EDITORIAL: Can we talk?

THE DUST HASN’T SETTLED. Instead it swirls faster. What’s troubling so many of us now shows no signs of improvement. What chance do we have that things will get better when the situation seems so dire?

Good question. Should we accept this anxiety as inevitable? Dismiss calls for reconnection with a shrug and a sigh. The problems are too big. The gulf between us and our neighbors too wide. They’re still wrong; we’re still right. There’s no reason to bridge the gap between us. And why would we want to?

Start with that last question: Why try? One answer is that no matter whose side we’re on, we share a desire to to survive. And there’s more to survival than food and water, clothing, a job and a place to live. We’re social creatures and wherever we live, we tend to connect with each other through groups, even when a pandemic stalks us all.

Groups promote our survival on national or global scale, though most of us have little involvement in how they affect our lives. But at the community level—for instance our county’s 18 towns, 4 villages and the small City of Hudson—the scale is tipped in favor of small groups and institutions. We need them now more than ever before.

That’s why it was welcome news this week when the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation unveiled a grant program called Bridging Divides, Healing Communities. The foundation described it as “grants between $500 and $2,500 to support small-scale, community-based actions such as virtual forums, service projects, and artistic and cultural activities. Applicants [are asked to] consider how their projects would create new or strengthen existing relationships among people of different backgrounds, experiences or beliefs.”

The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BCTF) manages philanthropic giving for projects located in Berkshire County, MA, Columbia County and northeast Dutchess County in New York, and northwest Litchfield County, CT.

BTCF is the major funder of this work, with a small grant from Berkshire Bank.

Eligible applicants include nonprofits, schools, municipalities and local government, and faith-based organizations (for non-religious activities). Community groups may also apply through a “fiscal sponsorship” with an eligible organization. The first deadline for applications is Tuesday, December 1. Apply at www.BerkshireTaconic.org/Healing .

Have any ideas for how these grants should be used? Can you think of an entity in Columbia County that can “bridge differences, build trust and promote reconciliation,” as Berkshire Taconic President Peter Taylor says the foundation wants? Would you be willing to imagine what one would look like?

If you can keep your response to 150 words or less, email it to . We’ll set aside space in print and online to publish your ideas and opinions. Be sure to include your phone number so we can confirm your identity.

If you prefer to nurse a gloomy outlook, that’s understandable. The news will confirm your worst suspicions.

The alternative—the search for slivers of common ground—comes with no guarantee of renewing old bonds or creating new ones. All you can expect is that without searching we will weaken those essential human connections. It may not be our survival at stake. Maybe it’s just our humanity. Either way, we all have a lot to lose if we fail to give this a try.

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