Category: The Valley

Climate Justice a Spotlight on Springfield TV

By Dineen O’Rourke

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.07.34 AM

In Springfield, environmental racism has been threatening one of humanity’s basic rights for years – the right to breathe. 1 in 5 people in the city have asthma, a rate that sharply increases for children and people of color.1 “We have to stop taking the air we breathe for granted,” shared Michaelann Bewsee, founder and organizer of Arise for Social Justice.

To highlight this issue, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) recently organized a panel filmed live on Focus Springfield Community TV, bringing together representatives of local and statewide organizations working towards environmental and climate justice. The panel, hosted by Springfield Ward 1 City Councilor Adam Gomez, featured Michaelann Bewsee of Arise, as well as Claire Miller, community organizer at Toxics Action Center, Ivette Hernandez from Keep Springfield Beautiful, and Jesse Lederman, spokesperson for Stop Toxic Incineration Springfield.

Watch the stream of the entire panel discussion here.

Over 20% of children in Springfield have asthma, which is more than double the statewide rate of childhood asthma, and 50% higher than the national average. This rate almost triples for African American and Latino children in Springfield.1 This is what environmental racism looks like.

Ivette Hernandez spoke of being a single mother of three children while living in the North End, one of the most low-income areas of the city. One of her children has chronic asthma, which has caused upwards of 15 school absences a year. “The lack of accountability and action from our city’s government on these issues is unacceptable,” she said, adding that low-income communities like the North End are treated as “less than human.”

With over 500 known gas leaks in the city and a proposal to build a new toxic biomass incinerator, Springfield is heading in the wrong direction of fixing this asthma emergency, even though these organizations have been highlighting problems like this for years. Two years ago we marched to the Springfield City Hall and witnessed the unanimous vote to pass the Climate Action Resolution developed by the SCJC. The determined hope was palpable in the air of the courtroom. From the Springfield high school students who spoke about climate change, to the parents of children with asthma, and from religious leaders to community organizers, everyone had a pertinent story to share about why climate justice is the necessary path for Springfield.

But now, over two years later, Mayor Domenic Sarno still has not implemented the Climate Action Plan that his government unanimously passed. The SCJC has increased their pressure by demanding a Climate Justice Plan, one that would employ Springfield residents to alleviate the city’s unemployment issues. “We don’t want a climate change plan. We want a climate justice plan,” Michaelann voiced on the panel.

There’s a critical need for a framework of race and class politics when discussing sustainability and climate action. Without these frameworks, the constant push for renewable energy and electric vehicles from wealthy environmentalists becomes isolating and polarizing for those unable to afford such solutions. We are not going to buy ourselves out of climate change; our emotional and societal dependence on consumerism is part of the very problem that laid the groundwork for climate change. The changes we require come from collective action and dedicated grassroots organizing. We are not free until everyone is free.

Climate Action Now is one of the co-founding organizations of the SCJC. Our work has also included organizing against the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct, a pipeline that would have carried gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, from Pennsylvania through New England. After a two-year-long grassroots movement, with a wide array of strategies, Kinder Morgan withdrew their pipeline application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and our struggle became a success.

Yet even with this recent victory, fracked gas and methane will continue to be a threat in our region – our work is not over. Springfield is now organizing against a dangerous amount of methane leaks in the city’s gas heating system, with over 500 discovered in the city in one year alone. “These streets can explode at any given time,” remarked Jesse Lederman. “It’s unacceptable.”

Not only does this gas leak into the atmosphere, rapidly accelerating climate change and increasing the risk of asthma and neurotoxin disorders, it also is an economic loss that falls on the backs of electric ratepayers in the city. Home Energy Efficiency Team estimated that in 2014 alone, this escaped gas accumulated to a loss of $2.3 million. Northampton is facing almost 100 known gas leaks, believed to be have cost ratepayers $600,000 in 2014. The SCJC is currently awaiting a response from a letter sent to Colombia Gas, the city’s electric utility company, requesting a meeting to discuss this issue. You can sign this petition to demand Colombia fix these leaks immediately. “Yes, fixing the leaks can be costly,” remarked Ivette Hernandez. “But we have a lot of people here looking for jobs,” echoing the interconnected justice aspect of the Climate Justice Plan.

