Halos & Horns: A look back at the good, the bad, and the dead of 2017

Maxine Waters
Harvey Weinstein
Kristin Palpini
Congressman Richard Neal

It’s Halos and Horns with a side of hashtags this year. While President Donald Trump was busy tweeting from the White House throughout 2017 (we gave him his own whole article), the rest of the world had their own Twitter responses, many of which inspired the Advocate’s yearly doling out of halos to the good and horns to the bad. So we took that # symbol and made glowing, yellow-ringed hashtag halos and stretched red hashtag horns. Despite some serious evil that went on in the world this year, there were plenty of good things, too. And a few folks where we couldn’t decide and so we placed them in purgatory. Enjoy, and let us know who we forgot or left out. —Dave


HALO – Puerto Rican communities in Western Mass: After Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September, many communities in Western Mass stepped up to the plate. Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico was a coalition of political leaders, nonprofit organizations, business owners, religious leaders and community activists that formed to assist Puerto Rican families by hosting fundraisers and collecting donations. Many families with family members and friends in Puerto Rico opened their homes to people after the storm and many public school systems helped new students to get acclimated. Nueva Esperanza in Holyoke is also organizing a toy drive for Three Kings Day (January 6) for the hundreds of kids who have been displaced to the area after the hurricanes. For more information about donating, visit http://www.nuevaofholyoke.org. —Meg


HALO – #metoo: In a world where the President of the United States openly talked about sexual assault BEFORE getting elected, changing sexual harassment culture will have to start at the bottom. Tarana Burke founded the #metoo movement over a decade ago, and 2017 is the year the movement grew and has helped to bring the issues of sexual harassment and assault out of the shadows. Dozens of people have been outed for sexual misconduct scandals this fall and we have these people to thank: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Gloria Thacker Deason, Beverly Young Nelson, Tina Johnson, Gena Richardson, Becky Gray, Jill Harth, Bridget Sullivan, Cassandra Searless, Tasha Dixon, Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, Mindy McGillivray, Natasha Stoyoff, Mariah Billado, Temple Taggart McDowell, Lisa Boyne, Summer Zervos, Kristin Anderson, Samantha Holvey, Cathy Helver, Karena Virginia, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd, Selma Blair, Plaza Hotel Plaintiffs, Sara Gelser, Taylor Swift, Sandra Pezqueda, Blaise Godbe Lipman, Rose McGowen, Wendy Walsh, Lindsey Reynolds, Isabel Pascual, Lindsay Meyer, Juana Melara, Sandra Muller, Susan Fowler, Terry Crews, Megyn Kelly, Adama Iwu, Amanda Schmitt, Leeann Tweeden, and many more. —Meg


Harvey Weinstein

HORNS – The many, many people accused of sexual abuse: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Congressman John Conyers, New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, Congressman Trent Franks, Roy Moore, Matt Lauer, Bryon Hefner (husband of Massachusetts State Senator Stanley Rosenberg), Garrison Keillor, Charlie Rose, Roger Ailes, Al Franken, Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, Donald Trump. The list goes on and on. Many people are trying to discredit the brave accusers, the majority of whom are female, who have come forward against these (largely) men in powerful positions. It is hard to hear that some people whom you have admired are accused of sexual assault, but what has happened in 2017 is that victims are fighting back against the sexual abuse that is entrenched in our society. Shame on those accused for violating their positions of authority, violating our trust, and, most importantly, violating the space of their victims. There is always a danger that these moments of progress can erode and that we’ll go back to the unacceptable way things were. We cannot allow that. Accusers must be listened to. Women must be listened to. And it is entirely appropriate that those accused of this dispicable behavior resign from their positions of authority. —Dave


HALO – Journalists: There were many standout examples of journalistic integrity in 2017. Both individual reporters and whole publications did everything they could to hold public officials accountable and to keep the public informed. In a world where facts are suddenly under attack, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and ProPublica all served as pillars of interesting and fact-based reporting in the journalism community. There is also a slew of journalists who deserve recognition for reporting on the high profile sexual misconduct and abuse scandals that rocked the country this fall. Washington Post reporters Stephanie McCrummen and Beth Reinhard broke the story that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly pursued and sexually assaulted teenage girls while he was in his 30s. New York Times investigative journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor broke the Harvey Weinstein story with help from Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker, whose own father Woody Allen has also been accused of sexual misconduct. Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh and Elizabeth Wagmeister also conducted over two months worth of interviews to expose NBC’s Matt Lauer. Over 100 perpetrators have been identified in eight weeks, and we have many brave victims and reporters to thank. —Meg


