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Brooke Mead

Vessels for Change

Amrita Lash imbues a newborn mug with character; image courtesty Stephanie Boyd.
Amrita Lash imbues a newborn mug with character; image courtesty Stephanie Boyd.

VESSELS FOR CHANGE

52 Artists – 100 Mugs – 1 Cause
Area artists rally to support the Berkshire Immigrant Center

Amrita Lash imbues a newborn mug with character; image courtesty Stephanie Boyd.
Amrita Lash imbues a newborn mug with character; image courtesty Stephanie Boyd.

BERKSHIRES, Mass.—In October, more than 50 area artists are joining their creative forces to make 100 hand-painted ceramic mugs in support of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.  The project, Vessels for Change, will culminate in a celebration at Bright Ideas Brewing on the MASS MoCA campus in North Adams on Wednesday, November 15 from 7-9 pm.

For a $100 donation to the Berkshire Immigrant Center donors will receive a one-of-a-kind handmade mug, locally brewed beer, and a celebration. To make a donation and reserve a mug, visit:

http://www.stephanieboydworks.com/vessels-for-change/Ceramic artist Stephanie Boyd, one of the event organizers, was inspired after a recent mini-fundraiser she held on Facebook shortly after the events at Charlottesville. She made six mugs, posted them for $100 each with the intent of donating 100% to the Southern Poverty Law Center. She sold out within a few hours. The success of that project led her to create something larger to benefit a local organization.

“The response from our community has been inspiring,” says Boyd. “Virtually everyone asked to participate responded with enthusiasm.  And the donations are already pouring in.” She continues, “Our community wants to do something positive to provide some counterpoint to the negativity we see in the news everyday.”

Five ceramic artists, Boyd, Suzy Konecky, Amrita Lash, and Phil and Gail Sellers, are making the mugs and artists including the likes of Danny O., Amy Podmore, John MacDonald, Michael Oatman, Tracy Baker-White and many more, (full list below) are painting the mugs in the potters’ studios.

“Opening our studio for artists to come and paint has been a treat. We have already had a few days where there were several artists painting at the same time,” says Gail Sellers of River Hill Pottery.  “There is so much enthusiasm,” she adds.

Vessels for Change aims to raise $10,000, equivalent to approximately 5% of the Berkshire Immigrant Center’s annual budget.

“This is a critical and difficult time for many in our immigrant and refugee communities and we are so grateful that our community is coming together to support them and our work,” says Brooke Mead, Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.  
She continues, “We have just hired two new caseworkers to meet the ever-expanding need for our legal immigration counseling for the thousands of immigrants in the Berkshires. This wonderful creative initiative will bring a much-needed influx of funds to support our work and training for our new staff that is critically needed.”

And, added Mead, “We are enormously appreciative and humbled by a grassroots effort to support us financially so that we can keep our attention on our mission – directly helping immigrants.”

The mission of the Berkshire Immigrant Center is to assist individuals and families in making the economic, psychological, and cultural adjustments to a new land.  Each year they provide assistance to over 800 individuals from more than 80 countries.  Their work navigating the complex U.S. immigration system, promoting civic engagement, and facilitating cultural integration is invaluable. By helping immigrants meet their basic needs, and supporting them in their efforts to become active participants in our community, the Center builds bridges of understanding and cooperation across cultures. Their work results in strengthened communities, reunited families, refugees protected, higher employment income, and economic self-sufficiency for newcomers.

 

The participating artists are a “who’s who” of the local creative economy and includes: William Archer, Tracy Baker-White, Renée Bouchard, Keith Bona, Stephanie Boyd, Sharon Carson, Jana Christy, Deb Coombs, Phyllis Criddle, Richard Criddle, Arthur DeBow, Zoe Doucette, Mike Glier, Brandon Graving, Suzy Helme, Jane Hudson, Frank Jackson, Ellen Joffe-Halpern, Joanna Klain, Alison Kolesar, Suzy Konecky, David Lane, Amrita Lash, John MacDonald, Sarah McNair, Anna Moriarty-Lev, Mark Mulherin, Karl Mullen, Mary Natalizia, Dawn Nelson, Danny O, Michael Oatman, Linda O’Brien, Opie O’Brien, Derek Parker, Doug Paisley, Amy Podmore, Maggi Randall, John Recco, Michele Ridgeway, Bill Riley, Anne Rocklein, Eric Rudd, Greg Scheckler, Ann Scott, Gail Sellers, Phil Sellers, Karin Stack, Diane Sullivan, Sandra Thomas, Betty Vera

 

The event organizers are Stephanie Boyd, Gail Sellers, Phil Sellers, Suzy Konecky, Laura Christensen, Orion Howard, Amrita Lash, Sandra Thomas

 

Sponsors/Supporters:  Bright Ideas Brewing, Williamstown Community Chest, Sheffield Pottery

 

To make a donation: http://www.stephanieboydworks.com/vessels-for-change/

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TLC #45: Baker wants to “empower” the heat to play nice with ICE

Immigration Detainers

The bland phrase conjures up little emotion for people with no reason to believe that they, or loved ones, risk deportation due to immigration status. To countless families in the United States, however, the two words, “immigration detainers,” (also known as “ICE Holds”), plug in to a nightmare of vulnerability that tears at families and communities. We speak with Brooke Mead of the Berkshire Immigrant Center and Laura Rótolo of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts about Governor Baker’s proposed legislation that would ratchet the mechanisms of deportation up a gear or two.