As City Councilor Adam Gomez aptly stated to close the panel, “creating real change in our community will begin with real unity.” In a world rapidly warming world with rising seas and increased pollution, hope can understandably be a difficult emotion to turn to. Our hope for a better world becomes more actualized when we come together and take collective action.Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.40.05 PM

Get involved with the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition!

What: SCJC Monthly Meeting
When: Wednesday, June 8, 6pm
Where: Arise for Social Justice office, Springfield
RSVP: (413) 734-4948

This meeting is open to all interested in being apart of the campaign to make Springfield a most just, sustainable, and healthy place for all. Whether you were apart of the founding of the coalition or you know little about climate change, all are welcome to learn about the work of this inspiring coalition.


Dineen O’Rourke is a student at Hampshire College and an organizer with Climate Action Now. Follow her on Twitter: @dineenorourke.



  1. Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition

Attorney General Says new pipelines are NOT NEEDED to keep our grid going strong

Click on image to see the whole infographic which outlines the findings of the report.

Refreshing to see climate change called out as a factor.



Read the full report here:

Finally, here is a great article about the AG: The Unstoppable Maura Healy.


Ferocious Love Will Save This Place.







Blockadia and Ferocious Love: This is how it’s done.

Naomi Klein describes Ferocious Love and Blockadia in her book, “This Changes Everything”:

The power of this ferocious love is what the resource companies and their advocates in government inevitably underestimate, precisely because no amount of money can extinguish it. When what is being fought for is an identity, a culture, a beloved place that people are determined to pass on to their grandchildren, and that their ancestors may have paid for with great sacrifice, there is nothing companies can offer as a bargaining chip. No safety pledge will assuage; no bribe will be big enough. And though this kind of connection to place is surely strongest in Indigenous communities where the ties to the land go back thousands of years, it is in fact Blockadia’s defining feature.


A weekly vigil has sprung up in Northfield at the proposed site of a compresser station. This action started with one or two people. Last week it was 25.

Many people have been working tirelessly to stop the monstrosity that is the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.  From understanding the complexities of the energy business, politics, and law, to spreading the word, making phone calls, contacting legislators, speaking up, writing, organizing, learning,  documenting the fight and the beauty of this place, making signs and standing, standing up. This is the latest installation in our story of ferocious love for our land, the region, the habitat, the creatures that share this place with us,  and our children.

“Love will save this place”.

Click here for an Yes Magazine interview with Naomi Klein, speaks about Blockadia.

Click here for Info on the vigil in Northfield, Gulf Road every Thursday 4:30-5:30

Deirdre2 Deirdre3


Thank you, Deirdre Derchin Olson for these gorgeous photos!

Article featuring CAN work

The year 2014 was the warmest ever recorded. Every region of the United States except Hawaii has seen more extreme precipitation episodes in the last 10 years, led by the Northeast with a stunning 71 percent increase.

This past winter’s snowfall records in Boston and elsewhere are consistent with climate predictions that warmer ocean temperatures feed storms with moisture, causing the blizzards and heavy rains we’ve been experiencing

Whether it’s flooding in the Northeast or drought in the Southwest, climate change is affecting all of us. This is the “new normal.” Although the science has been clear, world leaders have spent the last quarter-century doing little to address the crisis. We now have a small window of time left to prevent climate catastrophe. The U.N. Environment Program says we need to reach “net zero carbon” by century’s end — this will probably require stopping almost all fossil fuel usage worldwide by around 2050. To succeed, we need to start cutting back right now.

One heartening development is the rise of grassroots groups of people across the country and around the world discovering ways to prevent climate chaos and create positive and equitable solutions. The Valley is home to Climate Action NOW (CAN), a diverse grassroots community of people connected by our passion to preserve a livable world and create a more just society. We work to build coalitions that inspire, educate and organize individuals and groups working on climate change issues.

CAN serves as the Pioneer Valley branch of 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future (350Mass), a volunteer-led statewide climate action network. Central to this movement is a call for a drastic and immediate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  [edit: we have since changed our status to working in collaboration with 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future instead of functioning as as “node”.]

