Around Amherst: Online discussion space CommonGround being launched

Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2023 3:26:01 PM
Modified: 6/2/2023 3:25:37 PM

AMHERST — An online platform for civic conversations about local matters is being launched jointly by Amherst Media and the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure, a research center at the University of Massachusetts.

CommonGround is the name of the partnership that will build community engagement and help residents stay connected.

The platform uses what is described as a “town-sized version” of Twitter, where community members write and reply to short-form text posts. CommonGround could become the primary online space for residents to host civic discussions important to them, instead of places like Facebook Groups and Nextdoor, where community members have less input in how the governing of their discussion space.

To start, CommonGround will be headed by Kevin Zheng, community manager for the Initiative, with content curation and moderation support from Amherst Media staff, said Amherst Media Executive Director Jim Lescault.

Members of the Amherst community are invited to sign up for CommonGround at, where the initial conversation is about rising housing costs.

Cuppa Joe conversation

Town Manager Paul Bockelman will be joined by Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director Pamela Nolan Young and Assistant Director Jennifer Moyston for an informal conversation around the initiatives of the office and other municipal topics at a Cuppa Joe on June 9 at 8:30 a.m.

People are invited to bring questions, concerns and ideas to the 90-minute session, to be held on the North Common in front of Town Hall.

In case of rain, Cuppa Joe will move to the Town Room at Town Hall.


Amherst’s Independence Day celebration and fireworks will be held in their traditional location near McGuirk Alumni Stadium on the University of Massachusetts campus, but the event will be held three days before the Fourth of July.

The July 1 event begins at 5 p.m., with fireworks shot off when it gets dark. Rain would push the event back a week.

Food, drinks and novelties will be sold, with vendors on hand to include Batch Ice Cream, La Mesa, Say Cheese!, Vinci’s Concessions, Big T’s Jerky House, Jackson Effie Coffee Cabin, Crooked Stick Pops and Hillio’s Novelties.

For more information, contact the Amherst Recreation Department at or 413-259-3065.

Those who would like to be a community sponsor to offset the costs should contact Recreation Director Rey Harp at 413-259-3138. Volunteers are also needed to set up, provide general help, oversee activities and clean up. To sign up or learn more, contact Senior Center Director Hayley Bolton at or 413-259-3114.

Birth of the Buddha

The New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett is holding a celebration of the Birth of the Buddha at 11 a.m. Sunday at the 100 Cave Hill Road site.

Those who participate will bathe the “Baby Buddha” with sweet tea in a ceremony that is reminiscent of the sweet nectar that poured down from the heavens when the Buddha was born in the garden of Lumbini.

Presidential Libraries & Museums program

The Jones Library has an ongoing series of virtual presentations on Presidential Libraries & Museums on Tuesdays from 2 to 3 p.m.

The next one on Tuesday will focus on “Gender Equality & the Carter Administration with the Carter Presidential Library,” followed on June 13 by “The Story of the Herbert Hoover Family with the Hoover Presidential Library.”

This event is a collaboration of a number of Massachusetts libraries, organized by the Tewksbury Public Library. To register for the program, go to

For more information, get in touch with Janet Ryan, head of programming and outreach, at 413-259-3223.


MONDAY: Town Council, 6:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:30 p.m., hearing on request from Amherst Media for two-year extension on site plan review of project at Gray and Main streets

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m.

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