Senator-elect Doug Jones

HALO – Doug Jones: The Alabama Senate Race looked to be a flaming catastrophe as Roy Moore, an avowed anti-gay bigot and someone for whom religious law trumps the Constitution, received the Republican nomination. He planned to try to spread Trump’s doctrine of hate further into the government and looked like a sure favorite to win ruby red Alabama’s Senate seat. But Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted KKK members responsible for killing four African American girls in a church bombing, ran a campaign around reaching out to all. Jones’ efforts around reaching out to minority voters as well as to disaffected Republicans proved to be a winning formula as the campaign progressed. Then, when news broke a month before the election that Roy Moore was also accused of pedophilia, Jones was able to capitalize on it and surge to one of the most unlikely Senate victories since Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts in 2010. Brown’s election preceded a massive Republican wave in both houses of Congress later that year. There is real hope is that Jones’s victory augers the same for Democrats. But beyond that, Jones did not pander for Republican votes by switching his views on abortion or other political tactics. He ran as a true blue Democrat, and maintained a positive message. And he was smart about using the resources he had to energize minority and Democratic base voters. The Democratic party could certainly learn many lessons from Jones’ win on December 12: compete everywhere, and don’t leave votes on the table. —Dave


HALO – Sugar Shack Alliance/ Frances Crowe: Dozens of members associated with anti-fossil fuel group, the Sugar Shack Alliance, have been arrested this year for blocking work on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s $93 million Connecticut Expansion Project, which doesn’t support any of the natural gas infrastructure or demands in Massachusetts. The pipeline would be directed to Connecticut and runs through Otis State Forest. Sugar Shack activists should be commended for having the courage to stand up against corporate fossil fuel interests locally. Near centenarian and legendary local activist Frances Crowe was one of those arrested at pipeline protests. It’s clear that fossil fuels have no place in the future of energy with the specter of climate change looming in the future. Be like France Crowe and the Sugar Shack Alliance, who have been willing to put their personal freedoms on the line to stand up against environmentally destructive business interests. —Chris


HORNS – Local SWAT Teams: In an incredibly well-researched piece the Advocate published earlier this year, investigative reporter Seth Kershner looked into how small-town SWAT teams in Western Massachusetts were justifying their existence by deploying in inappropriate, relatively low risk situations such as marijuana busts. Meanwhile they are being armed to the teeth with government grant programs. In large cities, police departments are able to accept fewer than 1 percent of their internal staff for their SWAT teams, but that’s not possible in a place like Ludlow, where there are only 40 officers and a 12-person SWAT team. Kershner’s piece asks the very good question of why these teams are even needed in small towns. —Dave


HALO – Pioneer Valley Workers Center: The good folks at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center have been busy this year defending the rights of immigrants, helping to provide sanctuary for undocumented people, and showing that grassroots local activism matters. Organizers with the Workers Center have been at the center of protests in the region, and have also started their own Sanctuary in the Streets initiative as a rapid response team to provide defensive strategies against ICE deportation agents. —Chris


HORNS – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): In operation “Safe City” in September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) specifically targeted municipalities, like Northampton and Amherst, that declared themselves sanctuary cities. In Massachusetts, 50 people were arrested including 20 people with no criminal charges. Activists believe that as many as eight people were taken from Western Mass communities at that time. Since then, ICE has continued to detain local residents by conducting workplace raids, traffic stops, and by targeting community organizers. —Meg


HALO – Lucio Perez and The First Congregational Church of Amherst: Lucio Perez of Springfield took Sanctuary in the Amherst First Congregational Church in October after Immigration and Custom Enforcement ordered his deportation back to Guatemala, where he hasn’t lived in 20 years. As a father of four with no criminal record, Perez is a pioneer and a revolutionary for taking sanctuary and resisting a national government that tears apart families. The church community at First Congregational also deserves praise for stepping into uncharted waters to stand with Perez. —Meg


HALO – Neighbor to Neighbor/ Jafet Robles: The Western Massachusetts chapter of grassroots advocacy group Neighbor to Neighbor has been busy this year pushing for more clarity on what constitutes an arrestable offense for students in Springfield Public Schools as a way to break the flow of youth to the prison-to-school pipeline. They have also been advocating in favor of giving formerly incarcerated people a fair chance at finding work in Massachusetts. One of the lead activists with the group was Jafet Robles, whose activism work was inspiring to those around him. Robles was killed in September and hundreds attended his memorial, celebrating his life as an activist, father, and community leader. —Chris