Nationwide, local law enforcement is pushing back against pressure to perform the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, often disregarding immigration detainers; photo by Department of Homeland Security; public domain; via Wikimedia Commons</span></a>
Nationwide, local law enforcement is pushing back against pressure to perform the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, often disregarding immigration detainers; photo by Department of Homeland Security; public domain; via Wikimedia Commons

Berkshire Immigrant Center

Brooke Meade, director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center; photo courtesy Avi Dresner/WellTalk Radio.
Brooke Meade, director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center; photo courtesy Avi Dresner/WellTalk Radio.

(from BIC website)

Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Brooke Mead, was formerly a high school Spanish teacher and holds her Masters degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has lived in Venezuela and Mexico and, having been an immigrant herself, brings with her the cultural understanding and sensitivity necessary to work with the immigrant and refugee population.

The mission of the Berkshire Immigrant Center is to assist individuals and families in making the economic, psychological and cultural adjustment to a new land, not only by meeting basic needs, but also by helping them to become active participants in our community. The Center also aims to build bridges of understanding and cooperation across cultures, to fight racism and discrimination in all forms, and to advocate for the rights of immigrants from all backgrounds.

The Center offers comprehensive services for individuals from more than 80 countries to promote civic engagement, facilitate cultural integration, and assist in navigating the complex U.S. immigration system.

 

Additional resources:

Slate’s very good article on the subject.
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
UNIDOS

ACLU of Massachusetts

Laura Rotolo, Staff Council ACLU; photo courtesy ACLUM
Laura Rótolo, Staff Council ACLU; photo courtesy ACLUM

(from ACLUM website)

Laura Rótolo is staff counsel and community advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts where she focuses on issues relating to immigrants.

She joined the ACLU of Massachusetts in 2007, first as a human rights fellow studying immigration detention conditions. Currently, Laura works to create policies that safeguard fundamental rights, as well as challenge policies that do not. As a Latina and an immigrant from Argentina, she advocates within Latino immigrant communities in Massachusetts.

Laura is a graduate of Tufts University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and American University’s Washington College of Law.

The ACLU of Massachusetts, this week, released the following statement concerning Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed legislation to “empower” local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities via immigration detainers:

Governor Baker’s proposed legislation in response to last week’s groundbreaking ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court on ICE detainers is constitutionally suspect because it attempts to authorize state and local law enforcement to detain people without due process. Last week’s Lunn decision by the Court was a major victory for the residents of Massachusetts against the Trump deportation machine. Why Governor Baker would attempt to aid President Trump is unsettling – as both a legal and political matter.

For nearly 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has worked daily in the courts, in the legislature, and in communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, Bill Rights and laws of the United States.

The ACLU of Massachusetts—a private, nonpartisan organization with more than 72,000 supporters across the Commonwealth and over 100,000 online activists—is a state affiliate of the national ACLU. We defend the principles enshrined in the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights as well as the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Laura tweets at @LauraRotolo.

 

Inside the Lyme Epidemic

The Top Left Corner welcomes Kenneth Mercure back on the program, this time to discuss Lyme disease and his upcoming public education event:

Inside the Lyme Epidemic: Past, Present and Future with Pamela Weintraub
Saturday, August 12th, 2017; 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Berkshire Athenaeum, Auditorium, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, Mass.
Free

Adult deer tick,; photo by Photo by Scott Bauer. (Public domain), via Wikimedia CommonsAdult deer tick,; photo by Scott Bauer. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(from Lyme Alliance of the Berkshires website)Lyme disease is at epidemic levels in Berkshire County! What should be an easily treated and manageable infection is being left to become a serious and evening life-threatening public health crisis. Lyme disease is under-reported, often misdiagnosed as something else and frequently suggested to be “all in your head”. There is a great disparity between the reality and seriousness of tick-borne infections and what is being touted as the ultimate truth about Lyme and its related diseases.However, there is work being done to help bridge this gap. The Lyme Alliance of the Berkshires, a Pittsfield based organization started in 2011, tirelessly works to help educate the public and to help provide support for individuals who are currently suffering with tick-borne disease. As part of this work we routinely invite speakers and host educational events to help make the public more aware of this issue.

Map of the range of the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis); image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Map of the range of the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis); image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Nearly a decade after her beloved book was originally published, author Pamela Weintraub will tell her story and discuss what has changed in the world of Lyme since 2008 and what still needs to be done to help end the Lyme epidemic. Pamela will speak and then will interact with attendees and answer questions. We will have a door prize raffle as part of this event and refreshments will be available. As always our event will be taking placing in the ground floor auditorium of the Berkshire Athenaeum on 1 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield, Mass.

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