Introducing the Quaffle to a New Generation: UMass Quidditch Team Starts Summer Camp
Jul17

Introducing the Quaffle to a New Generation: UMass Quidditch Team Starts Summer Camp

The Harry Potter books and films have inspired many real world spillovers, including real-life wizarding schools and online quizzes that determine your magical house. But among the more surprisingly widespread are the leagues that have sprouted up to play the magical sport quidditch, which takes elements of handball, lacrosse, rugby, and dodgeball and brews them together with magical maneuvers on a flying broomstick.The University of...

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Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids
Jul17

Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids

Western Massachusetts advocacy groups know that there are many in immigrant communities living in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and arrests, and over the course of this year have been working to do something about it — particularly in light of President Donald Trump’s stances on immigration.Groups including the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice have begun training people to be part of a...

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UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp
Jul13

UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp

The Harry Potter books and films have inspired many real world spillovers, including real-life wizarding schools and online quizzes that determine your magical house. But among the more surprisingly widespread are the leagues that have sprouted up to play the magical sport quidditch, which takes elements of handball, lacrosse, rugby, and dodgeball and brews them together with magical maneuvers on a flying broomstick. The University of...

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Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident
Jul11

Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident

When he was 15 years old in 1976, Niberd Abdalla immigrated to the United States from Iraq fleeing persecution due to his family’s Kurdish heritage and democratic activism. He’s lived as an undocumented person in the United States for the past 41 years and has complied with biannual immigration enforcement check-ins for the past seven years. On the morning of June 8, when Niberd, a former Florence resident who now lives in...

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Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG
Jul10

Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG

For years the Iron Horse Entertainment Group with its quintet of venues — Pearl Street Nightclub, The Calvin, The Basement, The Iron Horse Music Hall, and Mountain Park — reigned over the Pioneer Valley music scene.IHEG’s rule has irked some people.Frustration with the entertainment group boiled over recently leading to a guerilla campaign against IHEG owner Eric Suher, and two widely circulated news stories about crumby conditions at...

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Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea
Jul10

Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea

In the small Berkshire County town of Sandisfield, there’s a battle being waged over public lands and environmental concerns stemming from a natural gas pipeline being installed in Otis State Forest.More than 30 protesters have been arrested this year for trespassing on an easement granted to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, for construction of its $93 million Connecticut Expansion Project that would run...

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Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth
Jul03

Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth

Ninety-eight-year-old peace activist Frances Crowe of Northampton is thinking about the future. That’s why she was arrested last month along with seven other people protesting Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s $93 million 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project in Sandisfield’s Otis State Forest on June 24. The group, including Crowe, is set to appear in Southern Berkshire District Court for civil violations of trespassing on July 18....

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Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training
Jun29

Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training

Over the last 20 years, medical education institutions across the nation have been phasing out the practicing of surgical procedures on live animals, but Baystate Medical Center in Springfield is bucking the trend and keeping it old school.The protest on June 29 outside Baystate was organized by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to rail against the hospital’s practice of using live pigs to train the next generation of...

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A Review Of Sodada’s “Sunshine EP”
Jun26

A Review Of Sodada’s “Sunshine EP”

What do you get when you combine Pink Floyd’s brand of jazzy progressive rock; the bittersweet melodies of The Beatles; soulful R&B a la Stevie Wonder; and a punk rock attitude? You find a band like Sodada, which succeeds in being much more than the sum of its parts.The local quartet, which was recently featured on the Advocate Sessions stage, released a new seven-song extended play (EP) called Sunshine EP on April 1 that features...

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Springfield Church To Offer Physical Sanctuary to Undocumented Immigrants
Jun19

Springfield Church To Offer Physical Sanctuary to Undocumented Immigrants

Faith leaders from six churches in Springfield have formed a “sanctuary network,” to provide shelter to undocumented immigrants in response to increasingly aggressive deportation tactics from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), including waiting outside court rooms and schools.South Congregational Church, 45 Maple St., would lead the network and provide housing for the undocumented. The other churches — Holy...

