Bridge 4 Unity
A Dialogue & Cultural Exchange Project, Jan/June 2019:
Pioneer Valley MA, Beaufort County SC, and Letcher County KY
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Participants in Bridge4Unity from South Carolina, Kentucky & Massachusetts, photo taken at Penn Center, Beaufort County SC, January 2019
What is Bridge4Unity?
Bridge4Unity is an interracial dialogue and cultural exchange project that brings together three distinct communities with diverse cultural, social, historical, and political profiles. The project features two exchange weekends. For the weekend of January 25-27, 2019, Beaufort SC and surrounding areas hosted participants from Western Massachusetts and Letcher County KY. On the weekend of June 28-30, Western MA will host participants from SC and KY.
Why is dialogue Important?
Dialogue is a carefully structured conversation on significant and sometimes controversial issues designed to create a learning community, invite genuine inquiry, develop new insights, and expand one’s capacity to hear perspectives that might differ from long-cherished beliefs. It is decidedly not a vehicle to persuade or to win an argument.
What is the purpose of the project?
The purpose is to find common ground, acknowledge and learn from different life experiences and the perceptions they bring, and explore responses to such questions as:
How do our unspoken or unconscious attitudes and beliefs about people with social and political positions that are different from our own impact our behavior toward them?
How do we come together beyond the racial, cultural, political, and class divides and polarizations to learn and heal ourselves and our country?
How, as united communities, do we continue to act with determined hope and engagement for equality, compassion, advocacy, and healing?
How did Bridge4Unity develop as a project?
Bridge4Unity was inspired initially in March 2017 by the engagement of Barbara White and Deborah Snow of Western MA with residents and artists of Beaufort SC. In 2017-8 the year-long bridging project of Leverett MA progressives and eastern KY coal country conservatives, called Hands Across the Hills, offered a model to further their inspiration. Barbara White and Deborah Snow initiated Bridge4Unity especially to explore and bridge race and class.
Bridge4Unity, affiliated with Hands Across the Hills, incorporates participants from that project both from MA and KY, widens participant recruiting to the entire Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, and includes a similar size group from Beaufort County SC. All groups include approximately equal numbers of African American/people of color and white American participants.
What events took place in Beaufort SC in January 2019?
Paula Green, director of Hands Across the Hills, and Gloria Graves Holmes of Beaufort County facilitated daily dialogue sessions. Participants toured the McLeod Plantation in Charleston, toured Beaufort, and participated in an evening of art, song, poetry and storytelling at the Penn Center in Beaufort, where most of the gathering took place.
Will events be open to the public?
Certain activities were restricted for participant confidentiality. Saturday afternoon the public was welcome to the United Church in Beaufort and joined a dialogue circle.
Where will visitors stay?
Participants in South Carolina and Massachusetts host visitors in their homes. Penn Center in Beaufort also opened up Pine Cottage for some of our participants in January 2019.
Who is funding this project?
The Blue Heron restaurant in Sunderland MA is the major sponsor of this project. Bridge4Unity is currently enrolling additional sponsors and seeking volunteer donations. Online fundraising: www.gofundme.com/Bridge4Unity
The Bridge4Unity project is affiliated with Hands Across the Hills, founded in 2017 to bridge divides through dialogue and cultural exchange. For more information on the purposes and guidelines of dialogue, please visit the Resources section of handsacrossthehills.org.
For news about B4U, click the facebook logo at the top of this page. To contact us: Bridge4UnityProject@gmail.com
Support Bridge4Unity by contributing online at: www.gofundme.com/Bridge4Unity