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TLC #46: Greylock Together Against Hate; Purple Dragon, Farm to Fork Fondo

Greylock Together “Stand Against Hate” brings hundreds to Field Park
Hundreds answered the call of Greylock Together to Stand Against Hate at Field Park, Williamstown the day after three died and 19 were wounded at a demonstration of white nationalists in Charlottesvill, VA; photo by Jason Velázquez
Hundreds answered the call of Greylock Together to Stand Against Hate at Field Park, Williamstown the day after three died and 19 were wounded at a demonstration of white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA; photo by Jason Velázquez

In this episode, we heard from some of the hundreds of people who took part in the Stand Against Hate organized by Greylock Together after the Charlottesville, VA tragedy.

We toured the new Spring Street, Williamstown shop, Purple Dragon Games., founded by Nico White.

And we had a great conversation with Tyler Wren, founder of the Farm to Fork Fondo, bringing cyclists into a closer connection with local food.

And we get an exclusive first listen to “Close to the Edge,” by our good friends the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow.

This episode is sponsored by The Hancock Shaker Village, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their beloved Country Fair. And by Headwater Cider, a local orchard and mill that believes hard cider is best when you grow what you press, and press you grow.

We also heard a snatch of “Descendants,” performed by the Rob Piltch Trio on the amazing 2016 Jazz release, Portraits in Jazz: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery, sent to us by someone connected to Ed Bickert, though we are not really clear who. We’ll be playing more from this release as we can.

Greylock Together Responds to Charlottesville, VA attack

 

People of all ages, including a good number of creative children, joined the Williamstown happening August 14, 2017; photo by Jason Velázquez
People of all ages, including a good number of creative children, joined the Williamstown happening August 13, 2017; photo by Jason Velázquez

Today is Thursday, August 24, 2017, and this is Episode number 46. In the immediate aftermath of the August 12th tragedy in Charlottesville, VA, local activist group Greylock Together summoned hundreds of local residents, as well as some visitors, to Field Park in Williamstown for an observance of death of longtime social justice advocate Heather Heyer and a show of solidarity against hatred and violence. Today we here some of the voices who were present that day, calling for change.

We also speak with well-known cyclist Tyler Wren, founder of the Farm to Fork Fondo, which connects athletics and local agriculture where the rubber really does meet the road.

And we profile new local Williamstown business owned by Nico White, Purple Dragon Games, a Spring Street shop that creates a social epicenter for a community of gamers who roll old-school.

First though a Greylock Glass exclusive. Americana and Bluegrass powerhouse the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow are letting us share a tune from their as-yet-unreleased EP due out in September.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will be performing September 24 at the Hancock Shaker Village's 20th annual Country Fair; submitted photo.
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will be performing September 24 at the Hancock Shaker Village’s 20th annual Country Fair; submitted photo.

And I’m guessing they’ll be performing this deeply moving track, “Close to the Edge,” which they’ve asked me to share with you right here on the Top Left Corner.

We’ve got a link to the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s website in the shownotes, and I really want you to make contact with them there, and sign up for their occasional newsletter, so that you can be the first to find out as soon as that EP drops next month.

Let’s go now to Field Park in Williamstown, August 12th and hear some of what was on the minds and in the hearts of those who gathered to Stand Against Hate. We ran first into frequent guest of various GG shows, artist, musician, promoter and activist Karl Mullen.

Geraldine Shen, who directs Greylock Together, explained why there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation on the group’s part to call people to Stand Against Hate.

Wendy Penner has been with Greylock Together since its origin back in November, and talked about the need for local responses to events tied into national conflicts.

Purple Dragon Games Events:
Wednesday: Magic Standard Constructed, $5 entry, Round 1 begins 6:00 p.m.
Thursday: Open Board Games, free entry, begins 6:00 p.m.
Friday: Friday Night Magic Booster Draft, $15, begins 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: D&D, $2 entry, 2:00pm

Nico White is on a quest to outfit North County gamers with games and gear as he nurtures a growing tabletop community; photo by Jason Velázquez.
Nico White is on a quest to outfit North County gamers with games and gear as he nurtures a growing tabletop community; photo by Jason Velázquez.

Laura Savia, Associate Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival was just hours away from debuting this year’s community theatre production of “Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires” when she decided to offer the cast and crew a chance to participate in the demonstration. The sold-out show was, in fact, heartbreakingly aligned with the clash in Charlottesville that led to three deaths and injuries to 19 others.

Writer, editor, retired English professor, and general member of the local literati, Tela Zasloff was thoughful in her estimation of the manner in which Trumpism can be countered and the role of journalists in a political landscape that has grown increasingly hostile to the press.

