End Sexual Assault on Campuses

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and partners have developed materials to raise awareness of sexual assault on campuses. Representatives of the Office and area colleges including the University of Massachusetts; Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and Greenfield Community College met at an initial conference in Spring 2013. Since then, the University of Massachusetts has adapted some of the campaign materials and video public service announcements to help educate students about how to prevent sexual assaults from occurring as part of the UMatter@UMass campaign. See more here.

MassBike Promotes Biking in Springfield

MassBike’s Vision for the Future Bicycling in Massachusetts is a safe, respected, convenient, and enjoyable way to get around. Roads throughout the state are safe and welcoming for cyclists, and all users interact in a courteous and legal manner. Car-free pathways connect our communities, bicycles are fully integrated into our public transportation system, and secure bike parking is located where people need it. People of all kinds and means choose to bicycle for life, work, and play. – See more here.

Transportation Equity

In early 2015, Transportation Equity Caucus, The Leadership Conference Education Fund and PolicyLink awarded grants to six organizations nationwide to advance equitable transportation policies addressing the needs of low-income people, communities of color, people with disabilities, and other disadvantaged groups.

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in collaboration with Live Well Springfield, both based in Springfield, Massachusetts, was among six  organizations that received a grants to advance affordable, accessible transportation in their communities.

The PVPC used the funds to engage a cross-section of the African American and Latino emerging community leaders to strengthen their leadership skills to lift up the Equity Caucus Agenda locally and federally.

Almost two dozen residents participated in the three workshops:


These workshops connect Transportation challenges to issues participants may already be engaged with (such as housing, education, jobs, health, food security)


Identify specific transportation policies and link with their outcomes (i.e; policy to increase affordability, policies for workforce development, policy to promote healthy, safe communities, policies for equitable investment in transportation) This may be done with cards listing policies that have to be set on a board with outcomes (could be “power-mapping-like)

3. TAKING ACTION: The “who” and the “how”

Each participant selected a specific transportation policy and/or outcome from last week session and identify the step necessary to advocate for that policy/outcome.

All workshops included Spanish-language interpreters, which several participants relied on, dinner, childcare, travel reimbursed and a stipend.

Equitable transportation investments are crucial to connecting people to jobs, educational opportunities, affordable housing, health care, and other basic needs. Emerging Leaders from Springfield met with the five other communities at a meeting in Washington, D.C. in June, 2015, to share information about the work.

The Transportation Equity Caucus represents the nation’s leading civil rights, community development, disability, racial justice, economic justice, faith-based, health, housing, labor, environmental justice, tribal, public interest, women’s groups, and transportation organizations. Through a coalition of over 100 organizations, the Transportation Equity Caucus is charting a new course for transportation investments, one that is focused on policies that advance economic and social equity in America. For more information, see www.equitycaucus.org.

Live Well Springfield

Issue Live Well Springfield is a new movement in the capital city of Western Massachusetts that encourages people for whom optimum health has not been accessible to make small but significant changes to get healthier. In partnership with 6 Point Creative Works, Verdant mapped out a strategy to inspire people to  exercise and eat healthier, and created a multi-media, multi-cultural campaign.

Goal Verdant asked almost 50 residents in several focus groups about their lives, their options and dreams. From their answers, one of the recurring common themes was that people want to see real people and not models, or stock photography.

Result The media campaign features over a dozen Springfield residents sharing their steps in photos, videos and audio. Changes include taking the stairs vs the elevator, buying fresh food instead of canned vegetables. Most of the photos for the posters were taken by Denise Stewart.  Verdant also brought in another powerful photographer, Shana Sureck, for the campaign. Below are some of the posters. Shana photographed Moyah Smith taking the stairs while Denise took the other photographs.


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Milagros Johnson is a consumer advocate in Springfield City Hall whose calling to public service is admirable because it is true. She handles people’s despair at being conned with dignity and serenity. She runs her office like most of us would love our place of work to be – humanitarian.

Magdalena Gómez, Leader

Magdalena Gómez is one of my favorite artists. Brave, direct, passionate, a visionary, she is a leader. I made this video because the world cries for more Magdalenas.


Mary Patierno and I produced “Vieques: Worth Every Bit of Struggle,” a documentary that spotlights a group of people who were the David to the U.S. military’s Goliath.

Vieques is a tiny island a couple miles to the east of Puerto Rico. For decades, the U.S. military owned two-thirds of the island, using one-third of it for target practice. Everything from machine guns to bombs shot from jets and ships pummeled the island just a few miles from where civilians lives.

Viequenses were scared that an errant missile would kill civilians – and that did happen. They also became sick with cancer at a higher rate than residents of the mainland Puerto Rico, because of the heavy metals from exploded bombs poisoning the agricultural fields and waters.

There is so much to this story that for the poster, I chose the image that best captured the grassroots movement, adding a often repeated chant as a sub headline (Yes to Vieques, No to the Military.)



Project Safe Baby

Issue Accidental asphyxiation of babies generally occurs when they are placed in a crib with blankets and toys with which they can become entangles. The tragedy is especially high in the black and Latino communities.

Goal Raise awareness about how to care for babies when they sleep – Always face up, in a onesey pajama and without anything in the crib (no toys, no blankets.)

Result Verdant produced two short videos for Project Baby Springfield to share on its social media page. We also brought in the masterful graphic designer Lisa Carta to design two posters, with photographs taken by the great photographer Denise Stewart, in English and in Spanish, to be displayed on the outside and inside of PVTA buses in Springfield.




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