Held every Thursday, 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the Park Square of Pittsfield.


Held every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 175 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield

All are welcome! There is no charge.

SCHEDULE (Films/Meetings)

Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice

Schedule of events for June 2016

All programs will be held at the Unitarian/Universalist Church,

175 Wendell Ave. in Pittsfield, MA.

All events begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

 First, here is a reminder of our last program in May.

We hope you can make it.

May 26, 2016 – Talk: A Trip to South Africa

Members and mentors of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment program will share their transformational experiences while participating in a recent service learning project at the Mother of Peace Orphanage in Illovo, South Africa.  The program will be led by Shirley Ann Session Edgerton,


Shirley is a Community activist and Cultural Competence trainer.

Ms. Edgerton was raised in Mount Vernon, New York where she attended local schools. She graduated from Herbert Lehman College ( City University of New York) with a B.A. and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a M.Ed. She began her trek in community work while exposing and involving her now three adult children in community activities.

She is the founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle, the Rites of Passage and Empowerment program and founding Director of Youth Alive Performing Arts group. She retired from the Department of Developmental Services as the Director of Berkshire County State Operated Homes for adults with Mental Retardation in January 2015.

After 25 years of services to the department she decided to focus her attentions on other passions. Youth development has been a driving force in her life. Ms. Edgerton credits the women in her life, starting with her grandmother, as the motivators that incited the fire that drives her to mentor youth. Youth Alive is over twenty years old; this performance arts group has supported hundreds of youth in developing life skills, leadership and team building skills and improving their self-esteem. The members have participated in cultural and academic programming. YA is proud of its alums and their very low rates of teenage pregnancy and high school drop-out over the years.

The Rites of Passage program is five years old, targets junior and high school girls. This holistic program celebrates girls entry into womanhood and provides the girls with skills and knowledge to be successful and independent women. In 2014, 7 girls graduated from high school and 7 were accepted and are attending college. ROPE collaborates with numerous organizations including  the Colonial Theatre where 2 of the girls are interns and the Flying Cloud Institute where 5 of the girls are mentors in elementary schools in girls’ Science Clubs. Other members travelled to Ghana, West Africa in the summer of 2014 and shared with girls from Ghana.

Ms. Edgerton enjoys engaging youth and the community; she is grateful for the women that were role models in her life, so she is paying it forward. Currently, she and the ROPE program are preparing for a visit of four girls from South Africa where she visited and led workshops. She also is working part-time with the Pittsfield School Department to assist in recruiting teachers of colors, organizing Diversity training and initiating mentoring programs for the students.

June 2, 2016 – Talk/Film: “AOGIRI – Phoenix Tree”

Four guests from Japan will show a new film, “AOGIRI – Phoenix Tree”.  Satomi Nakamura, the producer of the film, Shuto Nakamura, the director, Shigatoshi Ito, the music director, and Takako Koike, an interpreter and highly skilled potter, will present this film about the life of Ms. Suzuko Numata, who lost her leg in the Hiroshima bombing in 1945.

The Agoiri Tree (Chinese parasol tree) is in the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park.


This May, President Obama will travel to Hiroshima where he will experience the immensely moving experience of going to the Peace Park.  He may have a chance to see this famous tree which survived in the ashes after the bombing.  It is near the Peace Museum. This is a perfect time for BCP&J to experience this brand new film that follows the life of a victim of the bombing for decades after that historic occasion.

Of that monstrous event, Ms.Numata said:  “It was only three days before my wedding and my life was changed forever.”  Her story of love needs to be told. 

The film reveals intricate details of her suffering. Yet out of her despair, she eventually made up her mind to live on as an atomic bomb storyteller for peace.  In addition to telling a great many others, Suzuko Numata continually shared her story about her experience of suffering from the bombing with countless children under the very Aogiri tree pictured above.

Seeds of this historic tree have been spread around the world, just as the messages of the survivors of the Atomic Bombings (hibakusha) must be.  As some elements of this story had to be invented due to an absence of details, the character of Ms. Numata in the film is named Setsuko Tanaka.

Ms. Numata passed away on July 12th, 2011, four months after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In her last days, she was extremely concerned about the victims of the calamity, in the area affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident. Satomi Nakamura, the film’s producer, will never forget Ms. Numata’s words a month before her death; “I must live on to tell them my story…  I do not want anybody in this world to go through the same pain ever again.”

Though an atomic-bomb and a nuclear power plant accident are two different things, they both share the horror of radioactivity. We live in an era when we must listen with full attention to the voices of the hibakusha and let them affect our thinking about the future of our planet.

This film sows the seeds of peace embodied in the message of the hibakusha — “No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more war!”

After the film, there will be an opportunity for questions about the film and general inquiries about the experiences of those who managed to survive the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There may also be a song or two from producer/songstress Satomi Nakamura accompanied on guitar by Shigetoshi Ito.

June 9, 2016 – Film

The Catonsville Nine   This film, instituted by the recently deceased 94-year old Fr. Daniel Berigan, tells the story of nine Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968, they went to the draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, took 378 draft files, brought them to the parking lot in wire baskets, dumped them out, poured home-made napalm over them, and set them on fire.  The film documents this activity and follows their arrest and moving trial which led to their incarceration. Other civil disobedient activities were inspired by the actions of the Catonsville Nine.

June 16, 2016 – Third Thursday  (8:15 p.m. Meeting)

As this is Pittsfield’s “Third Thursday” of celebrations on North Street, BCP&J will not compete by having a program.  However, at 8:15 p.m. we will meet at the UU church, as usual, to formulate a schedule of events for the month of July.  All are welcome.

June 23, 2016 – Film

The Armor of Light  is a film that attempts to understand and appreciate the full humanity of its subjects. It is a powerful film, all the more so because it struggles with its subjects to find common cause, and because it shows compassion and respect for the sincerity and good will of all. There are no simple answers.  Pastor Schenck shines a burning light on questions that go to the essence of who we are and what it means to value life. The film is a thoughtful and moving portrait of a man who has risked his status and career to publicly fight for his convictions. At one point he admits to fearing for his life as he comes to express what, for him, is a spiritual parallel between abortion and murder with guns.

June 30, 2016  – Film

Where to Invade Next   Academy Award®-winning director Michael Moore is back with WHERE TO INVADE NEXT: a provocative and hilarious comedy in which Moore will stop at nothing to figure out how to actually make America great again.

Just in time for election season, America’s favorite political provocateur, Michael Moore, is back with his new film.  Honored by festivals and critics alike, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is an expansive, hilarious, and subversive comedy in which Moore confronts the most pressing issues facing America today and finds solutions in the most unlikely places.  This is an epic movie that’s unlike anything he has done before.  It’s an eye-opening call to arms to capture the American Dream and restore it in, of all places, America.

“One of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made… Optimistic and affirmative, it rests on one challenging but invaluable idea: we can do better.”
— Godfrey Cheshire,

Don’t forget that all are invited to our regular Thursday night, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Park Square vigils.  Plenty of signs are available and stopping by for even a few minutes is appreciated.  BCP&J is working on its 14th year of vigils without a miss and you are most welcome to join this ongoing peace-focused tradition.



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