Are Dems Doomed? An Advocate Chat
Jun21

Are Dems Doomed? An Advocate Chat

The Advocate Chat is a recurring series where the Valley Advocate staff talks about a topic on their minds. The text below has been lightly edited.kristinpalpini (Editor-in-Chief Kristin Palpini): I’m pumped! Let’s talk Dems and Reps, donkeys and elephants, tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. Jon Ossoff lost in Georgia after a promising campaign for Democrats in Georgia’s Sixth District. It made me depressed, but Dave, you...

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Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?
Jun19

Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?

When Sara Weinberger moved from her longtime community of Northampton to neighboring Easthampton three years ago, she mostly loved it. The worst part, she said, was changing congressional districts — going from being represented by Worcester Democrat James McGovern to Springfield Democrat Richard Neal.After having a responsive congressman in McGovern, who Weinberger said listened to what she had to say, she was surprised to have the...

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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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News of the Weird: Sipping Cappuccino With Rats
Jun19

News of the Weird: Sipping Cappuccino With Rats

Already, trendy restaurants have offered customers dining experiences amidst roaming cats (and in one bold experiment, owls), but the art house San Francisco Dungeon has planned a two-day (July 1 and 8) experimental “Rat Cafe” for those who feel their coffee or tea is better sipped while rats (from the local rat rescue) scurry about the room. Pastries are included for the $49.99 price, but the rats will be removed before the food...

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Django This Weekend: You’ve Never Heard an Accordion Rock Like This (w/vid)
Jun12

Django This Weekend: You’ve Never Heard an Accordion Rock Like This (w/vid)

Hot Gypsy JazzNorthampton’s annual Django in June is a week-long bonanza of Gypsy jazz workshops, concerts, and jamming with artists from across the globe. The event celebrates the musical stylings of Django Reinhardt. The music has been described as hot jazz or Gypsy swing, either way the sound is jolly, accessible, and unique. There’s a camp for “djam” musicians that runs throughout the celebration, but for the rest of us, there’s...

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What Was That All About? Weird Weed Maneuvers in the State House
Jun15

What Was That All About? Weird Weed Maneuvers in the State House

By Kristin PalpiniThe late-Wednesday delay of the House vote on recreational marijuana legislation signals politicians are taking weed — and the up-coming weed tax — seriously. The House bill would have levied up to a 28 percent tax rate on recreational sales, though opponents of the bill said language politicians have since called a “drafting error,” would allow for up to a 55 percent tax rate. The...

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Go: Revelations on Picasso’s Passion at The Clark
Jun12

Go: Revelations on Picasso’s Passion at The Clark

Pablo Picasso often painted himself as a bull.A fan of attending bullfights in his native Spain, the Cubist master saw himself as the hulking beast with big muscles, wild eyes, and swinging genitalia.In a piece now on view at The Clark in Williamstown, Large Bullfight With Female Bullfighter — a work largely interpreted to feature the artist, his wife, and his lover — the face of the bull is wild with smoothed-back curling hair. His...

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Rock, Paper, Scissors, NO Dynamite: Turners Falls to Unveil New Public Art
Jun12

Rock, Paper, Scissors, NO Dynamite: Turners Falls to Unveil New Public Art

The Art of Rock, Paper, ScissorsTake part in celebrating the newest sculpture in downtown Turners Falls — Rock, Paper, Scissors, a new work by artist Tim de Christopher. Christopher’s work was selected last spring as an addition to Avenue A from 30 proposals submitted to the Town of Montague and Turners Falls RiverCulture. The sculpture (above is a photo of the model Christopher made for his proposal) will make the new pedestrian...

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Easthampton Couple Builds Garden — And Relationship — Based On What They Can Find
Jun09

Easthampton Couple Builds Garden — And Relationship — Based On What They Can Find

The way Faith Manning Enuol tells it, she went to work one afternoon, and when she returned, the garden she was building with her husband Rich Enuol tripled in size.In actuality, Rich spent the day foraging for materials, finding everything they needed — including the nails — in the woods behind their Easthampton home.Newly married, Faith, 27, comes from Connecticut, while Rich, 31, is a political refugee from south of Vietnam. Their...