HORNS – Congressional Republicans: The audacity of congressional Republicans this year was mind boggling. Here’s some examples of what they did: trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and bumping millions of people off of health insurance, pursuing a tax bill that gives 83 percent of its benefits to the top richest 1 percent of the country at the expense of the middle and lower class, adding $1 to $2 trillion to the national debt, approving Trump’s unqualified appointments to key positions within the federal government, and fulfilling the insane demands of their lobbyist, corporate, and billionaire masters. —Chris


Maxine Waters

HALO – Maxine Waters: “Reclaiming my time; reclaiming my time; reclaiming my time.” Those words spoken by the 79-year-old California congresswoman in impatience over Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s constant evasions of her questions at a July hearing sparked a viral sensation. Now #ReclaimingMyTime is a rallying cry for those fed up with lies and evasions from the Trump administration and also for those seeking a place for women and underrepresented minorities. Waters, a Democrat, showed the world what it looks like when an African American woman stands up to white men who try to disregard and silence them. 2017 is her time. —Dave


HALO – NCTV and Signature Sounds: Northampton Community Television and Signature Sounds get a special shout out for their work bringing Valley Advocate Sessions to life over the past year and change. Dozens of local bands and solo artists in genres ranging from rock, acoustic folk, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, country, bluegrass, the list goes on have been featured on Sessions, and the partnership between the Valley Advocate, Northampton Community Television, and Signature Sounds continues strong. The staff at NCTV should also be proud of their work on this year’s Back to the Future crowdsourced film (which the Advocate participated in) as well as organizing the Northampton Film Fest. Signature Sounds continues to bring amazing music artists to the area at the Parlor Room, the Green River Fest, and Gateway City Arts. —Chris


HORNS – Wikipedia: It has become clear that the people behind Wikipedia exhibit gender bias. Pages focusing on women, trans, and nonbinary people in rock music (local and nationally) are much harder to find than for male musicians. A Google search for just about anything will present a Wiki link on the top of the search results, IF there happens to be a Wiki page for it. Wikipedia is an open forum site, but there are still gatekeepers who grant access and make the rules. But if these gatekeepers make assumptions and rules based on their own beliefs, instead of representing freedom of speech and other’s interests … what’s the point? — Jennifer


HALO – Planned Parenthood and Tapestry Health: 2017 has not been a good year for women’s health. As the federal government tried to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood by repealing and replacing “Obamacare,” at least five states restricted access to birth control and abortions. President Trump also rolled back the Obamacare mandate that requires all employers to provide insurance that covers birth control. Luckily, some states and organizations resisted these threats by maintaining and expanding contraception access, including our Bay State. Massachusetts lawmakers passed the ACCESS law that expands no-pay birth control access statewide. Organizations like Planned Parenthood and Tapestry supported this law and have continued to offer affordable contraception access in Massachusetts. —Meg


Kristin Palpini

HALO – Kristin Palpini: Kristin was the Advocate’s fearless leader for the past three years, but we had to say goodbye to her in October after she took a reporting job at the Berkshire Eagle. We miss her wisdom, her skill as a journalist, and her bravery in taking on tough issues in her editorials. I learned a ton from her as an editor and often find myself craving her advice. Luckily, we have a memento from her in the newsroom: a piece of embroidery with a piece of golden investigative advice in all capital letters: WHEN IN DOUBT, HARASS, HARASS, HARASS. —Dave


PURGATORY – The Massachusetts State Legislature: Bravo for passing the ACCESS Bill, ensuring that Massachusetts citizens will still get access to free birth control despite a federal gutting of the Obamacare birth control mandate. But honestly, there needs to be a lot more legislation like this coming out of Boston counteracting the negative federal legislation and executive orders from the Trump administration. Massachusetts should have a free tuition plan, much in the same way that Tennessee passed free community college education. Massachusetts should have a bill exploring single payer, as California did. Massachusetts should pass an immigrant bill of rights that allows for driver’s licenses for undocumented individuals. None of that has made it through despite supermajorities of Democrats in both houses. If ever there was a time to be crafting landmark legislation, it is now. We have a man in the White House bent on destroying any progress we made in the past eight years, and majorities of lackey Republicans in both houses of Congress. Let’s step up the pace, Massachusetts Legislature! —Dave


