May 1 will be final Valley Gives Day as organizers shift to year-round strategy
Apr25

May 1 will be final Valley Gives Day as organizers shift to year-round strategy

Valley Gives Day, the day in which Pioneer Valley residents are encouraged to support local nonprofit organizations, will likely be happening for the last time on Tuesday, May 1. Springfield-based nonprofit Community Foundation of Western Mass has run the event since 2012, and announced recently that after this year’s event, the focus would be on a year-round support model for local nonprofit organizations rather than a single...

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Editorial: Listening to people from ‘coal country’ our best chance to change minds
Apr24

Editorial: Listening to people from ‘coal country’ our best chance to change minds

Smith College hosted a fascinating speaker earlier this month who addressed a topic that’s been on my mind for several months leading up to the 2018 midterms: communicating and collaborating with people in what’s called “Trump country.” Without their help, we’re all likely destined for more divisiveness and hate-fueled policy from Washington. Hailing from Appalachia, Nick Mullins used to work for a coal mining company. Now he gives...

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Editorial: Find someone else to pick on, Mayor Sarno
Apr10

Editorial: Find someone else to pick on, Mayor Sarno

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against a Springfield church for offering sanctuary to an undocumented Peruvian woman and her two American children. Immigrant Gisella Collazo’s cause was taken up by the Pioneer Valley Project, which released a statement late in March saying that Collazo had taken up residency in the South Congregational Church. Sarno, sounding a lot like President...

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Congressional challenger Amatul-Wadud says Neal’s seniority won’t help his district
Apr05

Congressional challenger Amatul-Wadud says Neal’s seniority won’t help his district

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Democratic primary challenger to longtime Congressman Richard Neal, is attacking her opponent from an unlikely angle — his seniority. Neal, a Springfield Democrat who has served in the House since 1989, would likely be appointed chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Democrats retake the House in what is increasingly predicted to be a blue wave election in November. But Amatul-Wadud, who hopes to...

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Local anchor Dave Madsen says former boss Sinclair Broadcast Group has put its anchors in ‘horrible position’
Apr03

Local anchor Dave Madsen says former boss Sinclair Broadcast Group has put its anchors in ‘horrible position’

Longtime broadcast journalist and news anchor Dave Madsen, of Western Mass News, is criticizing his former boss, Sinclair Broadcast Group, following its decision to require its anchors to read promos decrying “fake stories” from national news outlets, a line that echoes President Donald Trump’s media-bashing. “It bothers me that people are forced to read something,” Madsen said Tuesday. “I...

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Staff Picks: Brooks Williams, Adam Ezra, Sylvan Esso
Mar28

Staff Picks: Brooks Williams, Adam Ezra, Sylvan Esso

Brooks Williams // Friday, March 30 Wind down your week with some good old fashioned blues at The Parlor Room. Georgia-born guitarist and songwriter Brooks Williams will be performing his special style of soulful blues. He’s been called “a mean finger-picker and a stunning slide guitarist.” Songs like Walk You Off My Mind and Statesboro Blues will have you tapping your toes and swaying in your seat. The Parlor Room, 32 Masonic St., 7...

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Western Mass Year of the Woman? Election could bring all-female delegation to Hampshire County
Mar27

Western Mass Year of the Woman? Election could bring all-female delegation to Hampshire County

Hampshire County has the highest proportion of women of any county in the state, and yet for years has been represented in the Statehouse mostly by men. With the retirement of longtime Amherst Rep. Ellen Story in 2016, this has been especially true. But this year’s elections could alter that in the extreme. There are credible female candidates running for four of the state House seats representing the bulk of the county, and more than...

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Young Teens Blast Gun Laws in Northampton Student Walkouts
Mar14

Young Teens Blast Gun Laws in Northampton Student Walkouts

At John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, a police officer and administrator kept outsiders clear of hundreds of students gathered outside, but their words were audible in the cold, March morning. Students went up to a microphone one by one and gave the name and age of a school shooting victim — often 13, 14, or 15 — then recited statistics and demanded change from legislators in Congress on gun laws. In the crowd before them,...