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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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Franklin County Pride is On; Holyoke Has Month of LGBTQIA Events
Jun12

Franklin County Pride is On; Holyoke Has Month of LGBTQIA Events

Across the country celebrations are taking place for national Pride month, and the Pioneer Valley is no exception. Franklin County and the city of Holyoke are hosting events to bring together the LGBTQIA community.This year marks the return of Franklin Country Pride, which will take place in Greenfield on June 24th, after taking a year or two off. Organized and lead by a team of volunteers, the celebration will occur in two parts.The...

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Worthy Beer Fest in Springfield Saturday
Jun12

Worthy Beer Fest in Springfield Saturday

Are You Worthy?Yes, yes you are — if you’re 21 or over. The Worthy is back, ya’ll, and sudsier than ever for this year’s outdoors craft beer showcase.The Springfield brewfest, in the city’s most entertaining neighborhood: Worthington Street, is going down Saturday and will feature more than 20 local brewers. Old favorites like Amherst Brewing, Stone Brewing, and Berkshire Brewing Company will be there as well as some newer names: Iron...

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News Of The Weird: Creepy House For Sale
Jun12

News Of The Weird: Creepy House For Sale

Brantford, Ontario, real estate agent Kyle Jansink, speaking for unidentified sellers, said he accepted the challenge of selling a meticulously maintained home “as is” — still packed with the sellers’ clown-related items (dolls, miniatures, porcelain statues, paintings).  The New Power NapIf high-schoolers seem stressed by active lifestyles and competitive pressures, and consequently fail to sleep the recommended nine to 10 hours...

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The V-Spot: How To Be Curvy And Confident
Jun12

The V-Spot: How To Be Curvy And Confident

Hi Yana!I’m a chubby cis-woman in my late 20s. I lately worked through struggling with my body image and relationship to food while healing from years of disordered eating. I’ve been doing really well lately, but sadly one of the things that used to trigger my eating disorder was negative body talk from my family in regards to romantic relationships (i.e. you’ll always be alone because you’re fat).I’m still in therapy, but I was...

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Should You Give Money to Panhandlers?
Jun12

Should You Give Money to Panhandlers?

When a Holyoke City Councilor said, at a public meeting, “Don’t feed the animals,” in regard to homeless panhandlers, I figured I had a good idea for a fiery column defending people who beg for a living.It is vile to call any person an “animal” in a dehumanizing way — that’s not up for debate: everyone has worth. But did he have a point, underneath that craven misunderstanding of poverty, about not giving money to people with their...

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Back Talk: Death by Hoes and the Curious Case of the Disappearing Signs
Jun12

Back Talk: Death by Hoes and the Curious Case of the Disappearing Signs

Disappearing Signs in Easthampton Say a LotIn times like these it is more important than ever to focus attention on fair and equal access to freedom of expression.For the past two weeks, I have been witness to what seems to be the twice illicit removal of a Black Lives Matter sign from the shoulder of Route 141 in a residential district near the base of Mt. Tom. It was about two weeks ago I first noticed the sign placed in the ground...

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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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Forgotten: Springfield’s Black History Is Nowhere In Sight
Jun05

Forgotten: Springfield’s Black History Is Nowhere In Sight

Springfield, Massachusetts, was a big abolitionist hub during the days of the Underground Railroad — not that many people know this.When talking about Massachusetts history, Western Mass isn’t well represented in historical texts — they’re more focused on Boston. And even less well represented is Pioneer Valley black history.Springfield, Massachusetts, was an early safe haven for refugees. In 1783, Massachusetts was one of the first...

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News Of The Weird: Worshiping Hadley Grass
Jun05

News Of The Weird: Worshiping Hadley Grass

Reverence for the lineage of asparagus continues in epic yearly Anglican church festivities in Worcester, England, where in April celebrants obtained a special blessing for the vegetable by local priests as a costumed asparagus pranced through the street praising the stalks as representing “the generosity of God.” Critics (including clergy from other parishes) likened the parades to a Monty Python sketch, and “an infantile pantomime,”...

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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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Back Talk: Reader comments on marijuana, climate change, and addiction
Jun05

Back Talk: Reader comments on marijuana, climate change, and addiction

Sticky Green ThumbsA few responses to the May 25-31, 2017 O, Cannabis column: “Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide”Editor’s Note: Marty Klein was quoted in the article for his growing expertise.A slight clarification re: number of plants allowed. There is no limit on the number of plants a MA medical marijuana card holder can grow. They are limited, however, on the total weight of cured buds in their possession at...

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Boston Just Got A Free College Plan. Can Western Mass, Too?
Jun05

Boston Just Got A Free College Plan. Can Western Mass, Too?