HORNS – Anti-Panhandlers: In Holyoke, the issue of panhandlers has been a contentious one in 2017. Unfortunately, the Ordinance Committee of the Holyoke City Council voted unanimously to adapt a state law that targets the soliciting of vehicles. While safety concerns in high traffic areas is an important point, panhandlers who are suffering from poverty and/or drug addictions deserve more support than just criminalization. —Meg


HALO – Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz: Overall, Mayor Narkewicz has stood with activists on progressive issues. He supported passing a wage theft resolution, he is overseeing ValleyBike Share that will launch this spring across the Valley, he helped to facilitate a federal grant to expand overdose response efforts, and helped to open a municipal solar power facility that will cover about 45 percent of Northampton’s municipal electric use. However, last week he vetoed the City Council’s surveillance ordinance that prohibits municipal surveillance technology downtown, despite a lot of public support for the ordinance. The issue of cameras in Northampton is a contentious one and I hope that the City Council continues to consider the strong public outcry against municipal surveillance when they consider Mayor Narkewicz’s revisions. —Meg


PURGATORY – Mayor Domenic Sarno: Look, Springfield Mayor Sarno isn’t a bad mayor and doesn’t deserve horns this year, but he doesn’t exactly earn a halo either. For a Democrat, Sarno hasn’t lived up to liberal or progressive ideals. Sarno has been against giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in his community, has been critical of new refugees coming to Springfield, and has said he’s been willing to work with President Donald Trump. At times, he’s butted heads with activist groups and some progressive leaning politicians. On the flip side, Sarno has roots in the city, and despite some of his flaws as a politician, his tenure has been marked by some significant economic growth in the city with the construction of MGM’s Springfield Casino, the renovated Union Station, and the Chinese Rail Company facility. — Chris


PURGATORY – Stan Rosenberg: Rosenberg has been a tireless advocate for Western Massachusetts for decades, and when he ascended to the office of State Senate President, many were hopeful the western part of the state would get a strong voice in our state government. But at the same time, many were concerned that his then-fiance, now-husband Bryon Hefner was making claims that he would influence Rosenberg’s decisions. It was a valid concern at the time, and Rosenberg properly addressed it by saying there would be a “firewall” between his personal and professional lives. Now, with allegations not only of improper influence but sexual assault as well, there is serious question over whether the “firewall” was really put in place. None of the reporting on Hefner’s alleged acts of sexual assault suggests that Rosenberg had any knowledge of it, but now that Rosenberg is aware of it, he’s got to do some serious soul-searching or face losing his position, a position he has already temporarily removed himself from during an investigation into Hefner’s behavior and potential influence on the state Senate. —Dave


HALO – Radical Moms: Moms have always been a huge force to be reckoned with as activists, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the local MotherWoman. Karen Ribiero was one of six founding members of the Mothers Out Front Pioneer Valley chapter, where mothers organize to promote the group’s mission to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy. This spring we profiled some other rad moms in the Valley that deserve recognition (though we know that there are many more of you out there): Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Jossie Valentin, and Frances Crowe. —Meg


HALO – Local Music Promoters: The Valley Advocate gives a halo to local music promoters throughout the Pioneer Valley for venues such as the Sierra Grille, the 13th Floor Music Lounge, Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, the 413 Battle League, and yes, even the Iron Horse Entertainment Group. Part of what makes Western Massachusetts great is the sheer amount of musical talent in the region from a plethora of genres. Having great bands in the area is just one part of the equation, though, and venues putting local talents at the forefront of a show billing should be commended. —Chris


HALO – Women’s March Leaders: The Women’s March on January 21 was a historic, global event with over 5 million people participating worldwide. Most of the protests occurred the day after President Trump was inaugurated and were intended to advocate for human rights and other issues. The organizers of the event in the U.S. are all incredible activists and have continued to be sources of wisdom and strength since the march. The four co-chairs of the event were Linda Sarsour, political activist and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; Tamika Mallory, a former executive director of Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and founder of Mallory Consulting; Carmen Perez, the executive director of the political action group The Gathering for Justice; and Bob Bland, the CEO and founder of Manufacture NYC, which focuses on ethical manufacturing and sustainable fashion. —Meg


HORNS – The Massachusetts Gender Pay Gap: Despite the progressive leanings of Massachusetts, the Bay State is hardly any closer to gender pay parity than the country as a whole. Women make 82 cents on a man’s dollar in Massachusetts as compared with 80 cents country-wide, according to the median annual earnings for full-time, year round workers. Yes we’re a little bit further ahead than the wholly inadequate bar the country has set as a whole, but it’s downright laughable next to New York’s 89 cents, California’s 88 cents, and Florida’s 87 cents. Massachusetts should be aiming to surpass them all and get to 100 percent parity, even for part-time and seasonal work. —Dave