 

Purple Dragon Games is open on Spring Street in Williamstown; submitted image.
Purple Dragon Games is open on Spring Street in Williamstown; submitted image.

Nico White, a Williams alum who also grew up in town, returned to pursue a passion he indulged in between study sessions at school—tabletop gaming. And he’s taken it pro right on Spring Street with the launch of Purple Dragon Games.

For anyone who’s spent any touring around on a bicycle, the fresh air and pastoral views in farm country are among some of the most delicious experiences you can have on two wheels. Tyler Wren, founder of Farm to Fork Fondo takes pedalers out of the breakdown lane and into the barnyard to sample some of the scenery they could once only enjoy with their eyes.

The Maine Farm to Fork Fondo took place on Sunday august 27, 2017; photo courtesy Farm to Fork Fondo.
The Maine Farm to Fork Fondo took place on Sunday august 27, 2017; photo courtesy Farm to Fork Fondo.

 

More information about the Farm to Fork Fondo can be found at their website, and of course, you can find the links in the shownotes. Looks like it’s going to be a helluva weekend, now matter how you get involved.

Well, that’s our show for this week. This has been Jason Velazquez, your host, writer, editor, web admin, and chief bottle washer here at the Greylock Glass. We’ve got a little time left over here at the end, so I think I’ll let Charlie Parr take us home with the title track of his 2015 release, Stumpjumper, since Tyler started off our conversation talking about mountain biking. Have a great week and check back again soon.

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Will Call #54: Standing Together Against Othering in the Berkshires

"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; submitted photo.
"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; submitted photo.


In the wake of the November election, people across the country have seen fear and anger and exclusion become part of a national public conversation. Many people are sharing the experience of feeling that they do not belong in their familiar places. It’s called othering — making someone feel pushed to the edges, unwanted or different. It can happen in daily meetings and conversations, at work, at school, even at home.

In the Berkshires, movements are growing in response, art and lectures and performances and rallies, to explain what othering means and what it looks like — and to draw people together instead.

"Eyes Opaque With Terror," by Marcelene Mosca and Freya Segal; Mixed Media, 2014; photo by David Edgecomb.
“Eyes Opaque With Terror,” by Marcelene Mosca and Freya Segal; Mixed Media, 2014; photo by David Edgecomb.

People are saying in different ways, I feel threatened. I feel alone. And people are saying that hate is not mine. I want to stand with you. I want to live in a country where we can all live and love and work, pray or not, speak and play music. People are saying we need to talk to each other.

In the Berkshires, efforts are growing to bring people together. In Pittsfield, on a November afternoon, young WordxWord poets and storytellers reflected on how it felt to be excluded or pushed to the edges, as part of “Othering,” a month-long show curated by the Berkshire Art Association at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.

In Great Barrington, Asma Abbas, Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy at Bard College of Simon’s Rock, invited Moustafa Bayoumi, American Book Award–winning  writer and professor of English at Brooklyn College — who wrote one of the most re-tweeted tweets of the 2016 USA presidential debates, according to Twitter—to speak about Muslim American experiences in the last 15 years.

In North Adams, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel, joins Rabbi David Markus, her co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish Renewal movement, in a call for solidarity. If a national effort to register Muslims becomes real, they are calling on all Americans to register.

Nick Cave’s “Until”

One of 16,000 dangling items in MASS MoCA's Rauschenberg gallery that are part of the installation, "<a href="http://massmoca.org/event/nick-cave-until/" target="_blank"><strong>Until</strong></a>," by Nick Cave, on view through August, 2017; photo by Kate Abbott.
One of 16,000 dangling items in MASS MoCA’s Rauschenberg gallery that are part of the installation, “Until,” by Nick Cave, on view through August, 2017; photo by Kate Abbott.

And in December of 2016, MASS MoCA, offered free admission for Berkshire residents until the solstice, as Nick Cave’s installation, Until, opened to take a close look at the ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” — and what happens when it becomes “guilty until proven innocent.”

Soprano Brenda Wimberly and organist Sereca Henderson  perform at the opening of Nick Cave’s ‘Until,’ at MASS MoCA. His installation fills the Rauschenberg gallery, and everyone who walks in stops at the doorway. The room is as large as a football field. And it is full of light.

It’s like walking into an optical mobile. It’s a maze of stars and spirals and suns on 16,000 strings. They spin like tops, and they transform from pinwheeling color to faint lines, until they become invisible. In some of them, at the core, he has set the image of a hand gun.

 

Nick Cave is known for Soundsuits, wearable sculptures that cover the whole body, and he often performs in them. But here he has created something new. It’s a landscape. It’s a cloudscape made of chandelier crystal. It’s a place where he invites other people to perform.

Benjamin Clementine gave a concert on opening night.

