6/21/20 Wtown Select Board BLM Notice

Dear Greylock Together,

Tomorrow night (Monday the 22nd) at 7:00 pm, the Williamstown Select Board is meeting.  One of the issue they will be considering is whether or not to paint BLACK LIVES MATTER on Spring Street, as proposed by Randy F. in a recent letter to the board.  The agenda and Zoom info can be found here.

An excerpt from Randy’s letter:

This latest round of protests are not a wake up call for any of us. We are all educated enough to know there is systematic discrimination based on race, creed, and sexual orientation. Rather, these protests are, once again, asking us as individuals and as a community, what are we going to do about working to ensure that our Black community members feel safe, loved and supported? No, we cannot end discrimination, even within our borders. We can, however, provide a clear, unambiguous sign—for our children, Williams students, visitors, and, most importantly, those among us who are not willing to say enough is enough—that pronounces in no uncertain terms that in our community, Black Lives Matter. 

I request the Select Board to immediately approve “Black Lives Matter” be painted on our main street, Spring Street, as has been done in DC and now in other cities and towns. If the Mayor of Washington, DC can stand up to the President, surely we can stand up to the forces of the status quo in our community. Change does not happen if we keep doing the same. Your leadership behind the scenes is valuable, and appreciated. Our times demand more of all of us.

Be there and be heard. 
 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

6/18/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

There are big events happening this weekend in both Williamstown (on Friday) and North Adams (on Saturday).  Now is the time when you might decide that you did enough — you went to a protest and made some calls, and now there’s other stuff going on in your life.  But justice doesn’t happen overnight.  This is the slow drilling of hard boards.  Go to one of the events this weekend or volunteer for another cause (like phonebanking for Gideon — see below).  Be an activist every week!
 


North Adams BLM March & Protest.  This Saturday (June 20th) there will be a march and a rally in support of Black Lives Matter in North Adams.  The march will begin at the MoCA overflow lot (where the farmer’s market is held) at 2:00 pm.  The march will be 2.3 miles in length.  For those who are unable to march, there will also be a stationary rally at the same time on the lawn in front of First Congregational Church of North Adams.  At both events, please wear masks and maintain social distancing; hand sanitizer and water will be available.  Facebook event here.

Williamstown Juneteenth Event and BLM Vigil.  First Congregational Church of Williamstown and Greylock Together are hosting an event tomorrow afternoon (June 19th) in celebration of Juneteenth.  The weekly BLM vigil will take place as usual at 5:00 pm at Field Park, but will be followed at 5:30 pm by an evening of music, movement, resistance, and joy.  Juneteenth is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S. This Juneteenth is a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter, and that we won’t tolerate anything less than justice for all Black people.  Otha Day, a renowned educator, facilitator, and musician, will share reflections on Juneteenth and lead us in rhythm, dancing, chanting, reflecting, and connecting with ourselves and one another.  Contact Rachel Payne with questions at rachel.r.payne@gmail.com or 617-309-0186.  Remember to wear masks and keep your distance!  Facebook event here.

Indivisible Markey.  Indivisible has totaled up your votes and those of other Bay Staters, and they have endorsed Sen. Ed Markey for reelection: “Sen. Markey is a leader of the climate movement and a progressive champion for a more just, sustainable, and livable future. He consistently demonstrates progressive leadership and vision by prioritizing working people and marginalized communities.”  There’s almost unanimous GT support for Markey, but you can also join the Berkshires 4 Markey group if you want to work on this specifically.

Boot Susan Collins Out. This past weekend, 10 mighty phone bankers joined Maddy Art (Intern for ME’s Sara Gideon campaign to defeat Susan Collins!). They were trained virtually (bravo!) and made a collective 415 phone calls! That’s how you flip the Senate: one outreach at a time, folks! Maddy is building a team of committed folks who can commit to this work on a regular basis. Please contact her at maddyzart@gmail.com to join in! This is something we can do Together! 

Elect Alex Morse.  We have a team leader for this effort in the person of Ed S, who is looking to build a small team of people to elect a progressive here in MA-1. More details to follow, but if this is something that interests you, reply to this email and let us know! 

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST RESOURCES

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  • To demonstrate Black power and clout in the publishing industry, Sunday June 14 – Saturday June 20, we encourage you to purchase any two books by Black writers. Our goal is to Blackout bestseller lists with Black voices. Better yet, buy those books at a black owned bookstore: Black Owned Bookstores in the US

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  •  Code Switch newsletter from NPR — See what news, politics and culture say about race and identity, sent weekly.