HORNS – WWLP and Western Mass News: There’s a special place in hell for shoddy journalism, but WWLP and Western Mass News, you take the cake for the bare minimum of reporting as well as for filling your social media feeds with sensationalist, racially-charged stories with no local connection. At this time, we also give a halo to every journalist willing to put the time and energy into crafting nuanced and in depth news that isn’t just about a sound bite. Prove me wrong, WWLP and Western Mass News, and maybe you’ll get a halo next year. —Chris


HALO – Mass MoCA: The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams has been bursting with activity this year, including an expansion that makes Mass MoCA the largest contemporary art museum in the country by acreage. With the new building came new artworks, including permanent fixtures and long term loans. MoCA is also still home to several successful music festivals, including Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, the Fresh Grass Bluegrass festival, and the High Mud Comedy Fest. —Meg


HORNS – “West Mass”: Anyone who thinks the idea of re-branding the Pioneer Valley as “West Mass” is a good idea must be living in alternate universe where universally panned ideas are a mark of true genius. The Economic Council of Western Massachusetts’ idea to rebrand Western Mass as “West Mass” backfired stupendously with their weird techno dance music video highlighting Michael Jordan (who doesn’t have any association with the region other than an appearance at the Big E a couple years ago) and general lameness. The council spent $80,000 on that ridiculous re-branding idea, only later scrap it and re-re-brand the region “Western Mass.” Yeah… that’s horns-worthy all right. —Chris


HALO – Park Hill Orchard: This Easthampton apple and peach farm is a credit to the Pioneer Valley arts community. I went there for no fewer than three different (and ambitious) arts events this fall that took place among their fruit trees. Park Hill hosts a yearly Art in the Orchard, which showcases Valley visual artists. Getting to see these works of art with the impressive backdrop of mountains and trees was nothing less than stunning. Then, the orchard hosted the Pioneer Valley Ballet to dance on the grass in their fields. The music and dancers were near both the still-standing artwork from Art in the Orchard as well as the berry bushes and fruit trees. My final visit was to see the Royal Frog Ballet’s annual Surrealist Cabaret. As my wife and I looked at the address of the event, we were shocked that we were once again headed to Park Hill Orchard. The Surrealist Cabaret fit perfectly into the vast property of Park Hill and really showcased on agriculture and the arts are natural allies. A big hat tip to this arts-loving orchard, which also sells delicious fudge and apple cider slushies. —Dave


PURGATORY – Ballot Causes: It looks like there are going to be a few interesting questions on the ballot in Massachusetts in 2018. One that’s already approved that we aren’t very excited about is a veto referendum on the Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill that went into effect in 2016. Let’s not repeal something that protects people from discrimination based on gender identity, okay? Luckily, there are two other ballot measures that are waiting for approval that we are really excited about: a $15 minimum wage initiative, and a paid family and medical leave initiative. Both have enough signatures and are just waiting for approval! —Meg


HALO – Valley Music Showcase: I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for Mark Sherry’s Valley Music Showcase finale, which featured local original music finalists such Shokazoba, Flathead Rodeo, Joon, One Time Weekend, and Afterlife Garage. All of these groups were amazing and unique from one another. Not only does the music showcase event highlight local talent, but donations from local businesses help take bands to the next level. This year’s finale winner was afrobeat/funk group Shokazoba, which received 20 hours of studio time at Northfire Recording Studio, a music video produced by Greenfield Community Television, and hours of professional marketing consulting.  —Chris


Congressman Richard Neal

HORNS – Richard Neal: Anger at Springfield Democrat Richard Neal’s disregard for his rural constituents as representative of Massachusetts’ First Congressional District came to a head earlier this year when a group of Williamsburg citizens got together to pay for an ad in the Gazette lambasting him for his absence. But it has been brewing for years. In letters to the editor and unanswered calls to his campaign offices, Neal’s constituents have expressed outrage at him for his unwillingness to engage with the vast majority of his district. Since the Advocate wrote about rural voters and progressives stewing about Neal’s absence, his conservative stance on single-payer health care, and his acceptance of large sums of money from corporate interests, Neal has scheduled more events in the rural areas of his district, but they are largely photo-ops. They mostly aren’t opportunities for constituents to talk to him about important issues they are facing. While many believed six months ago that they were stuck with Neal, a new credible challenger has emerged in Springfield-based Muslim-American attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud. The primary will be held on September 18 of the coming year, and it is one the Advocate will be watching closely. —Dave


