Critical Mass Oct. 20

There will be a Critical Mass bicycle ride on October 20 at 3 p.m. in Brattleboro. Critical Mass bike rides started in 1992 in California and have since spread around the world. Hundreds of people ride together in a group on roads, forcing cars to go at bicycle speed. They often chant, “Critical Mass, don't use gas!”

The ride will start at the Town Common. Photos of a Critical Mass bike ride in Brattleboro last month are at:

www.valleypost.org/node/1432

Details about the upcoming ride are at:

www.facebook.com/events/396911270843500

Victories: Fewer Prisoners, More Forests

In terms of incarceration rates, in the past decade Vermont went from being one of the worst states in the nation to one of the best. “We have a shortage of housing in Vermont and that affects people as they are released” from prison, Jeanette White told the Valley Post on September 21. She is a state senator for the county that's home to Brattleboro. “We are working on that.”

Of the 50 states, only Massachusetts keeps a smaller percentage of its people in prison than Vermont. New Hampshire is sixth best.

Photos: Critical Mass

On September 8 in Brattleboro, more than 200 people marched and rode bicycles in a group to demand politicians deal with climate change. One of the groups that organized the event has a web site at www.350.org. The march photo is by Kim Timlege. The photos of people riding bikes are by Eesha Williams. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image."

Local News Round-up

On September 5 at 4 p.m. in Springfield there will be a rally to protest the high on-the-job death rate for construction workers. The rally will be outside 122 Chestnut Street. Better enforcement of workplace safety laws could save the lives of some of the 5,000 or so people who die on the job annually in the USA. For example, workers are generally required to wear a safety harness when they are on a roof. For every worker who dies on the job, many more are seriously injured. One of the groups that's organizing the event has a web site at www.jwj.org.

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Reggae Singer from Jamaica to Play in Brattleboro

When N.L. Dennis was singing in a recording studio with Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley stopped by to listen. Marley praised Dennis's delivery. Today, Dennis lives in his native Jamaica and joins hundreds of Jamaicans who come to Vermont every summer in search of better paying work. Most of them work on vegetable farms and at apple orchards. Dennis works as a reggae musician. He will perform a public concert with his band in Brattleboro on July 4. The concert will be at the Whetstone Station restaurant at 36 Bridge Street. The concert starts at 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. (sources differ).

Locals Arrested for Native American Rights

The USA is on land stolen from Native Americans. Despite the best efforts of the government for the past 242 years to kill Native Americans, they are still alive, and fighting the system. Activists are calling on politicians to raise taxes on billionaires and give the money to Native Americans. In recent weeks, several people from the Valley were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience for Native American rights, and other issues, as part of the Poor People's Campaign.

Springfield Police Charge 21 Protesters

Police in Springfield on June 4 charged 21 protesters with trespassing on state property. The protesters were using nonviolent civil disobedience to bring attention to politicians' failure to address air pollution that makes Springfield the nation's worst city for people with asthma. The same air pollution – largely from cars – causes climate change, which the world's leading scientists say is a major threat to earth's ability to support human life. Solutions include raising the gas tax to European levels, and improving public transportation, sidewalks, and bicycle paths.

Green Mountain National Forest in Danger

Unless people get active to stop the plan, thousands of acres of Green Mountain National Forest that are about 10 miles from Brattleboro will probably be clearcut logged soon. “They are coming hard with the chainsaws to Green Mountain National Forest,” Chris Matera told the Valley Post. “What a sorry site it will be to look down from the top of Mount Snow and see clearcuts instead of that beautiful intact forest we see now.” A photo of that view is at:

www.valleypost.org/2013/01/16/photo-vermont-forest-and-lake

Victory for Housing Advocates

In a win for activists who fight for affordable housing, downtown Brattleboro will get a new apartment building. “This project will provide beautiful new homes for folks wanting to live close to all the amenities available in downtown Brattleboro," Elizabeth Bridgewater told the Valley Post on March 8. She runs the non-profit group that will build the housing. Bridgewater's group has a web site at www.w-wht.org.

The building will be constructed at 23 Flat Street, which is now a vacant lot, and will have about two dozen apartments.

Workers Win

Workers in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have a new union contract. They work at AT&T. Matt Arnts lives near Keene and works at AT&T. “It was a tough fight,” he told the Valley Post on January 30. “I'm proud that we stuck together to get a fair contract.”

The contract boosts wages. To win the contract, the workers went on strike for three days. They have a web site at www.cwa-union.org.

AT&T's CEO makes $28 million a year.