Saturday June 9, 2012

Discerning shoppers pride themselves on getting a good deal. But for individuals who consciously make decisions regarding their purchases and investments based primarily on principles of fairness and justice, the term "good" in this context is not defined by how much money is saved or earned but by the degree to which the transaction was with a company that operates in a socially responsible and sustainable manner. The financial institutions with which we deposit our money and from which we borrow should be held to the same standard.

The Occupy Movement has showed great energy in the streets with its efforts to let the "too big to fail" banks know of the massive disapproval of their activities by 99 percent of the population. In a somewhat different arena than the streets, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice (BCP&J) is sponsoring a "Bank Fair" to let area individuals have an opportunity to compare the variety of services offered by the banks and credit unions of Berkshire County and to learn of the philosophies under which they operate.

Since banking is the primary focus of economic power, we believe everyone with a concern for moving toward a more just and equitable society will be interested in the relevant opportunity to be provided by the Bank Fair.

It will be held at The South Congregational Church at 110 South St. in Pittsfield today from 2 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Participating institutions will have an equal amount of time to make public their special qualities and present their case for why any area resident would be best off depositing in or borrowing from their institution.

It is interesting that as of the writing of this letter only one credit union, MyCom Federal Credit Union, and no banks have agreed to participate, out of 17 invitations sent. Ac cordingly, the Bank Fair will likely include some discussion on the reasons, and the reasons behind the reasons, for why most area financial institutions either ignored or declined BCP&J’s invitation to participate in this activity.

If you want more information about the distinctions between the different types of financial institutions that are eager to have your money -- knowledge that is essential when seeking to incorporate an ethical component and maximum degree of social responsibility into personal banking practices -- then the Bank Fair is the ideal place for you.

For information about this activity, including a list of event co-endorsers, visit BCP&J’s website at BCPJ.org or call (413) 997-6684.

BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN

Pittsfield

The writer is a member and Bank Fair co-organizer, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice.