If you look around at the store, at work, or in a restaurant, you’ll see that people are attached to their phones. For some, internet and video game addiction can be a real problem. Dr. David Greenfield is the founder of the Center for Internet & Technology Addiction and an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at UConn. Dr. Greenfield sat down with Carolee McGrath to discuss virtual addiction and a new retreat center he is proposing in Franklin County.
Divided: Scenes from Inauguration 2021
JANUARY 19, 2021
A Photo and Interview Series by Barry Goldstein
In America, the inauguration of a Commander In Chief is traditionally a time of celebration. Politicians, special guests, and everyday Americans converge on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol building to mark the swearing in of the next President of the United States. Full of pomp and circumstance, inaugurations are an important democratic ritual and a symbol of the peaceful transfer of power.
Digital Exclusive: Remote Learning: How Western Mass Families are Coping
February 26, 2021
Last March, as cases of COVID-19 skyrocketed, America’s public education system scrambled to move to a remote teaching scenario. Almost overnight, with little communication or time to plan, families had to figure out ways to be h
Last March, as cases of COVID-19 skyrocketed, America’s public education system scrambled to move to a remote teaching scenario.
Almost overnight, with little communication or time to plan, families had to figure out ways to be home with their kids, while still fulfilling the needs of their jobs. Fast Forward to 2021, and although some students are back in the classroom, the issues of remote learning continue for many.
In the first of a three-part digital series, Connecting Point Producer Dave Fraser spent a morning recently with one local family whose kids were learning from home, and got reactions from several students and parents in the region about what life has been like learning remotely.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: In March of 2020, America's public education system scrambled to move to a remote teaching scenario due to the skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19. Almost overnight, with little communication or time to plan, families had to figure out ways to be home with their kids while still fulfilling the needs of their jobs. Fast forward to 2021, and although some students are back in the classroom, the issues of remote learning continue for many.
And the first of a three-part digital series, Connecting Point producer Dave Fraser spent a morning recently with one local family whose kids were learning from home, and got some reactions from several students and parents in the region about what life has been like learning remotely.
Hayes Murray, Parent: I think they just told us they were gonna take two weeks off.
Kara Murray, Parent: Yeah.
Hayes Murray: Right?
Kara Murray: Yeah.
Hayes Murray: And then we're like, "OK. Sounds sounds reasonable, like a two week vacation type of thing." That and here we are nine months later. It hasn't really changed.
Kara Murray, Parent: They haven't gone back.
Jaden Chako, Student: So, first when school close, obviously, like everyone was happy because like we have no school, but that as it kept getting longer longer, I was like "damn, when is this going to, like, finish?" You get me?
Abigail Burke Adams, Student: I was really disappointed because all through middle school I couldn't wait to get to high school. And now this is my first year, and it's not what I pictured at all.
Cecilia Caldwell, Teacher : Problems with Internet in my area because we're so rural. We actually didn't host synchronous online classes. It was really hard just in the sense that I feel like no one was learning anything.
Minh Ly, Parent: Keeping students engaged in person is already a challenge enough, and trying to do that in an online environment, I think it's exponentially more difficult.
Eden Murray, Student: I mean, we're not learning as much as we used to. And I like seeing my friends and my teachers because in fifth grade I haven't met my teachers yet.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: It was last March when school buildings shut down and teachers and administrators tried to use technology to keep the public education system up and running. Families had to pivot, and figure out ways to help their children learn at home while continuing to fulfill their responsibilities to their employers.
In East Longmeadow, The Murrays have three kids in public school ten-year-old Eden, eight-year-old Weston, and five-year-old Judson. They also host a girl from the neighborhood occasionally because her parents are not able to work from home.
Kara Murray,: This here is kindergarten, I would say. This is uh Mrs. Robi's kindergarten classroom, Judson here. And it's also Bay Path University Student Financial Services Office. And so it's all-in-one room.
Hayes Murray: It's working. It's working. I think the remote learning is working for certain age groups.