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How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really
Jun19

How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really

Whether you’re a 20-something fresh out of college looking for work or near retirement age and can’t find a job at your skill level, the trials and tribulations of unemployment are very real. It’s an issue that most people face in their adult lives and an age old problem without an easy solutions.Finding a job can be especially challenging if you have a criminal record. In the city of Holyoke, a local advocacy group, Neighbor to...

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Rally for ‘God-Given Right’ to Guns Planned for Belchertown
Jun13

Rally for ‘God-Given Right’ to Guns Planned for Belchertown

By Chris Goudreau“America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio — the controversial right wing former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who is known for placing prisoners in tents under temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, and has been criticized for human rights violations in his tenure, will be the headline speaker at a conservative rally in Belchertown on Saturday.The “4th Annual Flag Day...

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More Than Half of Springfield’s Unemployed Don’t Qualify for Casino Jobs
Jun12

More Than Half of Springfield’s Unemployed Don’t Qualify for Casino Jobs

Radames Lopez is a 24-year-old lifelong Holyoke resident with a six month old daughter. He’s unemployed and every day is a struggle to find work because of his felony criminal record.“They’re not going to call me back … I can’t even go into the Army even if I want to because I’ve got felonies,” Lopez said following a Holyoke City Council meeting this month.Lopez spoke during the public comment portion of the Holyoke City Council’s...

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Share The Road — With A Horse
Jun06

Share The Road — With A Horse

If you think riding a horse along a road in New England harkens back to the distant past with horse and buggies, think again. On Saturday, June 10, horse riders will take to the roads for the 6th Annual “Share The Road – Horses Paved The Way” event in the communities of East Longmeadow, Hadley, Northampton, Palmer, and Belchertown. Jose Rubero, an event organizer, said many people believe that riding horses on public roadways is...

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Springfield Advocacy Group Disappointed By Updated Police In School Deal
Jun05

Springfield Advocacy Group Disappointed By Updated Police In School Deal

Despite unanimous approval at the Springfield School Committee’s May 18 meeting for a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Springfield Public Schools and the Springfield Police Department, advocacy group Neighbor to Neighbor thinks the new document does little to disrupt what it calls the “school-to-prison pipeline.”Jafet Robles, a Springfield organizer with Neighbor to Neighbor, told the Valley Advocate the group fears...

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A Love Letter to Radio: Johnny Memphis Band’s ‘Rarities’
May30

A Love Letter to Radio: Johnny Memphis Band’s ‘Rarities’

Polka, doo-wop, jazz swing, and country western music — you wouldn’t think one band would cover these eclectic genres across six songs, but The Johnny Memphis Band, based out of Florence, does just that and more on its new record, Rarities.The sole songwriter for the band is Johnny Memphis, aka John Reily, a former WRSI disc jockey who adopted his stage name when he got his start on the airwaves in 1986. The band’s new album is a love...

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Review: A ‘Lil Alt-Country on Lisa Marie Ellingsen’s ‘NoLa to NoHo’ (w/audio)
May22

Review: A ‘Lil Alt-Country on Lisa Marie Ellingsen’s ‘NoLa to NoHo’ (w/audio)

Local singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Ellingsen smiles with an air of satisfaction. She’s wearing a leather jacket and flannel shirt, leaning against a rustic wooden backdrop on the front cover her new album, NoLa to NoHo. The photos were shot at the Florence Pie Bar, which is evident from a picture of a slice of apple pie and a piping hot cup of black coffee hidden behind the CD’s jewel case and, of course, the credits on the liner...

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Between The Lines: Trans Allies Needed More Than Ever
May22

Between The Lines: Trans Allies Needed More Than Ever

Last week I interviewed an organizer with the “I’ll Go With You” campaign, which sells buttons trans allies can wear to show they are willing to go into a public restroom with a trans man or woman to help keep them safe.That may seem like an extraordinary step to take, but with violence against trans people higher than ever and on the rise, it is an important role an ally of trans people can play.As a cisgender heterosexual caucasian...