Black Lives Matter Signs.  These are still available.  Thank you to Julia Bowen, Janine Hetherington, Liza Barrett and Janie Strachan! They’ve loved delivering but it may be harder to continue to deliver to all. If someone is housebound or immunology compromised, they will certainly make arrangements. Signs are $10 each with $2 going to  NAACP – Berkshire Country.  Contact lizabarrett6@gmail.com to order.Signs are $10 each with $2 going to NAACP – Berkshire Country. Double-sided and they come with stakes for those who need them. People can Venmo @jeanette-strachan or pay cash at pickup/delivery.

Reminder: Food Resources.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking the NBCC Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

6/2/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

“I want their hearts to be broken,” Ricky Grant, in conversation during a #BlackLivesMatter Town Hall with Senator Markey on 5/31. “I want you to please, don’t be defensive and please look at what’s happening and allow your heart to be broken. Once your heart breaks you will KNOW what to do.” We are broken-hearted but filled with the fuel of resolve that could not be more clarifying in this moment in our country’s turbulent history.

We look forward to seeing those who can join us on Sunday for our monthly ZOOM meeting. We will center our conversation on police brutality and centuries-old systemic racism. There is no end to the list of things to be done, but we are asking you to pick one thing. When you’ve done that, you can pick another, and another after that. But right now, pick something. Let us know what you decide to do. 

Sunday at 3:00 pm, join us on Zoom.  We will talk and plan action.  (Meeting ID: 870 3262 3350,
Password: 637202, one tap mobile: +13017158592,,87032623350#,,1#,637202#  call in: +1 646 558 8656)

PROTEST

  • Stand up for Justice – Black Lives Matter Williamstown.  Friday, June 5, 5:00 pm.  Field Park Rotary, Williamstown.  Please: Wear a face covering, Do your best to social distance, Bring signs (no sticks), Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to participate.  Park at the Williamstown Public Library or the old Williams Inn at the Rotary, Stay in the green space.  Thanks to Margo Besnard and Erin Ostheimer for leading and bringing new energy to GT!
  • Make a CALL! Your voice matters, especially when multiplied!
  • SIGN AND SEND! Petitions help when the whole country signs on!

LEARN

  • Join neighbors Meg Bossong and Peggy Kern for their free online class: Everyday Abolition: A Virtual Teach-In, June 3, 8 pm, Register to join in HERE.
  • CAMPAIGN ZERO has boiled down necessary reforms into a ten-point plan, which includes limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability. 
  • Learn about POLICY SOLUTIONS. 
  • POLICE USE OF FORCE PROJECT – How police use of force policies can help to end police violence.
  • STAND UP and BE VISIBLE with a #BlackLivesMatter Sign of support and WELCOME in your yard. Some of our neighbors are organizing a group purchase and distributions of Black Lives Matter signs. Each costs $10. Of this, $8 covers the printing cost at Beck’s (local!) and $2.00 will be for a donation to NAACP – Berkshire Country. Please email lizabarrett6@gmail.com to reserve your sign. Thanks to Liza Barrett, Julia Bowen and Janie Strachan for organizing!

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WATCH: FILM/SERIES

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — YouTube
  • When They See Us – (Ava DuVernay) – Netflix
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • The Hate You Give (George Tillman Jr) – YouTube

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Confederate Monuments Coming Down.  You may have missed this in all the chaos, but the confederate monuments in both Birmingham and Alexandria were taken down this morning.  Yesterday, the mayor of Birmingham grabbed a bullhorn and pleaded with protesters to leave the huge obelisk erected in honor to the Confederacy alone.  He didn’t want them hurt.  “Allow me to finish the job for you,” Mayor Woodfin said, and ordered its removal.

Quite a Journey.  Look at the back of this truck and see one person’s journey.
 
Reminder: Phonebanking for Sara Gideon.  On June 14 at 2 pm, join activist and high school graduate, Maddy Art, an intern on Team Gideon, for a Zoom phone bank to spread Sara’s positive vision for Mainers! Maddy will lead a brief training to familiarize everyone with the software and script, and then we will make calls Together on mute.  Sign up here or on the Facebook event.

Reminder: Hoosac Harvest Seed Swap.  Annual seedling swap will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 30, 2020, in Mass MoCA’s main parking lot. Community members are invited to Wear MASKS and gloves, keep your Social Distance and bring seedlings to swap, or to come without seedlings and just choose offerings for their spring gardens. All seedlings are free–you don’t need to bring some to swap to take some home. Donations to Hoosac Harvest are encouraged. Contact Hoosac Harvest via kathykeeser@gmail.comfor more information or visit hoosacharvest.org.

Reminder: Williamstown Vote by Mail.  If you live in Williamstown and want to vote for the upcoming planning board seat, be sure to request your ballot for the June 23rd election.  Here’s a video by Town Manager Jason Hoch on how to do it, or just go to the town website for brief instructions.  If you want to know more about the candidates, here’s the League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Reminder: Ranked Choice Ballot Question.  Ranked Choice Voting is one of our priorities, and we need to make a final push to get it on the ballot for November!  Because of COVID-19, they’re gathering signatures electronically.  Go here to sign.

