Hilltown Families: BEST BLOG
Vote for Us by Feb. 12th!
Best Blog is listed under the
“Information Age” category.
Deadline to cast your votes is Noon, Feb 12th.
Participants must vote for a total of 10 local favorites… how about some of our sponsors (listed in the left-hand column)?
Spread the word & share the ❤ love!
ABOUT HILLTOWN FAMILIES
Hilltown Families believes in creating resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens through community based education and engagement. We work to accomplish this by highlighting the embedded learning that is found everywhere in our communities, making the information accessible to families, and giving parents/educators access to opportunities that supports their children’s interests and education while encouraging community engagement.
Founded in late 2005 by long time activist, artist and mother, Sienna Wildfield, the Hiltown Families blog is part of a online grassroots communication network for families living in Western MA, and is incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Massachusetts last year, currently awaiting the approval of 501(c)3 status. Serving thousands of families living throughout the region, Hilltown Families connects, collaborates, and creates community building events, community based educational opportunities, and service learning experiences.
See this TEDx Talk, Supporting Education Through Community Engagement, where Hilltown Families founder, Sienna Wildfield, shares the story behind the vision and mission of Hilltown Families:
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser of Northampton, MA writes: “Sienna has an idea that community can be found through community events—to learn, to play and to serve. She’s worked hard to form meaningful partnerships to support all these areas. From citizenry in field science to winter wear swaps to Valentine card making to festivals for the springtime, there’s a place that’s not a place but is rooted in our community. It’s Hilltown Families. I am grateful to be part of this family, and this place.”
Kara Kitchen of Plainfield, MA, writes:“ “Hilltown Families keeps us connected with all the amazing educational and cultural activities and resources that abound here in W. Mass and curates them in a way to let us know just what’s out there for the many varied interests of our young families and communities, while creating networks of support and growth.”
Seth Isman, Economic Developer, Hilltown CDC writes: “Hilltown Families is a model resource for the community. When we want to know what’s happening in the hilltowns, we turn to Hilltown Families first.”
WHAT WE’VE BEEN CHATTING ABOUT
We had several new Contributing Writers join our fabulous team this past year! Check out this amazing group of monthly writers who shared their voices on the Hilltown Families blog this past year:
- Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser ♦ Mash Notes to Paradise
- Candice Chouinard ♦ Let Them Grow: Fresh Ways to Engage Toddler’s in Creative Free Play
- Alice Cozzolino ♦ In the Kitchen with Alice: Recipes & Local Lore from the Old Creamery Co-op
- Rebecca Dravis ♦ Just My Type: Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes
- Amy Dryansky ♦ One Clover & A Bee: Poems For Families To Learn & Love
- Logan Fisher ♦ Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around
- Angie Gregory ♦ Parenting Green: Earth Friendly Ideas for Raising a Family
- Theresa Heary-Selah ♦ Engaged Learning: A Look at Western MA Resources
- Kurt Heidinger, Ph.D. ♦ The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers
- Shana Hiranandani ♦ Parenting Possibilities: Contemplation with a Splash of Inspiration
- Leslie Lynn Lucio ♦ Oak & Acorn: Forage, Farm and Feast with the Family
- Sarah Mattison Buhl ♦ The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons
- Mister G ♦ Under the Hat: Independent Music Education
- Jim McSweeney ♦ The Garden Plot: Growing & Caring Tips for the Family Garden & Landscape
- Cheli Mennella ♦ Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Reviews
- Kathy Puckett ♦ Time to Talk: Supporting Children’s Language Skills
- Carrie St. John ♦ What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community
- John Sarrof ♦ The Dinner Table: Ideas and Inspiration for Family Mealtimes
We’ve also had many guest writers this past year, including Emma Kerr of the Berkshire Museum, Amy Meltzer, Sue Lein of Camp Emerson, Donovan Athen of PeaceJam, Amanda Powers of The Clark, Gini Traub of DCR, Susan J. Lisk of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, Steve Fratoni of Wilbraham’s Little Free Library, Wendy Somes of the Mead Art Museum, Kathie Gow of the Hatfield Historical Museum,
In addition to these wonderful writers, we have several ongoing posts & resources, including:
- Berkshire Family Fun
- Learn Local. Play Local.
- Parent Night Out Promotions
- Recap Map
- Sustainability Bulletin Board
- Literary Guides
- Weekly Suggested Events
This past year we shared many ways families can participate in community service and practice random acts of kindness, starting with Spreading Kindness on MLK Day of Service in the Winter, then Service Opportunities in Western MA for Families this Spring. Other opportunities include Pen Pal Program with Best Buddies, Community Baking, Dog House Build Off, Volunteering at the County Fair, How to Hold Food Drive, Alternative to Halloween Candy, Socks for Seniors, Stone Soup Cafe, Spread the Bread, Children’s Volunteer Morning at The Food Bank, and Creating Care Bags for Giving,
One way to engage in your community while connecting with where you live and incorporating STEM learning into your day is by participating as a Citizen Scientists. Projects we shared this past year included Mass Audubon Winter Bird Count, Monitor Plants as the Seasons Change, Swarmageddon, Stocking the Connecticut River Watershed with Salmon Fry, Monarch Butterflies, YardMap, Snowtweets, IceWatch and 10 Featured Citizen Scientist Projects for Families. We also host a couple of annual citizen scientists projects, including Neighborhood Nestwatch and an assessment of the Westfield River.
Over the year, readers shared their feedback on topics like Keeping the Family Entertained in Subzero Weather, Rustic Winter Getaway in Western MA, Email for Kids, Bedtime, Including Babies During Family Dinner, Recommended Fiction Titles with Autistic Characters, Healthy & Vegetarian, Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Pioneer Valley, Handle Screen Time Limits, and Recommended Art Studios/Classes.
HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
We also feature a podcast on the Hilltown Families blog every Sunday, with great guest DJs like Lisa Mathews of Milkshake, Lloyd H Miller of the Deedle Deedle Dees, Bill Harley & Keith Munslow, Alison Faith Levy of the Sippy Cups, Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs, Suzi Shelton, Alastair Moock, and Keith and Ezra of Trout Fishing in America. This included many terrific episodes, like Purim Episode, Love & Social Consciousness Episode, Mardi Gras Episode, History Through Stories & Songs Episode, Cinco de Mayo Episode, National Parks Episode, Autism Awareness Episode, Community Service Episode, and many many others!
Mindy Brown of Easthampton, MA writes: “I looked over your website and was so blown away by not only the quality and content, but the devotion you have taken to include so many community groups and events. Thank you again for all that you do for area families. You are enriching our families and our community!”
BUT WE’RE NOT ALL TALK!
In 2013 there were several events Hilltown Families organized, including a Saturday Morning Music Party with Flywheel in Easthampton to bring families out during the colder months, MYO Handmade Valentines Workshop with The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, Talking to Your Kids About Sex with Certified Sex Educator, Brooke Norton and our Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families.
In the spring we supported the Kids-Made Craft Bazaar, and collaborated again with The Art Garden with Flowers for Friends & Mother’s Day Mementos. Then came two big community service events, our Family Community Service Event in the spring and Kids Day of Community Service in the summer.
Then in the fall we hosted our annual Winter Wear and Board Game Swaps, and a Virtual Holiday Food Drive. And we ended out the year with A Serving of Art: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night.
SUPPORT HILLTOWN FAMILIES SPONSORS
To take part in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll for 2014, you must vote in 10 or more categories. Over the years Hilltown Families has had many wonderful sponsors proudly displayed in the left-hand column. Consider voting for one of these local businesses, showing your appreciated of their support of Hilltown Families!