Victories: Fewer Prisoners, More Forests

In terms of incarceration rates, in the past decade Vermont went from being one of the worst states in the nation to one of the best. “We have a shortage of housing in Vermont and that affects people as they are released” from prison, Jeanette White told the Valley Post on September 21. She is a state senator for the county that's home to Brattleboro. “We are working on that.”

Of the 50 states, only Massachusetts keeps a smaller percentage of its people in prison than Vermont. New Hampshire is sixth best.

Locals Arrested for Native American Rights

The USA is on land stolen from Native Americans. Despite the best efforts of the government for the past 242 years to kill Native Americans, they are still alive, and fighting the system. Activists are calling on politicians to raise taxes on billionaires and give the money to Native Americans. In recent weeks, several people from the Valley were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience for Native American rights, and other issues, as part of the Poor People's Campaign.

Peace March

On March 18, there will be a march for world peace. The march will start in Amherst and end in Northampton. The public is invited to attend part or all of the walk. It will start at 9 a.m. outside the church at 165 Main Street, organizer Tim Bullock told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on February 28. More information is at:

www.NewEnglandPeacePagoda.org/walk-for-a-new-spring

Almost half (47 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of about $3 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

Photos: Snowy Owl in the Valley

These photos of a snowy owl in New Salem, Massachusetts were taken on November 11. New Salem borders Pelham, which borders Amherst. Snowy owls are the heaviest owls in North America. They come to the Valley in winter; in summer they live in the Arctic.

To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." These photos were taken by Joe Oliverio. To contact him to buy prints, e-mail him at joeoliverio@comcast.net or visit his web site www.JoeOliverioPhotography.com.

For Peace, Against Pollution

War tax resisters from around the nation will host a public event in Amherst on November 3 at 7 p.m. Stopping construction of fossil fuel pipelines is the goal of a march in Northampton on November 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Sam Koplinka-Loehr will moderate a panel at the peace event. “I am a war tax resister because I believe a better world is possible,” she told the Valley Post. More information is at:

https://nwtrcc.org/programs-events/gatherings-and-events/schedule

Photos: Land Use Done Right

These photos were taken on September 16. They show an apartment building under construction in downtown Amherst, next door to the post office, and farmland along Route 47 in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Sunderland borders Amherst. Single-family homes are almost always worse for the environment than multi-family housing. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photos by Eesha Williams

Nurses to Rally for Justice

In Greenfield, nurses are asking the public to join them at a rally for justice on March 9 at 4:30 p.m. The event will be at the town common. The nurses work at the Greenfield hospital, now known as Baystate Franklin Medical Center. They are members of a union, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which is organizing the rally. The workers want fewer patients per nurse, and better wages and benefits.

361 Acres Saved

Thanks to the work of environmental activists, about 361 acres of open space in the Valley have been permanently protected from development. On February 24, the Kestrel Land Trust announced in an e-mail to its members it had saved 161 acres of forestland in Pelham, Massachusetts. Pelham borders Amherst. The land is open to the public for hiking.

Activists: 'Healthcare is a Human Right'

About 400 people attended rallies in Amherst and Keene on January 15, declaring, “Healthcare is a human right.” President-elect Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are planning major cuts to programs that provide free or reduced-price health care to poor people. The Amherst rally was also intended to protest plans to cut Social Security.

About 200 people were at the Keene rally and about 200 attended the rally in Amherst. The rally in Keene was organized by the Monadnock Progressive Alliance, which has a web page at:

www.facebook.com/groups/MonadnockProgressiveAlliance

Quabbin National Park Proposed

A new group is working to stop clear cut logging in the Pioneer Valley's biggest area of protected open space. The activists want to do that by persuading politicians to convert the 87,000 acre Quabbin state forest into a national park. Of that area, 58,000 acres is land, the rest is water. Stopping logging on the land would make it more profitable for logging companies to buy forestland that might otherwise be turned into houses, roads, Walmarts, and parking lots. Logging companies can be required to log sustainably, not using clear cut logging. This kind of rule exists in Vermont.