November 16 Working Cities Wednesday Minutes

We started off with some words from Diane Robie about Carolyn Mower Burns, who passed away on Wednesday, and had a moment of silence in her honor.

Ruth Leon recommended doing Bridges training over 2 days instead of over many months so we don’t forget what we learned months ago.

We unanimously voice voted to have an open Community Announcements section at the end of the meeting.

Karen Rowe, Ralph Howe, and Shirley Edgerton led a Bridges activity where we created an Institutional Mental Model and an Under Resourced Folk Mental Model as seen below. Everyone was allowed to chime in with what they thought should be added to the Mental Models.

wcw-nov-2016_01 wcw-nov-2016_02 wcw-nov-2016_03 wcw-nov-2016_04

From looking at these models we created a list of Shared Values that could benefit Institutions and Under Resourced Folks:

  • Honor people as experts in their lives
  • Celebrate heroes
  • Be co-learners
  • Self/peer advocacy/empowerment
  • Self-determination
  • Support relationships that value folks
  • Asset affirming
  • Shared responsibility for solutions
  • Inclusive tables
  • Saluting/supporting change makers
  • Re-conceptualize leadership.

Community Announcements:

The National Black Star Project Pittsfield Million Father March Group is collecting scarves, gloves, and new coats for elementary (Kindergarten through Fifth Grade) students in Pittsfield until November 28th. You can donate at Berkshire Eagle, Elegant Stitches, New Generation Global Ministry, and Berkshire International Market. If you have questions you can contact Shirley Edgerton (413-841-8770). Checks payable to NAACP (P.O. Box 605, Pittsfield, MA 01202)

Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity is looking for a family for a 2 bedroom condo on Hall Place that they hope will be finished by February. Fuel Assistance and VITA is starting soon. VITA is looking for volunteers including bilingual or multilingual tax returners.

The Jewish Family Services will host a meeting on Syrian refugees that could settle in Pittsfield.

BCC has their course and workshop schedule finalized. You can see it at

Getting Ahead needs people for classes starting the first week of January. We are hoping to have 16 people enrolled.

Our next Working Cities Wednesday is on December 14 at 5:30 pm at the Family Resource Center. It’s a potluck, so please RSVP in advance and let us know what dish you are bringing! For any questions or corrections about this month’s minutes, please contact Christian at or call (413) 442-3181.

RSVP for Working Cities Wednesday on November 16

Hello Berkshire Bridges community, we have our November Working Cities Wednesday meeting this Wednesday, November 16 at 5:30 pm at the Family Resource Center on 480 West Street! There is still time to RSVP. Please comment below, email Christian at, or call (413) 442-3181. Here is our planned agenda:
Berkshire Bridges – Working Cities Challenge Meeting Agenda
November 16th, 2016 @Family Resource Center
5:30 Arrive, sign in, collect meeting materials, and get food.
5:45 Community Consensus
• Changes to agenda
• Bridges Out of Poverty trainings
6:15 Bridges Training: Karen Rowe and …
7:15 Community Announcements
7:30 End meeting and clean up
Our next meeting is Wednesday, December 14th at 5:30 pm at the Family Resource Center. Please contact Christian at if you have questions about or want to join our Basecamp, or contact Ruth at for logistics and partnerships.

October 26 Minutes and Updates

Working Cities Wednesday Minutes October 26th


We introduced Colleen Dawicki from the Boston Fed. We are getting $475,000 over the next 3 years from the Boston Fed. She will be in touch and the Boston Fed can provide technical assistance as well as link us to private and public businesses.

We introduced our new initiative director Ruth Leon who is excited about joining our team and the work we are doing. She is new to the team, but has relevant experience with other organizations. You can contact Ruth by calling (413) 442-3181 or emailing

Community Updates

The Recovering Learning Community is closing in Pittsfield, but they are hopeful for the future and hope that in 2017 money will be made available to them so they can reopen.

Arts in Recovery is a new peer recovery program facilitated by Art Therapist, Marney Schorr, and supported by George B. Crane Memorial Center and participating community organizations. The program is free to participants in recovery and their families. For more info, contact Marney Schorr at

Bridges overview

Karen Rowe and Ralph Howe gave an overview of Bridges largely focused on the Individual lens, but full trainings also look through Institution and Community lenses. These trainings are meant to be non-judgmental and are not meant to argue which class is “better”.

People in generational poverty tend to be problem solvers that constantly have to deal with crises and how to make do with what they have. They are focused on the present and how they can overcome the crisis of the moment. They tend to have mental models focused on relationships because they rely on each other to solve problems. Also, they are more likely to believe in fate over choice.

People in the middle class tend to be more focused on planning for the future. Their mental models tend to be more focused on achievements. People who move out of the middle class and into situational poverty often struggle with knowing how to overcome the crisis of the moment and how to make do with what they have. Also, they are more likely to believe in choice over fate.

People can move between classes and have different mental models, but people tend to form their mental model as a child.

There are many different types of language (frozen, formal, consultative, casual, intimate). Formal language tends to be very straight to the point. Casual language tends to tell a story with more context, but take longer to get to the point.

Bridges defines poverty as the extent to which an individual does without resources. People can have financial, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical resources. People can be strong in some resources while being weaker in others.

[Questions about this Bridges Training? This is just a one hour overview. There are more sessions to come! If you or your agency/business would like to learn more about the Bridges Out of Poverty framework, contact Karen Rowe at (413) 445-7028 or]

Community Event Recaps

Creating a Trauma-informed Berkshire County is an ongoing movement and there will continue to be conversation. If you are interested you can join the Trauma Informed Community Team by contacting Chris Haley at

Manos Unidas would like to thank everyone who helped with and came to Harvest of Hope. It was a great opportunity for the community to unite in dance, art making, feast and more.

Community Consensus

We voted via survey to have the December meeting on December 14th and to have Bridge training modules at the Working Cities Wednesday meetings.

Our next Working Cities Wednesday is November 16, 5:30 pm at the Family Resource Center. We hope to see you there! If you have any questions or corrections about the minutes, please contact Christian at or visit the contact page.