Keene Will Spend $2 Million on Solar Panels, Energy Efficiency

On December 16, the Keene city council voted to spend about $2 million on energy efficiency and solar power for city-owned buildings. In 12 years, the investment will pay for itself. After that, the city will be making a profit from the investment.

The move means the city will be significantly reducing air pollution and its contribution to global warming.

Solar panels will go up at city hall. More efficient space heating and lights will be installed in municipal buildings.

Logging or Wilderness: Public Hearing Nov. 16

Members of a local environmental group are urging the public to attend a public hearing on November 16 near Springfield about whether Massachusetts state-owned forest land should be logged or kept as wilderness. Forest Watch members say people should speak out in favor of wilderness at the 6:30 p.m. meeting with representatives of Governor Deval Patrick at 380 Southampton Road in Westfield.

60 People Call for Peace at Northampton City Hall Rally

On August 7, about 60 people rallied at Northampton city hall to call for cuts in war funding and increases in government funding for jobs installing solar panels. Out of an annual federal government budget of about $2,900,000,000,000 about half goes to war. Details are at:

www.warresisters.org/files/FY2011piechart.pdf

Frances Crowe spoke at the event. More information on Crowe is at:

http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss233.html 
Among the groups working to promote peace and solar power are www.peace-action.org and www.greenpeace.org

August 10 Hearing on Better Buses for Keene, Brattleboro Region

On August 10, there will be a public hearing about a government plan to provide better local bus service in the Keene and Brattleboro region. The relevant buses will serve Keene; Claremont, NH; Putney, Vermont; and other towns.

The Southwest (NH) Region Planning Commission will hold the hearing at the Charlestown, NH public library at 226 Main Street from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Traveling by bus or train, rather than by car, reduces global warming, suburban sprawl, acid rain, lung cancer, and other problems.

People Power Defeats Plan to Narrow Brattleboro's Downtown Sidewalks

Brattleboro residents defeated a plan by the administration of lame duck Republican governor Jim Douglas and lieutenant-governor Brian Dubie – the Republican who wants to be elected governor in November – that would have narrowed already-narrow sidewalks in downtown Brattleboro. The goal was to make cars, trucks, and SUVs drive faster through the world-famous, historic downtown on the shore of the Connecticut river. Dubie-Douglas also wanted to cut down trees on Main Street.

Valley Farmers Hit by Global Warming

Record heat and little rain has Valley farmers scrambling to irrigate their crops. Some wells are going dry, forcing farmers to drive their tractors with tanks on their trailers long distances to pump water out of rivers and ponds.

Vern Grubinger is Extension Professor of Agriculture at the University of Vermont. He has worked with a program of the federal agriculture department’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) project. The program looked at the effects of global warming on farmers.

Natalie Merchant Will Sing in Northampton on July 13

Natalie Merchant, probably the world’s best female singer, will sing in Northampton on July 13. It will be her first concert in the Valley in at least a decade. Her lyrics, and the music on her albums, are often – but not always – excellent. But Merchant’s concerts are always great, thanks to her incomparable voice.

In the song “Motherland," Merchant sings:

Where in hell can you go
Far from the things that you know
Far from the sprawl of concrete
That keeps crawling its way
About 1,000 miles a day?

In Keene, Bicycle Thieves Active

Police say there has been a rash of bicycle thefts in recent days in Keene. Perhaps the nation's leading experts on how to prevent bicycle thefts, the staff of the group Transportation Alternatives (TA) in New York City, can help concerned Keene residents. From recommending the best bicycle locks, and the best way to use the locks; to helping draft local laws that require builders of apartment and office buildings to install indoor, locked bicycle parking; to ways to persuade cities and towns to install more on-street bicycle parking -- TA can help. Details are at www.transalt.org

In Danger: Giant Park Near Keene, Brattleboro

Pisgah State Park, with thousands of acres, is the biggest state park in New Hampshire. It is in the town of Hinsdale, and two other towns. Hinsdale is directly across the river from Brattleboro. The following article was written by Jeffrey Scott and Marti Hobbes of the group Defenders of Pisgah. It was posted on a bulletin board at one of the entrances to the park on June 27. The only contact info provided for the group was:

P.O. Box 31
Spofford, NH 03462

Photo: Climate Activists Camp on Amherst Town Common

Dozens of activists spent the night in tents on the Amherst town common June 23 - 24 to call for action on global warming. The event was organized by The Leadership Campaign www.TheLeadershipCampaign.org photo by Mino Caulton