Critical Mass is May 17

Critical Mass bicycle rides started in 1992 in California and have since spread around the world. Hundreds of people ride together in a group on roads, forcing cars to go at bicycle speed. They often chant, “Critical Mass, don't use gas!”

On May 17 there will be a Critical Mass bike ride in Brattleboro. The ride starts at 6 p.m. at the town common. The goal is to get politicians to deal with climate change, which the world's leading scientists say is a major threat to earth's ability to support human life. Details about the ride are at:

www.facebook.com/events/2144426155641240

Workers Unite

On March 10 in Chicopee, Massachusetts hundreds of Stop and Shop workers came to a union meeting and voted unanimously to give their elected union leaders the power to call a strike. Chicopee borders Springfield and Holyoke. Low wages are one of the main reasons workers voted yes. Stop and Shop is owned by a corporation based in Holland that has about 370,000 employees, including about 2,000 in western Massachusetts. Stop and Shop workers in the Pioneer Valley have a web site at www.ufcw1459.com.

Activists Work to Make Roads Safe for Walkers

On March 2 at about 8:45 a.m. in West Springfield, Massachusetts a driver of a car drove into a pedestrian, killing the pedestrian. “This is at least the eleventh pedestrian who has been hit and killed by a driver in Massachusetts already this year,” Brendan Kearney told the Valley Post. He works for a group that has a web site at https://walkboston.org. Despite the group's name, Walk Boston works statewide. “We need to reduce illegal speeding to help prevent and/or reduce the severity of these crashes, and a way to do that is through road design,” Kearney said.

English Beat Concert is October 11

The English Beat will play in Holyoke on October 11 at 8 p.m. The band plays ska. The audience dances. Members of the band include Deborah Troiano, King Schascha, and Dave Wakeling, who was born into a working class family in Birmingham, England, according to the band's web site.

The band has donated money to efforts to ban all nuclear weapons. In September 2018 they are playing in England and California. The photo shows Schascha. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photo from www.TheKingSchascha.com

200 at Keene Rally

In Keene on September 8, more than 200 people attended a rally calling on politicians to deal with climate change. Millions of people die of starvation every year, increasingly due to climate-change-caused floods and droughts that make it hard for farmers to grow food.

A Victory for the Environment

The USA is losing 6,000 or so acres of open space every day. But here in the Valley, about 640 acres of farmland and forestland were permanently protected from development. A land trust based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, about 9 miles from Greenfield, announced the news on August 2.

Local News Round-up

In Springfield, thanks to the work of housing activists, $10.2 million will be invested in renovating a 34-story apartment building at 10 Chestnut Street. The news was announced by city and state officials on July 27. The money comes from taxpayers. Raising taxes on billionaires is one way to create good-paying, union jobs for carpenters, painters, plumbers, and electricians. Women and people of color can get these jobs that have traditionally mostly been held by white men. Details are available by contacting union activists via their web site: www.LaborNotes.org.

Victory for Housing Advocates

In a win for activists who fight for affordable housing, downtown Brattleboro will get a new apartment building. “This project will provide beautiful new homes for folks wanting to live close to all the amenities available in downtown Brattleboro," Elizabeth Bridgewater told the Valley Post on March 8. She runs the non-profit group that will build the housing. Bridgewater's group has a web site at www.w-wht.org.

The building will be constructed at 23 Flat Street, which is now a vacant lot, and will have about two dozen apartments.

Nurses Win

About 130 nurses in Westfield, Massachusetts voted to approve a new union contract. Westfield borders Holyoke. The nurses work at Noble hospital.

“We are proud of this agreement and what it will mean for our quality of patient care,” said Pam Fournier, one of the nurses. “By standing together, we were able to successfully negotiate a fair contract that values the patient care nurses provide and respects our contribution to the hospital.”

Workers Win

In a major win for workers' rights in the Valley, 230 school bus drivers and associated workers formed a union. "I support the union. Consistency between five towns and three garages is the main issue. There are five different towns being run five different ways," Annette LeBlanc told the Valley Post. For about five years, she has been a bus driver at the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. “I am hopeful. But we’ve got a lot of work to do before we are finished.”