Harrisonburg’s First Non-Morose Anti-Death Penalty Event Is This Friday

Capital punishment is hardly a cheery topic, and so it’s somehow fitting that this Friday’s benefit for Virginians For Alternatives To The Death Penalty offers a lighter alternative to your typical straight-faced anti-death penalty event.

The fundraiser, called “Execute Art (Not People),” will begin at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 at Clementine Cafe in downtown Harrisonburg. A fashion show, featuring clothing from nine local designers and two downtown stores, is the evening’s main attraction.

Some comments from VADP President John Sheldon, a belly dancing performance and a closing set by the Harrisonburg band Preacher are also on the program. Throughout the night, a silent auction of donated art and other items will be running, and several artists and a photographer will be making sketches or portraits for the audience.

“It’s a way to be active in this cause without having to sit through a somber movie or something,” said Linell Patterson, a VADP board member from Harrisonburg who organized the event.

VADP is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to educate the public about alternatives to the death penalty. Patterson said more than 50 people have helped to organize the event, which has a fundraising goal of $15,000 for VADP.

Similar groups across the country have hosted like-minded “Execute Art (Not People)” gatherings within the past year.

Tickets for Friday night’s event cost $5 at the door.  For more information, or to become an event sponsor with a larger donation, visit www.firstgiving.com/execute_art.

FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming

On August 26, 2010 at a town hall meeting at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell stated, in response to a question I posed on global warming, that the science of anthropogenic climate change was debatable. When I countered that there was not significant debate on this issue, he replied, “I’m telling you, there is.”

At that same town meeting I also spoke with Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy, Maureen Matsen. She stated that the science is not clear that climate change is man made, going on to say that, in any event, addressing energy issues was synonymous with addressing anthropogenic climate change. The problem with this reply is that it implies that as long as we get the amount of energy we need, it does not matter that the source of energy is climate harming fossil fuels. When I suggested to her that the United States has hundreds of years of coal and natural gas, and, therefore, there would be no reason to develop renewables except for concern with greenhouse gases, she chose not to respond.

I thereupon sent freedom of information requests to both Governor McDonnell and the Secretary of Natural Resources, asking each to produce any documents they had to support their positions that anthropogenic climate change was invalid science or debatable. The response was: Continue reading “FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”

Harrisonburg- On Wednesday, a crowd of forty community members gathered in front of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Harrisonburg to call attention to Governor Bob McDonnell’s anti-immigrant, discriminatory policies including his recent decision to make it difficult for legal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Governor McDonnell has angered Virginia residents with his latest call for the DMV to deny federal Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) as a form of identification in obtaining a driver’s license which protesters say is an act of discrimination against all immigrants. The law causes significant risk for Virginians, especially those who are undocumented, and those on Temporary Protection Status from countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.

The protesters stood on the sidewalk in front of the DMV chanting Continue reading “Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”” »

This post was submitted by Julie Blust .

Immigration Reform Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg residents joined together at the local DMV location to protest Governor McDonnell’s attempts to deny drivers licenses to legal immigrants with work permits.   Isabel Castillo, local organizer, says in a Facebook status update, “We need to send the message that we will not sit idly by as persons who are doing the right thing are punished unjustly.”

The press release is below.  Please share comments about the event below. Continue reading “Immigration Reform Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg” »

This post was submitted by Julie Blust .

Harrisonburg “Climate Work Parties” Join Thousands Across the Planet

On October 10, people across the planet will pick up hammers, shovels, and caulking-guns and join the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, the world’s largest day of practical action to fight the climate crisis.

Here in Harrisonburg, three different events are planned for Sunday afternoon: Continue reading “Harrisonburg “Climate Work Parties” Join Thousands Across the Planet” »

This post was submitted by Elizabeth Scott.

Hydrofracking Continues to be Discussed by Citizens

WHSV TV3 is reporting that a citizen meeting today in Broadway focused on the status of hydrofracking in Rockingham County.  While a special use permit to allow hydrofracking remains tabled by the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors and Carrizo, the company proposing the drilling, decided to leave the area, citizens and community organizations met to discuss actions and legislation needed in case hydrofracking is revisisted in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As noted in the story, an aid to Delegate Tony Wilt says his office, “has not yet been contacted by either side about bringing the hydrofracking issue up in the General Assembly’s next session.”

The hydrofracking story is within the first 2:30 of the embedded video.

Bus Chartered for Rally to Restore Sanity

As previously reported, Shenandoah Valley residents are heading to Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity – now by the bus full.   Beginning at noon on October 30, the star of Emmy Award-winning TV program “The Daily Show,” will be hosting the event on the Mall in Washington, DC. A group of area residents, led by Lowell Fulks 7Generations PAC, have contracted for charter buses to bring attendees to the event.