 

Nick Cave created this installation holding in mind the lives and deaths of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith and Michael Brown and more like them. Mass MoCA curator Denise Markonish speaks about his work.

Moustafa Bayoumi and Asma Abas

John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme,’ a jazz classic from 1965 has echoes of Middle Eastern scales in its improvisation, and echoes of Islamic prayer in its inspiration, professor Moustafa Bayoumi writes in his 2015 collection of essays, “This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror.”

Moustafa Bayoumi has explored the concept of Othering in both How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (2009) and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror (2015); photo by Neville Elder, courtesy of Moustafa Bayoumi.
Moustafa Bayoumi has explored the concept of Othering in both How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (2009) and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror (2015); photo by Neville Elder, courtesy of Moustafa Bayoumi.

 

 

Coltrane often performed with Muslim musicians, he says, and anyone with an ear attuned to Islamic influences can hear them in Coltrane’s words and music.
He quotes Coltrane’s liner notes: “No Matter what … it is with God. He is Merciful. His way is in love, through which we all are. It is truly — a love supreme.”
Moustafa Bayoumi is an internationally recognized journalist. He is a columnist for The Guardian; his writing has appeared in journals from the New York Times to the Nation; and he has appeared on CNN, FOX News, National Public Radio and many other media outlets around the world.
He is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, and in 2008 he won an American Book Award for “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America.”

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Asma Abbas is an Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy and Emily H. Fisher Faculty Fellow at Bard College at Simon's Rock; photo courtesy Asma Abbas.
Asma Abbas is an Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy and
Emily H. Fisher Faculty Fellow at Bard College at Simon’s Rock; photo courtesy Asma Abbas.

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“How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?” takes its title from writer, Civil Rights activist and Great Barrington native, W.E.B. DuBois, who asks that question in Souls of Black Folk.

In his book, Bayoumi tells the stories of seven young men and women in their 20s living in Brooklyn after 9/11.
Rasha and her family were imprisoned without trial and without evidence; Sami served in the military in Iraq; Yasmin fought discrimination in her diverse high school — and won.
In December, professor Bayoumi came to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington to talk with professor Asma Abbas, and her students and the community, about the experience of being Muslim American in the past, in the last 15 years and today.
Many Americans misunderstand a great deal about what Muslim Americans believe and how they live their lives, he said.

To begin with, Muslim Americans have lived in this country for almost 400 years.

Aleph takes a stand against othering

Rachel Barenblat of Williamstown is the rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, and she will serve as the interim Jewish Chaplain at Williams College in the spring semester. She is also co-chair of Aleph, the central organization of the international Jewish renewal movement, with David Markus, associate spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El of City Island in the Bronx. He has Berkshire ties as well — like Rachel, he is a Williams College alum. (In full disclosure, I am also a Williams alum, and Rachel is an old friend.)

Jewish Renewal, founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is a movement across Jewish denominations. At its center, Aleph includes a rigorous liberal seminary and a growing network of congregations and communities around the world.

"Arab Women Bonding," by Muriel Angelil; Monoprint, 2014; submitted photo.
“Arab Women Bonding,”
by Muriel Angelil;
Monoprint, 2014; submitted photo.

In response to the U.S. president-elect’s campaign promise to require all Muslims to register with the government, Aleph has sent out a call to all Americans, if that day comes, to register as Muslim in solidarity.

That call comes out of values central to Renewal, Rachel and David say, from a respect for all faiths, and a core Jewish value (Lev. 19:18), to love your neighbor as yourself.

The experience of being treated differently — the ‘Othering’ that David Markus talks about — is also the name of the Berkshire Art Association’s biennial juried show. In November, it filled the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield with abstract paintings, collages and drawings.

The art association sent out a call for work reflecting on experiences of exclusion and separation. More than 30 artists from throughout the Northeast had work in the exhibit — from a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. military who served two tours in Iraq to an African-American Pittsfield High School graduate now studying art at Williams College.

On Nov. 13, the Pittsfield organization WordxWord hosted an afternoon of poetry and storytelling on the same theme — WordxWord uses spoken word, poetry and storytelling to celebrate diversity and creativity and make connections.

"Kylie Jenner," by Merudjina Normil; Drawing, 2014; submitted photo.
“Kylie Jenner,” by Merudjina Normil; Drawing, 2014; submitted photo.

Four of those poets have given us permission to share there work here. We thank Izzy; our second poet, who has asked to remain anonymous; Sage; and Doni Smith.

"This Is Normal: 4th grade," by Dina Noto, Ink Drawing, 2016; submitted photo.
“This Is Normal: 4th grade,” by Dina Noto, Ink Drawing, 2016; submitted photo.

