Susan Theberge

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Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost                    John Berkowitz


Winter,  seductively mild into mid-February,

full moon rising over town,

a hundred geese wing off with soaring voices

from ice-less Paradise Pond.


Walking home from annual a cappella concert–

college kids in ebullient energy and voice–

such boundless potential, yet so up-in-the-air,

in jeopardy from changing climate,

unseen and unheeded by most,

as they and we walk our various busy paths

like the proverbial lemmings,

strolling along the river

toward a very unknown and roiling sea.

Vapor Trails

Vapor Trails                   John Berkowitz   ‘10

 Delicious early spring morning–forsythia, daffodils, grass

beaming, but blossoming so much earlier than usual. . .

record-breaking warmth

bringing record-breaking flooding,

and a very watered down maple sugaring season.


Two vapor trails streak the sky,

and my invisible tailpipe trail, with thousands of others,

melts into the air as I drive.


I wonder how many of my fellow travelers– sipping coffee

and strategizing whatever small success and security

the new day might bring–

also ponder whether our marvelous metal inventions,

leaving seemingly innocent and lovely long white

clouds in the sky,

are actually poisoning that sky

and fouling our whole nest below?


Two days later, a giant plume of volcanic ash

rises from deep within the earth in Iceland,

drifts to Europe, and grounds all flights for 4 days.

Two seasons later, on another crystalline morning,

I gaze at the distant white streak of another jet trail;

and closer, two flocks of geese Vee-ing and singing

before dropping into the beaver pond in the valley.


These combusting engines, defining our progress and prosperity,

have been roaring on ground, water, and air

for not much more than a hundred years;

the geese have been honking for millions.

When we learn to make our machines sing like geese,

and fertilize rather than desecrate the earth

with their droppings,

then we will discover the modern new world

of our belonging.

February Featured Climate Actions

Do you believe that Climate Change threatens our future? Then empower yourself and act on your convictions! We urgently need to act on many levels at once: personal, community, state/national/global, and keeping ourselves informed and inspired. Consider these monthly suggestions or do an action of your choice every month. These featured actions are brought to you by the Climate Action Group of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. To learn more contact Molly Hale at or 585-0791.

1. Personal: Downsize the space you heat in the winter. This winter’s bitter cold has certainly spiked your heating bill. Consider a change in lifestyle where winter is a time of contraction and pulling in to a smaller, cozier area in your home. Are there areas you don’t need to heat, such as bedrooms, and under-used living spaces that you could close off with doors or curtains? As a longer term fix, consider building in a permanent way to seal off un-needed areas in the winter.

2. Community: Host a games night, music night, or movie night with your nearby neighbors. Building connections with neighbors breaks down isolation and lays the groundwork for future projects involving neighborhood cooperation.

3. State/National/Global: On Feb. 8,join a rally in Salem, MA to stand in solidarity with community leaders there who do not want a new natural gas plant to replace the retiring coal plant that has plagued the Salem community with pollution and disease for six decades. More info here (scroll down to “Only the Best for Salem”)

4. Inform yourself: If you are still unconvinced that climate change is real, human-caused, and urgent, this site of the Natural Resources Defense Council (click here) provides a comprehensive overview. If you question whether your actions can make a difference, click here to read the New York Times editorial by Michael Pollan titled, “Why Bother?”  

January Featured Climate Actions

Are you alarmed about Climate Change but don’t know what YOU can do about it? To provide focus and encourage action that is so urgently needed, each month the Climate Action Group of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence provides suggestions at each of 4 levels: personal, community, state/national/global, and educational. To learn more about this group contact Molly Hale at or 585-0791.

1. Personal: This suggestion is simple but often overlooked. Reduce home heating use by wearing warmer clothes indoors: long underwear, sweaters, fleece jackets, vests, fingerless gloves, cozy slippers, even a hat. This can really make a difference in your comfort without ballooning your energy bill.

2. Community: Sign up for the 5-session discussion of the book Navigating the Coming Chaos by Carolyn Baker. The book offers guidance and specific exercises to help cope with our grief, anger, fear and other emotions about climate change, peak oil, and economic unpredictability. Meets 3rd Mon. of the month starting 1/27 at the Unitarian Society in Northampton. To register, or for more info, or to order a copy of the book, contact Alison Bowen at or 268-9924.

3. State/National/Global: Attend the Fossil Fuel Divestment Panel on Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 10:00 am to noon at the Springfield Central Library at 220 State Street. Sponsored by, Better Future Project and Climate Action Now-MA, this is one in a series of statewide public discussion forums whose focus is state fossil fuel divestment legislation (S. 1225) as a strategy to address climate change. The panel will be composed of experts on student divestment, faith based divestment and the financial sector. More info here

4. Inform yourself: The article “The Fossil Fuels War” by John Bellamy Foster in the 9/1/13 Monthly Review (link here) begins with a succinct explanation of the implications of deepwater drilling, fracking, and the exploitation of tar-sands oil. He then lays out the strategies and conflicts between climate activists, fossil fuel companies, and the Obama administration, and concludes with the assessment that economic growth under a capitalist system is the fundamental paradigm that needs to be changed to maintain a “safe operating space” for human survival.