For Judson, again, they're doing the best they can, but it's really challenging for him to be on an iPad for six hours a day. The challenge is, is us working and managing him, listening in, making sure he has his supplies.And when he's doing the right thing, he's not misbehaving and is muted. I don't know how many "Judson, are you muted? Are you muted?"
You know, God forbid you say something that you shouldn't and you're not muted, and the entire kindergarten kindergarten class hears you.
Kara Murray: Ten fifteen snack for the third grade.
I don't want anyone to think that it's been amazing. It's been really challenging to wear a lot of different hats at the same time. And you're juggling a lot of things at the same time. So, there have been days where more likely than not, I end out the day and I feel like a failure in a lot of ways because I'm not giving my best at work or the way that I know that I can work, and I don't feel like I'm giving my best to the kids. It has not been easy.
Dave Fraser: In January, the Murrays received a glimmer of hope when word came that kids in their town would begin a hybrid schedule, and spend a portion of their learning time back in the classroom.
Kara Murray: We're really looking forward to the future where we'll have this disease behind us, and God willing, the kids will go back to school. And we'll be able to go back to work, and things will be better again.
Olive Tree Books-n-Voices Cultivates Community in Mason Square
February 26, 2021
In 2004, Zee Johnson converted the first floor of a dilapidated former drug house into a comfortable, safe place for people to browse through more than 500 books. Today, Olive Tree Books-n-Voices provides a space for bibliophile
In 2004, Zee Johnson converted the first floor of a dilapidated former drug house into a comfortable, safe place for people to browse through more than 500 books.
Today, Olive Tree Books-n-Voices provides a space for bibliophiles to browse — and a place for the predominantly Black community of Mason Sqaure to connect. It’s also just one of a handful of Black-owned bookstores in Massachusetts.
Producer Dave Fraser visited Olive Tree recently and brings us the story.
Read the Full Transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: In 2004, Zee Johnson converted the first floor of a dilapidated former drug house into a comfortable, safe place for people to browse through more than 500 books.
Since then, Olive Tree Books-n-Voices has become a beloved community center in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Mason Square and is just one of a handful of Black-owned bookstores in Massachusetts.
Producer Dave Fraser visited Olive Tree recently and brings us the story.
Zee Johnson, Olive Tree Books-n-More: I promise to work hard and do what's right.
A book can provide a number of things. It can provide comfort. It can provide growth, certainly. It can change attitudes. It can create self-awareness. It can allow you to exchange ideas. It's a chance to really have some introspectiveness to really think about who you are as a person and what it is that you want to do with your own life.
This was an abandoned building, and I'm not ashamed to say that it was, you know, a building of less desirables. It was a former crack house.
I remember distinctively one neighbor watching me and said to me, "are you going to, you know, buy that place? Are you going to rent that place? You know, I've seen you over here a couple of times."
And I turned to her and said, "yeah, you know, I'm thinking about" and she said, "praise God because, you know, we want this sore spot to be out of our neighborhood."
I envisioned this is oh, when I retire, I'll just sit in a bookstore and I'll wave to customers. And that was 15 years ago. That was not the track and trail that I had that I was on. Lo and behold, when the community and when others found out that there's a bookstore, it started to increase.
Esther Hudson, Springfield: It's really just a bookstore, though. It's a community, you know, and it's a family. And I think that's why I tend to want to hang out here, because it is like a family.
Darelene Reina, Chicopee: Usually when you walk into a bookstore, there's always like the section of Black books and, you know, Black authors. But here it's the whole store, you know, the joy on the walls, the color.
You know, it's -- it feels like home and not just somewhere where you buy a book, but you also hear a story.
Donald Felton, Springfield: Because I haven't done everything in life.
One of the things that inspires me to want to read and want to know, because when I come in here, I look around and I see so many people who look like me. I brought my daughter here when she was young. So for them, kids seeing people who look like them. You know, this can be inspiring.
Zee Johnson: I'm a woman who has hurt as immeasurable as I have loved.
