Ruthy Woodring: Northampton offers ‘fertile ground’ for dreams

  • Ruthy Woodring of Pedal People. FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/14/2020 11:34:08 AM

Thank you to the Gazette, the United Way, and others for choosing me for the Frances Crowe Award. Remembering Frances’ consistent, creative commitment to peace, I am honored to be considered in her lineage. I would also like to congratulate fellow person of the year recipients Mathieu Johnson and Stephany Marryshow for their work to meet community needs for health and freedom, with PPE and with education around racial justice. 

As I write this, I am, for the month of October, in eastern Kentucky, on the mountain farm where I grew up. (Well, we’re not farming mountains, though I wish we could, to replace the ones exploded for coal.) When I consider the resources available to me every day in western Massachusetts, as compared to the resources presented to me growing up here in rural Appalachia, I am mesmerized. Like the flower depends on the bee, I depend on neighbors, public transportation, bike paths, farms and community gardens, self-improvement groups, cooperative groups, a walkable downtown where people meet gather. I depend on the political capital and connections, and the educational opportunities.

If I have a question about anything, there is someone I can ask, in person, who will have experience on the topic – whether it’s “How can I find/grow/share food?” or “How can we get out the vote?” or “How can I be a better listener?” or “How can my body legally be returned to the earth when I die?”

Northampton is like a walking internet. How Northampton became so rich, and what we can do with our wealth, are questions to ask every day. Each place has its specialness, and I love my southern Appalachian homeland, but Northampton has been fertile ground for many of my dreams to bear fruit. I want to thank people for their efforts to be kinder, more just, and, I hope, more joyful, in this community we share.

Ruthy Woodring


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