Valley to NYC Trains Get Faster, More Frequent, Cheaper

Next month, Amtrak will get faster between the Valley and New York City. Also, next month, passenger train service between Springfield, Hartford, and New York City will get much more frequent and much cheaper. By December, there will be more frequent passenger train service between Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and New York City.

Concert Review: Meninos de Minas

The band Meninos de Minas performed an outstanding concert on April 28. In the audience, dozens of people danced. The concert was free, outdoors, and in Hartford. It was the second year that the band played at the annual Samba Fest in Hartford. Hartford is about 30 minutes from Springfield by train. Next month those trains will get much cheaper and much more frequent, thanks to the work of activists in Northampton who have a web site at www.TrainsInTheValley.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.

400 to Rally for Gun Control

As of March 7, more than 400 people had RSVP'd to a Northampton march for gun control that is planned for March 24. The march will start at noon at Northampton High School and end at city hall. More information is at:

www.facebook.com/events/170576480247420

As of March 7, more than 130 people had RSVP'd to a Keene march for the same cause, on the same day at 10 a.m., starting at Central Square. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/1351988534907262

CJ Chenier Concert Review

CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band performed an outstanding concert in Northampton on February 12. It was a Monday night but the dance floor was full. A highlight was "Don't Mess With My Toot Toot."

CJ Chenier was born in 1957. According to his web site, he “spent his childhood in the tough tenement housing projects of Port Arthur, Texas.” Chenier played with Ringo Starr on Paul Simon's album Rhythm of the Saints. Chenier performed with Simon on a concert tour. A video of CJ Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band performing live is at:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMMSv2WpYKw

Forest Fight

Forest protectors in New Hampshire had a win, while their colleagues in the Pioneer Valley took on a new battle. On February 1 state regulators heeded activists' demands and rejected a plan to clearcut thousands of acres of New Hampshire forest to make way for a power line known as the Northern Pass. Native Americans in Canada had fought the plan too: the power was to come from dams that flooded their forestland. They have a web site at www.pessamit.ca. The electricity would have gone to Boston.

March Route Set

More than 700 people had RSVP'd for the Women's March in Northampton as of December 27. The march is set for January 20, 2018 at 11 a.m. Since the Valley Post first reported on the march, organizers have announced the route: it will start at Sheldon Fields and end at city hall.

The event is being organized by the same people who organized the January 2017 Women's March. That drew about 3,000 people to Northampton and 3,000 to a sister march in Greenfield. Photos of those events are below. The march organizers' partners included Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, and 350.org.

Westfield Nurses Vote to Authorize a Strike

About 130 nurses at a hospital in Westfield, Massachusetts have voted to authorize a strike. This does not necessarily mean they will go on strike; it means their elected union leaders have the power to call a strike. Westfield borders Holyoke. The nurses work at Noble hospital. They voted earlier this month.

Hundreds Rally Against Racism

In Northampton on August 13, hundreds of people attended a rally to protest racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The same day in Keene, about 60 people attended a rally for the same cause. On August 14, about 80 people attended a rally for the same cause in Greenfield. On August 15, dozens of people attended another rally for the same cause in Springfield.

Eight Arrested, Land Saved

In the Valley, eight people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience and 184 acres of land were permanently protected from development. On June 24, eight people were arrested while protesting the construction of a fracked gas pipeline in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Sandisfield is in the Connecticut river valley, about an hour by car west of Springfield.