Berkshire Interfaith Organizing

175 Wendell Ave, Pittsfield MA 01201

(413) 464-1804

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Our Story

Our Origins

The Berkshires are known for their unique combination of natural beauty and cultural offerings. Even Massachusetts residents, thinking of Berkshire County, envision Tanglewood, the Clark Art Institute, and 100-room cottages built here during the Gilded Age - but this is an incomplete picture.

 

This region has historically served not only as a vacation retreat for the wealthy, but also as a center of industry, education, and innovation. But dramatic losses of manufacturing jobs since the 80s and their cascading effects have increasingly separated our community into haves and have-nots.

Economic and social changes over time have deepened this divide; today Berkshire County is the most inequitable county in Western Massachusetts. Many residents struggle to get by while the wealthy and second home owners enjoy an ever-increasing standard of living.

BIO was founded in 2015 to resist this trend and prevent the dawning of a new Gilded Age. The people struggling here are increasingly invisible to Washington and Boston and even to many of us who live here, and BIO fights for justice and opportunity for our invisible neighbors.

 

We fight not for, but with, the historical residents of our county - as well as new immigrants - to ensure that their voices are heard, their needs met, and their future here not only preserved, but strengthened.

At a time of increasing segregation in our country, BIO works to bring people together across lines of class, race, and religion to create a strong and united community where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. For that would be a truly Golden Age.

Institutional and Leadership Goals

2018-2019

Increase public and private transportation options for Berkshire County, to improve access to jobs, medical care, and affordable, nutritious food for low-income residents.

1

Create a safe and inclusive community for immigrants in Berkshire County.

2

Carry out research and relationship building in emerging and long-standing issue areas.

3

Change the power relationship that exists with our member congregations and their allies with institutions whose decisions shape access to income, transportation, and food for the poor and working poor in Berkshire County.

4

2019 Member

Congregations

Cathedral of the Beloved, Pittsfield

Christ Trinity Church, Sheffield

Congregation Beth Israel, North Adams

Congregation Knesset Israel, Pittsfield

First Church of Christ on Park Square, Pittsfield

First Congregational Church, Dalton

First Congregational Church, Williamstown

Lee Congregational Church, Lee

Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, North Adams

Price Memorial AME Zion Church, Pittsfield

Second Congregational Church, Pittsfield

Sisters of St. Joseph

South Congregational Church, Pittsfield

St. Mark Catholic Parish, Pittsfield

St. John's Episcopal Church, Williamstown

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Pittsfield

Unitarian Universalist Church, Pittsfield

Unitarian Universalist Meeting of Southern Berkshires, Housatonic

BIO Community Leaders