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So far Vanessa Keillor has created 69 blog entries.

Northampton Pride Parade Defies Rain, Marches On

Article printed in Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 8, 2017. By Morgan Hughes NORTHAMPTON — Despite the threat of rain, an estimated 30,000 people were out on the streets for the 36th annual Northampton Pride Parade, which kicked off at noon Saturday. Tens of thousands of cheerful and colorfully decorated people lined up around Main and Bridge streets to celebrate and advocate for the LGBTQ community. “My moms are gay and I support other people who are gay,” said Maya Lieberman Bachman, 14, enjoying an unobstructed view from the bed of a pickup truck in front of TD Bank on Main Street before the parade. “I like being here for the fun of it, and being able to support people.” With a “Born This Way” flag hung behind their lawn chairs as they cheered and waved, Maya, her friend Jane Techu, [...]

By | 2017-05-10T12:14:29+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Immigrants Tell Stories of Gain, Loss

Article printed in Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 2, 2017. By Nicole DeFeudis NORTHAMPTON — Since immigrating from Mexico 12 years ago, Leninn Torres Eliosa has worked to build himself a life in the United States. He learned English, got married and even obtained his driver’s license. However, Torres Eliosa faces a big problem: he cannot visit his home country. As an undocumented immigrant, Torres Eliosa marched with about 200 others in support of immigrant and workers’ rights at the May Day general workers strike. Organized by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, the strike consisted of various events, including a march to City Hall at 1:30 p.m. Standing in the crowd outside City Hall, Torres Eliosa told of the hardships he has encountered as an immigrant. On his shirt, he wore a sticker that read, “Same struggle, same fight, workers and [...]

By | 2017-05-10T12:10:25+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Voices United Against Hate

A Statement from the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts The news this past week has been filled with threats and violence against our neighbors and friends.  We are devastated by the reports of bomb threats to 29 Jewish Community Centers around our country last week including a threat that resulted in the evacuation of our Springfield JCC on Friday, March 3, 2017.  We are appalled at extensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries, threats and vandalism against Muslim communities and mosques, and the killing of seven transgender people since the start of 2017, most of them trans women of color.  Our Muslim friends are newly vulnerable in the wake of our President’s updated travel ban from six muslim-majority countries and full-stop denial of entry to immigrants from Syria and other war-torn countries. As members of our diverse faith communities, we are alarmed [...]

By | 2017-03-09T13:30:30+00:00 March 9th, 2017|Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Journey to the Heart of Lent

Welcome to our Lenten Devotional. From March 3-5, teens from all over Massachusetts gathered at the Craigville Retreat Center and spent the weekend thinking deeply about how we can all become more loving people.  They formed 6 working groups - one for each week of Lent - and each group focused on a particular kind of love.  Through music, written reflections, recipes, art, spiritual practices, prayers, suggestions for contemplation, and calls to action, we hope to challenge and inspire you to practice loving in new and deeper ways. We invite you to join us as we explore ways to better love ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our enemies, our earth, and ultimately our God. May we journey together into the heart of Lent, that we might emerge this Easter with a renewed commitment to love one another as Jesus has [...]

By | 2017-03-02T14:14:51+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Lenten Devotionals|0 Comments

600 gather for climate action in Northampton

By STEPHANIE MURRAY  @StephMurr_Jour  Printed in the Saturday, January 28, 2017 NORTHAMPTON — If there were ever a time to get involved in the fight against climate change, it appeared to be Saturday for Valley residents. Some 600 people packed First Churches on Main Street for “Climate Action in a Time of Crisis,” a panel made up of local leaders and experts to address the dangers of, and solutions to, climate change. Climate forums typically attract some 40 to 50 people in the city, but Saturday’s event drew 10 times that number. “This is the fight of our lives, folks,” said panelist Marty Nathan of Climate Action NOW. Additional panelists were state Senate President Stan Rosenberg, newly elected state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, and Smith College Professor Nat Fortune. Lilly Lombard moderated the panel. “At this moment, we are faced with [...]

By | 2017-02-08T13:27:13+00:00 January 31st, 2017|Environment, News, Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Help for Syria Urged at Northampton Rally

By JACK SUNTRUP @JackSuntrup Daily Hampshire Gazette, Sunday, December 18, 2016 NORTHAMPTON — A world away from Aleppo, Syria, Zaid AlNassar stood behind a microphone Sunday and in Arabic tried to convey an unimaginable feeling: the pain of a relentless war that has ripped apart his homeland. Wind swept in and clouds churned overhead as about 100 people huddled in front of First Churches of Northampton, endeavoring to do what they could to help put an end to Syria’s civil war. “The pain and the bloodshed is unimaginable in Syria and in Aleppo,” AlNassar said through a translator. “Every day hundreds and hundreds of people die.” AlNassar, 37, who now lives in Westfield with his wife and five children, said he and his family were resettled in Massachusetts two years ago from Daraa, Syria, a city credited with helping spark [...]

By | 2016-12-19T09:59:46+00:00 December 19th, 2016|News|0 Comments

Common Ground in the News

By Heather Adams | Hadams@masslive.com  Follow on Twitter on September 26, 2016 at 10:40 AM As the sun begins to set, approximately two dozen people line picnic tables topped with fresh tomatoes, bread and fruits in the middle of Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden. Most of the food at the dinner was grown in the community garden by members of Common Ground, a farm-to-table dinner church through First Churches of Northampton. Read the full story here

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:57+00:00 September 26th, 2016|Common Ground, News|0 Comments

Green Party Presidential Candidate Speaks at First Churches

“The mythology is hold your nose and vote for the lesser evil and things will get better. “Lesser evil” politicians have been speaking for us and they are bought and paid for by their corporate influences consisting of “predatory banks, the fossil fuel giants, the war profiteers and the health insurance industry.” — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaking during a campaign appearance at First Churches in Northampton Sept. 18, 2016 Photo by Kevin Gutting- The Valley Advocate   Photo Credit, Kevin Gutting for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, September 19, 2016 The Daily Hampshire Gazette: Monday, September 19, 2016 Story by Luis Feldman for The Gazette NORTHAMPTON — Green-Rainbow Party nominee for president Jill Stein spoke at the First Churches in Northampton on Sunday night with a message: Vote for the greater good, not the lesser evil. [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:57+00:00 September 20th, 2016|News|0 Comments