Reminder: Food Resources.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking the NBCC Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)Greylock Together Meeting
Zoom (link forthcoming)
June 7 @ 3:00-4:00 pm

Phonebank Training to Support Maine Senate Candidate Sara Gideon
Signup Link
June 14
Facebook Event 

Resist and persist!
    Jess

5/27/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

There’s a lot going on, so let’s get right to it.

Phonebanking for Sara Gideon.  To flip the Senate in 2020, we MUST win Maine. Susan Collins was the deciding vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and to pass the 2017 Republican tax bill. She has moved from being a moderate Republican to voting with Trump 94% of the time, and Mainers are fed up and want to replace her with a progressive, pro-choice Democrat: Sara Gideon.  Read her Reform Agenda here.

On June 14 at 2 pm, join activist and high school graduate, Maddy Art, an intern on Team Gideon, for a Zoom phone bank to spread Sara’s positive vision for Mainers! Maddy will lead a brief training to familiarize everyone with the software and script, and then we will make calls Together on mute.  Sign up here or on the Facebook event.

Markey v Kennedy Straw Poll.  The results are in from last week’s poll of our members, and they are not ambiguous.
 
Hoosac Harvest Seed Swap.  Annual seedling swap will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 30, 2020, in Mass MoCA’s main parking lot. Community members are invited to Wear MASKS and gloves, keep your Social Distance and bring seedlings to swap, or to come without seedlings and just choose offerings for their spring gardens. All seedlings are free–you don’t need to bring some to swap to take some home. Donations to Hoosac Harvest are encouraged. Contact Hoosac Harvest via kathykeeser@gmail.comfor more information or visit hoosacharvest.org

Whip Up Wednesdays at ROOTS. ROOTS Teen Center in will have a Youtube series of quick cooking videos, so people can watch the video & view the recipe for each box. All that we ask from participants is that they send us, or post to our page, a photo of what they make! This is for youth 13-22. Youth that participate will receive a free weekly box of the ingredients, including locally sourced produce, to use to make the recipes in the videos. For questions, more information and/or to register please contact Alex, Hicks-Courant at dropin@rootsteencenter.com or call 413-663-0250

North Adams Virtual Town Hall with Alex Morse.  Please join candidate for Congress Alex Morse for a virtual North Adams Town Hall on May 28th at 6 pm. Alex wants to hear the stories and experiences of how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting you and your communities in North Adams, and talk with people not just about what kind of candidate he is, but also about how he plans to fight for and represent the people of Western Mass through this moment and throughout recovery.  Event is here.

Honest Elections Project.  Seems like a major dark money group backed by the Mercers and Betsy DeVos is pouring money into their fight against voting.A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal.  The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.Read more in the Guardian.

ReminderWilliamstown Vote by Mail.  If you live in Williamstown and want to vote for the upcoming planning board seat, be sure to request your ballot for the June 23rd election.  Here’s a video by Town Manager Jason Hoch on how to do it, or just go to the town website for brief instructions.  If you want to know more about the candidates, here’s the League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Reminder: Ranked Choice Ballot Question.  Ranked Choice Voting is one of our priorities, and we need to make a final push to get it on the ballot for November!  Because of COVID-19, they’re gathering signatures electronically.  Go here to sign.

Reminder: Signatures for Markey.  Senator Markey’s staffer sends along to say that COVID-19 has made it incredibly hard to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Go to this link to get a paper sent to your house that you can sign and return.

Reminder: Food Resources.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)Greylock Together Meeting
Zoom (link forthcoming)
June 7 @ 3:00-4:00 pm

Phonebank Training to Support Maine Senate Candidate Sara Gideon
Signup Link
June 14
Facebook Event 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

5/20/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

Reporting on people quietly staying at home or doing their best to socially distance while doing essential work is… well, boring.  So it’s not surprising that the media is spending a lot of time reporting on people flouting the common-sense precaution of wearing a mask.  You get a lot of clicks when you showcase one guy being an idiot at Costco, or take a picture of a few jerks crowding next to each other.  But don’t let that fool you: most people are doing what’s right, most of the time.  On April 1st, only 27% of Americans said they were wearing face masks.  But as of today, fully 83% report that they’re doing so according to a USC Dornsife study!  That’s pretty great.

Don’t lose heart.  This situation is hard and it’s lasting a long time, but it’s working.  A University of Kentucky study estimates that social distancing and shutdowns were able to drastically reduce the spread of the pandemic in America.  Without these measures, we might be looking at 35 million cases.  So keep listening to the experts and we will keep saving lives!

