A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
March | 2023
Message from the Steering Committee
14yr old striker Fola La Follette and Rose Livingston
It’s been exciting joining the LWVA Steering Committee this year and seeing all the work that is being done.
As some of you may know, I’m a former Town Councilor and current climate activist and have been advocating for both Climate Action Adaptation and Resilience Plan and Zero Waste implementation.

The League last year voted to support the proposal to change our local waste hauler system to one of a contract with the town that includes curbside compost pick up and a pay-as-you-throw fee structure. It started out as a proposal from Zero Waste Amherst but then morphed into an official town bylaw proposal. It’s now being officially considered in the Town Services and Outreach Committee. The Board of Health and Energy and Climate Action Committee voted to support the proposal along with community groups like the League, the HItchcock Center, the Amherst Common Share Food Coop and lots of faith groups. Zero Waste Amherst just conducted a survey of over 500 Amherst households to collect data to support the proposal and will be presenting it on March 23. The goal is to reduce our waste overall by at least 40%.

The Sustainability and Climate Action Committee (SACAC) is doing a bang up job of following climate actions in town - in particular supporting a yes vote on May 2 on the new zero energy elementary school building. Amherst is very much on the forefront of communities taking on decarbonization of town buildings.

We’re also including a report every couple of months in the ebull to let you all know what’s happening officially in town and what our various climate action groups are working on. See the February issue for the latest update.

~ Darcy Dumont, SC Chair of the Month
Photograph (posted here in honor of Women's History Month) shows suffrage and labor activist Flora Dodge "Fola" La Follette (1882-1970), social reformer and missionary Rose Livingston and a young striker during a garment strike in New York City in 1913.
"14-yr. old striker, Fola La Follette, and Rose Livingston" in Library of Congress https://lccn.loc.gov/2014692415 No known restrictions on publication.
Upcoming Events

The Charter Review Task Force has developed a survey to ascertain residents' opinions regarding Amherst’s Council/Manager form of government under the 2017 Home Rule Charter, in light of good government principles. The survey is in anticipation of the town’s review of the Charter scheduled for 2024 when the Council will consider whether any portions of the charter should be amended or revised.

We ask that you share with your groups and networks so that we can get responses from a representative sample of the town.

We will also send the survey to elected town officials, as well as staff. The deadline to respond is April 17, Patriot’s Day.

We will host a public forum to share the results and take public comments. In addition, a researcher is compiling information on the other towns that share our Council/Manager form of government. Those results will also be shared.

Thank you for your participation.
~ Phyllis Lehrer
Poll workers needed! Please consider being a poll worker for the May 2nd Amherst election. Email Amber Martin, Amherst Assistant Town Clerk for details.
New Elementary School Project Discussion:

On April 13 at 4 p.m., Sue Lowery, on behalf of Amherst Neighbors and the League of Women Voters Amherst is pleased to host Adrienne Terrizzi and Cathy Schoen for a special discussion of the issues surrounding the new elementary school project in Amherst and its impact on our community.

Adrienne led the Amherst League of Women Voters working group in comparing our local policy positions on Education and Schools and Energy, comparing those with the new school building project and the ways it will impact our residents. Cathy, as a Town Council member, has led the Elementary School Committee on behalf of the Council. 
Together they bring decades of experience in education, public policy and advocacy for communities across the continuum of socioeconomic spectrum.

LWVA recently voted to support both a yes vote and attempts on the part of the Town Council to mitigate the effect on taxpayers by utilizing funds from the Town's Cash Reserves. 
To register for this program, which is free and open to the public, click here.

Join Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman and special guest Elementary School Building Committee member and Town Councilor Cathy Schoen. Come to discuss or ask your questions about the elementary school building project or other town related topics.
When: Friday, March 24th 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m., drop in or out anytime
Where: Bangs Community Center - Large Activity Room
All are welcome!
News from our Committees

Read February's LWV Health Care Reform for the US Caucus Newsletter. For this month, we explore health care in rural areas, especially what it might mean for hastening fundamental change in health care administration. That is, it is not a description of how health systems are working in a rural setting, but rather a brief round-up of examples where they aren't working. We want to bring attention to what might be a brief window of opportunity to change directions. For now, the hopeful note in the slogan of National Rural Health Day, "the Power of Rural," still resonates, especially if the public sector has less competition from the commercial sector and its lobbyists. However, the non-profit financial watchdog organization, Private Equity Stakeholders Project, (PESP) has sounded the alarm that Private Equity is already "descending" on rural health. Their mission is to do the research and also work with communities to bring about change. 

The newsletter also shares a couple of pieces from our "mailbag" which continue the theme of greed that seems to be all over the media. This month, it's big Pharma Greed and unpunished insurance fraud [read on].

Please note: Our Judy Brooks Series discussion: "Striving for Equity" was postponed due to the foul weather and regional power outages. We will reschedule this event asap. Stay tuned!

