Grassroots Victories

Activists in Springfield are celebrating recent victories. Bank CEOs who make millions of dollars a year wanted to evict poor people from their homes. Because of grassroots activism, they failed. Earlier this year, a group known as Springfield No One Leaves (SNOL) held a rally outside the home of Deb Graham, who Chase Bank was trying to evict. “Chase Bank heard the message loud and clear,” said Malcolm Torrejón Chu, an organizer with the group. “Deb just bought her home back for $100,000 – a 44 percent principal reduction -- and her payments are $650 less than before the foreclosure.”

Peace Action

New Englanders who refuse to pay taxes that fund war will speak at a free public event October 16 in Amherst. Almost half (45 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of $2.9 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

For more information on the Amherst event, which will include a speech by author Frida Berrigan, contact Daniel Sicken (pronounced See-kin) at (802) 387-2798 or dhsicken@yahoo.com. It starts at 7:30 p.m. at 120 Pulpit Hill Road.

Blues Concert Review

Luther Johnson and the Magic Rockers performed an excellent, public concert in Northampton on July 25. The Iron Horse Music Hall appeared to be almost sold out. The audience applauded enthusiastically after all the songs. Johnson sang, "She said, 'Luther, you don't have to be a superstar, I love you just the way you are.'"

A highlight was Johnson's version of the Jeannie Cheatham song "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On."

Photo: Brattleboro Peace Rally

Parker Huber has stood in front of the Brattleboro main post office every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. for the past 12 years holding a sign that said, "Silent Witness for Peace." Earlier this year, a new postmaster told Huber he would be arrested if he continued his weekly vigil. Brattleboro resident Steven K-Brooks appealed to the postmaster's boss and apparently won. K-Brooks organized the rally, which happened on May 29 and was attended by 12 people. “Brattleboro's long tradition of free speech on the post office sidewalk was reaffirmed,” he told the Valley Post.

Thousands March

Dozens of Valley residents were among thousands of people at a Boston march for a $15 an hour minimum wage April 14. The next day, “tens of thousands of low-wage workers, students and activists in more than 200 American cities” marched and attended rallies for the same cause, according to the New York Times.

Betsy Ventura lives in Holyoke and works as a “personal care attendant.” She took a bus to the Boston march. “It was phenomenal,” Ventura told the Valley Post. “It made me believe that if we stand together, we'll win. Don't give up.”

50 Mile March

On January 21, dozens of people from Keene completed a 50 mile march to the New Hampshire statehouse to call for campaign finance reform. Hundreds of people marched from other towns around the state and met at the statehouse for a rally. The marchers left Keene on January 17. The march was organized by www.NHrebellion.org.

Martin Luther King Day Rally in Springfield

In Springfield, a white man who makes about $20 million a year is trying to evict an African American woman from her modest home. On Martin Luther King Day, there will be a rally to protest the action by Chase Bank CEO James Dimon. Deb Graham is offering to buy her foreclosed home back from Chase at the home's current market value, rally organizers say. Chase is rejecting her offer.

The rally will be in front of Graham's home, 54 Warrenton Street, at 6 p.m. on January 19.

More information is available by calling the organizers at (413) 342-1804 or by visiting their web site:

Environmental Victory

At a dairy and beef farm in Hadley, Massachusetts, 123 acres of farmland has been permanently protected from development. Hadley borders Amherst. A photo of the farm is below. The farm is at 172 Hockanum Road and has a store that is open to the public. This environmental victory was made possible by www.KestrelTrust.org.

Most people who live in the Valley need a car to get to work or school, and to go shopping or visit friends.

Walmart v. Chicopee

In Chicopee, Massachusetts, more than 375 people showed up at a rally to protest Walmart's firing of a woman for her union activism. Aubretia Edick had worked at Walmart for 14 years. She worked as a cashier at the Chicopee store. “I was fired for speaking out,” she told the Valley Post on December 5.

A worker who answered the phone at the Chicopee Walmart declined a request to interview the store's manager about why he fired Edick. Chicopee borders Springfield.

1,700 Workers Strike

Telephone and internet workers are on strike. They are asking the public to join their picket lines in Brattleboro and Keene. More than 1,700 workers at Fairpoint Corporation are on strike in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The company is the monopoly provider of landline telephone and DSL internet in those states.

Fairpoint is based in North Carolina. It wants to cut wages for workers it hires in the future by 40 percent.