Greenfield has a nice, bustling Main st., loaded with locally owned shops and stores. Interestingly, the town has been fighting the tide sweeping the rest of the country, by holding on tightly to their small shops and businesses. They continue to snub strong advances by bix-box developers. The mighty Wal-Mart had tried to establish a foothold in the area in the early 90's. The town council back then had already all but given Wal-Mart the green light to start digging. But then a resident named Al Norman led a grassroots counter-campaign, that ultimately put the kaibash on the whole deal, and his "Sprawl-Busters" helped other cities do the same all across the country.
Here's a link to that David and Goliath story : http://walmartwatch.com/battlemart/resources/greenfield_ma_stops_wal_mart_rezoning/
Now the big-box developers have returned. They've been alternately submitting and pulling plans for developments on the French King Hwy area, and the west side of the I-91 rotary, all throughout 2007. I'm sure the prospect of conquering a small, shop-filled city like Greenfield, the center of Franklin County, would make any Mega-Chain's mouth water...
On the way back to the highway, I stopped to check out this sign, in the Big Y plaza by the rotary.
The sign was recently on the front page of the Gazzette. A clown (really, a clown, named Waffles) draped an anti-war canvas over the sign. He then sat on top of it, in an Uncle Sam outfit with donkey ears. He was shouting anti-war slogans into a bullhorn, and causing traffic tie-ups. The fire department, police and ambulance services had to show up to bring him down safely. He was led off in handcuffs. Freedom of speech, but not on private property.
Apparently, that display of anti-war activism wasn't the only one for this sign. It had also been set on fire, at some point.
The Pioneer Valley's got a very strong (though sometimes dangerously one-sided) political climate. I wonder where the line is drawn, between zeal and fanaticism... I think one sure sign you've gone too far with your opinions, is when some one's private property gets destroyed. When that happens, maybe it's time to start thinking about dialing it back, a little.