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Bringing New Life to Old Things
May22

Bringing New Life to Old Things

It’s surprising what you can create from seemingly broken or time weathered objects. From Brattleboro to Palmer artisans are doing just that whether it’s creating human-shaped sculptures from colored pencils wired together or a Victorian inspired lamp made from a fruit bowl and a candle stick.Gallery in the Woods, located on Main Street in the heart of downtown Brattleboro includes a plethora of artistic works that were made from...

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Local Yemeni Student Wins National Award For Aid Work In Home Country
May15

Local Yemeni Student Wins National Award For Aid Work In Home Country

Protecting children from Al Qaeda and Houthi militias. Persuading boys against joining militant groups. Aiding children traumatized by violence, abduction, and rape.These are some of the things accomplished by 30-year-old Fadia Najib Thabet of Yemen while working as a child protection officer in her home country, starting in 2011. Now she is a student studying peacebuilding and conflict transformation at the School for International...

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Figures … New England In Climate Change’s Crosshairs
May15

Figures … New England In Climate Change’s Crosshairs

New Englanders are trained from a young age to expect the unexpected when it comes to weather, but according to a new UMass study, we ain’t seen nothing yet.Flooding, extreme heat, and unusually warm winter weather — all effects of climate change — are anticipated to wallop New England 20 years earlier than most of the rest of the country, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Northeast Climate Science...

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Northampton Activists Stage ‘Emergency’ Rally For Investigation of Trump
May10

Northampton Activists Stage ‘Emergency’ Rally For Investigation of Trump

Local activist groups are staging an emergency rally calling for an independent investigation and for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia. The planned peaceful demonstration will take place May 10 from 5 to 6 p.m. on the steps of Northampton City Hall.The rally arrives on the heels of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating the...

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David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash Talks Songwriting, Politics, and Fame
May05

David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash Talks Songwriting, Politics, and Fame

David Crosby — the founding member of legendary 1960s and 1970s rock groups such as the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, & Nash — is coming to Northampton’s Academy of Music Theatre on May 19 for a show with his electric backing band. The two-time Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer singer-songwriter and guitarist is set to release his third album in two years, Sky Trails, sometime this year. The Valley Advocate interviewed Crosby on May 3 to talk...

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Total of 24 ‘Sugar Shack’ Protesters Arrested in One Week at Otis Park
May08

Total of 24 ‘Sugar Shack’ Protesters Arrested in One Week at Otis Park

LATEST UPDATE:Twenty-four protesters affiliated with The Sugar Shack Alliance, a Northeast coalition that aims to disrupt the fossil fuel industry, have been arrested thus far at Otis State Forest in Sandisfield. Charges stem from allegations that protesters blocked access roads and barred tree cutters entrance onto an easement in the park — the site where 3.8 miles of natural gas pipeline is slated for construction as part of the $93...

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Facing the Wolf: Old Flame’s Wolf in the Heather EP Reviewed
May01

Facing the Wolf: Old Flame’s Wolf in the Heather EP Reviewed

The blues has always been about addressing heartbreak and strife going back to 1930s Depression-era America. Northampton-based indie garage rock blues duo Old Flame seem to share that sentiment for today’s world. The band’s debut seven-song EP, Wolf in the Heather, features songs of resistance to the Trump Administration with biting lyrics and a penchant for muddy blues riffs.“The storm is raging but I’m caught in this cage/ I ain’t...

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Fracked Gas Protesters Names Released
May01

Fracked Gas Protesters Names Released

Eighteen protesters were detained at Berkshire County Jail on May 2 after blocking access roads to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s easement where construction of a $93 million 3.8-mile Connecticut expansion gas pipeline project at Otis State Forest in Sandisfield is planned for construction.The Massachusetts State Police released the names of the 18 individuals arrested for blocking two access roads, stating in a press release...