Seats are priced at Continue reading “Bus Chartered for Rally to Restore Sanity” »

The Making of a 91-yr-old Activist

Maxine Keier, Photo by Diana Woodall

“I’m 91 years old and these are the scariest times of my life.” This statement made by Maxene Kleier of Bridgewater piqued my curiosity, so recently I arranged to interview her at her home. Why do some of us identify as activists, or progressives, and some don’t?

DW: You say you’ve been an activist since you were born?

MK: My parents both believed we all have an obligation to other people. My mother volunteered until she was in her late 70’s–for Meals on Wheels, for example. I was raised in that tradition. I think some of the problems of today are related to the fact that real caring for one another is not exactly held as a desirable value, as it could be. I’ve never seen such disregard for ethics as I see now.

We are living in a secular system, and any attempt to change it into a theocracy is very scary, and we do have that going on now. Continue reading “The Making of a 91-yr-old Activist” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic

Governor Bob McDonnell held a town meeting at JMU last week. I had an opportunity to ask him whether he was prepared to support policies that would reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming (see video inset).
In the course of his answer, he revealed that he thought it was still debatable as to whether climate change was anthropogenic (caused by man). This and other statements made it clear that none of his policies would be based on the assumption that man’s use of fossil fuels was the cause of climate change.

It is clear that this administration takes its cues from coal and the electric utilities that run largely on coal. McDonnell specifically stated that he is a “supporter of coal.” He more than once stated that no one Continue reading “Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking

An example of a hydrofracking site in New York

The Coffee Party, a national response to the infamous “Tea Party” movement, is a group who wants to see co-operation and positive solutions in government. A local chapter meets on the second Saturday of the month in Bridgewater.

On Saturday morning August 14, about 35 folks showed up to learn about the current status of the controversial natural gas mining process known as “hydro-fracking” in Rockingham county. The presenter was Kim Sandum, director of the Community Alliance for Preservation, or CAP.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “hydro-fracking,” is an industrial-scale process that involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into shale formations. This toxic brew, along with any natural gas, is then extracted, or leaked to the surface. There is great potential for contamination of sources of drinking water, among other hazards, including destruction or damage of national forest and small county roads. Continue reading “Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

8pm Press Conference and Rally for Returning DREAM Activists

  • WHAT: Press Conference and Rally for Returning DREAM Activists
  • WHERE: Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Corner of Wolfe and Mason Streets in Harrisonburg
  • WHEN: Wednesday, July 21st, 8:00pm
  • WHO: Speakers will include professors, parents, teachers, and students who support the DREAM Act
  • VISUAL: A crowd with signs asking Senators Webb and Warner to pass the DREAM Act, behind teachers, students, DREAM Activists, and parents speakers
Contact: Meghan McNamara, 847-922-1213

Local DREAM Act Proponent Among 21 Arrested in Hart Office Building

Updated based on Press Release from Meghan McNamara of Reform Immigration for America

Harrisonburg, VA – Twenty-one students were arrested yesterday in acts of civil disobedience to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act: legislation that allows citizenship status to youth whose parents brought them into the United States as children by their parents. One of those students was from Harrisonburg.  They  return tonight, and will hold a press conference, where and students, parents, professors and teachers will speak about the act of civil disobedience and why they believe so strongly that Congress should pass the DREAM Act this summer, and call on Senators Webb and Warner to cosponsor the bill.

Isabel Castillo, 25 of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was arrested at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 in Washington, D. C. with other college graduates.  Isabel and 4 others, who would be beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, were arrested by Capitol Police in Senator Harry Reid’s office. Other students were located in the offices of Senators Schumer, McCain, and other key Senators.  Castillo said of their action, “This is an act of peaceful civil disobedience.  We can wait no longer for the DREAM Act to pass.  We write letters, we hold marches, we visit our congressmen and what we hear is that we must continue to wait.” Continue reading “Local DREAM Act Proponent Among 21 Arrested in Hart Office Building” »

Then & Now: Founding Fathers Risk Life, Build a Nation

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Poll any audience today to all what they’d risk life for and easy answers roll off tongues—family, God, country.  But then widen the sacrifice:  what would you also risk your family, your bank account, your home for—not just yourself.  That answer is harder and few, very few, ever answer they would risk all for an idea, a theory.

Yet this is the question members of the Continental Congress answered on July 4, 1776, when they voted to make Jefferson’s final draft—after their revisions and input—the official Declaration of Independence.  They wouldn’t sign until August 2 after all 13 colonies had approved it, but on July 4, they sent the text to printer John Dunlap.  He typeset and ran 200 copies or “broadsides”—about the size of a sheet of newspaper and those broadsides were then carried by messengers on horseback to Continue reading “Then & Now: Founding Fathers Risk Life, Build a Nation” »

OCP Lawn Jam Underway

Our Community Place, a downtown nonprofit focused on supporting hungry and homeless people by providing basic needs and community, hosted its 7th annual Lawn Jam today. Complete with food, a live auction, volleyball tournament, balloon toss, and a yard sale, all proceeds support the nonprofit.