 

Looking Ahead

On Saturday, Jan. 7, on the 76th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, a new Four Freedoms Coalition will invite the Berkshire community to unite against hate and bigotry in all its forms. The Berkshire County branch of the NAACP, BRIDGE, Berkshire Immigrant Center, United Africans of the Berkshires, and the United American Muslim Association of the Berkshires and others will gather for a rally and march in downtown Pittsfield.

The Four Freedoms Coalition is a non-partisan, diverse coalition of community organizations and people working together to unite the community and reaffirm the  American values outlined in President Roosevelt’s speech:

Freedom from fear
Freedom from want
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion.

All are welcome. To find out more, check out the Four Freedoms Coalition on Facebook or email 4freedomscoalition@gmail.com

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On Jan. 29 at 3 p.m., Doni Smith and WordXWord will welcome the new year with a free poetry reading to celebrate sharing and caring and reflect on the consequences of greed at MCLA’s Gallery 51, at 51 Main St., North Adams.

Nine days after the presidential inauguration, poets and spoken word artists will bear witness to a world where greed appears to have no limits, and yet every day holds moments of generosity and compassion. The event will accompay Josh Ostraff’s exhibition, OFA ATU, which opens Jan. 26.

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Also in Pittsfield, Georgene Poliak has formed All Band Together as an initiative in compassion and solidarity. At the holiday Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary, she showed arm bands with a crescent and a star that she is making out of upcycled t-shirts and sweaters. They recall the bands that Jews in Europe were made to wear under the Nazi occupation. But these mean the opposite — they mean that people of many faiths can stand together.

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And in the spring, new artists will come to Mass MoCA to create and perform work inspired by Nick Cave’s ‘Until.’ Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones will present a new solo work on March 4.

And choreographer, writer, and actress Okwui Okpokwasili will create and offer a site-specific dance on April 7.

Okwui Okpokwasili “Bronx Gothic” trailer from Peter Born on Vimeo.

Grammy-winnter and living legend Mavis Staples, known worldwide as a voice in R&B, Gospel, Soul, folk, rock and blues, will also perform at Mass MoCA on March 25.

And Toshi Reagon and Dorrance Dance will return to the ’62 Center at Williams College with tap masters Derick Grant and Dromeshia Sumbry-Edwards.

Timothy Snyder to Visit Williams to Discuss Links between Environment and Holocaust

"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" urges us to pay close attention to growing ecological panic and increasingly widespread governmental destabilization; image courtesy Penguin Random House
"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" urges us to pay close attention to growing ecological panic and increasingly widespread governmental destabilization; image courtesy Penguin Random House
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;" the link between scarcity and Genocide (photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org)
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;” photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University, will present a talk titled “Black Earth: The Ecological Politics of the Holocaust”­­­­­ as part of the year’s Confronting Climate Change Initiative at Williams College on Monday, Sept.19, at 7 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3. This event is free and open to the public.

🔊 LISTEN to our interview with Dr. Timothy Snyder,

 

which aired just after the release of

 

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

 

and read more about his work.

Snyder’s most recent book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books, 2015), presents a new explanation of the Holocaust that highlights the role of environmental concerns and demagogic exploitation of those fears. He traces back the beginnings of the ideology that allowed the Holocaust to happen and devotes much of the book to examining the few people who aided Jews without institutional support. He concludes that due to growing current preoccupations with food and water, along with political unrest, today’s society is coming to resemble that of the early twentieth century period that saw the rise of the Nazi ideology. His talk will look at the structural causes for how Hitler’s ideology could and can function, and how today we might face similar risks due to climate change and state collapse.

Snyder was born in southwestern Ohio. He received his B.A. from Brown University and later his doctorate from University of Oxford. He has written five books and co-edited two, and has published essays in numerous publications including the Journal of Cold War Studies, the International Herald Tribune, New York Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. His book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2010) has earned him 12 awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding and the Hannah Arendt Prize.

This event is sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, the Department of History, and the Center for Environmental Studies.

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Plenty #3 — Timothy Snyder Warns of Next Genocide

Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;" photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;" photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;" photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;”
photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org

We spoke with Timothy Snyder about his recent work examining two necessary conditions for the Holocaust: disintegration of the state and ecological panic. The Yale history professor explains the connections between perceived resource scarcity, the dissolution of political order, and the assignment of blame to vulnerable foes. The result in World War II, of course, was a genocide that claimed over six million lives. Today, with far more pressing ecological worries and transcontinental geopolitical instability, a genocide could begin in any number of regions. Indeed, from the chaos of failed or failing states, a refugee and migrant crisis as urgent as any in history is underway right now. How long can it be before humanity responds in troubling, familiar ways?

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