Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield
May25

Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield

A nonprofit art space called Looky Here at 28 Chapman St. in Greenfield will feature everything from tarot card readings to instrument building classes as well as a thrift shop for art supplies. Looky Here is slated to have its grand opening on June 24 at 9 a.m. Hannah Brookman, president of Looky Here, told the Valley Advocate the nonprofit’s mission is firstly to serve as a community-oriented creative reuse store offering art...

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Letters to the Editor: Sex workers, sanctuary, and Trump’s poor decisions
May25

Letters to the Editor: Sex workers, sanctuary, and Trump’s poor decisions

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 deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. No need for law that endangers sex workers In response to “Taking to the Streets: Local...

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Pam Victor is making the Valley happier in a dirty vanilla box
May24

Pam Victor is making the Valley happier in a dirty vanilla box

“A dirty vanilla box” is how Pam Victor lovingly describes the new location of Happier Valley Comedy. The 1,300 square foot room at the end of a strip of shops on Route 9, is the culmination of years of comedic toil. “It’s the first ever improv theater and training center in Western Mass,” she says proudly. And like one of the tenets of improv, Victor says she got there “moving forward forward in positivity one small step at a...

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Editorial: Remembering Columbine and Santa Fe and everywhere in between
May23

Editorial: Remembering Columbine and Santa Fe and everywhere in between

I remember the Columbine shooting like it was yesterday. It was a rainy April afternoon in 1999, very bleak but mild. When I turned on the television, I was hardly prepared for what I saw and what I heard. Two boys had committed what was, at the time, a shocking crime at their Littleton, Colorado, high school. They had shot and killed 12 students and one teacher. They’d injured 21 additional people. On Friday, another school, another...

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Cummington resident Jasper Gardner awarded Valley Advocate scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute
May23

Cummington resident Jasper Gardner awarded Valley Advocate scholarship for Juniper Summer Writing Institute

Jasper Gardner, a 35-year-old Cummington resident who has worked as a farmer and carpenter in the Pioneer Valley, was recently awarded the 2018 Valley Advocate scholarship to the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for his creative nonfiction writing. The Juniper Summer Writing Institute takes place from June 17 to 24 and brings together more than 100 poets and writers to learn, write, and share...

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Connecting with Coal Country: What I learned visiting Kentucky with Hands Across the Hills
May22

Connecting with Coal Country: What I learned visiting Kentucky with Hands Across the Hills

“It’s like you’re going to a foreign country… Do you need a passport?” Letha Dollarhyde of Letcher County, Kentucky, said this — partly in jest, partly not — about coming to Leverett, Massachusetts, when she visited here last fall. Our Hands Across the Hills project is about “Dialogue and Cultural Exchange.” “Cultural exchange” — isn’t that the phrase used by the State Department when American artists and scholars travel to other...

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Bizarro Briefs: Guns aren’t fool proof, or dog proof
May22

Bizarro Briefs: Guns aren’t fool proof, or dog proof

Guns aren’t fool proof, or dog proof Everyone knows that dogs are goofballs. They eat things they shouldn’t. They dig up things they shouldn’t. And sometimes they shoot things they shouldn’t. One man in Iowa found out the hard way that the safety on his gun wasn’t fool proof, or dog proof, when his dog jumped up on his lap and discharged the gun that he was wearing around his waist. The dog accidentally disengaged the safety of...

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‘Big-hearted’ Problem with Dragons bassist Joe Magrone dies at 38
May21

‘Big-hearted’ Problem with Dragons bassist Joe Magrone dies at 38

Known as a big-hearted guy, a talented musician, and, sometimes, a gruff-but-lovable curmudgeon, Joe Magrone, bassist for Problem with Dragons, died on May 18 at the age of 38, two weeks shy of his 39th birthday. Dave Fournier first met Magrone in 1985, when he went to his sixth birthday party. “He became my best friend for 32 years 347 days,” Fournier said. Fournier recalled that only days before his death, Magrone had made a lasagna...

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National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst
May18

National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst

The big scissors were out in Amherst this week as the CEO of the national company Green Thumb Industries (GTI) cut the ribbon in front of the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary, called RISE Amherst. Despite being based in Chicago, Pete Kadens, director and CEO of GTI, said that GTI wants to be a positive contributor to the community by helping to alleviate the opioid crisis by offering an alternative medicine and employing...