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Editorial: Sunshine Week Important Now As Ever
Mar13

Editorial: Sunshine Week Important Now As Ever

I’ll never forget the Open Meeting Law conference I covered a few years ago in Northampton. Then State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg held the conference in March 2015 for local civic leaders and venting about the Open Meeting Law, which is in place for all of us to get necessary information about how our government is run, commenced immediately. John Payne, who was then Select Board Chairman in Shelburne, said he found that the...

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Vermont Yankee transfer gaining traction with state agencies and environmental activists
Mar06

Vermont Yankee transfer gaining traction with state agencies and environmental activists

After several weeks of negotiations, Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant owner Entergy, potential buyer NorthStar, state agencies, and citizen activists have come to an agreement on how the shut down plant could be transferred and decommissioned by NorthStar. One agency, however, does not think the plan has enough financial supports in place if something unexpected happens. NorthStar had proposed to buy the plant so that it could...

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Thought this winter was warm? Wait until the coming years
Mar02

Thought this winter was warm? Wait until the coming years

Has this winter seemed unseasonably warm to you? Or what about that shocking cold a couple months ago? It turns out that with one of the warmest Februarys on record and a record-breaking two-week cold snap around New Year’s, the winter itself averaged out to be … well … average. We still have a few weeks to go before the official first day of spring, but meteorological winter — which scientists define as the months...

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TEENS vs. GUNS: Youth anti-gun sentiment spreading and changing minds
Feb27

TEENS vs. GUNS: Youth anti-gun sentiment spreading and changing minds

Born the same year of the Columbine High School Shooting in Colorado, 18-year-old Madison Pease of Southampton grew up hearing about school shootings. But it wasn’t until 17 people were killed in the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, that she began thinking something like that could actually happen to her. “In interviews with the kids, they said they didn’t think it was going to be them, that they felt like they were in the safest...

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Editorial: Guns spark a new student movement — and a fight for their lives
Feb27

Editorial: Guns spark a new student movement — and a fight for their lives

Fifty years ago, in 1968, student protests rocked the Vietnam War debate, and were eventually credited with turning public sentiment against the war. For young people, particularly young men, their very lives were at stake with the instituted military draft sending millions to Southeast Asia. In the end, more than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the war. The number of deaths from gun violence makes that number look tiny....

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Bravo to Goldstein-Rose for Declaring Independence from Democrats
Feb21

Bravo to Goldstein-Rose for Declaring Independence from Democrats

On Tuesday, Amherst state Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose became the second independent in the Massachusetts Statehouse, changing his party affiliation from Democrat to unenrolled. Predictably, party elders and political pundits — the same ones that predicted a sweeping win for Hillary Clinton — panned the move, saying that Goldstein-Rose is consigning himself to the periphery in a Statehouse organized around party caucuses....

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Northampton Event Encourages Women Activists to Speak Up
Feb16

Northampton Event Encourages Women Activists to Speak Up

The day after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, corporate communications trainer Cathy McNally vowed to join activist communities to oppose the conservative forces that got him elected. Founder and CEO of the Women Speak Up organization, she realized that it was her work with teaching women to be better public speakers that could make a real difference. “Women are the leaders of so much movement work, but they need to be...

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Undocumented Hampshire Student to Walk 250 Miles for Immigrant Rights
Feb14

Undocumented Hampshire Student to Walk 250 Miles for Immigrant Rights

Representing the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 11 undocumented individuals will walk from New York City to Washington, D.C., starting Thursday, Feb. 15. Among them will be Eduardo Samaniego, 25, of Amherst. Samaniego is in his third year at Hampshire College and has been active in fighting for immigrant rights, both at the state and federal levels. “It’s about 250 miles we’ll be...

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Literally Selling Your Soul to Pay for an Education
Feb13

Literally Selling Your Soul to Pay for an Education

T.X. Watson, a transgender student at Hampshire College, is planning to sell their soul as part of their senior graduation project in art. The reason: Watson will have about $45,000 in debt upon graduation, and parting with their soul seems to be the best way of paying it off. “I either sell my soul now or sell my soul in a slow metaphorical grind, taking jobs I don’t want so that I can make the payments,” Watson says. I meet Watson,...

