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Artists Team With DA to Help Abused Children; Tourism: The Serious Questions; and more


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The cow passersby feed to help the homeless has quickly become a fixture on North Pleasant Street in Amherst. Sculptor Kamil Peters created the cow, which honors the logo of Counterfeit Cow Productions, a film company that has released a film about homelessness in Amherst called Homeless in a College Town. Money fed into the “cash cow” will go to support the Craig’s Place homeless shelter.

 

By the Numbers

The number of homeless school children in Massachusetts, as reported last week by the Boston Herald. That’s the largest number since 2005, when the Mass. Department of Education began keeping those figures, and it amounts to one out of every 60 school kids.

 

Artists Team With DA to Help Abused Children

Suppose your child had been physically or sexually abused. Would you like to see him or her have to make the rounds of the emergency room, the police station, the district attorney’s office, a state children’s services investigator’s office, possibly a child psychologist’s office—four or five alien environments in which the trauma would have to be relived?

Or would you rather have the youngster taken to a house where everyone from an assistant district attorney to a doctor and other professionals could gather at one time to investigate the problem in a reassuring, child-centered atmosphere?

The Northwestern District Attorney has such a house on Elm Street in Northampton. Called the Children’s Advocacy Center, it’s managed by the Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Project, a nonprofit that pays the rent and maintains the physical setting, including a medical suite in the house.

The director of the Project is Susan Loehn, a former Northwestern District prosecutor with 30 years’ experience specializing in child abuse cases. The Project, Loen explained, emphasizes “prevention as well as prosecution.” In 2012, she said, 500 cases had to be investigated and 165 children interviewed in the Northwestern District Attorney’s jurisdictional territory, which includes Hampshire and Franklin counties.

Now the Project wants to open a house in Turners Falls to serve children in Franklin County and Athol, whose families are not always able to bring them down to Northampton. To raise funds for the new house and to keep the one on Elm Street running, the group has enlisted the help of some of the most acclaimed visual artists in the Valley. Greg Stone, Nanny Vonnegut, Caleb Colon, Randall Riehl, Jane Lund, Holly Murray, Ellen Wineberg, Scott Prior and many others will donate art work for Wet Paint: A Silent Art Auction and Wine Tasting to Help Abused Children, to be held at the Hotel Northampton October 3 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Bidding may also be done online at www.northwesterncac.org beginning September 23.

Loehn told the Advocate the Project is also looking for people to volunteer for the community board that will oversee the Franklin County house, and for other activities in support of the project. For more information, go to http://northwesternda.org/event/wet-paint-silent-art-auction-support-northwestern-childrens-advocacy-center or contact Mary Carey, communications director for the Northwestern District Attorney (mary.carey@state.ma.us).

 

Worth Quoting

“Obamacare could have been a controversial but bipartisan expansion of the safety net, like Medicare and Social Security—the law was, after all, modeled on conservative ideas constructed by the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Mitt Romney. The right-wing furor would have been less severe, the GOP less motivated to paint the law as an existential threat to freedom, and the party likelier to make its peace with it. But the GOP leader’s big gamble to co-opt the nascent Tea Party movement precluded that scenario. And as a result, the health care law has become an existential threat to his career.”

Sahil Kapur, in Talking Points Memo, on the political price Sen. Mitch McConnell is paying for first rallying Republicans against Obamacare, then recently refusing to push for its defunding


Tourism: The Serious Questions

In 2011, according to a report from the Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism, visitors to Massachusetts “directly spent $16.9 billion on transportation, lodging, food, entertainment and recreation, and retail shopping.” That spending, the report added, “directly generated 124,700 jobs” in the commonwealth.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, at 10:30 a.m., the legislative Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development will hold a public forum at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield on the economic effects of tourism and travel in the greater Springfield area. The forum is part of a “listening tour” that includes events around the state, such as a Franklin County stop on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Johnny Appleseed and Mohawk trails.

Some of the topics we’d love to see the committee consider: How will a casino affect competing cultural organizations in the region? How many of those 124,700 jobs pay living wages or offer health insurance and other benefits? And how might the state further support the sorts of arts-and-culture renaissances underway in communities like Easthampton and Holyoke?

 

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