This requires a fundamental global shift in how we produce and use energy. We have our work cut out for us, because we are contending with powerful and wealthy interests, including multinational energy corporations whose profits depend on continuing the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

There’s a place for everyone in this global surge to create meaningful change in the window of time we have left. To be successful, we need as many people as possible to step up.

Here in the Valley there are many vehicles for getting involved:

Building a sustainable energy future for Massachusetts.

We are organizing for a clean, renewable energy future while we join with others to stop fossil fuel infrastructure expansion in Massachusetts and beyond through the ReNEWable Massachusetts project. We are working to promote local control of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and conservation in order to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuel-based energy.

We’ve also organized opposition, including non-violent civil disobedience, to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will greatly increase global CO2 emissions from dirty tar sands oil. Tar sands exploitation also threatens indigenous communities in Canada and the United States.

CAN/350Mass helps organize community efforts for a climate action plan in your town or city to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure (pipelines or power plants) and to shift town and faith communities’ energy sources to 100% renewable.

Demanding divestment from fossil fuels.

From students calling for their universities to divest endowments, to faith communities and state workers calling for cutting institutional ties to corporations profiting from fossil fuels, the divestment movement is a global and growing force with institutions committing to remove these investments from their stock portfolios. CAN/350Mass will help you develop and promote resolutions in your town or faith group to divest from fossil fuels. We’re also supporting state legislation to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuels.

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition.

CAN is a founding member of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, which brings together diverse groups to fight for climate justice in Springfield. Our current focus is ensuring that the city fully implements its Climate Action Plan. We’re working to ensure that the plan reflects the needs of those most affected by pollution and the impacts of climate change.

A fair price for carbon.

Most economists agree that putting a price on carbon is the best way to reduce the emissions that cause global warming. One path toward this goal is to end fossil fuel subsidies by having our state legislature approve a fair and equitable fee and rebate program. The state legislature is considering two bills to put a price on carbon. The Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future — a broad coalition including business, labor, civic and environmental groups — is currently facilitating a statewide dialogue so the best legislation will emerge; CAN is an active participant.

Arts and media.

CAN is looking for people to work on street theater, giant puppets, music and art so we can bring our passion to the streets and public art to our actions. We also need people with media skills to help with our weekly online newsletter, and our presence on the web, in print and on social media.

Climate change is happening, but together we can prevent catastrophe. If you’re ready to get involved, together we CAN make a difference.

Co-Sponsors for Springfield March and Rally- October 20th

Current Co-sponsors of the October 20th March and Rally

 Arise for Social Justice

NEON (North End Organizing Network)

Climate Action NOW! Massachusetts

Christ Church Cathedral

Baystate Brightwood Health Center

Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Stand For Children

New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Longmeadow Transition Town Committee

Clean Water Action

Code Pink

Progressive Democrats of America

Neighbor to Neighbor

Springfield No One Leaves

Partners for a Healthier Community

Pioneer Valley Asthma Project

Mason Square Health Task Force

Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

MoveOn Councils of Western Mass

The Enviro Show

Mothers Out Front

What? Fracked Gas in Mass?

_3050342The next stop the Tennessee Gas pipeline meeting is this coming Thursday, April 17th.


144 MAIN STREET, Greenfield

Time: 6 PM-8 PM

 Come learn the latest updates and get ready to spread the word about the pipeline and why it is so urgent to STOP it!!

  • Welcome/Introductions/Agenda Overview/Report Back from last meeting 
  • Special guest speaker: Conservation Law Center Senior Attorney Shanna Cleveland
  • Project Overview/Update, Basics of the TGP: Jim Cutler, Affected landowner, Ashfield,
  • Stories of Action, How to Get Plugged In: Katy Eiseman, No Fracked Gas in Mass
  • Action Steps/Catapult – Brainstorm

Festivals/Farmers Markets/Actions/ Events/ Everywhere we need to be to let people know about the pipeline and the resistance

Sign-ups for outreach   

Arise Donation Letter

Arising For Social Justice

From Arise… Dec 10, 2013

Dear Friends of Arise,

Sometimes it’s not easy for me to explain to people why they should support Arise financially.

