In spring 2018, the university launched Building Bridges, an initiative designed to foster new connections among UMass community members who come from greatly varied backgrounds and hold differing perspectives. It provides an opportunity, no matter what your role or job may be on campus, to become actively engaged.
There are three core projects that are part of Building Bridges, including art installations and two courses—Our Immigrant Voices, which seeks to amplify the voices of immigrant workers on campus; and Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass, which explores ways of highlighting the art created by UMass employees.
As part of the initiative, there will also be events and lectures. Students, faculty and staff are invited to get involved in Building Bridges in a way that feels meaningful to them, whether by attending an event, hosting their own event or contributing to the Building Bridges art installation.
About the Art Installations
The Building Bridges art installations feature cards designed by campus community members during the spring 2018 semester. Each card individually answers the questions: “What differences do you want to bridge and/or connect, and how can we accomplish this goal?” When assembled, these cards create a mosaic that spells out the words “building bridges.” The mosaic is then displayed on an 11-foot tower featuring the phrase “building bridges” in multiple languages.
Want to get involved? Contact us to get a set of Building Bridges cards to contribute to the art installation.
Fall 2019 Building Bridges Classes
Our Immigrant Voices
This course brings together immigrant employees to get to know each other and to discuss ways they would like to amplify the voices and realities of immigrant employees on campus. Participants and facilitators work together to create a display that will be showcased in a campus-wide event. The course meets four times in the fall and six times in the spring. Anyone in the UMass community interested in being a part of this course is encouraged to sign up.
- Yi Sun and Jacob Carter, co-facilitators
Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass
This course brings together worker artists and others to explore the ways in which they can showcase the talents of worker artists on campus. Specifically, participants will be planning for contributions to an showcase event and how to more generally increase the visibility of worker artists on the UMass campus in the years to come. The course meets three times in the fall and five times in the spring. Anyone in the UMass community interested in being a part of this course is encouraged to sign up.
-Joe Connolly and Jacob Carter, co-facilitators
We Are More Than You See Writing Workshop
The people who work at UMass have powerful life stories to share. Do you have a life outside of UMass that students and staff don’t get to see? Perhaps you play in a band, write poetry, or lived in another country and have world experiences that our campus can learn from. Join this five-session writing workshop, where you will learn how to craft writing that shares what’s most important about you. And if you would like to collect other people’s stories, we will help you develop skills to do that. Everyone is welcome—just bring a computer or a notebook, a pen, and your writing voice.
-Leslie Fraser, facilitator
Worker Rights as Civil Rights
The documentary “At the River I Stand” tells the story of the 1968 Memphis, Tennessee sanitation workers strike and its connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, and AFSCME's early organizing of public sector workers in the South. This three-session course uses this film to look at an important moment in history. We also use the issues the film raises as a basis for class participants to discuss your own experiences and perspectives, as we explore together the ways in which worker rights connect to civil rights. Session #2 includes the film showing, with a free light lunch provided by the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
-This course is taught by Cedric De Leon, Director of the UMass Labor Center and Pat Greenfield, retired Professor at the School of Management and former Director of the UMass Labor Center.