A highlight of the event was the “Slowest Bike Race”, featuring a dozen riders trying to be the last to complete a 10 yard distance. Video below:

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Continue reading “OCP Lawn Jam Underway” »

Project: Bus Tickets for Salvation Army Residents

My name is Grady Hart, I am a freshman at JMU and a member of JMU Amnesty International.  I am writing this letter in regard to the local Salvation Army, where I have been volunteering weekly for the last couple of months.

While volunteering there, it has come to my attention that very few of its residents even have bikes, much less cars. Unfortunately, they also have very little money, especially due to the less than ideal economic times right now. I have also noticed, however, that they do not seem discouraged by this fact, as some have still been able to find jobs and are now working for a better life for themselves, and in some cases, their families.

On a personal level, I find it inspiring that even in the situation in which they find themselves, where despite not having money for food or shelter, they still have the drive to pick themselves up and keep on fighting. This is why it pains me so greatly to see them hindered and often defeated by lack of such a simple yet vital resource as transportation, as their extremely modest incomes do not allow them the luxury of purchasing bus tickets to find jobs, to get to and from jobs, and to do other essential things such as visit doctors and family.

It is for this reason that I recently organized and hosted a benefit concert in Harrisonburg in order to raise money for the purchase of bus tickets for these more than deserving fellow Harrisonburg residents. In one night, through the good will and support of JMU students and other Harrisonburg residents alike, we raised almost $350, which will all go directly to the Salvation Army to purchase bus tickets for its residents.

While the concert was a great success, I do not view it as a long term solution, as about 40 bus tickets per week are needed, and at $20 for a book of 25 tickets, the funds will go dry after about eleven weeks.  To address this problem, I have contacted and been in conversations with the Mayor, Mr. Kai Degner, and am also planning to speak along with several other dedicated classmates at the next City Council meeting.

This is a large problem, and in order to resolve it, we will need the help and support of many more people than just my classmates and me. Ideally, I would like for these Salvation Army residents to be able to receive free bus tickets so long as they are using them for worthy causes, such as job searching, doctor appointments, or getting to and from work. However, I also understand that this is not an ideal world and compromises often must be made. I therefore believe that it is only through collaboration that a long term solution to this problem will be found. I call on everyone who reads this letter to please help join the fight.

Since I will be presenting at the next City Council meeting, one very easy way to help this worthy cause would be to contact Mayor Degner and the other council members, Vice-Mayor Baugh, Council Byrd, Council Frank, and Council Wiens to voice your support of free or discounted bus tickets for Salvation Army residents. The contact information of each resident can be found at the following web address.

As you can probably tell, I believe that this is a cause worth dedicating my time and energy to; I hope you will also find this to be true. Please help in any way that you can so that we can make a difference and help these fellow Harrisonburg residents to help themselves.

Grady Hart- JMU 2013

This post was submitted by Grady Hart.

Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010 Begins!

Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010, which began Saturday, April 17th, will feature a variety of workshops, talks, movies, and other events addressing the central theme “Celebrating Earth: Building a Sustainable Community”.

Over 35 events will take place at a variety of locations, including downtown Harrisonburg, JMU, EMU, Bridgewater College, Harrisonburg High School, local churches, and city parks.

Workshops will include sessions on growing mushrooms, building a greenhouse, gardening, and making a rain barrel. Outdoor activities include walks in the Arboretum and working to remove invasive plants in the parks. Talks will touch on moutaintop removal mining, sprituality, energy efficiency, and a variety of other topics.

The week began officially with the kick-off event, “Four Views on Community Sustainability”, which took place Sunday, April 18th, 4:00 PM, at Harrisonburg High School with a panel of community leaders including Loren Swartzendruber, Erik Curren, Kai Degner, and Kathy Holm presenting different perspectives on building a sustainable community.

Earth Week 2010 was organized by a steering committee including representatives from local environmental and community organizations, led by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV). For more information visit http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com.

FULL SCHEDULE REPRODUCED HERE VIA http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com

April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. To celebrate this anniversary, the Harrisonburg Earth Week Coalition has planned a wealth of activities throughout Earth Week, April 17th to April 24th. Activities for all ages will take place all over town: movies, workshops, live performances, bird walks, scavenger hunts, and more. The week-long series of programs, entitled Celebrating Earth, Building Sustainable Communities, has been organized by a coalition made up of representatives of local colleges, universities and government entities, as well as citizens’ and environmental groups (visit the Sponsors link for more information).

All plans are subject to change, so be sure to check back here for final information.

Earth Week Events Calendar
Saturday, April 17th

Sunday, April 18th

Monday, April 19th

  • noon: The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal: Land Protection in the GW National Forest, with Carol Lena Miller, Clementine Cafe
  • 7:00 pm: Mountain Top Removal, with Judy Bonds of Coal Mountain River Watch, JMU Miller Hall
Tuesday, April 20th

Wednesday, April 21st

Thursday, April 22nd – HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Friday, April 23rd

Saturday, April 24th

This post was submitted by Ralph Grove.