HORNS – Massachusetts Turnpike All-Electronic Tolls: In the closing months of 2016, Massachusetts laid off hundreds of toll workers to bring its all-electronic toll system online. Since then, the camera data that reads every license plate that passed along the Pike has been misused, according to Masslive reporting. And there are plenty of other reasons to hate the new system. Tolls for those who have not signed up for the “please spy on me at all times” E-ZPass program doubled. Getting between 91 and 95 now costs nearly $6 for non-E-ZPass drivers. And despite paying more, we are still spied on by state cameras situated on the highway. Going to Boston should not require being scanned. —Dave


HORNS – Trump appointees: Donald Trump is despicable in his own right, but what adds insult to injury are all the unqualified people he appointed to key political positions in the government. Among these people are Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has led efforts to shrink the Department of Education, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (who has no qualifications for the job), uber-conservative Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch, as well as a promotion for smug, lightsaber wielding, Net Neutrality killing Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman. Horns for all of you! —Chris 


HALO – Loretta Ross: Loretta Ross is one of the founders of the Reproductive Justice movement. In fact, she helped coin the term in 1994 with other African American women. She is an intersectional feminist and an expert on women’s issues, hate groups, and human rights. She co-founded the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and served as the national coordinator from 2005 to 2012. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of women’s studies at Hampshire College where she teaches and speaks publicly about white supremacy. —Meg


HALO – Dr. Kate Atkinson: Other than being one of the most charming people you’ll meet, Dr. Kate Atkinson of Amherst is a pioneer in medical services, including some that could be effective against the opioid crisis. In a procedure earlier this year, Atkinson implanted drug delivery devices into a patient that mean that patient will not have to take daily or weekly pills and still be able to live an addiction-free life. Innovators like Atkinson may be the ones who finally move the needle in the opioid crisis. —Dave


HALO – Valley DREAMers: Children who were brought to America illegally have been protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since 2012. Trump rescinded DACA in September, and Congress has until March 5 to reach an agreement on what to do before protections from deportations end for over 800,000 people. As the home to many colleges and universities, the Pioneer Valley is also home to many “DREAMers” (people who are protected under DACA and currently work or go to school legally in the US). DREAMers in the Valley have been organizing this year to pressure Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act (that would provide a path to citizenship without using DREAMers as a bargaining chip to harm other immigrant communities). They caravaned to Washington, D.C., last week to visit congressional offices and join local actions. —Meg


HALO – Robert Mueller: Facing constant speculation over whether or not he will be fired by Trump for investigating the president, Mueller has tenaciously and rapidly conducted his thorough investigation into the links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Already it has borne fruit — an indictment against Trump campaign insider Paul Manafort, and guilty pleas from former national security advisor Michael Flynn and campaign worker George Papadopoulos. Mueller has avoided the ax by being diligent, hardworking, and keeping his investigation free from leaks. Right now the investigation has the full confidence of the majority of Americans despite near constant efforts to discredit him, no small feat. Let us hope he continues to be a trustworthy figure in unearthing the facts. —Dave


HORNS – Gerrymandering: Who knew we’d be rooting for former California ‘Governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger? This year, Arnold joined a campaign to stop the legal election-rigging scheme used to weaken the power of democracy, aka gerrymandering. Gerrymandering started in the Bay State, and although it’s a problem nationwide, we still have our own problems when it comes to weirdly drawn congressional districts that have less to do with fairness in representing the people and more to do with political power. —Chris


HORNS – Hillary Clinton: While we’d much prefer to be calling her President Hillary Clinton, we’re still giving her horns nonetheless. Clinton hasn’t been doing much to unify the Democratic Party after her surprising loss to Donald Trump. In her book, What Happened, she blames everyone from James Comey, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders for her loss. Give us a break, Hillary. —Chris


HORNS – Thomas Jefferson: Yes, it’s true that this is an older one. But a reader response to a wine column by Monte Belmonte reminded us of “what a maggot that man was.” Even with the inclusion of “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson, who most historians agree had sex with some of his slaves, would not have fared well in today’s #MeToo environment, nor should he have in his own time. At the same time, through covert funding of the Breitbart of his time, Jefferson tried at every turn to undermine Washington’s presidency in the press. He also deserted his troops in Virginia when the British invaded (something the timeline on his statue in Washington, D.C., leaves out, but not his biography, or the biographies of his revolutionary contemporaries). —Dave