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Immigrant taking sanctuary in Amherst church gets treated for ‘life-threatening’ condition at Cooley Dickinson in Northampton
May17

Immigrant taking sanctuary in Amherst church gets treated for ‘life-threatening’ condition at Cooley Dickinson in Northampton

Lucio Pérez, a Guatemalan father of four who has been living in sanctuary at the First Congregational Church in Amherst since October 2017, left the church to be treated at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for a life-threatening condition, according to a statement from Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice organizer Rose Bookbinder. “Lucio has been, and continues to be, in sanctuary here,” said Rev. Vicki Kemper,...

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Today: Thirsty for Fair Wages mixes activism with milkshakes and margaritas
May17

Today: Thirsty for Fair Wages mixes activism with milkshakes and margaritas

The Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Jobs with Justice, and RaiseUp Massachusetts will host Thirsty for Fair Wages on Thursday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 20 Hampton Ave. #200 in Northampton, with a tagline of “all work and no play can make the fun of activism fade away.” The event will feature milkshakes, margaritas, and a potluck dinner in addition to a kickoff signature gathering for $15 minimum wage and paid family...

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Holyoke-based granola business features blends of local bands
May16

Holyoke-based granola business features blends of local bands

Maple Local Granola, a Holyoke-based granola business that uses locally-sourced ingredients, has released different blends of granola inspired by local bands such as indie pop group, And the Kids, as well as bluesy Amherst-based art rock band Old Flame. Tony “Tonez” Hall, co-owner and manager of Maple Local Granola, told the Valley Advocate he introduced the idea of creating flavors inspired by local bands to co-owner Erin...

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Peace activists brave weather, demand Israel be held accountable for violence
May16

Peace activists brave weather, demand Israel be held accountable for violence

Despite the violent rain and thunderstorms, about 50 activists, including some from the group Jewish Voice for Peace Western Mass, gathered on May 15th in Northampton to commemorate the exile of Palestinians 70 years ago and to bring attention to the Palestinian protesters who were killed this week by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. The event was held outside of the Unitarian Church in Northampton. Joseph Levine, a philosophy professor at...

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A Thrilling ‘Who Dun It’ in the Local Art World
May16

A Thrilling ‘Who Dun It’ in the Local Art World

A reader came in with an unusual request earlier this week: she had a piece of art work she bought at an auction in Greenfield nearly a decade ago and wanted to see if we could identify the artist. Arts and Culture Editor Gina Beavers, herself a local artist, looked at it with me and neither one of us could come up with an answer. It was a mystery. The black and white piece of line art displayed a person of indistinct gender wearing...

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Large scale hydroponic greenhouse Wellspring Harvest to open in Indian Orchard, Springfield
May15

Large scale hydroponic greenhouse Wellspring Harvest to open in Indian Orchard, Springfield

A new state-of-the-art hydroponic nonprofit 15,120-square-foot urban greenhouse called Wellspring Harvest at 121 Pinevale Street in Indian Orchard aims to offer fresh produce at wholesale prices year round. Fred Rose, co-director of Wellspring Cooperative Corporation, told the Valley Advocate the nonprofit’s mission is to create a network of worker owned cooperatives in Springfield as a way to create jobs in low income...

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How realistic is single payer in Massachusetts? A state Rep. and an activist to hold discussion at Odyssey Bookshop
May11

How realistic is single payer in Massachusetts? A state Rep. and an activist to hold discussion at Odyssey Bookshop

The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley will be hosting a discussion between Deborah Levenson from Western Mass Medicare for All and State Rep. John Scibak  (D-South Hadley) on May 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. about the prospects of creating a single payer health care system in Massachusetts. Jon Weissman, the event’s organizer and a member of Western Mass. Medicare for All, told the Valley Advocate the event is part of the...

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Northampton councilors chide mayor over lack of transparency in panhandling group
May11

Northampton councilors chide mayor over lack of transparency in panhandling group

Northampton City Councilors Alisa Klein and Maureen Carney released a joint statement on May 9 that’s critical of Mayor David Narkewicz’s Panhandling Work Group for the lack of representative from panhandlers in the group and a recent online study regarding panhandling in the city. In the co-statement, Klein and Carney, who are members of the City Council’s Committee on Community Resources, (CCR) stated they object to the...