I was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, so I was able to read books about African-Americans and ect cetera, because that was my environment and world. So when I looked at Mae Jemison, when I looked at Debbie Thomas, the skater, when I looked at a number of heroes, I could envision myself, I could be there because I had a framework. It wasn't just my imagination.
I had concrete evidence that these people exist.
Protestors: No justice. No peace. No justice. No peace.
Zee Johnson: It woke a lot of folks up in terms of "let me really understand other people other than myself," and then "let me understand if I'm part of this problem or if I'm going to be part of the solution."
Customer: Give your elbow. OK.
Zee Johnson: So, that triggered a lot of people to come into the store and really have good conversations about what should be next steps.
Even though Mason Square can be portrayed or viewed as less than desirable. I wanted to be able to say, "no, that's not true." We can build as a community, we can turn a sore spot into something that's like a rose. I want it to be in a place that people could consider it their own.
Preserving History at the Becket Quarry
February 26, 2021
In 1999, the Becket Land Trust spearheaded a community fundraising campaign to save a 300+ acre parcel of primarily wooded land from industrial development. The Trust soon discovered that the land, which they had purchased sight u
In 1999, the Becket Land Trust spearheaded a community fundraising campaign to save a 300+ acre parcel of primarily wooded land from industrial development. The Trust soon discovered that the land, which they had purchased sight unseen, contained an old granite quarry contained rusted artifacts left behind when the Hudson-Chester Granite Company suddenly folded.
Since then, the Land Trust has turned the area into a series of walking trails and a living museum about the Industrial Age in this region. In recent years, the task of managing Beckett Quarry has overwhelmed the all-volunteer Trust.
The state’s oldest land trust organization, The Trustees of Reservations, has agreed to take ownership of the Quarry. The organization brings one hundred and thirty years of experience in conservation and managing outdoor recreation properties. Before that happens however, the Becket Land Trust needs the community’s support one more time. Producer Dave Fraser brings us this story.
Read the full transcript:
Ken Smith, Becket Land Trust: This is a winch, it was the workhorse of the quarry.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: A walk through these woods in Becket is like stepping back in time. Winches, derricks, cables, and old vehicles are scattered throughout a series of walking trails. But the highlight for most visitors who come here is to experience the old Chester Hudson quarry.
Ken Smith: Active from the 1860s until the 1940s, so for 60 years it lay dormant, basically untouched by by by time.
Dave Fraser: Ken Smith is president of the Becket Land Trust, a nonprofit group who currently owns and manages the 300 plus acre site. The Land Trust purchased the quarry from a private owner, according to Smith, to prevent a construction company from reopening the quarry and using the rock as paving material during the construction of the Big Dig in Boston.
Ken Smith: They would have opened up a new quarry and had 20 tractor trailer loads of granite coming off the mountain every hour, six days a week for years and years. And it would have had a significant impact on the quality of life for the entire town.
Dave Fraser: Financial contributions from town residents allowed the Becket Land Trust to acquire the multi-acre plot for public recreation and historic preservation. When it was in operation in the late 1800s and early 1900s, granite from this quarry was used to build prominent monuments and statues in several states.
Ken Smith: The material that they were bringing from this particular site was extremely high quality. It was known as Chester Blue. It took a very nice polish. It was very consistent in color and it was so prized that it was exclusively used for monumental purposes. And I don't think it's any coincidence that this quarry started in the 1860s when there was a very large demand for monumental stone on account of the Civil War.
Dave Fraser: When the quarry was abandoned, much of the equipment and structures were left just as they were, as if the quarry men had gone for lunch and never returned. Over the years, the Land Trust has developed a detailed map showing both the forest preserved trails and the self guided historic quarry walk.
Ken Smith: And it's almost as if we have a story line of the Industrial Revolution. We have equipment that was originally steam-powered and then converted to compressed air. And we have evidence of early electric motors here.