HALO – Tanya Pearson: Tanya Pearson kicks major ass when it comes to female musicians becoming recognized through mainstream and local media. She has been accumulating a continuous list of female musicians for her Women in Rock Oral History Project which she started at Smith College in December 2014. Accompanied by 29 video interviews, some of which are available at http://www.womenofrock.org, she has set the bar for having underrepresented female musicians speak their truth and tell their story about what it’s like to be a female musician in a “Man’s World.” The interviews are real and the questions stemmed from Pearson’s own curiosity. When she was growing up and wanted to learn about her favorite female musicians, she couldn’t find any information on them. Keep kicking ass, Tanya. We heart you! —Jennifer


HALO – Springfield Drug Court: For a long time our criminal justice system has utterly failed people sick with addiction who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Springfield’s district court this year became a participant in a growing trend of specialty courts for those suffering from addiction. The court, presided over by Judge Charles Groce III, is a place participants can go to be celebrated for their achievements and work toward becoming free of addiction. With 80 percent of people in prison nationwide abusing drugs or alcohol, it is no wonder that for every $1 invested in drug courts, taxpayers save more than $4 in avoided criminal justice costs. Groce conducts the drug court without his black robe and stands eye to eye with program participants rather than on a high bench surrounded by law books, adding yet another human element to a positive program. —Dave


HALO – Punks: Back in September, we had a lovely theme issue entitled the “Punk Issue” that had a big ‘ol hand-drawn anarchy symbol over the ‘A’ in Advocate. I think I can speak for all of us involved with the making of it that it was one of our favorites in recent Advocate history. Chris Goudreau interviewed legendary alt punkers the Pixies. I was lucky enough to get a photo pass and shoot some awesome shots at their show at Smith College. Former editor, and one of this year’s HALOS, Kristin Palpini interviewed Unband bassist Michael Ruffino about his memoir Adios Mother Fucker: A Gentleman’s Progress Through Rock and Roll. And for my Valley Show Girl column that week I watched six local and national punk-rock documentaries and shared my thoughts. Everything from local DIY scenes, to the nasty — yet intriguing — GG Allin, I was reminded that punk rock will never die and there is at least a little punk in all of us. —Jennifer


HALO – Gardening the Community/ Food Policy Council: Gardening the Community and the Springfield Food Policy Council were at the center of a Valley Advocate article called “Full Shelves, Empty Calories” about lack of access fresh and affordable produce in areas of Springfield such as Mason Square. Gardening the Community teaches local youth about growing their own crops, while the Food Policy Council advocates for improvements to food access across the city, whether that’s pushing for a grocery store in downtown Springfield or more nutritional food in Springfield Public Schools. Both groups continue to push for grocery stores in areas of the city where there are none currently. —Chris


HALO – #RESIST: If 2016 was a year of political mourning, 2017 was the year progressives and Democrats started getting their act together and started winning local and national elections. Voters in Greenfield and Holyoke have a special place in our heart for electing progressives to City Council seats as well as the re-election of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse for a four-year term in office. The upshot of the November 2017 election was that the tables have turned in Holyoke and Greenfield. Both City Councils leaned more conservative, but as of January 1, both will be more balanced. Voters in Virginia elected Democratic candidate Ralph Northam as governor, New Jersey voters replaced Chris Christie with Democratic candidate Phil Murphy, and voters in Alabama (special shout out to black men and women) elected Doug Jones, beating out Republican and alleged pedophile Roy Moore. Well done, democracy. Here’s hoping you outdo yourself in 2018. —Chris


HORNS – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte: One of the electoral low points of 2017 was when Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s seat in the House of Representatives one day after body-slamming a reporter for asking him a question. People who callously attack journalists do not deserve to be elevated to positions of authority, and we hope that the people of Montana will do the right thing by voting this monster out of office in 2018. Last month, released police documents showed that not only did he attack the journalist, but he lied about it to police. —Dave


HALO – Gut Microbiome: Shout out to the most under-appreciated part of our bodies: the gut microbiome. The collection of microbes in our intestines is currently one of the most exciting research areas in biology. Scientists have found that this newly discovered “organ” may have far reaching effects on human health, from digestion to depression. —Meg


