February 5: Mary Tittman, “A Progressive Income Tax for the Highest Earners in Massachusetts”

 © 2016 Marilyn Humphries
© 2016 Marilyn Humphries

 Mary Tittman is the Director of Outreach for Mass Budget and Policy Center.

The 2018 ballot in Massachusetts will ask voters to levy a tax on annual incomes over $1 million, with the revenue earmarked for education and transportation. This talk will delve into the social and political questions around the so-called “millionaire’s tax.”


The Information Age Has a Breakdown

trump-line-artSubmitted by Andrea Perrault

During the 2016 presidential campaign, much political discussion revolved around the death of manufacturing in the United States, and its impact on the U.S. economy. The disappearance of manufacturing is not news, but the people who were most affected by it, most notably those in the Midwest, saw the situation as worse than dire and saw Donald Trump as their hero. Their voting patterns determined that it would be the make or break issue for the campaign. With their resolve, Donald Trump won the presidency; Republicans won the Senate and the House, and shock came to many, pundits and citizenry alike.

Many of us on the east and west coasts thought that the Information Age had supplanted the Manufacturing Age, and that the country was adjusting to the new reality in an acceptable fashion. Were we wrong!

Evolution and The Earth

earth-1706213_960_720Submitted by Peter Denison

Many people warn that the earth is in danger. Yet we know that our planet is now more than four billion years old and will probably last several billion more until our sun ultimately blows up. What people really mean is that human life may be in danger. Through the forces of evolution, many species have come into being, lived a number of years, and then died out. Over 99% of all species have run their course and become extinct.

We like to say that the dinosaurs “ruled” the earth for more than a hundred million years. Yes, they were obviously the largest animals on Earth for that period, but to say that they dominated the pests, insects, microbes, and parasites that fed on them and sickened or killed them is a stretch. Also, no single species survived throughout that period. Finally, due to environmental changes which included a gigantic meteorite crash, all dinosaurs became extinct.

Human Rights

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

In other years I have written about human rights for the December newsletter, in recognition of the anniversaries of the Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, 1791, and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dec. 10, 1948. But January is also an appropriate month to remember human rights: it includes the birthday anniversaries of Franklin Roosevelt, Jan. 30, 1882, and Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 15, 1929.

Dr. King’s struggle for equal civil and political rights for African-Americans is well known. In his ‘I have a dream” speech, he said that his dream was deeply rooted in the American dream, that all men are created equal. (In our day we would say all people are born equal.) Less well known is his struggle for economic rights and his opposition to the war in Vietnam, which he regarded as unjust. His last public appearance was in support of the sanitation workers of Memphis, who were on strike for decent treatment. The signs they carried said, “I am a man.” One of Dr. King’s memorable lines is “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

January 29: Sovanna Pouv, “Serving the Cambodian Community in Lowell”

souvana-pouvSovanna Pouv is the Executive Director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association.

Who are Cambodian Americans? What is the work of CMAA? What is the future of this community?

The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Organization supports the Cambodian American community and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell, Massachusetts. The goal of the organization is to provide needed services to a population that requires language, economic, social, and educational services, as well as cultural integration and cultural celebration strategies. Sovanna Pouv will discuss the mission of the organization and the work they do. CMMA won a grant this year from the Boston Ethical Community.

January 22: Abby Chandler, “History and the Bill of Rights”

abby-chandlerAbby Chandler is Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

December 2016 represented the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.  The debates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, which led to the creation of the Bill of Rights, occurred among men who agreed on some points and profoundly disagreed on others. This talk looks at what caused them to both agree and disagree with one another and to examine how the Bill of Rights acted as a bridge between these differing ideas.

The longstanding American tradition of protecting the rights of individuals in the United States will likely grow ever more crucial in the coming years. This talk examines the history and context of this tradition.

TO BE RESCHEDULED: Cheryl Crawford, ” Working for Voter Engagement in Massachusetts”


We regret that we must postpone the program scheduled for January 7 due to weather.


Cheryl Crawford is the Executive Director of MassVOTE.

MassVOTE is a grassroots organization that works to increase voter participation and engagement in civic affairs, especially in traditionally low voter communities. In the presidential election of 2016, Mass VOTE organized voter registration, Get Out the Vote efforts, and voter tracking efforts in key MA communities.  MassVOTE and Nonprofit VOTE collaborated to win a grant from the Boston Ethical Community. Cheryl will discuss the mission of the organization, the work they do (including upcoming municipal elections), and how BEC might contribute. She’ll also reflect on the results of the 2017 election.