Fundraising Success.  Together, we have all raised over $30,000 with our last three fundraisers.  Thank you so much to our partner Force Multiplier and the signal boost from Indivisible Pittsfield, Williamstown Democrats, and so many others.  It’s gross we need to spend time raising money to flip the senate at all, since money shouldn’t be so important in politics, but activists make change with the tools at hand.  Thank you to everyone!

Straw Poll: Markey/Kennedy.  We wanted to get a sense of where people might be on the upcoming primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, so we put together a quick and easy straw poll.  Weigh in here.

Williamstown Rent Assistance.  The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will grant $500, or up to $1,000 for extreme cases, to people who earn 100 percent or less of the area median income.  The rental assistance program started on Wednesday. Applications are available at berkshirehousing.com or by calling BHDC at 413-499-4887 to leave a message. Paper applications are available at the Williamstown Food Pantry at 53 Southworth St. (Saints Patrick and Raphael Parish) and at the Williamstown Post Office on Spring Street.

Driving Without Fear.  This Thursday (tomorrow) will be a virtual town hall with Ayanna Pressley on how to advocate for the Work and Family Mobility Act.  Bridget Spann sends along details:I am sharing an invitation for Greylock Together members to participate in an important virtual town hall meeting on the Work & Family Mobility Act.  The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed additional reasons why qualified MA residents should have the ability to apply for drivers licenses regardless of their immigration status.  Please join us to learn how to advocate for this legislation and support immigrants in our community.The Facebook event is here.  RSVP here.

Williamstown Vote by Mail.  If you live in Williamstown and want to vote for the upcoming planning board seat, be sure to request your ballot for the June 23rd election.  They have only received a couple of hundred requests when last we heard, so let them know you need yours!  Here’s a video by Town Manager Jason Hoch on how to do it, or just go to the town website for brief instructions.  If you want to know more about the candidates, here’s the League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Reminder: Ranked Choice Ballot Question.  Ranked Choice Voting is one of our priorities, and we need to make a final push to get it on the ballot for November!  Because of COVID-19, they’re gathering signatures electronically.  Go here to sign.

Reminder: Signatures for Markey.  Senator Markey’s staffer sends along to say that COVID-19 has made it incredibly hard to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Go to this link to get a paper sent to your house that you can sign and return.

Reminder: Food Resources.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)Greylock Together Meeting
Zoom (link forthcoming)
June 7 @ 3:00-4:00 pm

Phonebank Training to Support Maine Senate Candidate Sara Gideon
Zoom (link forthcoming)
June 14 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

5/6/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

This Thursday, we’re so excited to welcome former Vermont governor Howard Dean and Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut to our fundraiser!  The topic is “An Insider’s View to Flipping the Senate BLUE.”  Sen Murphy is one of the nation’s leading proponents of gun reform, and Gov Dean’s 50-state strategy was the plan that flipped Congress blue during the Bush years.  They’ll join us on Zoom along with our moderators—Jim Mahon​, Williams College Professor of Political Science & Ali​ ​Benjamin​, Greylock Together’s National Book Award Finalist and Activist on Thursday, May 14 at 7:00 pm.

To join in the conversation, register and donate. Then, look for an email from ActBlue with a Zoom link and a receipt.  Special thanks to the Williamstown Democratic Town Committee and Jim Mahon for their help in outreach and organization, and thanks also to our partners in Force Multiplier!

Great Realisation.  Jess sends along:

Here’s a great video shared by Marie after our Sunday meeting — which was terrific. THANK YOU for joining us in community on the most beautiful sunny day we’ve had yet. We are so grateful for all of you leading with hope as an action and with persistence and GOOD NEWS and opportunities revealing themselves to all of us. “If you dream hard enough maybe some of them will come true.”

Williamstown Absentee Ballots.  Due to a change in state law last month, voters may vote by mail in municipal elections (during the emergency only) without needing to qualify for an absentee ballot. Voters will have to submit an application so that a ballot will be mailed to them. Williamstown’s annual town election has been rescheduled to Tuesday, June 23rd due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The main page of the town website has a link to the application for a ballot, and the application can be submitted by email, mail, or dropped off at town hall.  Additional forms are available outside the town hall and Harper Center (on Church Street).  The completed and signed application must be received by Monday, June 22nd at 12 (noon) pm.  Please keep in mind, you should allow for mailing time back and forth.  This application may only be used for the annual town election.  Ballots themselves may be returned via mail or put in the drop box next to the front door at town hall.  I’d encourage everyone to vote by mail if possible, since that will reduce the numbers of people who otherwise would have to vote in person.

