CONFERENCE: A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION
Updated: September 5, 2014
“To Empower and Organize for a Better World”
will be held from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 28, 2014
at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA
Speaking will be Jo Comerford, currently a Campaign Director for MoveOn.org. and previously Executive Director of the National Priorities Project. She is a highly experienced community organizer. Musical entertainment will be provided by Wintergreen.
There is no charge for the event.
There are many fine groups in Berkshire County working on a variety of projects with different foci. A great many of these groups agree with most, if not all, of the major premises of the other groups. The “Community Conversation”, sponsored by Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice and GIRO of BCC, is designed to discover new and improved avenues of communication that should provide greatly enhanced means of cooperation among groups to achieve mutually supported goals.
BCP&J and GIRO suspect that virtually all the 17 groups having tables at the “Community Conversation” would most likely support most, if not all, of the following goals:
- a living wage for all,
- single payer health care for all,
- pursuit of foreign policies that involve negotiation rather than military intervention,
- an end to unlimited political expenditures by corporations and individuals,
- publicly financed elections,
- fair housing opportunities for all,
- policies aimed at reducing gun violence and drug abuse,
- an end to all activities aimed at making profits at the expense of our natural environment,
- policies that advance the use of renewable and non-polluting sources of energy,
- an end to discrimination in job, housing and educational opportunities based on race, ethnicity, age, sex, or sexual orientation,
- affordable quality education, pre-K through College,
- maintaining internet neutrality,
- radical reductions in our nation’s military expenditures and redirection of funds saved to assist the neediest at home and overseas, while also helping to reduce climate changing activities,
- labeling of products containing GMOs,
- having all bottles carry a return deposit, and so on.
BCP&J and GIRO see any significant change in these and similar directions as necessarily motivated by bottom-up activities. They believe a healthy democracy should govern with the best interest of the majority and our environment at heart.
The “Community Conversation To Empower and Organize for a Better World” aims to coordinate the efforts of various county groups which share this concern. It is essential that unifying grass-roots activities occur all across our country if concern for the majority is to become the norm, rather than the dictates of moneyed interests.
The first part of the “Community Conversation” will provide an opportunity for participating groups to have a table for literature and for others to stop by for meaningful interactions.
Following this will be an address by our principal speaker, Jo Comerford, who is currently a Campaign Director for MoveOn.org. For six years before this, as Executive Director, Jo set the National Priorities Project‘s strategic direction, built organizational alliances, and acted as the organization’s primary spokesperson. She has a strong background in community organizing and travels extensively, offering budget talks and facilitating participatory workshops, including being a speaker at 2012 TEDx, 2013 Ignite, and 2013 Nerd Nite activities. Jo previously served as Director of Programs at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s western Massachusetts office. She is a frequent media contributor, with print pieces appearing in The Nation, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, and Mother Jones. Jo holds an MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Smith College School of Social Work.
The “Community Conversation” will conclude with a panel featuring Jo and area representatives, aimed at pulling together ways in which common aspirations may be more effectively pursued. There will be time for questions.
The wonderful trio, Wintergreen, will provide spirit-elevating musical entertainment at appropriate intervals. There will be light refreshments, as well.
There is no charge for the event, though a free-will donation at the end will be made possible if anyone desires to contribute toward expenses.
Sincerely yours – in Peace,
Don Lathrop (Writing for BCP&J)