Today is the one-year anniversary of the launch of NoPornNorthampton. It all began with “Gazette Reports Porn Shop to Open at 135 King Street”, posted on 6/30/06. Capital Video had intended to open a 6,000+ square foot porn shop with 20 enclosed viewing booths.
Today, after dedicated efforts from many citizens and public officials, new adult-use ordinances have been passed, adult content of signage is regulated (PDF), Capital Video’s plans have shed the viewing booths, and the adult material in their store is limited to 1,000 square feet of display space. Over 1,000 Northampton residents (and 500+ visitors) signed our petitions. Feminist Action Mobilization organized attention-getting protests. We thank them and the countless other supportive neighbors, businesses and organizations, and the city officials who responded to them. We hope these ordinances will reduce the risks of blight and prostitution that have been seen, to give one example, around Capital Video’s store in Springfield.
The Internet, commonly viewed as the pornographer’s best friend, has shown its power as an activist platform. We have published nearly 500 entries during our first year–close to 400,000 words. The searchability, flexibility, and low cost of online media enables us to gather and publicize a great deal of information, reproduce primary sources, offer multimedia content, and cross-link related subjects. Other citizen blogs following a similar path include NO V.I.P. of Berlin, CT and Keep Johns Creek Safe of Johns Creek, GA. The ability to share knowledge and strategies within a community and nationwide is priceless.
Dialogue with opponents such as TalkBackNorthampton, MoPornNorthampton, and The Prospect Perspective has been vigorous and not always civil, inspiring us both to fortify the evidence for our positions and discuss the characteristics of a healthy debate.
NoPornNorthampton.org serves 200+ visitors on a typical day (Quantcast). At certain points this year, NoPornNorthampton has had more unique monthly US visitors than GazetteNet.com, one of the websites of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Activists are not nearly as dependent as they used to be on traditional media to communicate their messages. That said, media coverage is welcome and we have appeared in numerous articles, including:
1/19/07: Tommy Devine: “people like me, who in the past have taken an
indifferent approach to pornography in the name of free speech, need to
do more to educate ourselves and others about porn’s destructive
Here are our top five most-printed articles to date:
Martin Amis: “A rough trade” (explicit)
Free Book Download: Diana Russell’s Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm (explicit)
The story is not over, of course. Mike Kirby and Lu Stone have an active appeal contesting the Northampton Planning Board’s approval of Capital Video’s Site Plan. Should the store open, and it breaks the law or brings harm to its surroundings in Northampton, we encourage people to register complaints with the building inspector, the police, the board of health, the mayor and the city council. We would like to see viewing booth health regulations passed to reduce the potential for future problems such as those seen at Capital Video’s Kittery store. And as we enter election season, we encourage people to keep the voting records of their city councilors in mind.