Ranked Choice Ballot Question.  Ranked Choice Voting is one of our priorities, and we need to make a final push to get it on the ballot for November!  Because of COVID-19, they’re gathering signatures electronically.  Go here to sign.  Reminder about RCV: The way it works is that instead of voting for only one candidate for each office, you have the opportunity to rank them in order of your preference.  If no candidate emerges with more than 50% of the votes from voters’ first choices, the candidate with the lowest total is dropped out and the people who voted for them get their second choice.  This ensures that whoever is elected actually has the support of the majority of the electorate.  This method was successfully used in the 2018 elections in Maine, and we are trying to get it instituted here in Massachusetts.

WMLA.  WMLA is an all-volunteer, non-government funded, self-help membership association of the lowest-income workers of Berkshire County, joining together with allies in the community to change poverty conditions. Due to the consequences of COVID-19, many of our members are facing greater food insecurity and lack of necessary sanitary items such as diapers and toilet paper. Participants of Greylock Together can help out with donations of food and hygiene supplies, and can, if interested in volunteering, participate in our membership phone tree in which we contact our members to check in on them and see what they need during this difficult time. To volunteer, call (413) 443-9862. To drop off donations, please bring to our office central in Pittsfield, at 298 Columbus Ave on the West Side. WMLA is open seven days a week, 9:00am – 9:00pm!

North Adams Resource Guide.  They’ve moved much of their info here.  They also offer a newsletter — sign up by emailing nbcovid@gmail.com.

Seeds Available.  Margot sends along:

Now that the seeds have been planted and have sprouted into seedlings it is time to share again.  On May 16/17 there will be seedlings available to the community on a Grab-and-Go basis on Cole Ave in Williamstown. Have too many cucumbers and not enough tomatoes? Drop your cucumber seedlings off at one of the tables that have been set up and pick up some tomatoes. Nothing to share and feel awkward just helping yourself for free? Please consider a monetary donation to the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams or supporting your favorite local public service organization.  
Please bring your own boxes for pickup, wear a mask and observe respectful physical distancing.
 For more information I can be reached at 413-441-5902 or margotsanger@roadrunner.com

Bee Friendly Williamstown.  There will be a free talk on gardening for pollinators, with Peggy MacLeod, thisTuesday, May 12, at 2:00 PM.
ZOOM MEETING LINK: https://zoom.us/j/98989485151?pwd=ODl5N0cxNjJEYXVOZ2tqWFcrRUloQT09
Meeting ID: 989 8948 5151
Password: 611642

Sewing Machine Repair.  If you’ve been working on sewing masks, Tony Pisano has offered to clean and oil sewing machines and can also look at those that have basic mechanical issues, not electronic issues. He’s also happy to take machines that people no longer want. He also has masks available for whatever contributions people can afford.  antpisano@hotmail.com or 315-439-72986;  pickup and drop off is contact free.

Alex Morse for Congress Phone Bank.  If you’ve got time on Thursday or Sunday, then you can volunteer for Rep. Neal’s opponent and try to get some voters to the polls in a few months for the primary!  Click here to sign up.

Reminder: Signatures for Markey.  Senator Markey’s staffer sends along to say that COVID-19 has made it incredibly hard to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Go to this link to get a paper sent to your house that you can sign and return.

Reminder: Food Resources.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)

GT Fundraiser:  An Insiders’ Scoop on Flipping the Senate: Who’s running, Why it matters—and What we can do to turn Washington Blue in November
Zoom
May 14 @ 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Featuring special guests Governor Howard Dean (VT) and Senator Chris Murphy (CT)

 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

4/29/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

It’s been too long since we’ve been together. This Sunday, join us for a meeting on Zoom.  It’ll be just like always, except you must provide your own cookies.  We’ll be meeting this Sunday from 3:00 to 4:00.  Find the link below (and we’ll put it on Facebook).

Also coming up is the next in our fundraiser events, and this one is pretty amazing!  We’ve had some academic discussion of politics during COVID-19, we’ve had some Trump impressions from a comedian, but this time we wrangled up some real live politicians.  Join us at 7:00 pm on May 14th as professor Jim Mahon and author Ali Benjamin host former Vermont governor Howard Dean and Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut!  The topic is “An Insider’s View to Flipping the Senate.”  If anyone’s going to know how to do that, it’ll be these guys.  Sen Murphy regularly ignites Twitter with his incisive criticisms of our incompetent president, and Gov Dean’s 50-state strategy was the plan that flipped Congress blue during the Bush years.  We’ve already raised $10,000 to flip the Senate and stop the flood of radical-right judges… let’s keep it rolling!  Watch for the invite, coming to a email near you!

