Trying to hold in-person events: A challenge as COVID wanes

There are so many parts of our lives that have been changed by COVID-19 and its variants over the past two years. Feel as if you’ve read that sentence here and elsewhere before? Yes, no doubt you have. But repetition doesn’t make it any less true. And looking at the repercussions of the pandemic carefully can only help us all cope with them better, right?

One of the most difficult, outside of the direct health implications, has been the inability to gather in person. Whether in school or at work, or in cultural venues, this has made our inner selves suffer as much as our physical selves. That’s why it was especially meaningful to see that our regional treasure, The Salisbury Forum, was hosting its first in-person event in two years last Friday, April 29.

For anyone unfamiliar with the organization, here is the description from their website of their mission: The Salisbury Forum is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to seek positive change in the world by hosting speaker forums that foster deeper understanding of issues that affect our lives globally and locally.

The speaker they hosted Friday night could hardly have been more significant to the issues faced in American society today: Thomas Shapiro, a professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University, spoke on “Toxic Inequality: The Overdue Reckoning of Race and Wealth.” Shapiro is also the author of “Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, and Threatens Our Future” and “The Hidden Cost of Being African American.”

See Managing Editor Patrick Sullivan’s story this week on the content of Shapiro’s talk, to get a sense of the details and data he put across to help us all understand what systemic racism over many generations has done to the financial lives of Black families. Shapiro detailed not only the data showing the inequities that have made it next to impossible for many African Americans to increase their earnings and ability to own homes. Shapiro was clear that home ownership is a major factor on not just net worth for the current generation, but for those who follow.

It was still a challenge to bring a large crowd out in person for the Housatonic Valley Regional High School venue in Falls Village for this event. If you were interested but decided against going to an in-person event yet, you should not only read Sullivan’s story on the talk, but also go to the Salisbury Forum website  at www.salisburyforum.org and click on videos. Then, watch a good quality video of Shapiro’s talk. An excellent benefit of these talks is the chance to find out about the books written by the speaker and others on the topic. So, also look at the link to Oblong Books on the Forum website, where you can find the relevant books by Shapiro.

Keep an eye on the upcoming programs from The Salisbury Forum; no matter where you live in the Tristate region, these programs are worth the drive.

The next one is on June 1 at 7 p.m. again at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, with the speaker Marie Yovanovitch, speaking on “Lessons from the Edge.” Yovanovitch, by the way, grew up in Kent.

She is a career American diplomat, according to the Forum website, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and the author of “Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir.” After being ousted from her post she became a central figure in the congressional inquiry leading to the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Let’s hope the recent uptick in COVID cases in the area slow down, and we can be more open to gathering in person once again. It will help our mental and emotional health, and therefore help our physical outlook as well.

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