Leonard Underwood photo
By the Numbers
That’s the length of the newly installed bike lane on Plumtree Road in Springfield. The result of a collaboration between the non-profit MassBike, City Hall, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and Partners for a Healthier Community, it’s the first bike lane in the city—and organizers hope it won’t be the last. “We see Springfield specifically, but more generally the whole of Hampden County, as a prime area to encourage more biking and walking,” MassBike says. “With a solid pre-war urban development style in the downtown area, and a number of educational institutions, large employers, and cultural amenities within a few-mile radius of the City Hall, possibilities abound for improving biking and walking infrastructure.”
Make New Friends
In 2007, New York-based photographer Richard Renaldi began his “Touching Strangers” project, which asks subjects to do just that: to have their portraits taken while making physical contact—standing arm in arm; holding hands; embracing—with someone they’ve never before met.
The idea lent itself well to the Springfield City Library’s recent “Imagine a Peace-full City” project, a series of events focused on making Springfield “a safer, more peaceful place to live and raise a family.” At two “Strangers Become Friends” events, held at the Indian Orchard and Brightwood branch libraries, photographer Leonard Underwood captured images of volunteers who agreed to have their picture taken with a stranger. “Come take a chance, meet your neighbors, and maybe make a new friend,” organizers urged participants.
These photographs were taken on Nov. 6 in Indian Orchard.
The War on Thanksgiving
In the ever-escalating holiday retail race, Kmart wins the booby prize. This year, in many places, the chain’s “Black Friday” sales will actually begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday—what used to be known, in more innocent times, as Thanksgiving Day.
Of course, Kmart’s not the only company to decide that it’s more important to make money than to let their hard-working, modestly compensated employees spend the holiday with their families. Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, JC Penney and Walmart are among the companies that will open for business in some states on Thanksgiving; Walmart, for one, recently announced that it will open its stores at 6 p.m. that day, two hours earlier than it did last year. So pack that slice of pumpkin pie to go.
In Massachusetts, workers are spared this latest indignity, thanks to the commonwealth’s Blue Laws, which limit the kinds of stores that can open on Thanksgiving (and Christmas) to places like convenience stores and gas stations. Still, folks who want to show solidarity with exploited workers, or voice their distaste for the greedy companies that force those workers to choose between their families and their paychecks, might opt to keep their holiday shopping small and local—like on Nov. 30, which in recent years has become known as “Small Business Saturday.”
“Medical marijuana is a humane treatment for a lot of illnesses, but we are not willing to go to federal prison for it.”
—Sue Stubbs, CEO of ServiceNet and president of Farm House Compassionate Care, explaining that Farm House may give up the idea of opening a marijuana dispensary because federal marijuana laws are stricter than the state law enabling the establishment of the dispensaries