A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
January | 2023
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From Chair of the Month, Trish Farrington
   February a dull month? Some may think so. But they would be mistaken. At least not for the League and the community we serve.  We carry on with our consideration of and planning for current and future ventures, such as the charter review, book sale, climate action, single payer health care. Boring? Never! More about these committees in the rest of the bulletin.

And what about February celebrations? It is time for the annual Amherst League Birthday Party. We have been going strong for 84 years! Talk about a reason to revel. On Saturday, February 11, at 3:30 we will have a Zoom get together with Mindy Domb, our state representative, as speaker. Along with the ever interesting Mindy there will be a humorous birthday quiz, and all the food and decorations you can provide at your home. Because it is a virtual meeting, everyone in the community is invited. Spread the Word.

As part of the publicity I send out about all our events, I always include the phrase, "Spread the Word" because that is how people learn about what is going on, find out what their friends and neighbors are doing, and hear about something that may interest them. I want to Spread the Word here about our Racial Justice Committee's Judy Brooks Conversation Series. These monthly discussions are in the evening on Zoom, about an hour long, and have time for questions and answers. The discussions are recorded so you can always tune in at another time if more convenient (lwvamherst.org). The topics are diverse, relevant, and led by fluent, well-informed speakers. Here are some recent examples that I have enjoyed and learned from: Lev Ben Ezra, director of the Survival Center on Food Insecurity, Directors of the Western Mass Abortion Rights Fund on Framing Reproductive Rights for Today, Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker, on a project to eliminate voter suppression. The RJC has done a wonderful job choosing topics and finding just the right people to present. So I encourage you to look for the announcements of these events and tune in. Again, Spread The Word.

~ Trish Farrington, SC Chair of the Month
Upcoming Events

The LWV Amherst is now accepting applications for 2023 Civic Action Grants up to $2,500 for projects that are directly related to the League's priority programs. For more information and application forms:
Members Meeting for Program Planning February 23

It’s that time again: time to plan our priorities for advocacy and education for our next League year, June 2023–24. (We have a tendency to think “program planning” is about planning events but it is instead about setting our priorities.

Every year we set our local priorities; on odd-numbered years we also send our responses to the State’s proposed biennial priorities and goals; on even-numbered years we respond to the National League’s biennial proposals.
We’ll be meeting virtually on Thursday, February 23 at 7 p.m. to discuss and vote on these proposals. Check our web page lwvamherst.org, the link will be added soon.

Do we want to express our continued interest in the areas on which our committees and concerned individuals are working? They are affordable housing, climate action and sustainability, the health of the Connecticut River and its watershed, racial justice, single payer healthcare, and the current task force’s review of town government. Think about whether you would like to see us add (or subtract) a priority.

If you’d like to see the proposed priorities and goals the State League has sent us for the biennium 2023-2025, you will find them at this link.

Local Leagues can also propose a study to the State at this time. The purpose of a study, normally a two-year project, is to see whether we want the State to adopt a position on an issue on which neither the State nor National has a position. When we have an established position, we can advocate for it.

Several members of the Amherst League have suggested we propose to the State a study on Reparations. What do you think? Your vote at the meeting can help determine whether or not we propose it.
News from our Committees
Happy New Year! Let’s keep pushing to reduce Amherst’s trash by at least 40%!

Zero Waste Amherst is conducting a new survey, the goal of which is to collect data about trash, recycling and compost collection in Amherst. The survey is being done to assist the town in adopting a system of town contracted waste hauling that could dramatically reduce our waste. As an endorser of the Zero Waste Amherst hauler proposal, we are asking our members, who are Amherst residents, to fill out the survey, it takes about 5–10 min to answer the questions.
Don't Miss This Presentation by LWVA's Own, Martha Hanner:
You're invited!

What: The Amherst Climate Justice Alliance Kick Off 
When: Saturday, February 11, 11:30a.m.–1:30p.m. 
Where: Jones Library Woodbury Room
RSVP: Here

The ACJA KickOff Event is an opportunity to meet and network with local groups and individuals—young and old—concerned about climate action and justice on a local and global level.

The Plan:

Introductory Climate Art!
Land Acknowledgement
Climate Panel with Senator Jo Comerford and representatives from:
  • Sunrise Movement
  • Amherst Energy and Climate Action Committee
  • The Native Land Conservancy

The Amherst Climate Justice Alliance (ACJA) is a newly formed coalition with the mission to support accelerated, effective climate action by the Town of Amherst, identify priority strategies and actions for the Town to take, help foster a community-wide, unified commitment to significantly lowering our public and private carbon footprints, and prioritize racial and economic justice.  

Current members of the ACJA include Amherst Sunrise, Climate Action Now, Extinction Rebellion, First Congregational church, Jewish Community of Amherst, Local Energy Advocates, Mothers Out Front, Progressive Coalition of Amherst, Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst Green Sanctuary Committee, UMass Sunrise, and Zero Waste Amherst.

Amherst Jones Library Woodbury Room from 11:30–1:30 on February 11th, 2023.
Rally for the Climate

You may have read in a recent issue of The Hampshire Gazette of the activist and legislator virtual Rally for the Climate held on January 11th. As the article indicated, the highlight of the event was the appearance of the new Climate Chief, Melissa Hoffer, only a few days into her new job in a cabinet-level position. Massachusetts is the first state to have such a position in the governor’s cabinet.