Sunday Meeting.  We miss you all! Let’s get together in virtual community and share updates, resources, fundraising/event news, and member thoughts, concerns, and positive highlights to keep us fueled during this distance resistance. No matter how strange 2020 may be — we’re STILL in this Together — and November is the most consequential election of our shared lifetime. Join us and let’s chat!  All welcome! Join this Sunday from 3:00 to 4:00 pm by clicking the Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2226761263 or via mobile at:+16465588656,,2226761263# US (New York)

Crane Paper Company.  Mohawk Paper is closing down the 220-year old Crane & Co., which will cost North Adams 300 jobs.  Should GT get involved or not?  Weigh in here.

Call Hinds.  Call or email Sen. Adam Hinds and ask him to please support SD 2918An Act Relative to Emergency Paid Sick Time, which would guarantee all workers at least ten additional paid workdays (80 hours) of job-protected paid sick time for immediate use during the COVID-19 outbreak or future public health emergencies. This emergency paid sick time would be in addition to any paid or unpaid time off already available.

Seeds!  Margot S. sends this amazing idea along:

Bridget S. generously donated many seeds to me for the seedling swap I do each year at St. John’s. In this current world, I’m not sure how that will look, but I am convinced that we all need to be trying to do our part for food security for ourselves, our neighborhoods and particularly folks on the margins. With that in mind, I would like to share this bounty with as many people as possible so we can till a bit of soil and grow some vegetables.

Here is a PDF with a list of the seeds available.  Email Bridget if you’re interested!

Morse for Congress.  Arlene K. sends along this appeal:

We can help elect a real progressive as our CD1 Rep. Alex Morse is looking for more volunteers to make “wellness” calls throughout the District. For more information, contact Logan Malik and join the Alex Morse for Congress Volunteers FB page!

Reminder: Signatures for Markey.  Senator Markey’s staffer sends along to say that COVID-19 has made it incredibly hard to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Go to this link to get a paper sent to your house that you can sign and return.

Reminder: Local Food Producers.  Sarah B. sends along a link to Berkshire Grown which collects together local food producers, what they grow, and how you can get it.

Reminder: Food Resources.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)

Greylock Together Meeting
Zoom
May 3 @ 3:00 – 4:00 pm

GT Fundraiser:  An Insiders’ Scoop on Flipping the Senate: Who’s running, Why it matters—and What we can do to turn Washington Blue in November
Zoom
May 14 @ 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Featuring special guests Governor Howard Dean (VT) and Senator Chris Murphy (CT)

 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

4/22/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

This Earth Day, the Youth Climate Strike is putting on a three-day livestream with information and entertainment and ideas about the urgency of the climate crisis.  Check it out.

Call the Parole Board.  There has been some progress with the criminal justice system when it comes to COVID-19 safety and equity:

The SJC has held that all defendants are entitled to file motions for release with the trial courts. To date, defense attorneys have filed 45 motions with Berkshire County courts.  The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office assented to 16, opposed 20, and took no position on six. The court approved the release of 22 people from custody, denied 15, and eight motions are still pending.

But that’s not enough.  We need to go at this from other angles, too.  Call the Parole Board at (508) 650-4500, please, and say:

Hello!  I’m a resident of <TOWN> and I’m calling to ask you to make it a priority to expedite the parole of eligible inmates and help reduce the vulnerable population.

Next week: the sheriff.

Signatures for Markey.  Senator Markey’s staffer sends along to say that COVID-19 has made it incredibly hard to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Go to this link to get a paper sent to your house that you can sign and return.  He sponsored the Green New Deal and fights nuclear proliferation fiercely… let’s get him on the ballot!

Call Neal, Warren, and Markey.  The latest COVID-19 deal is a lousy one.  There are a ton of priorities that aren’t addressed, but one of the most important is voting protection.  Call your representative and senators and leave a comment:

Hi, I’m a resident of <TOWN> and I’m calling to leave a comment about the new stimulus deal that’s being proposed.  It’s a bad deal without voting protection to extend voting by mail this November.  No one should need to risk their life to vote.  Please vote no to help protect democracy.

These folks should already be in your contacts, but if they aren’t:

  • Rep. Neal: 413-785-0325
  • Sen. Warren: 202-224-4543
  • Sen. Markey: 202-224-2742

Correspondence Canvassing.  From Bernadine:

One thing we can continue to do while we’re sheltering is write letters to voters who don’t regularly show up and vote. And it’s easy to do through Vote Forward. Letters written now will be mailed in October to give those voters a nudge. VF provides a template and addresses. You just need to do a bit of personalization, write out an envelope, stamp, and set aside until October! Studies show that voters who receive a letter are significantly more likely to vote. 

So, here are 3 ways to do it:
1. Make your own account at Vote Forward. This will allow you to download and print as many letters as you want.
2. If you have a printer, but don’t want to set up your own account, I (Bernadine) can create a PDF and e-mail it to you for printing at home.
3. If you don’t have a printer, I can print batches of 20 letters that can (safely) be picked up at my house. I also have about 90 envelopes and can include if you let me know.  If you are able to provide stamps that’s wonderful and we thank you!