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Gazette/Advocate Pay Equity Meeting Postponed to Next Week
Feb08

Gazette/Advocate Pay Equity Meeting Postponed to Next Week

A staff meeting on the topic of pay equity for women staff members has been postponed for a week, but staff members believe progress is being made. The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, at 4 p.m., but Gazette and Advocate publisher Michael Rifanburg wrote staff members an email Wednesday evening that the meeting would have to be postponed due to schedule conflicts and would be rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 15. Rifanburg...

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Rosenberg Out as Senate President for Rest of Term
Feb07

Rosenberg Out as Senate President for Rest of Term

The Massachusetts State Senate voted to make Worcester Democrat Harriette Chandler the permanent Senate President today, as the investigation into the husband of former state Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst continues. “I am confident that Senate President Chandler will serve the Senate and the Commonwealth with distinction,” Rosenberg wrote in a statement. “I support what’s best for the Senate and the...

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Congressman McGovern speaks to students in Northampton
Feb05

Congressman McGovern speaks to students in Northampton

The auditorium at the Northampton High School was filled with students as Congressman Jim McGovern fielded questions in a town hall-style meeting on Friday afternoon. The students were engaged and their questions ran the gamut from what should be done about climate change to whether there should be a federal law mandating that minors be tried as juvenile offenders. McGovern’s overall message for the audience of high-school...

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Editorial: Disappointing coverage from Poynter and others on Gazette editor departure
Feb02

Editorial: Disappointing coverage from Poynter and others on Gazette editor departure

Sometimes the great teachers are role models to emulate, and sometimes they are the ones whose unfortunate actions you learn not to repeat. Poynter Institute, which touts itself as the world’s leading instructor for journalists, unfortunately fell into the latter category this week with regard to an important story for this news organization. Poynter writer James Warren was given a copy of an email from our former executive...

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Former Gazette editor claims he was fired advocating for women, but many women say differently
Feb01

Former Gazette editor claims he was fired advocating for women, but many women say differently

Editor’s note: I have been employed by Newspapers of New England since 2014 and was working for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and then the Valley Advocate at the time that most of the events reported in this story took place. There is some inherent awkwardness of writing about and interviewing my former boss, my current employer, and several former colleagues, but I did the best I could to be fair to all sides. -Dave E. At a few...

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The Advocate is Turning Bi … Weekly
Jan31

The Advocate is Turning Bi … Weekly

Hello Advocate readers, You may have noticed that something is different here at the Advocate and valleyadvocate.com. We’ve been around for more than 40 years, and the way that people get their news and information has changed. That means we’re making some changes at the Advocate, too. Starting this week, our print edition will come out biweekly and feature a calendar of events that spans two weeks rather than one. Meanwhile, there...

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Storming the Castle: Springfield progressive Amatul-Wadud challenges entrenched Congressman Neal
Jan30

Storming the Castle: Springfield progressive Amatul-Wadud challenges entrenched Congressman Neal

I … I … I believe … I believe … I believe that we will win! … I believe that we will win! … I believe that we will win! … I believe that we will win! So went the call-and-response led by Springfield attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud at a women’s march in Northampton attended by about 2,000 people on the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration day. But despite her words, winning will not be easy...

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Editorial: Women’s Marches Gathering Steam for Blue Wave Elections
Jan23

Editorial: Women’s Marches Gathering Steam for Blue Wave Elections

It is beyond fitting that on the first anniversary of Donald Trump being inaugurated president not only does the government shut down, but huge numbers of people take to the streets to protest against his policies. Women’s marches took place across the country, including thousands of people gathering in Northampton. With my one-year-old son (who just barely made it to be born before Trump took office) strapped to me, I headed out to...

