In 2005, Rob Hackley, a worker at a Pepsi factory in Florida, was burned so seriously that doctors had to perform surgery on him twice. He barely survived. The federal agency charged with workplace safety, OSHA, investigated. OSHA's report concluded that Hackley's injuries had been preventable if Pepsi had given him proper safety equipment, and that his bosses had told workers to “throw safety out the window and get the work done.” The bosses showed “deliberate, voluntary and intentional disregard to employee safety.” But OSHA gave Pepsi only a minimal fine.
People in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have recently reduced pollution and saved money by investing in better insulation and air sealing for buildings, and in other energy efficiency measures. “We're saving around $400,000 a year,” Chris Mason told the Valley Post. He works for the city of Northampton, which undertook a major energy efficiency project in 2010 in schools, the public library, and other city-owned buildings. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
In a grassroots victory, the leadership of a public high school in Northampton has agreed to allow peace activists to speak with students. The school has long allowed military recruiters to speak to students. “This was the result of public pressure. We're thrilled,” Jeff Napolitano told the Valley Post. He runs the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org.
Three famous activists will give free or low-cost public speeches, with question-and-answer sessions, in the Valley. In a profile published last month, the Los Angeles Times newspaper called Cindy Sheehan an “anti-war activist who rose to national prominence after her son was killed in the Iraq war in 2005.” She lives in California and is a war tax resistor. More information about war tax resistance is at www.nwtrcc.org.
On December 12 in Brattleboro, protesters occupied a nuclear corporation’s board room. Meanwhile, activists seeking to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are gearing up for a vote next month in the Vermont senate on whether the state’s top nuclear regulator – who many say has been too friendly to the industry – will get to keep his job.
Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone’s throw from New Hampshire.
On November 8, the people of Northampton will decide whether farmland and forestland should be turned into parking lots, strip malls, ChemLawns, and other kinds of so-called development. “Northampton residents should save the Community Preservation Act by voting ‘no’ on Question 1," said Kristin DeBoer. She's director of www.KestrelTrust.org
"The Act is one of the best tools towns have for conserving the farms, rivers, and forests of the Valley," DeBoer said.
On September 24, in Northampton and Amherst, there will be marches to protest the use of fossil fuels. At 11:30 a.m., marchers will leave from the site of a proposed large group of solar panels at the UMass horse farm at 111 North Maple Street in Hadley. They will march to the park in front of the Amherst Town Hall. The march is scheduled to arrive at the town hall at 12:30 p.m.
At noon in Northampton, a march will start at 210 Main Street (in front of City Hall) and end behind the building at 150 Main Street. The march will go via Pleasant and Armory streets.
A locally-owned company is offering sheep lawn mowing services in Northampton. The advantages of sheep over fossil fuel powered lawn mowers include: the animals are usually silent; they don’t emit lung cancer-causing air pollution; they fertilize the lawn; and they produce cheese, yogurt, wool, and meat.
One hour of gas-powered lawn mowing produces as much pollution as driving a car for four hours. That’s according to:
Dairy goats also work well for lawn mowing.
On June 23, about 175 public school workers and their supporters attended a rally outside a meeting of the Northampton school board. They were protesting a decision by the board – also called the “school committee” -- to not raise the workers’ wages next year. Several of the workers spoke to the board to oppose the move, which amounts to a pay cut for the workers, when inflation is taken into account.
On May 20, a mini-van gravely injured a woman who was riding her bicycle in Granby at about 5:30 p.m. It was a “hit and run” crime. Police are trying to find the driver. Granby borders Amherst. A police spokesperson said that the impact sent the woman flying off her bicycle and into a telephone pole. The bicycle rider was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police are asking anyone with information about the vehicle or its driver to the Granby Police at (413) 467-9222.
There is also good news for local bicycle riders and walkers.