Post by: The Western MA team
The Western Mass team has a propensity to draw parallels. Last week in Worcester, we constantly felt that we were on a PBS children’s program. From discovering the joys of farmers markets, community gardens, and libraries, to interacting with friendly community members, to wearing bright orange neon shirts, to being a little too excited about everything in life, we were living a hybrid of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Zoom.
Our new theme is Harry Potter. This week in Amherst, we’re staying with the Riddles (yes…as in Tom Marvolo). However, just as team leader Katie McGonagle cannot turn into a cat, the Riddles thankfully do not quite embody their last name’s connotation. Chris and DeAnne have been more than generous, keeping us incredibly well fed, advertising and attending our events, sharing with us fascinating stories about the Peace Corps, keeping us updated on the World Cup, and educating us about the Cantwell-Collins Bill.
The town of Amherst has been similarly welcoming. I wish I could thank everyone on this blog, but I feel that that would fill up a little too much space!
Wednesday, we attended a sleepout to protest dirty electricity which was put on by Western Masschusetts High Schoolers for a Just and Stable Future (http://wmahsjsf.blogspot.com/), an incredibly impressive group of high school students from Amherst, North Hampton, and South Hadley, dedicated to pushing for 100% clean electricity in MA by 2020. The sleepout was held on Amherst Commons, and got some great press coverage, including from Fox 6, ABC 40, and the Hampshire Gazette (our team’s second appearance in this paper). Katie delivered a compelling personal narrative. From other speakers we learned about relocalization, the youth climate movement, and the detrimental nature of biomass.
Thursday we held our first ever Climate Emergency Meeting and Green Forum at the Newman Center at UMass. We were thrilled by the turnout of 15 people! We also had delicious iced tea and popcorn courtesy of Father John of the Newman Center and shortbread donated by Amherst Coffee. After a brief video and presentation about Climate change, we were privileged to hear about the work of a number of environmental groups operating in the Pioneer Valley, including the South Amherst Conservation Association, the Green Committee, Western Massachusetts High Schoolers for a Just and Stable Future, the Pioneer Valley Relocalization Project, the Pioneer Valley Biochar Initiative, the 350 Campaign, and the Grace Episcopal Church Greening Group.
This morning we took one of our trailers and the wheels of another to the Laughing Dog Cyclery for some consultation. On one of our trailers, the wheel kept falling off. On the other trailer, one of our tires—yes tire, not tube—literally had a hole through it. We very cleverly created a temporary fix for it using a reflective sticker, wear-away tape, and duct tape during our journey to Amherst on Monday. However, we knew a permanent fix was necessary.
Today we’ve been busy researching and networking for upcoming towns. We’re sitting in the children’s biography room in the Jones Library, and I so want to put my computer aside and read a picture book about Eleanor Roosevelt. I think I’ll do that now. Stay tuned to hear about the rest of our Amherst stay (including a potluck and hands across the sand) and our journey to Lenox!