About Us

Bridges to Cultural Understanding is a grassroots organization created to provide a means of bringing multi-cultural individuals together across social boundaries in order to give us all an opportunity to share our individual stories and to dialogue with one another. All Bridges to Cultural Understanding meetings are open to the community at no charge. Our meetings offer a great opportunity for an inter-generational, multi-cultural exchange of information, questions, answers and new perspectives.

Our Objectives

• To share the reality and depth of the personal stories of our cultures.

• To promote understanding of each culture's history, contributions, special holidays and celebrations, religion, challenges (both historic and present,) current pressing issues and dreams for the future.

• To build intra-cultural friendships and alliances committed to reducing misconceptions, healing racism and uniting together to identify and change attitudes, structures and laws that perpetuate disparities.

Programs and Events

2015 BTCU Programs

Unless otherwise noted: All programs will be held at
First Congregational Church 145 Capital Ave. N.E., Battle Creek

(Updated) - Thursday, June 11, 2015 from 7p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


"Disability Language: Recognizing ableism on our journey toward disability justice."

This July marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a landmark civil rights law that works to end the segregation and discrimination of people with disabilities in all areas of society. However, the change in the law did not immediately change our cultural ideas or understanding of disability. The language we use around disability is a key component in understanding disability as a civil rights and diversity issue.  We invite you to explore how ableist language supports discrimination and to learn about the disability justice movement.
Awareness of this information will give you invaluable insights in understanding the issues and also equip you to know how to handle situations you may encounter with greater wisdom and sensitivity.

Presenters:  Disability Network Southwest Michigan.
Michele McGowen, Program Manager for Community Education Systems Advocacy.
Joanne Johnson, Community Educator & Systems Advocate.

*** If you need an accommodation to participate at this meeting, please let us
know; see contact info below.

*** CIR will provide an ASL interpreter for this meeting.

*** This is a fragrance-free event.  Please refrain from wearing any perfume, 
cologne or scented products to the presentation.

Please RSVP to Jennifer LaGrand or Nina LaGrand 269-964-4921 or email j.lagrand@yahoo.com or ninalagrand@icloud.com

About Disability Network Southwest Michigan

We provide services to people with a variety of disabilities, including physical, neurological, psychiatric, learning, cognitive, and sensory disabilities. Whether you were born with a disability or acquired a disability later in life through accident, illness or through the aging process, you are welcome here. We are a resource for friends and family members of people with disabilities as well as community professionals and other human service providers. 

We provide services to local units of government and the business and non-profit communities by providing information, training, technical assistance and support in learning to be welcoming of people with disabilities as customers, clients, patrons, volunteers, or employees. 

We work in partnership with other organizations that provide services to persons with disabilities, being careful not to duplicate services but to fill unique niches and address unmet need. We are careful stewards of the financial support we receive.

What is unique about us is that we, too, are people with disabilities!  At least 51% of our Board of Directors and staff members identify as having some kind of disability.  Our philosophy has always been that people who live the disability experience are experts on disability issues, and that services we provide should be created with the direct input of those they will impact.  That makes us different from the traditional social services model.

Interested in becoming a member of Disability Network?  There are great benefits!
Disability Network Southwest Michigan is a 501C3 tax exempt organization..
We are affiliated with the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo RegionSt. Joseph County United Way, and Van Buren County United Way.  


Video Links of Interest

A Girl Like Me
Color is more than skin deep for young African-American women struggling to define themselves
Reza Aslan
Unity in Diversity

An internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, tells his own story of growing up as an Iranian-born emigre and explores the common narrative of what it means to be an American
One Drop Rule
"Insights and implications regarding the "One Drop Rule."
The Rev. Eric Law of the Kaleidoscope Institute
Talks about assumptions that we might make when we meet another person?