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Editorial: 2018 Should Be The Year Massachusetts Moves Toward Single Payer
Jan16

Editorial: 2018 Should Be The Year Massachusetts Moves Toward Single Payer

I recently got my first pay stub of the year. I was curious to see how the Republican tax plan would affect me, if at all, but it turns out that none of us will see the results until February. So stay tuned. One thing I did notice, however, is that (surprise!) my contribution to the health insurance plan is going up. Over the course of 2017, I paid $4,723.94 toward health insurance for my family, and this year it will top $4,800....

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Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down
Jan02

Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down

I’m in my mid-30s, and “getting fit” is something I think about more now. It took me a long time to come around on the idea of exercise for exercise sake — but it has become something that I actually enjoy (even if I don’t do it as often as I should). In middle school, if memory serves, I was literally the last person to finish our required “mile run” in gym class. I don’t remember my time, but I remember walking for most of the...

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Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …
Dec26

Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …

As we continue the Valley Advocate tradition of awarding halos to the good and horns to the bad in 2017, I reflect on the year’s ups and downs. It didn’t take long to realize that a lot of the “downs” had something in common – they originated with President (for now) Donald Trump. As the hands-down biggest horns-earner of 2017, Trump is getting his own special section for an extended airing of grievances. We don’t have the space to...

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Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option
Dec18

Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option

North Korea’s steps toward accelerating its nuclear program and testing its missiles has been truly horrifying. So has President Donald Trump’s response, with threats to release “fire and fury” upon North Korea. Nuclear devastation is one of the gravest threats we face as a species, as has long been pointed out by the likes of linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Albert Einstein, one of the incredibly irresponsible scientists who...

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Last Minute Gift Guide
Dec18

Last Minute Gift Guide

Well you’ve gone and done it again. Christmas is this weekend and your stockings hung by the chimney with care are going to empty unless you get moving. Fear not procrastinators! The Pioneer Valley is full of places to do your last minute shopping without breaking the bank. Read on for some gifts that you can run out and grab right now for $50 or less. Alcohol and Food If you’re shopping for a friend or a family member over 21 years...

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Editorial: There Goes the Internet
Dec11

Editorial: There Goes the Internet

Let me start by saying that I would avoid the internet if I could. It is creepy to think about huge corporations tracking each page I visit, and, potentially through my smartphone, actually physically tracking me wherever I go. Social media interactions are a far cry from person-to-person interactions. Even the information we get online is suspect and often biased. But the truth is that I can’t avoid it. Just as in the past our urban...

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Back Talk: Communicating with climate skeptics comes down to pancakes
Dec11

Back Talk: Communicating with climate skeptics comes down to pancakes

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find reader comments on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email editor@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. Communicating with climate skeptics comes down to pancakes Climate change skeptics...

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Editorial: Take Northampton’s Pledge for Human Dignity
Dec04

Editorial: Take Northampton’s Pledge for Human Dignity

During now-President Donald Trump’s hateful and divisive campaign, Northampton’s Human Rights Commission noted anecdotally how even in this Western Massachusetts community, there seemed to be an increase in racism, sexism, and anti-semitism, spurred on by Trump’s nationalistic and bullying rhetoric. Now, nearly one year into Trump’s hateful and divisive presidency, the commission is launching a campaign to bring people together and...

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Editorial: Gateway Regional has some explaining to do in exclusion of LGBT grad
Nov27

Editorial: Gateway Regional has some explaining to do in exclusion of LGBT grad

Each year, Gateway Regional High School in Huntington holds an event welcoming back alumni to share their experiences about college and post-graduate life. This year, however, the event was closed to one graduate: Marcelle LaBrecque, who spent 12 years in the Gateway Regional district, earned a degree in 2014, and is now living in New York City pursuing a career in musical theater. LaBrecque, who prefers being referred to as “they”...

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Editorial: Oh, you’re a spouse abuser? No guns for you.
Nov20

Editorial: Oh, you’re a spouse abuser? No guns for you.

Gun control. It’s a topic that rarely gets any traction at the federal level, even after the most devastating and horrific mass shootings. After the Sandy Hook shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 20 children: nothing. After Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest shooting in American history when it happened in on June 12, 2016 (49 killed, two of whom had ties to the Pioneer Valley): nothing. Last month, less than a year and a...

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