I know what we do, I know our successes, but I’m also aware of all the ways in which we haven’t succeeded—where the work is ongoing. We haven’t ended homelessness in Springfield yet, we still don’t have a climate change plan, and kids, especially kids of color, are still targeted by law enforcement.

Yet I know that if not for Arise, we would NOT have a city council and school committee that is now a majority people of color. If not for Arise, we’d have a polluting biomass plant under construction or already operating. If not for Arise, Charles Wilhite would still be in prison for life. And if not for Arise, thousands of families and individuals would be homeless, hungry and on the streets.

At this moment, members and volunteers are stuffing envelopes for our donor mailing and waiting for me to finish this letter. So I just turned to them and said, “If you had a friend with money, what would you say to them about why they should support Arise?”

  • Terrette: We’re free to the people, but it costs us money to keep going. I want my friend to help us keep doing the job we’re doing.
  • Solobia:We’re the only community organization that takes on ALL the human rights issues—homelessness, police brutality—and we meet people where they’re at.
  • Jackie:We save people! We help people help themselves, and we never turn anybody away.
  • Tina:Because you might need our help someday!
  • George:We work locally—if you send a check to some suit at the Sierra Club, you don’t see the benefit. This money stays in our neighborhood.
  • Ward:You guys operate as the unsung heroes of Springfield.
  • Liz:As a measure of commitment to the people who work and volunteer here. By donating to Arise, you can really feel a part of something.

So here you have it. Last week, when our office was full of homeless people, and somehow we found food for everyone and still got some political organizing done, I said to folks that I truly believed there is not another place in Massachusetts where you can walk in the door and see what you see—people who believe in each other, who believe in the power of the people to make change, and who always go the extra mile to make a difference.
Please give as generously as you can, and Happy Holidays!

The staff and members of Arise

“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

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.

Think About It?

OK, I’m thinking about and it appears fracking is coming to the Pioneer Valley!

Heard this ad on WFCR during NPR’s All Things Considered today, July 24th at 5:29pm:

[quote]From America’s Natural Gas. Learn how a farmer in Ohio has helped support his family’s farm with the production of natural gas on their land. ThinkAboutIt.Org[/quote]

This is so unbelievable I’ve made a YouTube of the ad so you can hear it for yourself… it starts at 20 seconds after the Angie’s List ad:

From WFCR’s website, here is their target audience:


Pioneer Valley is ground zero!

It is pretty clear that the Natural Gas industry would NOT be wasting their money supporting our local public radio if they didn’t have ulterior motives: plans for fracking the valley.  In fact, I bet they don’t even like public radio.

Now, let’s see what ThinkAboutIt.Org is all about.  The first thing I notice, web geek that I am and taking a peek behind the curtain, 379 cookies!  Yikes, this little bit of web surfing is probably being watched in real time by the Koch brothers, Dick Cheney, 1/3 of the NSA sys admins with a Top Secret clearance, Rupert Muddock and all the rest of those greedy bastards.  Normally, a website would use less than a dozen cookies so this tells me they are doing their “Mad Men” best to figure out who is looking and then how to deal with them next in focusing, targeting and general misleading in their future advertising campaigns.

Here’s their home page:


 So look at what this website is selling?  family-owned farms!  Safety?  Come on, these pictures are bucolic and all, but give me a break.  This website is squarely aimed at family farms here in the valley and they are getting the word out that natural gas can save  family owned farms that are economically distressed.  Makes me wonder what other advertising campaigns are now taking place.

Click on the Safety picture and watch their You Tube video… a moving picture is worth 1,000,000 words!

Do we really want our ground water poisoned?  What can we do??  One thing is we can organize and have our towns and cities pass local ordinances banning fracking ASAP.  Also, we can support current legislation already in the house, H788 and sponsored by Northampton’s (1st Hampshire District) Rep. Peter Kocot.

We’ve got our work cut out for us however, the writing is clearly on the wall.  After the aptly named “American Groundwater Trust” group held their conference at UMass last December and now this ad… we have truly been fore warned!

1 if by land, 2 if by sea, and 3 if fracking horizontally!

Load more