Activists Fight for Deaf School in Brattleboro

In Brattleboro, a 110-year-old school for deaf people closed this year. Deaf activists and their supporters are organizing to get the school, which had been funded by the state, re-opened. They recently held a rally at the state capitol in Montpelier. More than 300 people were at the rally.

Education Rallies

Recent rallies in Holyoke and Boston for better education were attended by Valley residents. On September 8 in Holyoke, activists held a rally in support of a public school teacher who the teachers' union says was fired for his union activism. Until he was fired, Gus Morales was a full-time English teacher in Holyoke, and part-time president of the Holyoke teachers' union, which is part of www.MassTeacher.org.

Grassroots Victory

In a grassroots victory, a coal fired electricity generating facility in Holyoke will close permanently in October. The Mount Tom Power Plant currently burns about 1,200 tons of coal every day. “Now we will have less air pollution,” said Vilma Vazquez, a Holyoke resident who attended rallies to close the facility.

The movement to close the coal facility was organized by www.n2nma.org and www.ToxicsAction.org.

12 Women Arrested at Valley Nuke

Police arrested 12 women for non-violent civil disobedience at the gates of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

One of the women who was arrested is Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of www.CodePink.org, a direct action for peace group with offices in California and Washington, DC.

Last year, Benjamin interrupted a nationally televised speech by President Obama and asked him to close the Guantánamo Bay prison. The United States government has been torturing people at Guantánamo, according to:

Greenfield Fracking Rally

On May 15, there was a rally on the Greenfield town common to protest plans for a fracked gas pipeline that would cross the valley. Massachusetts state Representative Denise Andrews of Orange, near Greenfield, told the Greenfield Recorder newspaper she is ready to risk arrest for civil disobedience to stop the pipeline. “The priority ought to be conservation, reduction, efficiency, renewables, and then the more challenging energy resources,” she said.

Forest Fight

The Pioneer Valley, and the area around Brattleboro and Keene, are at the highest risk nationally of having privately owned forests turned into parking lots, roads, strip malls, vacation houses, and other kinds of so-called "development." That's according to the U.S. Forest Service's map, below. Susan Stein wrote the 2009 report that the map appeared in. She works for the Forest Service. “Based on today's data, the map would probably be similar,” Stein told the Valley Post earlier this month.

Valley Nuke Protest Set For April 1

On April 1 at 5:30 p.m., there will be a protest at the gates of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The public is invited. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. The protest organizers' main goal is to close the reactor immediately and permanently. Other goals relate to how and when the site will be cleaned up after the reactor is closed. Vermont Yankee is currently scheduled to close permanently late this year or early next year.

Activists Fight Northampton Logging

The city of Northampton is logging a city-owned forest. Photos of the logging are below. Mayor David Narkewicz is rejecting all requests from journalists who want to interview him about the logging, according to a woman who answered the phone in the mayor's office on March 11.

An environmental group is asking the public to contact the mayor and tell him to stop the logging. The group has a web site at www.MAforests.org and can be reached via Chris Matera at christoforest@maforests.org or by phone at (413) 341-3878.

More information about the situation in Northampton is at:

Photos: Cows Watching Snowstorm

These photos were taken at a farm in Dover, Vermont, near Brattleboro, on March 13. The first photo shows two cows looking out from their barn at a snow storm. These cows have free access to the outdoors all winter. Cows may be "healthier and happier outside" during winter in Wisconsin, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin. The study is at

www.cias.wisc.edu/outwintering-dairy-cattle-animal-health-issues

Habib Koite to Perform in Northampton

Habib Koite, a singer and guitar player who lives in Bamako, Mali, in west Africa, will play at the Iron Horse in Northampton on February 16 at 7 p.m. Koite (pronounced KWA-tee) performed an outstanding public concert in Amherst in 2011. He possesses an unusually warm voice and guitar skills that inspired Bonnie Raitt to famously tell him after one concert, "I would drink your sweat."