Environmental Victories

People in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have recently reduced pollution and saved money by investing in better insulation and air sealing for buildings, and in other energy efficiency measures. “We're saving around $400,000 a year,” Chris Mason told the Valley Post. He works for the city of Northampton, which undertook a major energy efficiency project in 2010 in schools, the public library, and other city-owned buildings. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Environmental Progress

Springfield's first bicycle lane opened October 26. A day earlier in Keene, a $15 million, energy efficient, affordable housing project opened. It was built by www.kha.org. Riding a bicycle rather than driving, reduces global warming, acid rain, and smog. Living in multi-family housing, rather than a one-family house, saves farmland and forestland, and makes using public transit a viable alternative to owning a car.

Transportation Victories

In a victory for poor people and the environment, activists got a group of local governments in the Valley to reverse its plan to raise the local bus fare. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) wanted to hike the fare from $1.25 to $1.50. About 370 people attended public hearings about the scheme. The vast majority spoke out against the fare boost. At the most recent hearing, on June 27 in Springfield, city resident Aunush Dawidjan led the audience in a chant: “Tax Mercedes,” she said. “Not old ladies,” the people replied. Mercedes Corporation makes cars for rich people.

War Vehicle Will Cost Keene Taxpayers

The federal Homeland Security department effectively gave the Keene police department an armored vehicle when the city council voted last year to accept a grant for the “Bearcat” vehicle. But the Bearcat will cost city taxpayers money.

A photo of the tank-like vehicle is at:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7009/6466601767_2a976fff9a.jpg

The Keene City Council voted on December 15, 2011 to accept a $285,933 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a Bearcat G3, an armored security vehicle designed and manufactured by LENCO industries.

Pavers Battle Nature Protectors Near Keene

Hundreds of acres of wilderness on the lower slopes of Mount Monadnock, near Keene, are at risk of being clear cut logged, paved, Chem Lawned, and “developed.” But activists are racing to save the land so future generations will be able to hike there. Details about that struggle are below.

Photos: Autumn Colors

These photos were taken at a pond in the Madame Sherri Forest, a park in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, near Brattleboro and Keene. The photos were taken on September 18. More information about the park is at this town web site:

www.ChesterfieldOutdoors.com/plands/sherri.html

To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "See full-size image."

photos by Eesha Williams

Target Fights Its Workers' Union

Workers at the Target stores in Keene and in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Amherst, will likely be watching the outcome of a June 17 vote by workers at a Target store in Valley Stream, New York on whether to form a union.

In 2009, the most recent year for which data were available, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel was paid more than $13 million.

Tashawna Green has worked at the Target store in Valley Stream for more than a year. She makes $8 an hour.

“We need a living wage where we can get by,” Sonia Williams told the New York Times. She works late at night at the store.

Tragedy, Celebration for Bicycle Riders, Walkers

On May 20, a mini-van gravely injured a woman who was riding her bicycle in Granby at about 5:30 p.m. It was a “hit and run” crime. Police are trying to find the driver. Granby borders Amherst. A police spokesperson said that the impact sent the woman flying off her bicycle and into a telephone pole. The bicycle rider was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police are asking anyone with information about the vehicle or its driver to the Granby Police at (413) 467-9222.

There is also good news for local bicycle riders and walkers.

Activists Blast Planned Polluting Factory Near Keene

On May 9, a group of activists attended a public hearing in Winchester, New Hampshire, near Keene, to try to stop a proposed asphalt factory in Winchester. Asphalt is made of fossil fuels. It’s used to make roads and parking lots for cars and trucks. Cars and trucks cause global warming, acid rain, lung cancer, obesity, and some 40,000 deaths in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. Alternatives include walking, riding a bicycle, and trains and busses. Trains and busses are far more energy efficient – and much safer -- than cars and trucks for moving people and freight.

Workers to Rally April 4 in Springfield, Greenfield, Keene

On April 4, the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., there will be rallies for workers' rights in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene. The award-winning documentary film "At the River I Stand" shows King's last days in Memphis, in which he spoke to big crowds and marched, in support of striking garbage workers. Information on the film is at:

www.newsreel.org/video/AT-THE-RIVER-I-STAND

The DVD is available by inter-library loan from your local public library.

The time, location, and organizers' contact info for the rallies in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene are at: