November 05 2020 Edition
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By the Way
We're on pause tonight. The country is waiting for a decision that can re-shape our lives, and we're hunkered down. Daylight Savings is past, and the nights are getting longer and darker. It can be easy to feel cut off on a night like this.

There are converstions going on though, still. Last week I sat outside the Lost Lamb on a raw day with an old friend, warming our hands with hot coffee and croissants, and then I walked through the Four Freedoms at the Norman Rockwell Museum, moving between the Depression and the 21st Century.

They have drawn in contemporary artists, and Maurice Peterson has imagined vivid contemporary scenes. Students are laughing at a diner counter after a party, sitting tall and relaxed in that glow when you can still feel the lift from the music and the dancing and you're floating on it. A young black man in a silver blazer is smiling at an artist in a leather jacket and a young Latina woman in a rose silk prom dress.

This is freedom, Peterson writes beside one of his images, just to go where you want to, with whom you want to. Seeing this scene here, surrounded by WPA photographs, images of Rosie the Riveter and the Tuskegee Airmen and survivors of Auschwitz, and contemporary artists calling us to vote, I ache sharply for the universe where these young people can drink their coffee after the prom without fear and stretch into their natural pride and joy.

I want to live in that world. And at least this week I know I'm not alone. People around me are working to change the present. On Friday night, MCLA will join theaters across the country in The Race 2020, a virtual performance that draws in the audience and invites them to respond. Its creators say it has one question at its center: What does leadership mean today?

Sojourn Theatre created the show 12 years ago, and I wonder how that question is reverberating for them now. And for the answer, I think of Peterson's scenes and the worlds they conjure — the people who come together in them, and their punchy late-night conversation, the jokes they might be telling each other, the music they danced to, the ideas they might debate in high school essays, Hamilton lyrics, W.E.B. DuBois awed and elated on the day his son is born, maybe a Lucille Clifton poem ...

'... may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear ...'

And I hope that's a good place to begin. By the Way Berkshires


A closeup shows a child's hand on an iron railing. Creative Commons courtesy photo.

On the Bridge: Storytellers draw the world together

Eight years ago, Gwendolyn VanSant, co-founding director of Multicultural Bridge, and writer and journalist Roberta McCulloch-Dews and I began a new series of community stories, and they feel timely now.

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A flame burns in the dark. Creative Commons courtesy photo

Opening a conversation takes courage

How are you? That seems like such a small question in these hard days. It should be a simple thing to turn to someone with warmth and respect. And right now it feels vital.

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Marla Greenfield's Crosswalk appears in Art of the Hills: Narrative, a virtual group show at Berkshire Museum.

Berkshire Museum: Art of the Hills

Open in the museum galleries

Berkshire Museum's fall exhibition, Art of the Hills: Narrative, curated by nationally recognized artists Amy Myers and Seung Lee, is open in the galleries.

Read more »
A man in a red shirt and jeans rides a bicycle in Kolkata, India.

Rimini Protokoll: 'Call Cutta at Home'

November 5 to 8

Internationally renowned theatre provocateurs Rimini Protokoll will present a free intercontinental video conference play about outsourcing, with the Williams College '62 Center.

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Hands clasp gently and warmly in sunlight.

New Pathways: Social Justice

November 5 to 9 (online)

Nationally acclaimed activist Angela Davis will give the keynote at Multicultural Bridge's New Pathways of Empowerment and Transformation conference, a weekend of conversations on Race, Class and Justice Strategies.

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Microphone. Courtesy image by Lincoln Blues.

The Race 2020 — A virtual theater experience

November 6 to 8

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Theatre Department will perform Sojourn Theatre’s reflective and interactive ensemble performance, joining theaters across the country to reflect on elections.

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A book quietly opens its pages in golden light. Creative Commons courtesy image.

Northshire Live: Clifford Thompson presents 'What It Is'

November 12 at 6 p.m.

Whiting Award-winning author Clifford Thompson will speak on his book, 'What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man's Blues,' a concise, heartfelt take on the state of his nation.

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Berkshire squashes, gourds and corn show bright colors at a farmers market.

Freedom from Want: Food security and the environment

November 13 at 7 p.m.

How can society meet the needs of all Americans for food sustainability, shelter, and global health? The Norman Rockwell Museum will hold a conversation with scholars and artists to explore past and present needs in the U.S.

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