If you’d like to hear the comments of Hoffer and the legislators present, a link will be available in the February issue, or contact Susan Millinger. 
The Gazette article commented on the presence of “legislators and activists from across the state, including many from western Massachusetts.” There were certainly activists from western Massachusetts in attendance, but no legislators (although now-Senator Paul Mark’s Green Bank was mentioned.)  It might be helpful to write our legislators and indicate that we hope in the future they will demonstrate in word and action the importance of the climate to them and to us. 

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, one of the sponsors, was represented there by Launa Zimmaro, LWVMA’s Legislative Action Committee’s specialist on Climate and Energy. You may remember that Launa talked to us several years ago about state legislation on the climate.  At the rally, she spoke of the prime importance of educating the public, legislators, and the regulators who turn legislation into action.

~ Susan Millinger
Judy Brooks Conversation Series

Please join our public Judy Brooks Conversations, to learn more about issues of equity and inclusion affecting our community. You can register at lwvamherst.org  Start time 7p.m.  

Recordings of previous Conversations are available at lwvamherst.org

  •   January 18: Dean Sudha Setty, “Our Fragile Democracy and the Role of an Engaged Citizenry”
  •   February 14: Prof. Whitney Battle-Baptiste,  Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Center, "Balancing Data & Democracy: the Restorative Work of W. E. B. Du Bois & the Importance in This Moment"  
  •   March 14: Amherst’s DEI Dept. Director Pamela Young & Asst. Director Jennifer Moyston
  • April, May, June, are in the planning stage 
Conversations about Reparations 

The Stolen Beam* series for LWVA members began January 5. The first session focused on the systematic government housing segregation during the twentieth century.

Since Reparations is a national issue, we have discussed the possibility of initiating a League study, with the long-term goal of creating a League policy position. A LWVMA study could be the way to begin.  Jeff Gold has been invited to describe the Stolen Beam series at the March LWVMA DEI Peer Group Discussion.

*The name "Stolen Beam" is a reference to a Talmudic debate about the right thing to do when we discover that the house in which we live was built with stolen materials, "a stolen beam."
Changing the Narrative

The RJC has been discussing how we can change the narrative in Amherst from “anti-racism training” to a more positive approach, focused more on individual dialogue. There are many creative ways to get people talking about racial issues. The workshops offered by the Sojourner Truth School are one example: www.truthschool.org This is an on-going discussion topic for RJC in 2023. Your thoughts are welcome!

~ Martha Hanner, for the Racial Justice Committee
Book Sale Committee Planning Meeting Coming Up!

It’s not too early to start planning for this summer’s Book Sale.

The Book Sale is extremely important for the Amherst League. We offer a service for Amherst and surrounding towns; many people know us only from the Sale. The Sale provides an opportunity for League members, friends of the League, and booklovers in general to come together in community to work, to see old friends, and make new ones. And it’s an important source of funds for League projects.

The first Book Sale Committee Meeting is planned for early February. Within the next week, if you indicated on your membership renewal form that you were interested in the Committee, you should receive a doodle poll to set a date and time. If you haven’t received a link for the poll by January 30, and you are interested in joining—or at least listening in on—the Committee, contact the co-chair at this link.
Many of you who receive this ebulletin are friends but not members of the League. Remember that working at the sale is open to all interested people.

Criminal justice issues are liable to be important this legislative session.
The Letter to the Governor begins: 

Dear Governor Healey,

We at the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) congratulate you on your successful campaign and wish you well in your governorship.
As you develop your leadership team and policy priorities, we ask you to turn your attention to the Department of Correction (DOC) and the management of the Commonwealth’s correctional facilities. By all accounts, treatment of those in custody is often excessively punitive, physical
and mental health care is generally inadequate, and family connections are often limited and/or restricted unnecessarily….

Read the rest of the our letter at this link.
Save the Date for LWVMA Convention

LWVMA Convention: New Date to Save – June 10
Convention this year will be a one-day only event, either hybrid or virtual. New officers will be elected and the members present will vote on the proposed program for 2023–2025. Planning for a special speaker is underway now.  More information and a registration link will be available later.
2023 Women’s March January 22!

This year’s national Women’s March, “Bigger Than Roe,” will be on January 22, 2023, with actions taking place across the country. LWVUS will uplift the march on social media and OutreachCircle. As with any partner event, we want to ensure that actions we participate in are nonpartisan. So we request Leagues to use discretion as you participate in local events. 
Find your local march at this link, enter your zipcode. Northampton has the only march in our area: 1–2:30 at City Hall; RSVP for more info. There is also a virtual march at noon!
For questions, reach out to the organizing team: organizing@lwv.org. 
LWVUS Welcome to 118th Congress

You might be interested in reading the statement of our CEO, Virginia Kase Solomon, on the occasion of the opening of the 118th Congress. Find it at this link.
Virtual Pep Rally Birthday Celebration

LWVUS is organizing a pep rally on February 14 to celebrate the League’s birthday. If you’d like to join in, Register for the pep rally here
Impact on Issues: 2022–2024

At a special event on February 22 at 3 p.m., LWVUS will share a new, updated Impact on Issues document, which includes the updates made at the 2022 Convention. Impact on Issues contains all the national positions that we can use to advocate and educate, so it’s an invaluable document. Register here to attend at this link.
League of Women Voters rally in St. Louis Missouri Sept 13, 1920. Image in the public domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:League_of_Women_Voters_rally_in_St._Louis_Missouri_Sept_13,_1920.jpg

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.
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, Trish Farrington, Rebecca Fricke, Bonnie Isman, Martha Hanner, Susan Millinger, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from Mass League Action newsletter and lwvma.org; League Update and lwvus.org, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.