23 Community Highlights: California Gold Rush to Garland Dancing. Spirituals to Spoken Word.

Garland dancing, an English folk dance that began in the mill towns of North England in the 19th century, was a folk dance rural folks brought with them when they move into cities during the Industrial Revolution.

California Gold Rush to Garland Dancing.  Bald Eagles to Wolves. Spirituals to Spoken Word…

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  Garland dancing, an English folk dance that originated from the British Isles, is a form of Morris dance with flower-covered garlands and measured movements. The Morning Glory Girls Garland dance group will begin practicing at the Whately Elementary School on Sunday afternoon, January 19th, and welcomes new participants (girls ages 7-12) to join in this free dance group. In this traditional dance, performers use ribbons, bells, and flower garlands while dancing in rhythmic steps to music and song. Mothers and daughter are invited to join in together with the Harts Brook dance group immediately following. Musicians (any age & gender) are welcomed too! Dancing, music, flowers and folks traditions… an inviting recipe for a Sunday afternoon!


HistoryCultural StudiesOutdoor AdventuresArts & CraftsAnimal StudiesMartin Luther King, Jr.Civic EngagementSTEMParent Workshops


History

Bonanza! Over 150 years ago, gold fever came to New England as the California Gold Rush became under way. In the mid-1800′s, a mass exodus to the West Coast was having a huge impact on the nation’s economy, the development of land, and migration from New England towards the west coast. Many pioneers from western Massachusetts played important roles in the development of California, returning to New England to use their western adventures to help them attain positions of stature in their communities. On Sunday afternoon, January 19th, at the Westhampton Library, Cliff McCarty, archivist and president of the Pioneer Valley History Network, will talk about the connections that exist between the Pioneer Valley and the California Gold Rush, and how it shaped the history of western Massachusetts.

Cultural Studies

Garland dancing, an English folk dance that originated from the British Isles, is a form of Morris dance with flower-covered garlands and measured movements. The Morning Glory Girls Garland dance group will begin practicing at the Whately Elementary School on Sunday afternoon, January 19th, and welcomes new participants (girls ages 7-12) to join in this free dance group. In this traditional dance, performers use ribbons, bells, and flower garlands while dancing in rhythmic steps to music and song. Mothers and daughter are invited to join in together with the Harts Brook dance group immediately following. Musicians (any age & gender) are welcomed too! Dancing, music, flowers and folks traditions… an inviting recipe for a Sunday afternoon!

Outdoor Adventures

When dress appropriately, winter time is a terrific  time of the year to take the family on a guided hike.  There are several coming up, and many of them have experienced naturalists who can identify signs of animals, tell about the natural history of an area, and point out the different species of trees and birds that winter in New England.  Here are five upcoming guided hikes and snowshoe treks:

Arts & Crafts

Get crafty!  Take the kids to one of these community events that offer guided ways to be creative:

  • Clay Mask Workshop at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, MA, on Saturday morning.
  • Knitting at the Monson Free Library on Saturday at noon.
  • Duct Tape Crafternoon at the Sunderland Public Library on Saturday afternoon.
  • No-Sew Bags at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton on Sunday morning.

Animal Studies

The Quabbin Reservoir is one of the few homes in Massachusetts where Bald Eagles consistently nest. On Saturday, January 18th at the Quabbin Reservoir Visitor Center in Belchertown, families can learn where these majestic birds of prey go in the winter, why, and what challenges they face with they return to their nests during a free program. Get a chance to look for eagles and other wildlife at the Enfield Lookout, search for animal tracks and sign, and learn about the Quabbin’s eagle restoration program.

Fisher cats, minks, bobcats, moose… we share the woods with these elusive creatures. The winter months are a great opportunity to find signs of these beautiful creatures! Naturalist Dan Yacobellis will be at Sheep Hill in Williamstown to lead two Winter Snow Animal Tracking programs on Saturday, January 18th, with an early program for families with young children, and a later program for adults and older youth. Then on Monday afternoon, January 20th, Earthwork Program will lead an animal tracking workshop for the entire family in Conway. Connect with the winter woods and local wildlife by learning how to find their tracks and identify signs of behavior.

