Whistleblowers: A new musical reveals the history of child factory labor in the Hilltowns
Mar14

Whistleblowers: A new musical reveals the history of child factory labor in the Hilltowns

When you browse the faded pages of an historical account, local lives don’t always shimmer to the surface. But Hampshire College professor of History Susan Tracy noticed a few intriguing details when she was paging through the 1870 census for Colrain, the small Franklin County town just north of Shelburne Falls. One entry, for a local boy named Frank McCloud, age 11, lists his position as “school” and “worker.” Similarly, the entry...

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In the Clouds: Vape industry billows as science and regulation struggle to keep up
Mar14

In the Clouds: Vape industry billows as science and regulation struggle to keep up

Stephen Bilia’s Gorilla Vapess is like a candy shop for adults. Vapers smoke at the bar, ordering from a list of two hundred-plus flavors displayed in multi-colored chalk. Squirt bottles full of food-grade flavor concentrates wait to be ordered and mixed with propylene glycol, vegetable oil, and nicotine. “We’re closer to candy than tobacco,” Bilia says. For me it’s a big hand to mouth addiction, says Chris Wetherell, who I find...

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‘I Want To Get Out There Before My Life is  Ended’
Mar08

‘I Want To Get Out There Before My Life is Ended’

Every weekday morning, a PVTA van picks up 83-year-old great-grandmother of four Pardelma Hall at her home on Roosevelt Street in Springfield’s North End. For the past seven years, she’s been one of the first to arrive at the Mason Square Senior Center and often one of the last to leave. She’s an energetic woman with an independent spirit, and she treats her involvement at the senior center like a job. With her eyesight failing,...

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Trial by the Hour: The minimum wage just went up — but the fight for a living wage is more urgent than ever
Feb24

Trial by the Hour: The minimum wage just went up — but the fight for a living wage is more urgent than ever

When asked to count how many minimum-wage jobs he has worked, Frank Cincotta flips open a notepad, taps his pen, and takes a deep breath. “I’ve been working a lot,” he says. It’s a long list: he has had more than 20 jobs since 2009, nearly all of which paid less than $10 an hour. Cincotta, who is 24, has staffed call centers, gas stations, and warehouses. He has delivered newspapers, worked in restaurant kitchens, gone door to door...

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Stagestruck: Vanya in Vermont
Feb29

Stagestruck: Vanya in Vermont

The irony of Anton Chekhov referring to his plays as “comedies” is often remarked. Most of his characters are bored to death and/or deeply unhappy, frustrated by love or circumstance or both, and his plays generally end with a bleak sense of hopelessness. But Linda McInerney, who’s directing the production of Uncle Vanya that plays this weekend at the Academy of Music, thinks she gets what the great Russian dramatist was driving at....

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