Twelve League members just finished the Stolen Beam Course, facilitated by League members: Andrea Battle and Jeff Gold. The course focused on the legacy of slavery, what was stolen, and what may be owed. It was excellent, with deep and thoughtful discussion of the history and present-day examples of the structural racism upon which our country was founded. The readings and video presentations were rich and pointed. We all have gained a much deeper understanding. 
The Jones Library will be offering the Stolen Beam again (see below). We encourage more Leaguers to take the course as a first step toward greater understanding. A second step is a Study Group on Reparations that the members who attended the Amherst League Program Planning meeting voted to support. We are hoping for a state-wide study, but if that doesn’t happen, we propose a local/regional study with other local leaguers who have expressed interest.

If you are interested in pursuing any of these learning experiences, please join in! 

The Stolen Beam Series at the Jones Library
Thursdays, April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11
7– 8:20 p.m. on zoom

The goal of the series is educational engagement with a narrative of US racial history that is different from what many of us learned in our schooling. The class will focus on the legacy of African enslavement, what was stolen, what may be owed, and historical examples of reparations. For more information click here.

The annual report of the Connecticut River Conservancy for 2022 provides much information that is both interesting and helpful in providing greater detail about events and activities affecting the river. In addition to the statistics about last fall's Source to Sea river cleanup reported here last month, the Conservancy and its volunteers removed three dams, restored 10 acres of hayfield to floodplain forest, planted 9,600 trees, removed 900,000 water chestnut rosettes, located 237 sea lamprey nests in 6 tributaries of the Connecticut River, rescued 458 larvae and juvenile lamprey restoring them to their migration to the sea. Volunteers collected over 1,200 water samples for chemical analysis and conducted 1,737 E.coli tests at 201 sites across four states. The annual report is available on the Conservancy’s website at www.ctriver.org.

April 15–22 is International Dark Skies Week! Turning our outdoor lights off at night is a simple thing we can do to positively effect our health and the health of our ecosystems:

"It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive." Read more at the International Dark Skies Association.

Read also: Night Skies Are Even Brighter than We Thought by the National Audubon Society.
Better Together: Building an Inclusive Electorate

Mark your Calendar Now for Convention: Saturday, June 10, 2023

LWVMA leaders are excited to announce that the LWVMA Convention will be held in-person for the first time since 2019! We are looking forward to re-connecting with many of you – it’s been a very long four years! This Convention will be hybrid, so there is an option to participate virtually.

Where:  Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA & Zoom

When:  Saturday, June 10, 2023
  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (in-person)
 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Zoom)

Why: Participate in interactive break-out sessions on important topics
    Plan the program and pass the budget for the next biennium
    Elect LWVMA Officers and Directors 
Town Hall Series

How do bills actually get passed? How does LWVMA select their supported and priority bills? Bring your questions and curiosity to our next LWVMA Town Hall Series: The Massachusetts Legislature. We will break this topic into two sessions.

Part 1, How the MA Legislature Works featuring State Senator Liz Miranda, will take place on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom.  March 21: How the MA Legislature Works

Part 2, LWVMA Supported Legislation 2023-24, will take place on Wednesday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. March 29: Bills LWVMA supports 

Submit questions ahead of time via email to specialists@lwvma.org.
LWV's Criminal Justice Position: Overview and Advocacy Considerations

An overview of the League’s criminal justice position adopted at 2022 Convention. This webinar is geared towards state and local Leagues looking to do criminal justice work for the first time, or who would like additional considerations for their advocacy work.
Webinar 3–4 p.m. Register at this link.
Suffrage Board Game: Now Available:
Appropriate for Women’s History Month!

Votes for Women is a new board game highlighting the women's suffrage movement, produced by Fort Circle Games in Washington, DC, and partnered with LWVUS. The game can be purchased for $75 (including shipping) online. Learn more about the game and designer Tory Brown at www.lwv.org
2/28/2023 LWVUS Joins Sign-on Letter Urging Congress to Support Environmental Investments in the 2023 Farm Bill

LWVUS joined nearly 650 other groups on a letter to House and Senate agriculture committee leadership urging that they protect investments in climate-smart agriculture and conservation in the 2023 Farm Bill. Read the letter here.

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.

Darcy Dumont, At-Large
Trish Farrington, At-Large
Rebecca Fricke, At-Large
Marla Jamate, Social Media
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Susan Lowery, At-Large
Susan Millinger, LWVMA and LWVUS liaison 
Leslie Nyman, Recorder
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Jessica Ryan, e-Bulletin editor
David Shanabrook, Treasurer
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Phyllis Lehrer, Sue Lowery, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to this month's e-Bulletin include LWVA members: Darcy Dumont, Sue Lowery, and Susan Millinger. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from Mass League Action newsletter and lwvma.org; League Update and lwvus.org, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.