City of Pittsfield and Multicultural BRIDGE present a free workshop

On Monday, July 27th at 6pm, Multicultural BRIDGE and the City of Pittsfield will be offering a free group workshop titled ‘Learning from Differences.’

Mayor Bianchi stated, “In our community, country and world we continue to face challenging situations. Unfortunately, as we recently felt, such events touch home right here in Pittsfield. However, Berkshire County has unique, caring residents that come together during times of crisis.  Not every community is as lucky to have such dedicated people living in it as ours. The Learning from Differences group workshop led by Dr. Fromm will allow us to examine how we react to tragic events and how we can learn and grow from them.

He added, “I am thrilled that our City is able to partner with Multicultural BRIDGE and Dr. Fromm to host such an amazing event right here in Pittsfield.”

Gwendolyn Hampton Vansant, CEO and founder of Multicultural BRIDGE, said, “We are proud to be providing another opportunity to deepen the City of Pittsfield's residents and employees understanding and capacity to communicate around differences regarding race, language, culture, gender, class, and ability. This collaborative workshop represents a great opportunity to bring the expertise of Dr. Fromm and his colleagues at Austen Riggs Center to facilitate this process. We look forward to future endeavors.”

 Pre-registration is required and space is limited.  To register please email Please see the detailed information below regarding the group workshop.

Multicultural BRIDGE and the City of Pittsfield Presents

Learning from Differences

A Group Workshop 

Monday, July 27, 6:00-8:00pm 

Ralph Froio Senior Center, 330 North Street, Pittsfield 

Background:  Recent tragic events have taught us once again how terribly risky and upsetting today’s world can be.  Communities and the organizations that support them struggle with complex problems, confusing situations and ongoing stress.  When traumatic events happen, fractures too often erupt along racial, religious, political or other fault-lines.  Differences between groups become highly charged and vulnerable to misunderstanding and stored-up feelings from the past.

How might we transform this painful social process into learning and future strength?   Amazingly enough, by talking to one another! Talking to one another about things often left unsaid but that are profoundly important – what it’s like to be of a certain race in this community, what it’s like to be a woman or a man or a teenager today, what it’s like to look for work, to be a teacher, to raise a child, to be a policeman, and so on. 

Primary Task:  This Workshop provides an opportunity for serious conversation in the service of learning from, and learning about, the differences that exist within our community.

Method:  The Workshop does not use presentations, and there is no formal teaching or didactic instruction.  It is not about how things should be but how they are.   It’s also not about doing something but about learning something.  It’s an open conversation that pays attention to the emotional life of participants, to their individual experiences and to what happens in the group’s unfolding conversation.  It’s about engaging with each other and reflecting on the dialogue as it happens.       


-          Opening Plenary – The task of this brief meeting of all participants is to describe the Workshop, to facilitate members’ joining it and to address questions.

-          Small Groups – These groups are the centerpiece of the Workshop.  Their task is to explore differences as they are opened up and experienced in the Small Group context.

-          Closing Plenary – The task of this brief meeting is to bring back to the full group the learning from the Small Groups and to reflect on the experience of the Workshop.

Membership:  There are openings for 50 participants.  Group assignments will be made by the Workshop staff with the goal of creating diverse group membership.

Staff:  The Workshop will be led by Dr. Jerry Fromm and his colleagues.  Each Small Group will have a staff consultant, whose primary job is to facilitate open conversation, to manage boundaries, and to offer thoughts about what might be happening in the group.  Dr. Fromm was the Director of the Therapeutic Community Program at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge for many years.  Currently, he works with international dialogue groups, serves as director or staff member of group conferences, consults to organizations, and leads an international group studying organizations.

Registration:  Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.  To register, please contact

This Workshop is sponsored by

Multicultural BRIDGE

The City of Pittsfield

The Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center

Multicultural BRIDGE’s Mission

"We promote mutual understanding and acceptance among diverse groups serving as a resource to both local institutions and the community at large.  We serve as catalysts for change through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy."