Celebrate Northampton’s history of strong coffee and stronger women with any of these great gift items!

Many of our most popular gifts here at Northampton’s Pride & Joy, ranging from coffee mugs to shirts to magnets, feature the phrase, “Northampton: Where the coffee is strong and so are the women.” People new to the area may wonder, what’s the correlation between strong coffee and strong women? How did this come to be the city’s unofficial motto?

Perhaps the most obvious answer is the combination of ubiquitous coffee shops lining Main Street and the presence of Smith College, which is the largest women’s college in the country (another top-notch women’s college, Mount Holyoke, is also just down the road in South Hadley). Walk into any of Northampton’s coffee houses on a Sunday afternoon in November or April, and you’ll find a sea of young intellectuals poring over their laptops and textbooks, or excitedly debating paper ideas with classmates.

But there’s more to the history of strong coffee and strong ladies in the Northampton area than seven sisters colleges and trendy cafes. Firstly, Western Massachusetts has been home to intelligent, courageous, and outspoken women for centuries; Sojourner Truth, one of the earliest and most widely quoted advocates for the rights of women of color living in the United States, lived in the Florence section of Northampton from 1843-1857 after escaping from slavery in the South. A memorial statue stands in her honor at the corner of Pine and Park Streets, and interested visitors can take a self-guided walking tour of Truth’s neighborhood, the path for which is available online. Another nineteenth century powerhouse, grandmother of modern poetry and legendary independent spirit Emily Dickinson, lived out her entire life next to the train station in nearby Amherst, where her house has been turned into a beautiful museum that remains open to visitors year-round.

Now well into the new millennium, educated and independent women continue to flock to the Pioneer Valley. In recent years, brilliant journalist and political commentator Rachel Maddow, accomplished film actress and comedienne Jane Lynch, and nationally recognized performance poet Alix Olson have all lived in Northampton and the surrounding towns. In celebration of this heritage, Northampton’s Pride & Joy proudly carries Maddow’s critically acclaimed book, Drift, as well as Lynch’s hilarious and touching autobiography, Happy Accidents.

And the coffee? Unless you live here you may not realize it, but some of the best coffee available in the United States (outside of the Pacific Northwest) is roasted in the Pioneer Valley by independent, artisan companies truly passionate about creating the perfect cup. Most of these companies feature fairly traded, organic coffee beans from all over the world, and carry single-origin coffees as well as blends. Local roasters include our Thornes neighbors, Rao’s Coffee, as well as Esselon Cafe, Dean’s Beans, Indigo, Pierce Brothers, and Shelburne Falls Coffee. Many residents have a favorite blend and a favorite local roaster. Some have even developed cult followings; ardent fans of certain local roasts frequently declare their allegiance with t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Our favorite local purveyor of coffee here at Northampton’s Pride & Joy is Gay Coffee, which is owned and operated by an alumna of Smith College. Roasted in nearby Williamsburg, MA and housed in attractive, reusable tins, each of these fragrant, carefully created whole bean blends was inspired by and named for a different element of queer history. For example, “Good Morning Mary!” celebrates the importance of camp to queer humor with a blend of medium and dark-roasted beans of varied origin, resulting in a hearty cup with sweet caramel overtones. There’s a Gay Coffee blend for every kind of coffee drinker! For fans of classic Central American coffees, the smooth-drinking “Stone Butch Breakfast Blend” features lightly roasted beans from the highlands of Guatemala for a chocolate-tinged taste.  If you prefer your morning coffee strong enough to put some hair on your chest, check out the robust and full-bodied “Big Bear Blend” or the ultra-dark and rich “Red Hanky Roast.” Each tin includes a short explanation of the phenomenon it was named for on the back, as well as a humorous photo on the front. A tin of Gay Coffee makes a fabulous gift for a caffeine-loving friend (especially paired with one of our Northampton mugs!), as well as a delicious treat for yourself if you’re a serious coffee aficionado. All of the beans sourced by Gay Coffee are fair trade, meaning the workers who grow and maintain the beans before shipping them to the United States are paid fair wages for their work. Gay Coffee donates 1% of its profits from each tin sold to the LGBTQ Task Force, so purchasing this coffee not only supports a wonderful local business with excellent trade practices, but also an important cause.

So: whether you call ‘Hamp home or you’re experiencing NoHo’s charms for the first time, and whether you’re looking for an excellent new coffee blend to try, an exciting new book to read, or a t-shirt or mug to remember your visit, Northampton’s Pride & Joy can help you celebrate and support Northampton’s unique local legacy of strong coffee and even stronger women!

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The rainbow flag is the modern day symbol for the LGBTQ pride movement.  It represents inclusiveness, diversity, and hope.  Historically, the flag has been a part of many different cultures and represented different ideas.  From its history in Europe, to Buddhism, to the Co-Operative movement there has almost always been the common theme of hope and inclusiveness associated with the rainbow.

The European history of the flag is associated with the Bible and it is said that God first created the rainbow so that Noah knew that there would never be another flood again.  Many reformers and social revolutionaries from the 14th-16th century are pictured with the rainbow flag to represent eras of hope and social change.  Moving forward in history, in 1885 Buddhists in Sri Lanka adopted the rainbow flag to represent the inclusivity of all forms of Buddhism around the world.  In the 20th century the Cooperative movement used the symbolism similarly to unite all different coops from around the world so that the movement would become more united throughout.

In the last fortyish years the rainbow flag has been adopted by the Peace movement as well as by the LGBTQ movement.  In 1961 the “PACE” flag (which means Peace in Italian) was used in a march to protest the development of nuclear weapons and has since been used to also demonstrate against the war in Iraq.  The most well known symbolism for the rainbow is that of the LGBTQ movement.  It was popularized in 1978 by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker.  Each color of the rainbow flag has a specific meaning; however the greater meaning of the flag is that of inclusion of all people.   The literal meanings of each color are red: life, orange: healing, yellow: sunlight, green: nature, blue: harmony, and purple: spirit.   The original flag also included pink to represent sex and turquoise to represent art/magic but since they have been removed for production purposes.

At Pride & Joy we sell an array of different rainbow flags including the “PACE” version.  As a store and as people we believe that all parts of the LGBTQ community should be included in the rainbow.  Fundamentally, the rainbow was developed to give people hope and make them feel welcome.  A rainbow means that every person can be a part of a community, even if they are a mix of a couple different colors on the rainbow or don’t necessarily know where they fit.  Pride & Joy is a place where all parts of the rainbow are welcomed with open arms and we hope to continue to be a place where all kinds of people can find merchandise that represents themselves and those who are closest to them.  Be sure to come in and check out our awesome selection of rainbow flags, big and small!

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Check us out online at: http://www.nohoprideandjoy.com/index.htm

Interested in getting a rainbow flag? Go here: http://www.nohoprideandjoy.com/browse.cfm/pride-rainbow-flags/2,119.html

Pride & Joy at Northampton's Annual Sidewalk Sales!

It’s time for Northampton’s Annual Sidewalk Sales! Today through the 29th, many Northampton shops including Pride & Joy with have tents lining up and down main street Northampton with awesome deals on some of your favorite products. This sidewalk sale is an awesome way for local, small businesses to showcase their products to passerby who might not normally get a chance to come into their stores. Pride & Joy will be featuring some of our customers’ favorite items on sale such as our mugs, t-shirts, hats, small stuffed bears, and many more. Our sales will be available both in store as well as on the sidewalks so be sure to stop by and say hello!

Northampton is a place full of eclectic and interesting people from many different places.  Much of Northampton’s history closely resembles the colorful patches of the quilt that make up Northampton’s past and present.  When looking at history, particularly that of Northampton, it isn’t the seemingly large, famous events that make up the most significant part of history.  It is the small efforts made by the community of Northampton that have shaped the beliefs that this wonderful city holds dear.

                Being a part of the Pioneer Valley means that the people of Northampton understand the importance of farmers and their rights.  In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, the economy took many hard hits and the farmers of Western Massachusetts felt this strongly.  This economic tension resulted in Shays’ Rebellion which began on August 21, 1786 and ended in 1787.  This was an armed rebellion led by Daniel Shays who was a Revolutionary War veteran.  During this rebellion they shut down county courts to stop the judicial hearings for tax and debt collection.  In hard economic times it is always the small farms that seem to be impacted the greatest.  Today, Northampton holds two farmers markets, one on Tuesdays and one on Saturdays to show the town’s support for local agriculture and small farms.  Luckily, there are no longer armed rebellions such as the one led by Daniel Shays but instead there is a movement in Northampton to support local economies through events like farmer’s markets.

                Supporting local business is something that the people of Northampton stand strongly behind.  It’s a good feeling when you shop at a store or restaurant and know where your products are coming from as well as the people who are bringing you the products.  At Pride & Joy we have a selection of products made in the USA as well as some made locally to show our support for the U.S. economy.  We understand the importance of maintaining a sustainable economic system rather than supporting corporations that focus on the quickest, cheapest methods of production that often end in the exploitation of foreign labor and damage to the environment.  By continuing to support our local economies we can continue the rebellion that Shays began in Northampton over 200 hundred years ago.

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Like most of the northeastern United States, Northampton was founded by a small group of Puritans.  In 1653 a group of twenty four people came to Western Massachusetts in pursuit of easier trade with the Natives and better land for farming.  They granted a charter in 1654 to plant and possess Nonotuck.  The city of Northampton wasn’t incorporated until 1884.  The city seal represents important principles of what Northampton was originally founded on and still continues to strive for.   The saying on the seal says in Latin, “caritas, education, justitia.”  This saying means, caring, education, and justice which are three concepts that the people of Northampton have held tightly to since the city’s founding.

Over the years, Northampton has been a hub for progressive political and social movements.  One of the most significant historical movements that took place in Northampton was the creation of a Utopian community called the Northampton Association back in the early 19th century.  The Northampton Association was a community that combined ideas of radical abolition with a communally owned and operated silk mill.  For a period of time this silk mill was the home of Sojourner Truth, a freed slave who bought her first home in Northampton.  It was a project based around creating a self-sustaining community that was concerned with abolishing racial and gender divides.   Although this community ultimately failed due to economic reasons it is a very early example of the progressive mindset that still lives on in Northampton today.

Pride and Joy stands behind the founding principles of Northampton and celebrates the ideals of being socially and politically progressive city where all kinds of people are welcomed and celebrated.  We carry products that help to spread Northampton pride because it is such a unique and beautiful city and the experiences that people have here truly don’t happen anywhere else.

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Pride is a feeling most of us feel at one point or another in our lives.  We may feel it watching a loved one accomplish an important life goal, or when we accomplish a goal ourselves, or sometimes we simply feel it in moments of bliss when we realize we are part of a bigger, beautiful picture.  I’ve felt pride in many different forms, on a few different occasions.  The first was when I walked with my best friends in the Boston Youth Pride parade last spring, I was proud of my ally friends for coming with me and showing their support for something bigger than themselves in a way most of my friends wouldn’t do.  I felt a new kind of pride this spring when my rugby team won the division three championship at the Beast of the East Tournament, the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the U.S.  This sense of pride came from accomplishing a common goal, working through what seemed impossible to come out with a win we all worked through pain, sweat, cold, tears, and blood for.  However, more recently I felt a new sense of pride that was stronger than any I have ever felt before.

Previously, I wrote about this year’s Boston Pride and how it brought out a sense of community for me.  That’s not all it did, it also brought out a sense of pride that I had never had before.  At Pride, I felt as though I was part of a bigger picture and part of a movement.  There are obvious movements within Pride such as the movement for transgender rights or marriage equality but that’s not the one I felt.  I felt the unspoken movement of people being able to have this one day to all be together, expressing themselves freely and safely.  It was a time when so many different kinds of people and organizations that had different goals were all marching together and supporting one another.  Hugging strangers is a given and breaking apart the gender binaries and societal norms are encouraged.  It’s a time when we can all break from our shells and express what we feel about ourselves and for one another.

There aren’t enough spaces where people feel comfortable expressing themselves fully whether it be related to their inclusion in the LGBTQ community or just being different in general.  Breaking away from societal norms in terms of how we are supposed to act and present ourselves can be difficult and Pride events are a space full of people who understand and celebrate these differences.  At Pride and Joy, we are all about celebrating differences and being a store that focuses on inclusivity of different kinds of people whether they are a part of the LGBTQ community or the greater Northampton community.

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Over the past weekend I attended Boston Pride for the first time and at the end of the day found myself in a total state of euphoria.  This spring I had attended my first pride parade in Northampton; however I was working so I didn’t get to have the total freedom to experience what a pride event was like.  That is where Boston Pride came into play.

 Standing at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley, a few fellow Smithies and I stood anticipating the coming parade.  We could hear the motorcycles revving their engines at the front of the march and the excitement rose in my chest.  As the parade past, group by group, people pointed to my shirt which read, “Smith College Rugby.”  Smith alumnae as well as Northampton residents came up to me, introducing themselves and asking me if I was having fun.   In these moments I finally felt as though I was a part of a community larger than Smith College.  I find myself often thinking of myself as a floater because I am a college student.  I work in town but I sometimes don’t feel as though I’ve really become a member of the community yet.

This was the moment where this feeling stopped.  On the train I ran into some women who I had met shopping at Pride and Joy, one of which was wearing one of the shirts we sell.  We automatically had a connection.  In most places I’ve been in Massachusetts, including my hometown on the Cape everyone seems to know about Northampton and have only positive things to say about it and now I’ve begun to understand why.  It is a center for people to travel and express themselves in any way they like, similar to the Pride march.  I attended Pride to celebrate with my fellow members in the LGBTQ community and to feel like I was a part of something bigger and I had the realization that being a member of the Northampton community is already being a part of the bigger picture.

Be sure to show your Northampton pride around town or when you travel to different places!  We have tons of really cool Northampton tees as well as mugs, cups, shotglasses, and more!

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