In the mid 1600s, a Native American in Massachusetts might have been able to trade a single wolf pelt for a bushel of corn. A “War of Extermination” was declared in the 1800s, and by the 1870s, 100,000 wolves were reported to have been hunted annually. This eventually resulted in the wolf becoming an endangered species. In more recent times, the gray wolf is starting to be removed from the endangered species list in many regions… how about New England? Massachusetts? On Thursday at noon, January 23rd, meet a live wolf at the Springfield Museums as part of the Museums a la Carte lecture, “Wolf Talk,” at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Learn about their comeback and where they live. Michael LeBlanc will discuss their behavior through furs, skulls, and a live Ambassador Wolf.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Cantilena Chamber Choir presents a Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Psalms and Spirituals Open Sing on Sunday afternoon, January 19th, in Lenox at the Trinity Church. Dr. King will be remembered through poems and speeches, and there will also be a spiritual sing-along with several local choirs. Spirituals, a type of folk music that arose from Christian origins, served as socio-political protest amongst African Americans. Songs like “Wade in the Water,” “The Gospel Train,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” are examples of spirituals. Bring your family and celebrate the work of Dr. King, and join in a sing along of song you might already know, discovering songs you’ve yet to discover!

Did you know the Pioneer Valley is rich in the history of the Underground Railroad? The African-American Heritage Trail is a walking trail of Florence with 15 sites, including the Sojourner Truth memorial Statue, which share much of this history. On Monday, the American Friends Service Committee is holding their 30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Florence & Northampton, beginning with a guided tour of the African-American Heritage Trail, followed by a community lunch at Edwards Church. There will be a special performance by The Nields, as well as storytime and a sing-along. Honor and commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. at this community-oriented day-long celebration.

Old Sturbridge Village will be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Explore the Village as an early New England town in winter and pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. by seeing characterizations of important 19th-century individuals who played significant roles in the movement to abolish slavery. Storyteller Tammy Denease will portray Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, a young slave woman living in Sheffield, Massachusetts who won her freedom in a landmark 1781 court case. There will also be portrayals of Abby Kelley, a 19th-century abolitionist, and William Lloyd Garrison, a founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

MLK Family Services, Community Music School of Springfield, and D.R.E.A.M. Studios are hosting the annual Dr. King Day Celebration at the MassMutual Center on Monday in Springfield. There will be music, dance, and spoken word by Freedom Choir, Women of Faith Gospel Singers, CMSS String City Youth Orchestra with the Martin Luther King Jr. Festival Orchestra, dancers and singers from D.R.E.A.M. Studios, MLK Family Services Drumming and Choral Group, poet Magdalena Gomez, Bravo Waterbury, and more.

Civic Engagement

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Images Cinema in Williamstown is screening the award-winning documentary film, #ReGENERATION on Monday afternoon, January 20th. This film explores the galvanizing forces behind the Occupy Movement and the state of social activism in our society. The film takes an uncompromising look at the challenges facing today’s youth and young adults as they attempt to engage on a myriad of social and political issues. Focused on how our education, parenting, and media can influence us, the film follows three separate walks of life representing today’s generation and is best suited for teens interested in politics, social justice, or activism.

STEM

Robotics are a great hands-on way to integrate STEM based concepts into learning. Teens can discover the world of robotics at a Robotics Introduction class at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum at the Springfield Museums on Wednesday evening, January 22nd. Teens can build their own robots using Lego Mindstorm NXT kits and learn about the many things robots can do. Integrate learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math in this fun, hands-on class.

Parent Workshops

Representatives from the Greylock Federal Credit Union will present a workshop for parents on Family Finance on the CHP Campus in Great Barrington on Wednesday evening, January 22nd. Parents will learn about avoiding security scams, online banking, credit scores, family budgeting, and how to teach your kids about money.

The Hilltown Community Health Center is offering a free workshop on the topic of, “Anxiety: Why Worry,” on Thursday evening, January 23rd at the Gateway Family Center in Huntington. The workshop focuses on the purpose of anxiety, its signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and the different ways in which it affects children and adults. This workshop would be useful for parents who think they or their children might be effected by anxiety, or those who would just like to learn more about anxiety disorders.egistered complex, there will be something for all ages to enjoy… for free!

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

[Image credit: (cc) Sam Salt]


Hilltown Families’ list of Weekly Suggested Events is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield,  Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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