Around the Hamptons: Student organizes ‘Bigger than Roe’ rally in Northampton; Easthampton gets fire education grants; Blueprint Easthampton now under Chamber’s wing

By EMILY THURLOW

Staff Writer

Published: 01-18-2023 4:21 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Hampshire Regional High School junior is again stepping up in the name of reproductive rights and organizing a “Bigger than Roe” Women’s March sister rally on Sunday at City Hall in Northampton.

Last May, Alice Jenkins of Westhampton organized a Women’s Wave rally in Northampton at which 150 people rallied for reproductive rights one month before the midterm.

Sunday’s event, which is being held in collaboration with progressive advocacy group Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western Massachusetts, is being held to reflect upon the last year of reproductive rights on what would have been Roe’s 50th anniversary, said Jenkins. The Northampton protest is one of several marches held around the country led by the National Women’s March.

When the Women’s March first announced this day of action, the 17-year-old Jenkins said she initially began emailing local organizations and politicians asking for someone to step up and take the lead on local Bigger than Roe Rally.

“As a full-time high school student and student-athlete, organizing a rally really wasn’t something I thought I had time for, but it is one of those things important enough to make time for,” she said.

Fortunately, Beth Lev, one of the leaders of Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western Massachusetts, responded to Jenkins by saying she was interested in helping her with the project and they got to work right away.

“I believe that people should rally, should show up in the streets, because it demonstrates the strength of our commitment to women having control over our own bodies all the time, including when we’re pregnant,” Lev said in an emailed statement. “(It also shows) that women don’t need or want the government intruding into our doctor’s offices, and that women, not the government, should decide whether and when to have, or add to our families. Abortion is also basic, life saving healthcare, and should be prescribed based on medical need, not political/religious opinion.”

The rally will begin at 1 p.m. at City Hall and includes speakers from Amherst-based youth-led group Generation Ratify, Planned Parenthood of Western Massachusetts, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, and state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton.

Blueprint Easthampton shifts operations

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EASTHAMPTON — The city’s entrepreneurial initiative to support those in the informal economy and micro-businesses, Blueprint Easthampton, is shifting its operations to the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce.

The Blueprint initiative was launched shortly after the National League of Cities selected Easthampton as part of its City Innovation Ecosystem program in 2020. The program was designed to drive entrepreneurship and innovation.

Blueprint Easthampton currently features an online navigator that’s designed to connect entrepreneurs to find resources such as mentors, financing and marketing.

The shift of operations means that the chamber will now be administering the program, said Moe Belliveau, executive director of the chamber. This partnership allows informal and microbusinesses to expand and diversify, including English and Spanish curricula, local technical support, and co-working space, she added.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber was awarded a $5,000 MassDevelopment grant to convert its space on Union Street into affordable and flexible professional workspace into what’s now referred to as the “WorkHub.”

From here, the goal will be to use the WorkHub interchangeably as an educational space.

Easthampton receives fire education grants

EASTHAMPTON — The Fire Department was awarded state funding to support its fire education programming for children and older adults.

Easthampton Fire received $4,381 for its Student Awareness of Fire Education, or SAFE, program and $2,277 for its Senior SAFE program.

Fire Chief Christopher Norris said that both programs are critical in the department’s ongoing efforts to educate the community about potential injury from fire. With the programs, the department partners with the school department and the Council on Aging to increase awareness.

Members of the fire department have also conducted car seat installation for injury prevention, installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes of individuals over the age of 65, and helped install lockboxes in the community.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.]]>