Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Northampton Women/Iraqi Women

Celia Miller is best known in Northampton (and throughout the northeast) for her work as a musician. Celia is shown below/right singing at The Elevens with Kim Zombik and the funk band Unit 7. But lately, she and a group of her friends have been raising money and raising consciousness about the atrocities being committed against women in post-invasion Iraq. Recently, they held a house party and raised $150 for the Organization of Womens Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). More events are planned, so keep your eyes open.

Yanar Mohammed is the founder of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq. She is a powerful spokesperson in an international campaign to end atrocities against women in that war-torn and increasingly fundamentalist country. Rape, abduction, beheadings, and honor killings by family members have become far more common since the invasion. According to Yanar Mohammed, the Iraqi constitution sanctions Sharia law in family matters, leaving women little or no secular judicial protection. OWFI, as part of its mission, runs secret shelters and operates an underground railway to spirit women out of the country. Yanar Mohammed's life has been threatened repeatedly, yet she continues to openly speak out for women's human rights in Iraq. We spoke to Yanar Mohammed live on the air. Click on the arrow below to use the embedded player, or listen to the file in quicktime by clicking here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Housing on Hospital (erhh, Village) Hill

Couldn't make it to the planning board meeting? Hmm. Up on the hill, "Eastview" (12-unit Craftsman-style townhomes) and "Morningside" (11 Victorian-style single-family homes) are being built by Wright Builders and marketed by Goggins Real Estate in collaboration with Mass Development. This represents the first phase of residential housing on the hill. Construction will begin in spring of 2008. All of the buildings are LEED certified. (note: have been informed that this is not entirely accurate--see comment)

According to Jack Hornor, in a post to the Paradise City Forum, The goal for rental units at Village Hill is 25% market and 75% affordable, while the goal for home ownership units is 75% market and 25% affordable. The overall goal for the project is 50% market and 50% affordable.

According to Wright Builders' literature, the two-bedroom units will start in the low 300s and the 4-bedroom houses in the low 500s. The balance of affordable and market-rate units will be built over the course of the next 3-5 years.

Clare Higgins and Bill Dwight

On January 20, 2008, Mayor Clare Higgins and former Northampton city councilor (and current radio talk show host) Bill Dwight descended into the basement of the Florence Community Center to visit Valley Free Radio and while away a perfectly good evening speaking live on the Community Radio Hour. The Bill Dwight Show can be heard every weekday morning on WHMP, 1440 AM, between 9 and 10.

I apologize for the slightly clipped audio, mea culpa, had the levels a bit high on my recorder.

Newspapers of New England and the Dwight Family; The Hotel RFP

Paolo asks: Why is there no city committee for labor and wage issues?

Is there pressure to conform on the City Council?

What's up with the Meals Tax?

Mayor Higgins: Are You Hoping for a State-Level Position?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Greetings from Active Ingredients Media

Audio and recording engineer (and licensed ham radio operator) Ed Russell started Valley Free Radio several years ago in collaboration with Wilton Hall. Some stories suggest that Mr. Russell was at one point in the habit of pirating, from a number of undisclosed locations, Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" using a stash-able roll-up antenna and a battery-powered transmitter, but Mr. Russell states that all such claims are baseless. Ed continues to produce a show which runs every Monday evening at 6 pm on VFR, WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM. "Active Ingredients" features high-quality voice recordings of politically progressive and radical writers and activists who come through the Pioneer Valley region on speaking tour.

Ed sets up his 2-channel Tascam field recorder, a Sennheiser dynamic mic at the podium, and uses a shotgun mic to capture audience Q and A. Sometimes he is able to take a line out from house sound--but house sound in many venues can be problematic, revealing noise from sources such as bad mic cables or ground loops. On at least one occasion, my flash memory audio recorder--a pocket-sized device with 4 built-in mic capsules--has actually come in handy. (Don't tell anybody.)

If I make enough of a nuisance of myself, Ed (who got me started in the art of field recording and audio production, after I relentlessly bothered him via telephone) will sometimes deign to share my company on a recording gig. Recently we traveled to Amherst Community Television, where the Amherst League of Women Voters sponsored a televised appearance of John Bonifaz, legal director of the Amherst-based national non-profit Voter Action.

Attorney Bonifaz' talk was entitled "Who Owns our Elections? The Struggle to Reclaim our Vote and our Democracy." Click on the photo to stream the words of John Bonifaz , or listen to the mp3 from here:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Greeting from the New Haven Independent

The times they are a changin'... not too long ago, there were few sources of local news in the Paradise City. Now, with new democratic forms of media available to anyone with a camera, a recorder, and an internet connection, information and commentary can be readily shared throughout the community.

I am impressed with the work of Paul Bass, the founder of The New Haven Independent (www.newhavenindependent.org), which is a web-based portal for high-quality local news reporting. His enterprise is funded entirely by grants and sponsorships. He, and a group of 4-5 journalists, prolifically post audio, video, and news writing to the site, and aggregate it all to an rss feed.

Here is Paul Bass himself, wondering what Martin Luther King would think of today's political climate in New Haven:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DA Rules Reckman Not In Violation of Open Meeting Law; Park Redesign Inspires Local Orators; LaBarge Passed Over in Ordinance Committee Selection

(note: embedded flash player at bottom of post for those who are having trouble with direct mp3 links)

Assistant DA Cynthia Pepeyne has ruled that City Councilor Bob Reckman was not in violation of Massachusetts Open Meeting Law in the weeks prior to his being sworn in to office. She did, however, warn him that, as a City councilor, he would be held to a higher standard....

Blogger Daryl LaFleur (northampton redoubt) checked in with the Community Radio Hour to report on this topic, as well as the subject of councilor Ray LaBarge's being passed over for appointment to the ordinance committee by newly-elected council president Jim Dostal. Click here for the .mp3:
Daryl Reports In

Paolo Mastrangelo borrowed the Zoom H2 to collect audio at the January 9 special BPW meeting on the Pulaski Park redesign. The first half of Sunday's show consisted of a produced half-hour of sound, featuring the words of those who stood and spoke at this meeting, including Claudio Lefko, Tris Metcalfe, and others. Hear cameo snippets by Mayor Clare Higgins, Gene Tacy, and Ed Shanahan...
radio show, 1-13-08

The song "Back to America" is written and performed By John Coster, and can be downloaded here.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

individual councilors speak

I spoke with Councilors Bardsley, Marianne LaBarge, Ray LaBarge, Maureen Carney, David Murphy, and James Dostal after Tuesday's City Council meeting adjourned. I asked why they voted as they did in the 6-3 decision to elect James Dostal as Council President, ousting 4-term president Michael Bardsley.

Councilor Paul Spector

Councilor Maureen Carney

Councilor David Murphy

Councilor Marianne LaBarge

Councilor Ray LaBarge

Councilor James Dostal, newly elected City Council President

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dostal Elected; Bardsley Removed

(Television Production by NCTV, post-production Mary Serreze)