“A Crime Against Humanity”

Hello and blessings of peace and light to you…
You are invited to watch the movie
followed by a discussion, crystal bowl sounding and crystal grid meditation hosted by Leonore Alanis on Tuesday December 10th at 7pm in the Octagon at Sirius Community Center on 91 Baker Rd in Shutesbury MA 01072
Free or by contribution of $ 1
Banned in Germany, the film received the special achievement award at the Uranium Film Festival 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.
With commentaries from leading scientists and facts about Fukushima the media does not mention.

This 2 hr film explains the extend, and how radiation from nuclear isotopes, emitted from reactors, trailings, enrichment plants and test site locations already affects life on planet Gaia, and DNA of organisms.

In the circle of circles

Anja Daniel

Human Rights Day 2013 Celebration


Clean Energy Community Forum

9664207_sClean Energy Community Forum Set for Monday, Dec. 9 from 5:30 to 7:30PM Amherst Bangs Community Center

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and Department of Energy Resources (DOER), invite residents of Amherst, Easthampton, Hadley and Holyoke to a Community Forum to discuss specific renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and ideas that will be assembled into a Clean Energy Road Map for the future.

Technical experts will be on hand to answer questions about topics that residents suggested at community forum earlier this fall. These include anaerobic digestion systems that turn waste into energy; renewable thermal systems such as solar hot water, high efficiency biomass heating, and advanced heat pumps; and energy efficiency options for landlords and tenants.

This forum will take place:

Monday, December 9, 2013

5:30pm to 7:30pm (refreshments and mingling at 5:00pm) Amherst Bangs Community Center 70 Boltwood Walk, Amherst MA 01002 Park in Amherst Parking Garage (entrances on Main Street and Kellogg Ave) PVTA Bus Routes 30, 31, 32, 37, 38, B43, and 45 (Post Office/Cowls Lane stops)

Please register at:

The Community Energy Strategies Pilot Program (CESP) is an initiative developed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in collaboration with the Department of Energy Resources Green Communities Division. The program, delivered in partnership with local officials and community volunteers, helps communities identify and develop strategies for implementing the mix of clean energy projects and incentives best suited to address local interests, needs, and opportunities for clean energy development across all sectors.

Climate Justice Conference Update


Please join us at our next meeting as we continue to build on the positive energy and enthusiasm generated by the 250 attendees of the Climate Justice Conference held in Springfield in September. Below is a brief overview of the areas we are focusing on at present. Please let the contact person for each project know if you are interested in helping out. Each project needs a strong working group to make it happen and now is the time to sign on!

Next Meeting – Climate Justice Group

Thursday January 2, 2014


Location: Arise for Social Justice in Springfield

Contact for carpooling arrangements and/or questions

Priority Focus Areas

  • Greenhouse project in Orchard Park
  • Zero Waste
  • Climate Change Plan for Springfield

Greenhouse Project

Contact Person: David Glassberg 

We are exploring the feasibility of transforming an abandoned greenhouse in Forest Park in Springfield into a place to grow year round fresh vegetables in collaboration with Gardening the Community.


Contact PersonSusan Theberge

We are hoping to find people to work with the United for Transit Equity Coalition.  United for Transit Equity is a coalition of organizations working for a fair, equitable, and sustainable transportation system in Western Massachusetts, with a specific focus on the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. Current organizational members include Mass. Senior Action Council, STAVROS, United Food and Commercial Worker Local 1459, Western Mass. Student Labor Action Project, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 448, Western Mass. Jobs with Justice, Neighbor to Neighbor, and Voices for the Community.

The group is part of a larger statewide coalition called Public Transit, Public Good which includes regional coalitions and organizations representing riders, workers, and community members. The statewide coalition has fought for more funding for public transit, lower fares, more voice for riders and workers in decision making, and policies that support an ecological and sustainable transit system.

The group wants to broaden and deepen the existing regional coalition.  That means more organizational members, greater individual participation, and expanding the issues we work on.  Please let us know if are interesting in participating in this coalition as a representative from Climate Action NOW/Arise Climate Justice Group.

Other initial ideas coming out of the Climate Justice Conference for transportation include linking the Northern and Southern Valley to put pressure on towns and cities and the five colleges to:

1.            Expand the PVTA by extending the bus from South Hadley to Holyoke to connect to Springfield (only 3 miles)

2.            Promote the implementation of bike lanes in Springfield (in collaboration with Mass Bike)

Use the Pioneer Valley Transportation Plan as a starting point and orientation to our work.

Valley Zero Waste

 Contact Person Michaelann Bewslee

We need to better understand how the Springfield Waste Disposal system works so we can push for better recycling in Springfield. Please contact Michaelann if you can help. Lynn Pledger continues to work on implementing the Zero Waste Campaign throughout the region.

