Hilltown Voices: Plainfield group to bring the Constitution to life

For the Gazette
Published: 10/16/2018 3:46:33 PM

PLAINFIELD — It is not uncommon to hear vague reference to the U.S. Constitution in political conversation or debate, but when was the last time any of us actually read the document in its entirety and discussed the meaning of its contents?

An ad hoc group of civic-minded residents group called Plainfield Reads is offering this opportunity with a community reading of the Constitution and its amendments on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Plainfield Town Hall.

The event is designed as an interactive reading with participants taking turns reading aloud, followed by a moderated discussion period.

Organizer Erik Burcroff said that the group has held similar events, such as the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, as well as the famous 1852 speech by Frederick Douglas entitled “The meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.”

Burcroff said that the idea behind this reading is to help people become more informed about the country’s founding document and its pertinence to current events.

“It’s all about civic engagement,” Burcroff said. “We were inspired by the upcoming November election and we want to remind people, ourselves and other citizens of the Hilltowns, of what this document actually says.”

Co-organizer Pleun Bouricius, who created the award-winning statewide program that offers the community public readings of the Douglass speech, said she hopes for a similar turnout for this program.

“We had a good 60 to 70 people at our Douglas reading,” she said. “It’s fun and it is serious at the same time.”

Bouricius said that one of her concerns is that the current political landscape lacks productive dialogue.

“The one thing that I see happening is that we are not very practiced as a people to have dialogue,” Bouricius said. “The larger ideas of freedom and equality get bandied about, but it’s really important to talk about how we use those ideals to make a good society.”

Burcroff said he is inspired by the collaboration with Bouricius and noted that they are trying to draw in a more diverse audience, especially school-aged children and people of color.

“Everybody feels that they own the Constitution,” Bouricius said. “It was the first document that was vetted by all of the people, we all own it together.”

The event is free and open to the public. All individuals 12 years and older are welcome to join in. Participants are asked to bring along their civic best self, and respect for the opinions of others.

Plainfield Reads is sponsored by Earthdance and funded in part by Mass Humanities.

Annual church auction

CUMMINGTON —The West Cummington Congregational Church will hold its annual auction and dinner on Saturday at the Cummington Community House.

Unlike the previous 17 years, this event will be a silent auction.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. for the auction viewing, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and musical entertainment by Shea & Company at 7:30 p.m.

The community is invited, and the event is popular, so organizers are advising people to make reservations soon as there are only 90 tickets available.

All ticket purchasers will be entered in a raffle to win door prizes such as theater and dinner gift certificates, and tickets to the Cummington Fair.

Dinner items include pork loin, roasted potatoes and vegetables, chili and lasagna, as well as Thai curry dishes. Appetizers will be served during the silent auction viewing.

The event is BYOB. Dessert will precede the music and dancing.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from Sylvia Snape by calling 345-0566 or emailing sylvia.snape@gmail.com.

The Community House is located at 33 Main St.

Crop walk celebration

CHESTERFIELD — The 31st anniversary of the Hilltown CROP Hunger Walk will be celebrated Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Chesterfield Congregational Church.

The event raises funds to end hunger here in the United States and around the world.

The Hilltown CROP Hunger walk rotates each year among the participating towns. Normally this event includes a walking route that participants do after soliciting donations for the walk.

“This year the event is being held in Chesterfield and they don’t have a very good walking route because it is very hilly there and many people can’t do the hills,” said event organizer Jean York, of Williamsburg.

Instead, the event will be celebrated with a spaghetti lunch. All are welcome to attend and make a donation to the cause.

The Chesterfield Congregational Church is located in the center of town.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com

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