Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feeling the Rhythm

Despite the heat — and it being the heart of vacation season, the July 16 meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfatih Action Initiative drew 17 people. Those of us left at the end participated in a lively drumming circle facilitated by Otha Day.

We will have a special planning meeting Aug. 6 and our next regular meeting will be Aug. 20. See below for details.

We heard from Sarah Kline, head of the Northern Berkshire office of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berkshire County, and Sr. Natalie Cain, who is a Big Sister. Though we ran somewhat short of time, we also heard from Valerie Schultz, who heads the Berkshire Food Project, which provides lunches in North Adams for the poor.

The upshot of our discussions is that there are intense needs in our community for such tasks as mentoring disadvantaged children but not enough financial resources in these hard times to meet them. More mentors for boys and girls are always needed but the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is about at capacity right now in the number of “matches” between children and adults it can organize and supervise.

Those present asked Sarah how we could help. The consensus seemed to be that we could rasie awareness of the need for mentoring and resources to support it.

Though our conversation with Val was cut short, we learned that there is need for space in the city for a food pantry to locate. They have the food, just need a place to put it. We also learned that there are homeless people in our community, people who spend their nights outside. Our local capacity to house the homeless seems to be fraying.

Valerie Schwartz, invited back, and others who deal with the poor and marginalized will be the main topic on our agenda at our next regular meeting, on Friday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Cburch in North Adams.

Because several people had to leave at noon at our Aug. 16 meeting, we have decided to return our starting time back to 10 a.m.

Indeed, at our Aug. 16 meeting, only a handful of us were left after the clock hit noon to enjoy our drumming session with Otha Day. All 7 or 8 of us who participated enjoyed it immensely. This is important, because our first outreach effort will consist of a drumming circle, as this announcement states:

“A special meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative will be held on Friday, Aug. 6, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Adams (use the Eagle Street entrance).

“The purpose will be to prepare for the intitiative’s outreach effort at the North Adams Downtown Celebration on Wednesday, Aug. 25. We will be making plans with local musician Otha Day, a member of the Interfaith initiative, for a drumming circle at this event.

“The drumming circle will be the first outreach effort of the initiative. We hope to have an informational handout about the interfaith initiative available to give people at the Fowntown Celebration and also a sign-up sheet for those interested in our work. Volunteers will be needed to help Otha transport and set up his equipment, distribute our flyer and handle the sign-up sheet.

“The next regular meeting of the Interfaith Action Initiative will be held on Friday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Cburch in North Adams. We wil continue our discussion with those serving the needs of the poor and marginalized.

“The Initiative, which was launched earlier this summer, invites followers of all faiths and all people of goodwill to participate.

For more information, For more information, e-mail or call 663-7588.”


After three meetings, I see much potential in this interfaith effort. I could, and maybe will, come up with a list of the score of possible ideas for action that have come up so far.

I also have other ideas. Our discernment process continues, but our first public activity will be held at the North Adams Downtown Celebration next month.

I would encourage people to offer ideas here — or come to our next meetings — and bring a friend. If you need to arrive late or leave early, that’s fine — just stop in and see what we’re about.