If you would like me to print for you, please send me (Bernadine Williams) an e-mail at bhw1@williams.edu. If you have letters from previous in-person meetings, just hang onto them and keep track of them for mailing in the fall. 

Local Food Producers.  Sarah B. sends along a link to Berkshire Grown which collects together local food producers, what they grow, and how you can get it.  It’s organized by method of access, so if you’re looking to have food delivered, you can find that category.

Closures: Recent announcements about things that are staying closed:

  • Schools are continuing remote learning through the end of the academic year, per the governor.
  • Other non-essentials are closed until May 4.  Daycares are also closed until May.
  • Marie sends along to say that Bascom Lodge is closed until July 1.

Reminder: Food Resources.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.

Reminder: Recent Successes.

  • We have raised more than $8,000 in our recent fundraisers to flip the Senate blue.
  • DPH has agreed to change their guidelines and start testing everyone, which Rep. Barrett credits to our calls.  The Commons immediately found five staff members who were infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic.
  • We’ve started getting masks out to workers who lacked them, like grocery staff at Wild Oats.


Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)

None.  But it’s nice outside. Go out for a walk.

 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

4/15/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

A lot of good news today.  The fundraiser went great and the next one has a ton of sign-ups, we got the DPH testing protocol for nursing homes changes, there’s great food resources, masks are getting made… Let’s keep going!  Keep working!  Keep helping!  Keep fighting!  It’s okay to be scared or tired.  It’s okay to take a rest.  Just remember that every day is a new day — and a new chance to make a difference!

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
 

Fundraiser.  Our fundraiser last week was a shocking success, raising thousands of dollars for Senate candidates.  We’re seriously floored with how many people showed up to watch the discussion, ask questions, and donate.  This Thursday evening at seven, we’re switching it up and we’ll be watching some comedy, instead.  Comedian J-L Cauvin will be doing stand-up and political impressions — you might know him from this video that went viral a couple of weeks ago.  Go to our site to find the link to sign up and donate.

Indivisible Pittsfield.  During this difficult time, Indivisible Pittsfield has added their subscribers to our mailing list.  Welcome, friends!  If you’d actually prefer not to receive the GT newsletter, please click here to unsubscribe.

Williamstown Commons Success.  Dozens of you made calls last week to HHS about the situation at the Commons.  They became acutely aware of the issues with the lack of testing, especially with the disparity in supplies when compared to elsewhere in Massachusetts.  And while it took far too long, they finally agreed and changed their policy, as our state rep let us know:
 

I looked up the DPH guidelines to confirm; you can read them for yourself here in this Word document.  Thank you, everyone!

Food Resources and the NBCC.  The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is doing an unbelievable job collecting information about food resources throughout the area.  If you live up here and you’re food insecure, you should be checking their Facebook page daily.  Each day, they’re posting an updated list of resources (click on the photo labeled with that day’s updates — the info is in the photo descriptions).  Here’s today.

Pittsfield and south county will find the Greylock Glass food resource map very useful, especially the calendar at the bottom, as well as the invaluable Berkshire Mutual Aid Facebook group.  Please email us (reply to this message) if you or someone you know are in need, and we will get you some help!

Food Pantry Success.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams!  Organizer Mark R. reports that they not only have enough volunteers again, they also have a few in reserve in case local needs start to explode again.  Great!

Masks Success.  Pam A. and Martha S. made 60 handmade vegetable face coverings this weekend to give to each staff member at Wild Oats in Williamstown to help keep them safe! Thank you amazing team, and to Anne Art for her organization and continued sewing for members in our community! It truly does take a village!
 

      


County Jail Progress.  Five people being held for trial have been released from the county jail to help lower the risk of COVID-19.  This is progress, but we’re a long way from where we should be.

National Politics.  You may have heard about the Wisconsin election — the Republican legislature in the state insisted on holding their state election (including for a seat on their supreme court) last Tuesday even though it was flagrantly dangerous, perhaps out of the belief that dense urban centers would find it impossible to vote (which is why Milwaukee’s 180 voting centers were cut to only five!)  It didn’t work, and the liberal candidate won by a wide margin!  Maybe the power grab was just a little too flagrant?  But did you hear that a restrictive voter ID law in swing state New Hampshire was struck down by the courts?  Of course, this is balanced by the fact that Kentucky added a new voter ID law… but I guess if we’re horse trading, a purple state beats a red state?  …nah, everyone deserves the right to vote.  Onward to Kentucky!

Reminder: Think You Might Be Sick?  There’s a new site from the state that will walk through your symptoms and talk about your risks, plus recommend things to do and where to find care.  Visit it here at buoy.com/mass.