Dave Fraser: Despite Smith's enthusiasm for people to visit and learn the history of the quarry, he is also cautious, saying quarries are deceptively dangerous. The cliffs that people like to jump off of can be unstable. The water is extremely dense and very deep, and there are dangers hidden beneath the surface.
Ken Smith: Not only is visibility below the surface nearly zero, it is filled with fallen trees, old equipment, cables, boulders, and it's extremely unstable down there.
Dave Fraser: Despite the warnings, the quarry has long been a mecca for extreme diving. It's high cliffs are a haven for youths from surrounding towns and states who post videos on social media, adding to the lure of the quarry.
Ken Smith: During this past summer, I think exclusively due to COVID and the enormous popularity of people being able to spend time outside, we had over fourteen thousand visitors. This is just becoming much too much of a challenge for an all-volunteer ward to be able to take care of. And we're delighted to say that the state's oldest and largest land conservation group, Trustees of Reservation, has agreed to take over ownership of the property.
Dave Fraser: Before the trustees can take over the property, they have requested the Beckett Land Trust to start a two hundred thousand dollars stewardship fund for infrastructure work and additional signage for the trails. David Santomenna is the Associate Director of Land Conservation for the Trustees.
David Santomenna: We've been in business for one hundred and twenty five plus years, and we've got a lot of stewardship obligations across the whole state and we're really trying to be disciplined about what new obligations we take on. As a member of the landtrust community, we do want to make sure that all of the interest-protected properties stay protected. It's part of what motivates us here. I mean, I don't think there's any imminent risk to that property at all, but we want to make sure that it's, you know, in the ownership of an entity with the. The long term capacity is important, I think, to the landtrust community. So, that's certainly part of our motivation here.
Dave Fraser: So, the land trust in Beckect is once again looking to the community for support and using social media to help reach their goal. In the meantime, the quarry remains open every day from dawn to dusk, and Smith and the members of the Land Trust hope people continue to visit, learn about its history and perhaps most importantly, respect it.
W.E.B. DuBois: Native Son of Great Barrington
February 26, 2021
Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church in Great Barrington served as the spiritual, cultural and political home for the local African American community for nearly 130 years. It was also a place of significance for auth
Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church in Great Barrington served as the spiritual, cultural and political home for the local African American community for nearly 130 years. It was also a place of significance for author and civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, who was born and raised in the southern Berkshire County town. Currently there is an effort to restore the church, and Producer Dave Fraser spoke with members of the restoration committee to learn more about the impact that W.E.B. Dubois had on the town of Great Barrington.
This story originally aired on February 21, 2019.
Sen. Eric Lesser on Legalized Sports Betting in Massachusetts
February 26, 2021
Casino gambling was legalized in Massachusetts in 2011, but sports betting is still not allowed. State Senator Eric Lesser recently introduced legislation to change that. The Longmeadow Democrat says he believes the state has tak
The Longmeadow Democrat says he believes the state has taken a “cautious approach” to sports betting and that the legislation, which would allow both in-person and mobile betting, could generate significant revenue for the Commonwealth.
Lesser spoke with Zydalis Bauer about his reasons for putting forth the bill.
Read the Full Transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: While casino gambling has been legal now in Massachusetts for some time, legalized sports betting has not. And State Senator Eric Lesser has recently introduced legislation to change that.
The Longmeadow Democrat has said that he thinks that the state has taken a cautious approach to sports betting and believes that the legislation, which would allow both in-person and mobile betting, could generate significant revenue for the state. He spoke with me earlier today about his reasons for putting forth the bill.
Sen. Eric Lesser, (D — Longmeadow): It would create a legal betting market for sports wagering in Massachusetts. It would create two different types of licenses. A brick and mortar license, so people would be able to go, for example, to their local casino or their local horse track and place bets.
It would also create a mobile licensing program so people could use online betting programs, for example, Draft Kings and FanDuel are some of the most well-known. But there are a lot of other ones out there as well, and they could be able to place bets on their sports teams through that means as well.
