Stop & Shop Kills Thousands of Trees

On February 13 in Northampton, about 25 people attended a march, with rallies before and after. They were protesting Stop & Shop’s involvement in the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Details are available via the web site of one of the groups that organized the march: www.xrWesternMass.org. Workers at the River Valley food co-op in Northampton are union members. The below photo shows the second rally. To enlarge the photo click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” photo by Hayley Berliner

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On February 15, and alternate Saturdays thereafter, people will gather at Memorial Park in Orange, Massachusetts to call for peace, Marcia Gagliardi told the Valley Post. Orange is in the Connecticut river valley. With 4 percent of the world's population, the USA spends as much money on war as the rest of the world combined. The USA will spend about $1.7 trillion on war this year. Gagliardi can be reached at (978) 249-9400.

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For thousands of years, Native Americans lived on the land now known as Brattleboro and made decisions by consensus. Since the town of Brattleboro was founded by Europeans 267 years ago, and since women won the right to vote 100 years ago, virtually direct democracy has continued through annual town meeting. Now, a local businessman is seeking to drive a “dagger into the heart of town meeting.” Those were the words of University of Vermont politics professor Frank Bryan, when he learned during a Valley Post interview in 2017 of a similar plan in the neighboring town of Dummerston, Vermont. Bryan is the author of a book about Vermont town meetings.

Brattleboro businessman Dan Yates wants to end the right of townspeople to modify the town budget at town meeting. Yates paid people to gather petition signatures. The vote on whether to abolish town meeting will be on March 3 at 32 Linden Street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Riding the town bus will be free that day. Absentee ballots are available from the town office.

People in the vast majority of New England towns have this right. This is not an abstract problem. Last year at town meeting, the people of Brattleboro overruled the select board and voted to invest $100,000 a year to make the town more environmentally sustainable.

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In Holyoke, people are demanding democratic, local control of local public schools. The state seized control of the schools in 2015. Holyoke is home to about 40,000 people, about 58 percent of whom are people of color. Doug Arnold was director of student services in Holyoke public schools for years before he retired. On Februaray 8, 2020 he told the Valley Post, “The main purpose of receivership was to raise the test scores of our students. Five years later we are in the same place. The test scores have not kept up with other schools in the state. We lost local control of our school system because the state ... said they could do it better. During this time the school system has lost over 600 veteran teachers, administrators, and other staff.”

On February 4, Arnold and five other retired Holyoke teachers spoke out at a city council meeting. Joining them was current Holyoke high teacher Andres Kwart. The Holyoke school superintendent did not respond to an e-mail and phone message from the Valley Post asking for Kwart's e-mail address.

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