Environmental Victories

Here in the Valley, solar is replacing coal and nuclear, and bicyle paths and sidewalks are being built. In related news, six people from the Valley recently traveled to North Dakota, where they helped Native Americans who are fighting a proposed oil pipeline.

Solar panels will soon be installed at the site of a recently closed coal burning facility in Holyoke. That's the result of grassroots activism. A celebration will be on October 13 at 11:30 a.m. at Fiesta Cafe, 305 Main Street. For more information contact Claire Miller by phone at (781) 775-1429 or by e-mail at claire@toxicsaction.org or Lena Entin by phone at (413) 210-4217 or lena@n2nma.org.

Will Schoefmann works as a planner for the city of Keene. He said the Ashuelot Rail Trail for bicycles and pedestrians goes from downtown Keene to Hinsdale, New Hampshire. There it meets another rail trail that goes to downtown Brattleboro. No cars are allowed on either trail.

In a telephone interview, Schoefmann told the Valley Post that major improvements are coming to Keene for bicycle riders and walkers. “We are spending about $412,000,” he said. “Eighty percent of that came from the state and federal governments. The rest came from the city and private donations.” Construction is underway on a bridge across a busy road; the bridge is for bicycles and pedestrians only. More work will happen next year. More information is at www.KeenePaths.com.

There is a similar rail trail between Northampton and Amherst. Information is at:

www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/norwottuck-rail-trai...

A very good documentary about the grassroots protest movement that in 2014 closed the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will be shown publicly for the first time in Northampton on October 23 at 2 p.m. at the Academy of Music Theater, and in Brattleboro on November 3 at 7 p.m. at the Latchis Theater. The Valley Post was able to see the full film. Highlights were footage of some of the 136 people who were arrested in Brattleboro for non-violent civil disobedience on March 22, 2012, and interviews with activist Frances Crowe of Northampton. Thousands of people marched in Brattleboro, which has a population of about 12,000. More information is at www.facebook.com/power.struggle.film

Two women from the Valley traveled to North Dakota last month to support Native Americans there who are trying to stop a proposed oil pipeline. Deb Tyler lives in Wendell, Massachusetts, near Amherst and Greenfield. She is a licensed acupuncturist. She went with Suzette Pena, who lives in Greenfield. “It was awe-inspiring to see so many tribes coming together,” Tyler told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on October 9. “There were about 3,000 people there on weekdays and 7,000 on the weekend. We stayed there in tents for five days, starting September 25. The people who are planning to stay there for the winter are building more substantial shelters. We brought money that was donated by people in the Valley. The people in the camps needed water purification systems so that is what we spent the money on. Alcohol, drugs, and weapons are not allowed in the camps. People go out on horseback or on foot from the camps to stop the construction using non-violence. The police had guns; they were scary. I have so much respect for the people who are out there stopping the pipeline.”

Tyler recommended this web page for information about the struggle:

www.facebook.com/CampOfTheSacredStone

Another good source of information is:

www.democracynow.org/topics/dakota_access

John Willis is a professor of photography at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont. Marlboro borders Brattleboro. Cait Mazzarella, Christopher Lamb and Ben Rybisky are students at the college. The professor and three students said in a written statement that was published in the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper on October 11, "Recently, we returned from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the protest there against the Dakota Access Pipeline.... The four of us made the 32-hour drive out to North Dakota for a week. The decision to go was rather spur of the moment. Within 36 hours of deciding we were able to gather the support of area community members.”

“To everyone who helped we offer our sincere gratitude. We delivered 16 sleeping bags, wool blankets, five tents, two camping stoves, camping gear, winter clothes, boots and over $2,300. The funds some of you donated were given to the medical facility, school, encampment financial officers spending funds as most needed, families in need, purchase of tents and tarps, herbalist medical support, food for the kitchens and helping to make a documentary film. The need is great. If people would like to support the efforts, funds are greatly needed to purchase winter supplies. John Willis is flying out there again on Oct. 12 for two weeks. He can accept Paypal donations at jwillis@marlboro.edu. We are all willing to discuss the situation with anyone who would like....”

“We went to photograph the pipeline across the landscape from a main road. We turned down a public dirt road and were immediately pulled over by a policeman. When we asked if we were doing anything wrong, he responded by saying 'not yet' and they just wanted to 'check us out.' The police car was not alone. We were boxed in by eight cars including local police, sheriff, police from the next county, state troopers, Bureau of Indian Affairs Police and FBI. After 10 minutes of being checked out, we were told to leave, even though it was clearly public property and we were not doing anything illegal.”

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This photo shows activists in Holyoke who fought to close the coal burning facility. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” photo by www.ToxicsAction.org

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