Zydalis Bauer: You mentioned in your press conference that Massachusetts has taken a fairly cautious approach when it comes to this legislature. How so? And how does the bill reflect this approach?
Sen. Eric Lesser: The Supreme Court actually opened the door to legal sports betting about three years ago. Almost three years ago. They invalidated a federal prohibition on sports betting that had been in place for several decades. What you saw was several states, in particular New Jersey, react very quickly after that Supreme Court decision.
At this point, there's about twenty five states that have some form of legal wagering. Massachusetts was not one of the first states to operate, to move into legalization. And I think that was probably the right move for us because we've been able to learn a lot.
We've been able to see what's worked and what hasn't in New Jersey, for example, and two of our neighboring states, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, also legalized recently. And we've been able to see, for example, some things that have worked well in New Hampshire and Rhode Island and some things that also probably needed some improvement.
Zydalis Bauer: In Governor Baker's budget that was released last month, he estimated that 35 million dollars in revenue can possibly be generated through this bill. In addition to this added benefit, in what other ways could this bill impact the Commonwealth?
Sen. Eric Lesser, (D — Longmeadow): Yeah, well, so first, you know, I think it's worth saying that there's a lot of people that just, this is fun. You know, this is a recreational activity. People want to place a bet on the Red Sox or the Patriots. Vast majority of people that are doing this are doing it in a safe way, in a fun way with limits.
But we do have cases, of course, of problem gambling. We do have cases of addiction or people that are maybe getting in over their heads. So, we really craft this law to be very careful, to have very strict protections in place. So, for example, you would not be allowed to use a credit card. Nobody under 21. There would be self-exclusion limits. There would be reporting requirements so that if somebody is doing something in an addictive way or something feels off, the Gaming Commission would be able to quickly intervene and stop that.
I think something also that's very important about this is it's going to close a broad illegal betting market. People are placing bets, you know, in illegal ways or through off market or or black market sites. We would close those sites by doing this. We would bring this practice kind of into the daylight and we would be able to collect revenue from it and make sure it's safe.
Zydalis Bauert: Now, regarding the amount of revenue that legalized sports betting could bring into the state, you said, quote, "It's not going to be a panacea to the state's budget issues and it's certainly not going to be something you can balance the state's budget on."
So ,to the opponents of this bill, who would argue that the revenue amounts are not worth the possible negative impacts to the state, what would you say to address their concerns?
Sen. Eric Lesser: Yeah, so I think that the bill I put together does address the concern. If passed, would be the strongest consumer protections and protections of any bill of its kind anywhere in the country. And again, to just point out, you know, twenty five states have now done some form of sports betting legalization, including almost all of our neighbors. So we're going to be able we've been able to learn from that and make this very strict.
So just for example, I mentioned no credit cards. I mentioned you'd have to be over 21. We're also including strict limits around marketing. You would not be able to target children with your marketing or anybody under 21.
We also create a new whistleblower protection for athletes. This is something the players associations and the players themselves have come to us and said that they wanted. So, this would mean if a player or a coach or a family member wanted to report something or wanted to tip off the Gaming Commission about activity that they thought was suspicious, they'd be able to do that while being protected. We also set up a hotline for people to call again, players, coaches, staff members, fans, family members that they can call to get advice, to ask questions about what might be permitted and what might not be permitted.
Zydalis Bauer: Now, other bills attempting to legalize sports betting have failed to pass in the State Senate before. How confident are you that this bill will pass?
Sen. Eric Lesser: Well, you know, confidence doesn't necessarily go all that far in politics, so it's not up to me. You know, there's thirty nine other members of the Senate. There's 160 members of the House. So a process is going to be -- has already begun, will continue to move forward of talking to our colleagues and building support.
I do think people are coming to the realization and coming to the acknowledgment that this is the time to act on sports betting. As we come out of the pandemic and hopefully start to move towards more normalcy, I do think an issue like this, sports betting is going to be something that legislators will be able to focus on. So, I do think that it is coming and I do think people are acknowledging that now is the time to get started.