Climate Change Plan for Springfield

 Contact Person Michaelann Bewslee

We are forming a committee to help reconstitute the Green Commission for Springfield.  We have support from Claire Miller from Toxic Action Center to help us create a campaign plan for a Climate Action Plan but we need a strong group to make this happen.

Please let us know if you are interested in joining any of the work groups described above.  We hope to see you at our next meeting and to hear from you soon!


Decommissioning Vt. Yankee

How Safe? Who Pays? How Long?

The Nuclear Free Future Coalition will be holding a public event on Sunday, December 8th at 2pm at the Bridge Street School in Northampton to discuss the issue of the decommissioning after the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in late 2014. The event will address the dangers and costs facing the residents of Western Massachusetts, particularly the Pioneer Valley, during and after the decommissioning of the plant. The decommissioning process is the next fight between Entergy, the transnational corporation that owns the plant, and the residents of Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts.

TITLE: Decommissioning Vt. Yankee: How Safe? Who Pays? How Long?
DATE: Sunday, December 8
PLACE: Bridge Street School, Northampton

A panel of four, who have all been involved in nuclear decommissioning, will be presenting: nuclear engineer Paul Blanch, Professor John Mullin, Deb Katz, and Ray Shadis. Blanch formerly worked at the New York Indian Point nuclear power plant, and has been pushing the NRC for increased safety and attention to potential failures in existing U.S. nuclear plants. Professor John Mullin is a Fulbright Scholar, professor of regional planning, and Director of the Center for Economic Development who has written and spoken at length regarding the decommissioning process. Deb Katz is the Executive Director of the Citizens Awareness Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental justice and the creation of a renewable energy economy. Ray Shadis is an advisor to the New England Coalition, which is an organization that investigates the safety, suitability, and environmental effects of nuclear power plants.

The presentation is sponsored by the Nuclear Free Future Coalition, a coalition of the American Friends Service Committee, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Citizens Awareness Network, and others. It is also sponsored by the Safe and Green Campaign (SAGE) and the Northampton Public Safety Committee.

The event is free, welcome to all, and handicap accessible.

For more information, call Hattie Nestel at (978) 790-3074 or

Facing Up To Climate Injustice

Monday, November 25, 2013
(Originally Published in print: Gazettenet Tuesday, November 26, 2013)

NORTHAMPTON — Could anything bring into sharper relief the killing effects of climate change and the injustice of the disproportionate effects on developing countries of a problem created by the industrial north (especially the United States) than the recent Typhoon Haiyan?

Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan

This was a monster hurricane of historic proportions, one of many recent category 5 superstorms created by oceans heated by greenhouse gas pollution from Europe and the United States over the last several decades. Five thousand people were killed, hundreds of thousands stranded or injured, cities and local economies destroyed in a country whose contribution to global warming has been minimal and whose poverty makes it extremely difficult to prevent such human disasters or rebuild after they happen.

This is the paradigm of climate injustice.

Ironically, at the same time, the United Nations international negotiations began in Warsaw to address climate change, probably the most important issue in our lifetime. What are the central questions being debated? Not only whether the rich industrialized countries will cut their contributions to climate change (mitigation) — something that the United States has refused to do over the past 20 years of talks — but whether, now that prevention of climate change has failed, they will aid developing countries to adapt to the damage caused by global warming.

These questions plumb the meaning of global justice. It is the most impoverished countries of Africa, South America, South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands (e.g. the Philippines) which will suffer the brunt of the storms, floods and droughts with their associated mortality and displacement. Stopping the march of climate change, protecting the victims and repairing the damage must be addressed by those, including the U.S., who have caused the harm.

Polluters Talk, We Walk COP19

Polluters Talk, We Walk COP19

Yet what has been the role of the U.S. in Warsaw? Minimal. When Australia suddenly trashed a pending agreement, effectively ending negotiations and leading to the walkout of over 100 country representatives, the U.S. did nothing. Leaked memos from the U.S. delegation lay out opposition to developing countries’ demands for support for adaptation and reparations for loss and damage.

What are those demands in dollar amounts? An agreement would mean rich countries paying $100 billion a year to such a fund instead of the $10 billion which is now promised. The money would go to sea walls and infrastructure to defend against rising seas, as well as rebuilding and developing the green energy capacity to allow those countries not to repeat the carbon mistakes of the global north.

It seems like a lot until we realize that the industrialized countries are now doling out $58 billion a year to huge energy corporations in government subsidies — tax dollars given to some of the most profitable companies on earth that are the perpetrators in the climate crime.

Can we let the status quo persist? We think not.

Science requires that we substantially cut our carbon emissions now with controls on — not welfare for — carbon emitters. It is way past time for a carbon tax.

Carbon Tax

Carbon Tax

Morality requires that we protect, defend and provide reparations for all those whom our policies have injured.

The global future requires that we negotiate in good faith toward an effective climate change agreement that will redirect us from what will otherwise be a very bleak future.

The authors collaborated in writing this essay with members of the community groups Arise for Social Justice, Climate Action Now and Westfield Concerned Citizens.

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