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Local Green-Rainbow candidates trying to make change at state level
May09

Local Green-Rainbow candidates trying to make change at state level

“Why vote for the lesser of two evils, when you can vote for the greater good?” Juan Sanchez wants voters to consider this question when they enter the ballot box on November 6. Sanchez, 29, of Holyoke, is running for Secretary of State in the 2018 statewide elections. He is one of three local candidates running for state offices as a Green-Rainbow party candidate. The Green-Rainbow Party, the Massachusetts branch of the national...

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Taking to the Streets: Local sex workers speaking out on how new anti sex trafficking law endangers them
May08

Taking to the Streets: Local sex workers speaking out on how new anti sex trafficking law endangers them

Editors note: Many of the names of those quoted in the story were changed or assumed names were used because of the inherent danger and legal standing of some sex work. Wearing a green dress, pink tights, and a tiara, transgender woman and former sex worker Lorelei Erisis held her fist high at the Northampton Pride parade on Saturday, May 5. Behind her, holding red umbrellas and signs that said “sex work is real work” were...

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Letters to the Editor: RIP Charles Neville
May08

Letters to the Editor: RIP Charles Neville

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 deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. RIP Charles Neville Charles Neville died recently. We here in Western Massachusetts had...

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Senate President declines Northampton Mayor’s request to extend nomination paper deadline following Rosenberg’s resignation
May07

Senate President declines Northampton Mayor’s request to extend nomination paper deadline following Rosenberg’s resignation

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz spoke with Massachusetts Senate President Harriette Chandler on May 6 requesting that the state extend the nomination papers deadline by two weeks for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District following the sudden resignation of Sen. Stan Rosenberg on May 4, but Chandler declined due to the precedent this would set for state election laws. Kevin Connor, a spokesperson with the senate president’s...

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Podcast: Sex workers Bella Vendetta and Brook Rain speak out against SESTA
May07

Podcast: Sex workers Bella Vendetta and Brook Rain speak out against SESTA

The federal anti sex trafficking law known as SESTA/FOSTA was passed nearly unanimously by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump earlier this spring, but local consensual sex workers says the law does little to stop sex trafficking while taking away protections for their already dangerous work. Bella Vendetta and her girlfriend Brook Rain are both sex workers in Western Mass and talk about what the law does and how it...

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Bizarro Briefs: ‘Mystery pooper’ exposed
May07

Bizarro Briefs: ‘Mystery pooper’ exposed

‘Mystery pooper’ exposed On a daily basis, a New Jersey man eluded police detection and managed to relieve himself (i.e. poop) on school grounds at a New Jersey high school. Police finally caught up with the “mystery pooper,” as they called him, after setting up a sting operation that every officer on the force was probably clambering not to be a part of. It turns out it was the school’s superintendent! He was charged with lewdness,...

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Editorial: Rosenberg resignation the right move to regain trust
May04

Editorial: Rosenberg resignation the right move to regain trust

We had been waiting a long time for it, but the speed of the events it set in motion once it finally arrived was breathtaking. The state Senate announced an independent ethics investigation of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst in December. It took five months for a report to be delivered to the public, along with a rebuke for Rosenberg. And one day after that, Rosenberg resigned. Rosenberg ascended to the Senate...

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Valley Advocate Q&A with YouTube star and political song parodist Randy Rainbow
May04

Valley Advocate Q&A with YouTube star and political song parodist Randy Rainbow

Randy Rainbow achieved Internet stardom with his series of political spoofs and song parodies satirizing mainstream media and conservative leaders such as Donald Trump through green screened mock interviews and now he’s set to bring his unique brand of song comedy to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on May 18. Rainbow spoke with Valley Advocate staff writer Chris Goudreau about his upcoming performance and speaking truth to power...

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Following alleged assault, tattoo parlor looks at what it could have done differently
May03

Following alleged assault, tattoo parlor looks at what it could have done differently

Following public backlash online, the owner of Off the Map tattoo Gabe Ripley says that he regrets not having a no tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault in the shop four years ago, but that there is now a no tolerance policy in place. There was harsh criticism on Facebook on May 1 after Off the Map published a post about tattoo artist Watsun Atkinsun, who was accused of violating and sexually harassing a customer at Off...