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker just announced a low-income, free-tuition program for the city of Boston that sounds like it came from the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Four years of college education in Massachusetts public colleges without tuition or mandatory fees for low income students eligible for federal Pell Grants.The question many in western Massachusetts are asking is, “Can we get a piece of that, too?”In a...

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Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us
Jun02

Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. Donald Trump ran a campaign based on denying climate science, so his Thursday announcement that he would be pulling out of the international climate agreement represents a promise fulfilled.But the advantage of having a president who was elected by a minority of voters (3 million less than Hillary Clinton) is that the majority of the voting public actually disagrees with the policies Trump...

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New Springfield Drug Court Offers Addicts An Alternative To Prison
May30

New Springfield Drug Court Offers Addicts An Alternative To Prison

It looks like a normal courtroom, but once a week, Courtroom 10 in Hampden District Court hosts a legal session that is anything but typical.Rather than be shamed from the bench for crimes committed, a group of recovering addicts speaks to a judge eye-to-eye and receives a round of applause for the progress they have made. Gone is the judge’s austere black robe. He just wears a suit during the session.The Springfield drug court,...

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News Of The Weird: The Economics Of Asteroid Mining
May30

News Of The Weird: The Economics Of Asteroid Mining

Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak’s 98-page paper (leaked to Business Insider in April) touted the wealth obtainable by capturing the platinum reputed to be in asteroids. The costs to mine the stone (rockets, launch expenses, etc.) might have dropped recently to about $3 billion — a trifle next to the $50 billion worth of platinum Poponak said a single asteroid might contain. (On the other hand, experts point out, such abundance of...

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Belchertown Family Rallies To Help Opioid Addicted Son
May30

Belchertown Family Rallies To Help Opioid Addicted Son

Jill Panto knows Narcan. She’s been trained in how to administer it. She has organized Narcan trainings for her community in Belchertown. By now, she could probably teach people herself how to use the life-saving opiate overdose reversal drug, a key weapon in the fight against opioid deaths. But nothing prepared her for the night, two days before Christmas, when she had to use it to save her own son.Christopher Besancon, 27, was home...

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Western Mass Missed Connections: Snow White and the dwarves
May30

Western Mass Missed Connections: Snow White and the dwarves

The Missed Connections forum on Craigslist is a wasteland of terrible poetry, dick pics, and whining, but among the detritus are some truly fascinating, funny, and occasionally sweet entries. The following are highlights from the Western Mass Missed Connections forum, sans detritus.Snow White and the dwarves — m4mw (Athol-ish Gardner?)The title has something permanent to do with one of you. We used to meet along route 2 a few years...

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Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism
May30

Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism

Well, it has happened again. Another person who appears to be a sociopath caught in an act of hatred has been elevated to a position of power in our government. And this despite what we must call an alleged (though it was caught on tape and corroborated at the scene) attack against a reporter.This election, much like Trump’s election, has brought to mind the role of the journalist. Why do we put ourselves in situations where we could...

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Back Talk: Life Is More Than ‘Get Them Fat Stacks’
May30

Back Talk: Life Is More Than ‘Get Them Fat Stacks’

I started talking with a customer the other day at work. He was looking for something in the store, not sure if we had it, he may have got something else. I was in the middle of something, not in the mood to make small talk. But we started to chat.We kind of butted heads at first, I had some other things to do, he had some real questions, and he may have been looking to talk a little as well. We’ve been understaffed lately, so it can...

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Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide
May22

Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide

With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, many people with green thumbs are preparing to put their saplings and seeds into the ground — the beginnings of this season’s garden. It’s usually the same old stuff: tomatoes, green beans, peppers, berries, carrots. But this year there will be an exciting, new addition to many home gardens: the gloriously stank-n-dank flower cannabis.Massachusetts is in a hazy space with marijuana at the...

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Born-Again Buildings: Turning Churches Into Places To Live
May22

Born-Again Buildings: Turning Churches Into Places To Live

Liza King, 66, and Rick Neumann, 71, of Brattleboro, are about to fulfill what has felt like their lifelong ambition. On June 1, after nearly 20 years, they will move into their church sanctuary.“Their” church, by the way, doesn’t mean the church to which they belong, but the church that belongs to them. Liza and Rick are among a small, intrepid bunch across the region who have purchased former churches to convert to spaces to...

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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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