Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Place for Hate campaign advances

No Place for Hate campaign advances
Harwich Oracle By Douglas Karlson/
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Selectmen are expected to officially support a proclamation designating Harwich a No Place for Hate community. That's according to John Bangert of the No Place for Hate - Harwich coalition. He said he expects the board to sign the document at a press conference Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day.
The move would be an important step in being officially certified by the Anti-Defamation League as a No Place for Hate community. The proclamation is a standard one prepared by the Anti-Defamation League. It has been used in more than 50 Massachusetts towns.
According to Bangert, the move to designate Harwich as a No Place for Hate participant began last year but gained momentum following last month's defacement of a sign near the bike path on Route 39. A swastika was spray painted on the sign, and its presence upset many townspeople.
At last week's selectmen's meeting, Selectman Robin Wilkins suggested that two or three members of the No Place for Hate - Harwich coalition sit down and also write their own proclamation. He explained that he preferred to have a home-grown anti-hate proclamation, rather than simply adopt the standard one furnished by the Anti-Defamation League. By writing it ourselves, said Wilkins, the community will be engaged.
Bangert said that he, selectmen chairman Ed McManus, and the Rev. Terry Newberry of First Congregational Church will draft the document.
Guidelines provided by the Anti-Defamation League state that "the official NPFH proclamation must be signed by each participating city/town. If your community wished to create its own proclamation, it can be done in addition to the official one."
Bangert said he expects the entire board to follow Wilkins' lead and support the program. "As Robin goes, so will, I think, the rest of the selectmen," said Bangert. A location for the event has not yet been determined.
To be certified as a No Place for Hate community, a town must first form a coalition, which has been done. Then the town must issue an official proclamation. After that,, communities must complete three activities. To choose these activities, the No Place for Hate Committee must complete a community assessment form to identify the needs of the town. Towns may then choose from a menu of activities, or create their own activities provided they are approved by the Anti-Defamation League.
Bangert told the Oracle that the coalition expects to host a pot luck dinner at the Community Center on Valentine's Day. Participants will be asked to bring a food they hated as a child. The exercise is intended to bridge differences, and illustrate how some people love what others hate, he explained.
He said other activities will probably include discussions of racism, and education on topics such as the Holocaust.
The Anti-Defamation League suggests a number of possible activities including school orientation programs and discussions, anti-bias training, hate crime training for police, civil rights day public forum, walks, films, library events, essay contests and pot luck dinners. Towns must be recertified every year, and must complete two anti-hate activities.
The No Place for Hate program was created in 1999 by the New England Region Anti-Defamation League and the Massachusetts Municipal Association. It is intended to provide towns a framework to fight bigotry and hate.
Regarding the program, selectmen chairman Ed McManus who recently attended a meeting of the Harwich clergy association and heard a presentation from Jennifer Smith of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said, "It takes very little involvement in town government." He said local churches and schools play the biggest role.
"I think this is a fantastic idea for our community," said Newberry.
He described the program as a "very positive statement about who we are as a people."

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