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So … that’s it for Rosenberg
May03

So … that’s it for Rosenberg

Former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg will soon become former Senator Stanley Rosenberg. Following an ethics committee report made public Wednesday, Rosenberg announced Thursday he would be stepping down in his role as a state Senator effective the end of day Friday. Here is his statement: “As I have stated repeatedly over the last 5 months, I deeply regret the difficulties that this situation has created for the members,...

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Off the Map Tattoo facing public backlash over alleged in-shop sexual assault
May02

Off the Map Tattoo facing public backlash over alleged in-shop sexual assault

Editor’s note: Off the Map Tattoo was recently recognized in the Best of the Valley Readers Poll, which is awarded by readers. The Valley Advocate is not affiliated with the tattoo parlor. Off the Map Tattoo is facing public criticism online over its continued relationship with a tattoo artist who allegedly sexually assaulted a client while tattooing her in 2014. Off the Map tattoo, which has three locations, including one in...

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Ethics probe finds fault with Rosenberg, recommends barring senator from leadership positions through 2020
May02

Ethics probe finds fault with Rosenberg, recommends barring senator from leadership positions through 2020

The Senate Committee on Ethics has recommended former Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) be barred from Senate leadership or leadership of any committee for the duration of this legislative session or the next. State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, announced Wednesday that Rosenberg allowed his husband, Bryon Hefner, unfettered access to the goings on in the Senate. “The firewall...

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The Massachusetts State Police Troop embroiled in an overtime scandal has now been eliminated
May02

The Massachusetts State Police Troop embroiled in an overtime scandal has now been eliminated

State Police Troop E, which patrols the length of the Mass Pike, has been eliminated and absorbed into three other regional troops as a result of reforms initiated by Gov. Charles Baker. The change was in part a response to allegations that more than 20 troopers in Troop E put in for overtime that they never worked in 2016. Baker’s office released a statement on Wednesday, May 2, that several reforms to the State Police have...

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Sex workers to march in Noho Pride parade following passage of new law they say endangers their lives
May02

Sex workers to march in Noho Pride parade following passage of new law they say endangers their lives

Spurred on by a new federal law they say makes their already dangerous jobs less safe, sex workers are marching in this weekend’s Noho Pride Parade in Northampton to declare “sex work is real work.” Bella Vendetta, a dominatrix and award-winning porn star who lives in Berkshire County, said the group that is marching, called Team Clear Heels 413, was born out of the need to organize and educate people about the law,...

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Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledges to support protections for undocumented immigrants
May02

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledges to support protections for undocumented immigrants

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz pledged to stand by undocumented immigrants in his city during a May 1 press conference on the steps of Northampton City Hall and promised to support initiatives such as allowing undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections. “I will work with our City Council to try to send a ‘home rule’ style petition to the Legislature to see if we can get the ability at local elections to allow...

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Expanded ArtWeek a big opportunity for small galleries and emerging artists
May01

Expanded ArtWeek a big opportunity for small galleries and emerging artists

Only five years ago, ArtWeek was a series of 25 events in Boston. This year, ArtWeek, which started on April 27 and runs until May 6, expanded to Central and Western Massachusetts and includes over 525 events, making it the only statewide art festival in Massachusetts. For artists, small galleries, and craftspeople in the Pioneer Valley, ArtWeek represents a unique opportunity to get new people involved in the Western Mass art...

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Police report filed on vandalism of Parkland shooting art installation
Apr30

Police report filed on vandalism of Parkland shooting art installation

Following reporting that vandals defaced a piece of artwork meant to honor the victims of a recent school shooting late last week and that no police report had been filed, police have received a complaint and are investigating. Police originally said no investigation was taking place due to a lack of a police complaint, but Springfield police were contacted Friday night at 7 p.m. about the vandalism of the art installation, which was...

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Students continue to call for meeting with Smith & Wesson CEO to discuss urban gun violence
Apr30

Students continue to call for meeting with Smith & Wesson CEO to discuss urban gun violence

Students from Springfield and Boston gathered alongside local faith leaders and grassroots organizers held a second protest on April 27 against Springfield-based gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson after activists called on the company meet with them to create a dialogue about ways to end urban gun violence, and were met by silence. Local students want to meet with P. James Debney, CEO of Smith & Wesson, and delivered an initial...

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