HORNS – Charlie Baker: Massachusetts can do a lot better than our Republican governor Charlie Baker. Let’s be honest — Baker is a pretty crappy voice for our state. Here’s some examples: for the second year in a row the Baker Administration received a “C” rating on its environmental report card, he vetoed Sen. Eric Lesser’s proposal to study high speed rail from Springfield to Boston, and froze $200,000 in shelter money for the second year in a row for the Pioneer Valley, including for Amherst’s only shelter, Craig’s Place. The governorship is supposed to be a leadership position for the state, but Baker continues to be mediocre by backing charter schools instead of traditional public education and having a weak approach to the environment. —Chris


HALO – Elm Street Think Tank: The Elm Street Think Tank is a group of community members and residents of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office who meet weekly at the jail. The group works on a variety of projects and has resulted in some really incredible work this year, including the fourth Inside-Art exhibition featuring art made by people incarcerated at the Franklin County Jail. The Think Tank also led to the creation of the Compost Cooperative, a new cooperative in Greenfield that will be owned by people who are formerly incarcerated. The Co-op will start picking up compost at Greenfield homes and businesses in the spring of 2018. —Meg


PURGATORY – MGM Springfield: MGM has poured at least $950 million into constructing its new resort-style casino in the heart of downtown Springfield. The casino will likely bring more than 3,000 jobs to the Springfield area and beyond, but questions of whether it would be economically beneficial in the long-term remain. For the city’s sake, we hope MGM Springfield is a resounding success, but with more than half of the city’s unemployed population ineligible for a job based on our findings from an investigation we undertook earlier this year, that doesn’t bode well for city residents. For it’s part, MGM Springfield has been advocating for the state to make changes to criminal record laws to allow more people to be eligible not only for jobs at the casino and other businesses. —Chris


HORNS – Gas companies with moratoriums: Columbia and Berkshire Gas instituted moratoriums on new gas hookups in 2015 in several Western Mass communities due to what they said was an energy crisis. Since then energy needs in Massachusetts have declined, in part because of an explosion of residential solar installations that reduce electric grid demand. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also delivered a rebuke to the energy crisis narrative with a 70-page report claiming Massachusetts has plenty of fuel and delivery capacity through 2030. A Kinder Morgan pipeline project that some suspect the moratoriums were instituted to support has since folded. And yet the moratoriums remain. Colulmbia Gas has stated that its moratoriums in Northampton and Easthampton could be lifted by 2020. The Berkshire Gas moratorium remains. Both should be lifted as soon as possible. —Dave


HALO – Pioneer Valley Ballet: Pioneer Valley Ballet is a Valley arts mainstay, its annual Nutcracker at the Academy of Music is a family tradition for many. This year they deserve even more praise for investing in a sensory safe performance of the Nutcracker. PVB applied for a grant that allowed them to work with autism specialists to design a show that was accessible for everyone with reduced lights and sounds and a shorter run time. Bravo to PVB for this important, inclusionary art. —Meg


HORNS – White Supremacists: Racists everywhere were emboldened this year with the election of Donald Trump and white supremacy has reared its grotesque, serpentine head into our daily lives more so in 2017 than in years past. The clashes in Charlottesville were a low point for the year, with Neo-Nazis, KKK supporters, and run-of-the-mill racists carrying tiki torches, viciously assaulting people, and killing a woman — 32-year-old Heather Heyer — whose mother had to hide her grave from Neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups. Here’s your horns, you fascists; we hope you choke on them. —Chris


In Memoriam:

Chester Bennington (41) and Chris Cornell (52): The lead singers of Linkin Park and Soundgarden/ Audioslave respectively each committed suicide this year and are fondly remembered by the music community and their fans.

Fats Domino: The singer-songwriter and rock and roll pioneer passed away at the age of 89 due to natural causes.

Tom Petty: Eighties heartthrob Tom Petty died this year at the age of 66 of cardiac arrest. Petty was the front man for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and recorded many hits for the band and as a soloist.

Hugh Hefner: The founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine passed away this year at age 91. Given he’s famous for making money off of women’s bodies and being a womanizer, “Hef” wouldn’t necessarily have a halo on this list. We hope the robe is buried with him.

Mary Tyler Moore: Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80 early this year. The comedian is most well-known for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Dick van Dyke Show where her characters often pushed gender norms for the time.

Chuck Berry: Chuck Berry, another pioneer of rock and roll music, also passed away this year at the age of 90. Berry developed a style that included showmanship and guitar solos and had a huge influence on the rock music that followed him.

Author: Advocate Staff

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