Reminder: Donate/Sell/Acquire PPE.  If you are a member of an organization that needs Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or if you have some to donate or sell, go to this state site to do so.  They’re looking for donations of the usual stuff (N95 masks, surgical masks, etc).  You might actually have some extra bottles of hand sanitizer — donate them!

Reminder: Healthcare Workers Volunteers.  Are you a former or current healthcare worker interested in volunteering to help during this terrible time?  Go to this site to step up and assist.

Reminder: Donate for Undocumented Workers.  Undocumented workers throughout Massachusetts have been badly hurt by COVID-19.  Not only are they suffering from the same economic straits and social distancing (if they’re even able to do that!), but they’re also deliberately excluded from most of the relief and rescue efforts.  Donate a few dollars to help them at the MassUndocuFund.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)

Join our virtual fundraiser Thursday night at seven.  Also, it’s nice outside. Go out for a walk.

 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander

4/8/20 newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

There are three big ways we’re asking for your help tonight.  First, there’s the fundraiser tomorrow.  Second, we need able bodies to help volunteer at the Friendship Center food pantry.  And third, we need donors for Monday’s blood drive.

In a time of tyrants and plagues, heroes step up to volunteer their gold, their sweat, and their blood.  Be a hero.

Fundraiser.  We need to flip the Senate.  For years, Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority have abused their power.  There’s simply no other word for it: from first to last, they have abandoned the good of their country to pursue the good of their party.  It didn’t used to be thus.  There was a time when Republicans claimed to believe in important values — values other than their own power and pursuit of the same.  Rigorous oversight, fiscal responsibility, federalism, a country unified in the face of adversity.  But that time seems to be gone in Mitch McConnell’s Senate.  All of that has been sacrificed, and their slain virtues have stained the altar of power a dark and bitter red.

Tomorrow night we are hosting a virtual fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidates. Buy a ticket and join Professors Jim Mahon and Nicole Mellow discuss politics in the age of Covid.  Click here for tickets and here for more information.



Volunteers.  You’re going to remember this time for the rest of your life.  How do you want to remember it?  As a bystander?  Or as someone who rolled up their sleeves and did that most important of things: feeding the hungry?  We need five volunteers.  Be one of them.

Organizers of the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry, North Adams, are looking to build a database of potential and actual new volunteers. Some of their regular volunteers have stepped back temporarily because they fall into groups most threatened by COVID-19. They also expect and already have experienced increased need due to layoffs and gaps in the Northern Berkshire emergency food system.  Potential new volunteers should be in good health without underlying conditions and should be able to lift and move a 35-pound box. Our weekly hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Some tasks are completed Friday through Sunday.

If interested, contact them at northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com or through their website, friendshipfoodpantry.org or through Facebook at Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative Al Nelson Friendship Center.  Their new set-up is at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center. Their phone number remains 413-664-0123.
 


Blood Drive.  You may have heard about how blood banks have been in desperate need.  Give when it counts this Monday at the Williamstown Police Department, from 9:00 to 2:30.  They are taking extraordinary precautions so that you can safely donate.  Call (413) 447-2597 or email camuso@bhs1.org.

Census.  Take the census if you haven’t done so already.  It’s the right thing to do, and it directly impacts our local political power.  Districts are apportioned by population.

Reminder: Errands. The Williamstown Council on Aging is looking for people to run basic errands for elderly citizens who are afraid to leave their houses.  This is low-risk and just takes a small amount of time and kindness on your part!  Contact Bonny DiTomasso, Home and Community Based Programs Supervisor for Elder Services of Berkshire County at bditomasso@esbci.org or (413) 499-0524 x750.  You can also call the Williamstown Council on Aging at (413) 459-8250.

Reminder: Think You Might Be Sick?  There’s a new site from the state that will walk through your symptoms and talk about your risks, plus recommend things to do and where to find care.  Visit it here at buoy.com/mass.

Reminder: Donate/Sell/Acquire PPE.  If you are a member of an organization that needs Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or if you have some to donate or sell, go to this state site to do so.  They’re looking for donations of the usual stuff (N95 masks, surgical masks, etc).  You might actually have some extra bottles of hand sanitizer — donate them!

Reminder: Healthcare Workers Volunteers.  Are you a former or current healthcare worker interested in volunteering to help during this terrible time?  Go to this site to step up and assist.

Reminder: Donate for Undocumented Workers.  Undocumented workers throughout Massachusetts have been badly hurt by COVID-19.  Not only are they suffering from the same economic straits and social distancing (if they’re even able to do that!), but they’re also deliberately excluded from most of the relief and rescue efforts.  Donate a few dollars to help them at the MassUndocuFund.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)

Join our virtual fundraiser tomorrow night at five.  Also, it’s nice outside. Go out for a walk.

 

Resist and persist!
    Alexander