Around Amherst: Homegrown Peace Development Fund backs 20 groups with grants

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 07-19-2023 1:59 PM

AMHERST — More than 20 social justice organizations across the United States, as well as in Haiti and Mexico, are receiving grants to support their activities from an Amherst nonprofit public foundation.

The Peace Development Fund recently announced $80,000 in grants from its Seeding the Movement Fund. Each of 22 organizations received varying amounts, with some grants being renewals demonstrating the foundation’s commitment to investing in ongoing work.

Decisions on the awards are made by a volunteer board of directors that reflects marginalized communities drawing on their community experience.

“This year’s grantees represent a wide array of critical social justice issues,” Emily Szerafy-Cox, foundation officer for the Peace Development Fund, said in a statement. “Each group is dedicated to shifting power, dismantling oppression, working to build a movement, and creating new structures in their communities and beyond.”

Those funded are organizing around environmental issues, economic inequity and labor rights, racial justice and Indigenous rights, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s issues.

Dignity Power of Orlando, Florida, for instance, focuses on liberation and healing justice for women and girls of color.

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“Dignity Power challenges an inequitable criminal justice system through collective engagement, base-building, organizing, and policy work that shifts political power into the hands of women and girls+,” said Cortes Maria Lewis James, executive director of Dignity Power.

In the Northeast, recipients include Bantu Safe Haven and Healing Communities PA, both in Philadelphia, Best Practices Policy Project in Morristown, New Jersey, and NYCHA Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Arverne, Queens, New York.

Summer music

The Summer ’23 Music Series, put on by the Amherst Business Improvement District, begins on the Town Common Friday at 6 p.m. with the UMass Jazz in July All Star Concert.

This concert will be followed the next three Fridays with Mister G and Eric Lee on July 28, LeFever and Mooondance — the Ultimate Van Morrison Tribute Band — on Aug. 4, and Naomi Nye and Kimaya Diggs on Aug. 11.

At Sweetser Park, a concert by the Amherst Community Band is set for Saturday at 6 p.m.. The Community Band will return to the location for another concert on Aug. 18.

Roundabout easement snafu

A roundabout at Triangle and East Pleasant streets was much discussed before being constructed in 2017, even being part of a lengthy debate at an Annual Town Meeting session in May 2016 before members voted 119-32 in support of an easement, or eminent domain, to acquire a sliver of land near the Bank of America ATM.

But more than seven years after that decision on the 75 East Pleasant St. land, the Town Council had to redo the taking after learning from Town Manager Paul Bockelman and Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring that the easement, needed for a sidewalk associated with the roundabout, was never filed with the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.

According to a memo from Bockelman and Mooring, an agreement was reached with the bank to take about 1,671 square feet, but was not recorded in the required time period. “Since it didn’t get recorded in time, it doesn’t exist,” Mooring said.

At-Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke sought an explanation for how this happened, noting it’s possible the town hasn’t legally been using the land.

Mooring called it an “oddball thing that slipped through the cracks.”

“It just didn’t get recorded,” Mooring said. “It got stuck in a pile after it was signed, and wasn’t picked up and taken to the registry and recorded.”

Food scraps webinar

A cookbook author will lead a virtual discussion on using food scraps in recipes, rather than composting them or throwing them away, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Lindsay-Jean Hard, a “sustainability warrior,” will draw from her “Cooking with Scraps” book during the event,

Go to joneslibrary.org to register. The program is a partnership with other public libraries in Massachusetts.

For more information contact Janet Ryan, head of programming and outreach, at 259-3223.

Bakery to open

Carefree Cakery recently received its common victualer’s license to open in the Mill District in North Amherst.

Alysia Bryant, who owns the business at 71 Cowls Road, told the Board of License Commissioners it will feature custom cakes and gluten-free items.

“Largely just a dessert shop,” Bryant said. “Anything you can think of for sweets, it will likely be there.”

Meeting

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

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