Members of Bedford Embraces Diversity, with their Bedford Day quilt. Standing: Erin McCormack, Erin McCormack, Ellis Kriesberg, Marilou Barsam Seated: Valerie Rushanan - Image (c) JMcCT, 2014

Members of Bedford Embraces Diversity, with their Bedford Day quilt. Standing: Erin McCormack, Ellis Kriesberg, and Marilou Barsam Seated: Valerie Rushanan – Image (c) JMcCT, 2014

Submitted by Bedford Embraces Diversity

One of the outcomes of Bedford Day is a beautiful, new, paper quilt hanging at the Bedford Free Public Library, displaying the diversity of backgrounds in our community.  The quilt’s 54 squares were designed and hand-drawn by Bedford residents who stopped by the Bedford Embraces Diversity booth to learn more about the committee and its mission. Later, the 8 x 8″ white squares were mounted on colorful backgrounds and tied together, just as all people are woven together like a fabric.

Participants were asked to portray differences in their families, how their background or culture inspires them, and how Bedford helps them feel comfortable. The artists ranged from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, families and groups of students, including people from military, Asian, Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Irish, gay, French, Moslem, Native American, and Indian backgrounds.  Many of the squares showed humor and optimism about celebrating differences, as well as Bedford pride—including references to sports and the idea of “Team Bedford” —folks with different talents and experiences contributing to the strength and success of the town. Words repeated in multiple squares of the quilt include: acceptance, welcome, love, together, all, support, happiness, and peace.

Bedford Embraces Diversity members donated materials for the quilt, organized the drawing activity, took photos of community members, solicited volunteers and supporters, and sold bake sale items. In total, $150.00 was raised at the booth on Bedford Day; these funds have been placed in a bank account to help pay for future events.

The quilt idea came out of the group of people who formed Bedford Embraces Diversity, one of the committees that formed in response to the anti-Semitic and racist incidents of last year and the resulting public forums organized by Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills. Chaired by Marilou Barsam and Valerie Rushanan, the committee took on the mission of bringing greater awareness to the community on the issues of a changing and increasingly diverse small New England town. Another committee formed to address curriculum and school-related issues, and a third committee is a group of religious organizations that serve the Bedford community.

Save the Date: April, 2015 Multicultural Event

The community-focused committee is planning a multicultural event on Sunday, April 12, 2015 at Bedford High School. The festival represents a great opportunity for a better appreciation of the differences of language, culture, arts and food, as well as a more serious understanding of differences. The group’s vision is that this festival become a permanent event for the town, much like Bedford Day, but focused on acknowledging, respecting and celebrating the diversity of  its residents. Members also acknowledge the realities of bias and disrespect toward different groups, which need to be publicly addressed. As part of the effort to be widely recognized as a resource in town, Bedford Embraces Diversity created a Facebook page (Bedford Embraces Diversity), a website (www.bedfordembracesdiversity.org), and contributes regularly to the Bedford news outlets, including The Bedford Citizen.

To Learn More

If you are interested in attending a monthly meeting of the committee or donating to the group’s work, please email:  barsammarilou@gmail.com or valrushanan@verizon.net or click on this link Diversity Quilt Description

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