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Nice Pot! The Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail open studios this weekend
Apr24

Nice Pot! The Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail open studios this weekend

Nice Pot! Flowers are blooming on the trees, the sun is shining, and asparagus are being planted in the Valley, which means it’s time for the annual springtime Asparagus Valley Potter Trail. Every year the self-guided tour takes place across nine pottery studios in Western Mass. This year 13 guest artists will also be displaying their work. Witness the elegance of a sassy red clay robot by Francine & Frank Ozereko or creations such as...

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Eight Western Mass Towns Considering Fees for Carbon Emissions
Apr25

Eight Western Mass Towns Considering Fees for Carbon Emissions

This spring, voters in eight towns in Western Massachusetts may pass resolutions requiring fossil fuel companies to pay fees to its citizens.The resolutions are non-binding, so the votes will be more about sending a message than actually leveraging the fees, according to a statement from Ashfield Citizens’ Climate Lobby.The towns of Amherst, Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Plainfield, Shutesbury, and Whatley have all placed...

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Between the Lines: Baker gets a ‘C’ in environmental protection
Apr21

Between the Lines: Baker gets a ‘C’ in environmental protection

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has been deemed mediocre – receiving a “C” for the second year in a row for its environmental policies and leadership, according to a report card from seven leading environmental organizations. “Unfortunately, once again we are seeing the Baker Administration fall short. From climate preparedness to toxic landfill emissions, there are serious challenges ahead for our state, and it’s critical...

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Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour to speak at UMass
Apr20

Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour to speak at UMass

In the age of President Trump, many people are stepping up to organize and counter the rising tide nationalism, xenophobia, racism and hate fueled far-right flirtations with Nazism. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American Muslim civil rights and racial justice activist who was one of the organizers for the Women’s March on Washington, is one such person.She’ll be speaking at UMass Amherst in Mahar Auditorium April 28 at 3:30...

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Is Recreational Weed Coming to a Town Near You?
Apr18

Is Recreational Weed Coming to a Town Near You?

From the outside, 5 Appleton St. in Holyoke looks like any number of towering, brick artifacts from a time when Holyoke earned its unofficial title “The Paper City.” But looks can be deceiving. New life is being breathed into the 200,000 square-foot facility and that’s all due to recreational marijuana.Unlike some of the neighboring buildings, this 125-year-old mill, located in the downtown canal district, has been busy since starting...

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Tick, Tick, Tick … Boom? No bumper crop of ticks this year, but keep your socks tucked into your pants anyway
Apr03

Tick, Tick, Tick … Boom? No bumper crop of ticks this year, but keep your socks tucked into your pants anyway

Every year billions of ticks creep through wooded areas across Massachusetts and New England, feeding vampirically off the blood of wildlife, pets, and humans. With ticks comes the most obvious fear: Lyme disease. But how much of what seems like common knowledge about ticks is really true? Do cold winters or mild winters affect tick populations? Is it really the smallest ticks that carry diseases most of time? “They’re always...

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Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?
Mar27

Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?

You’re a teenager in high school. You’ve been texting on your smartphone when you shouldn’t be or otherwise refusing to listen to your teacher. You think you’ll probably get berated, maybe detention, but never thought you’d be handcuffed and taken into police custody. That’s the reality for some students who find themselves caught in the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” – an acknowledgement of the increased rate of incarceration...

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Music Review: “15 Sunrise” by Calico Blue
Mar20

Music Review: “15 Sunrise” by Calico Blue

Amherst-based psychedelic dream-pop and surf-blues infused band Calico Blue released its second album early this month, 15 Sunrise, which presents songs that could be best described as meditations on life. They confront the ghosts that live in the corridors of the mind: regret, heartbreak, and solitude. But in the darkness of the lyrics there is hidden light, which builds to bring about a dawning, as the title suggests.Vocalist Sarah...

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