PM by BRIDGE Webmaster   [ updated Oct 14, 2010, 6:11 PM ]

An oldie but a goodie:


Before he’d served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President. Why?-- because he is succeeding. 

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us. 

Obama’s steady supporters will be proved right. Obama’s critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

Women’s Fund Leadership Institute

posted May 21, 2010, 2:55 AM by BRIDGE Webmaster   [ updated May 23, 2010, 6:11 AM ]

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