Wins for Workers, Nature

Thanks to the work of activists in Springfield, 1.5 miles of abandoned train tracks will be turned into a rail trail. "The design for the McKnight Community Trail is in progress," Liz Stevens told the Valley Post on March 8. She is part of an all-volunteer group that has a web site at www.WalkBikeSpringfieldMA.org. "The actual construction of the trail is expected to happen in 2023.... On March 6, I walked on a section of the trail with Andy Krar, the city engineer, and saw work being done by... the company contracted to create the trail design. A crew was there to collect soil samples....

Workers Win

Thanks to the labor movement, on January 1 the minimum wage will go up to $12.75 an hour in Massachusetts and $10.96 an hour in Vermont. The New Hampshire minimum wage will remain at $7.25. In the 1930s workers went on strike around the nation, forcing politicians to pass the first minimum wage laws. To this day, unions lobby to raise the minimum wage. One of the most active unions in the Pioneer Valley and Brattleboro has a web site at www.ufcw1459.com. New Hampshire unions have a web site at www.nhaflcio.org.

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Local News Round-up

On December 6 there will be two climate rallies. One is in Springfield at noon outside city hall. The other will be at 3:30 p.m. at the main entrance to Mount Holyoke College. The organizers of both rallies can be reached via www.facebook.com/SunriseSouthHadley.

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On December 1 in Keene there was a rally to impeach Trump. “There were around 30 people there,” Jim Murphy told the Valley Post. Pat Brady Martin told the Valley Post, “The music at the rally was great.”

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Civil Disobedience

Three people from the Brattleboro area were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience on September 28 at a facility that turns coal into electricity in Bow, New Hampshire. In all, 69 protesters were arrested. “We cannot sit idly by as our world burns,” Abigail Mnookin of Brattleboro told the Valley Post after she was released from jail. “The fossil fuel industry receives billions in subsidies and our elected officials are allowing -- or encouraging -- this to happen. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground and make a swift, just transition.”

16 More Protesters Arrested

Sixteen people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience between August 22 and August 27 at Wendell Massachusetts State Forest near Greenfield, bringing the total number of arrests to 25 since August 6. The goal was to stop planned logging of 80 acres of 110 year old oak trees on publicly owned land.

The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space to development every day. Stopping logging on publicly owned land forces logging companies to buy their own land. If the loggers want to grow new trees after logging, the land can't be paved.

Activists Fight for Nature

On June 25 a group that is fighting planned logging on publicly owned land near Greenfield said the logging will likely start soon. “On June 24, the loggers began installing gates on Carlton Road and Dirth Road in Wendell (Massachusetts) State Forest. Installing the gates definitely means the beginning of logging,” said James Thornley, a spokesperson for the group. “Gates are not an independent, unrelated factor. The loggers are paying to have these gates installed — they would not spend this money if they were not about to commence cutting.”

200 at Rally

More than 200 people attended a rally in Northampton calling for raises for workers at the city's public schools. At Northampton public schools, starting pay for cafeteria workers is $11.64 an hour; for custodians it's $12.01. Teachers' pay is below the state average. The workers organized the rally. They have a web site at www.nasemta.org. The rally was on June 12.

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More than 100 people were at a Northampton rally on June 15 calling on congress to impeach Trump. The organizers have a web site at www.IndivisibleNoho.com.

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Local News Round-up

In Springfield, pedestrian rights activists had a win May 30 when construction started on a $4 million project. “It's hard to imagine an intersection that is less friendly to pedestrians,” Stacey Beuttell told the Valley Post on June 3. She works for Walk Boston, a group that, despite its name, works statewide to make walking safer. Beuttell said the Springfield project is a victory. The intersection that will be fixed is at the corner of Alden, Walnut, Hancock, and Ashley streets. The mayor says it will be done by the end of next year.

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10 Arrested for Civil Disobedience

Two students at Keene State College were among a group of 10 people who were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience at the New Hampshire statehouse. They were protesting a Republican effort to make it harder for people to vote. “It went really well,” Robby St. Laurent told the Valley Post in a telephone interview. He is one of the Keene students. The other was Jackson Brannen. In a phone interview Brannen told the Valley Post. “There were over 100 people there supporting us. It was a powerful moment. We want Governor Sununu to sign House Bill 106.” The arrests happened on May 7.

Climate March is April 22

In Northampton on April 22 there will be a march calling on politicians to do more to fight climate change. The march will start at 5 p.m. at 129 Main Street. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/249294522680797

On April 9, five people from the Brattleboro area were among hundreds who completed a 65 mile, five-day march to the Vermont statehouse calling on politicians to do more to fight climate change. Among the five were Tara Bossard-Kruger, Nancy Braus, Byron Stookey, and Ann Zimmerman. The march organizers have a web site at www.350vermont.org.