Over 130 Winchester residents attended a Civic Gathering at the Jenks Center on February 2, 2017, that was hosted by the Network, the Board of Selectmen, and the School Committee. This exciting program focused on strengthening Winchester to ensure that our core values of inclusion and support for human rights are reflected in our civic life. The Human Rights Statement adopted by the Board of Selectmen (2009, amended in 2012) held center stage as a reminder.
Remarks by State Representative Michael Day and the four facilitators, Network Executive Director Aba Taylor, Selectman Mike Bettencourt, School Committee member Susan Verdicchio, and former Selectman and Network Community Advisor Tom Howley, set the tone. Howley called on the audience to name ongoing Winchester organizations and activities that demonstrated the caring and connected community that residents aspire to. Taylor noted that Winchester could receive the volunteer of the year award for the entire Commonwealth.
Next, the participants worked in small, self-selected groups on a wide range of initiatives. The positive energy in the room led to many creative and important action items. These included:
• promoting the Town’s Human Rights Statement across town and at town meeting;
• increasing inter-generational dialogues with a program modeled after both the Literary Lunches at the Jenks Center and the town-wide Winchester Reads, such as Winchester Talks;
• bringing bystander/upstander training to various community groups;
• working on creating safety for local refugees;
• publicizing our values through signs around town and through art projects in our schools;
• working on the creation of a Diversity Committee of parents to provide input to our school system;
• promoting collaboration between town organizations and community groups;
• increasing opportunities for civic education;
• learning how to constructively dialogue across political differences; organizing visits to the Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland; and
• creating a culture that more fully welcomes our newer residents.
Each of ten working groups has an established “point person” who will organize ongoing actions. If you are interested in becoming involved in work on any of these initiatives, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,