December 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Hampshire County, Volunteer Opportunity)
Tags: Community Service, Community Service Based Learning, Service Based Learning, Volunteering
Children’s Volunteer Morning at The Food Bank
Monday, December 23rd, 2013
This community service-based learning opportunity will take place during school vacation week on Monday, December 23rd, 2013, and offers kids and their families a chance to volunteer together while learning about food security and the important work the Food Bank does to support food security in the region.
1 in 5 children in Western Massachusetts live in food insecure households. The holidays are a particularly difficult time for families in need, who must juggle higher heating costs, children needing more meals at home (instead of at school), and recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), all while trying to put food on the table and make the holidays a special time for the whole family.
You and your family can help the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provide food for your neighbors in need during a special Children’s Volunteer Morning in Hatfield. Find out more…
December 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Art Walk Easthampton, Local, Pioneer Valley, Shop Handmade, Shop Local
The holidays are here and many families are thinking about gift giving. Art Walk Easthampton is happening this Saturday, December 14th from 5-8pm and is a festive event to attend with the family while shopping local and handmade for the holidays. With over fifteen exhibition spaces to explore, families can expect to discover unique gifts, art exhibits, local author/illustrator, and even art demonstrations. There are three areas to check out during this Saturday Art Walk, including Eastworks, the Old Town Hall, and the Cottage Street Cultural District… Read the rest of this entry »
December 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Board Game Swap, recycled holiday gifts, regifting, toy exchange
3rd Annual Toy Exchange in Northampton
There will also be a Board Game Swap happening on Saturday, December 7th from 9:30-10am at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap the morning of the Hilltown Families 4th Annual Board Game Swap. Stop in then head down to Northampton for their Toy Exchange.
The Third Annual Holiday Toy Exchange will be held on December 6th & 7th, 2013, at the Northampton Senior Center (67 Conz Street) in Northampton, MA. Toy donations will be collected Friday evening and early Saturday and will be available to the public free of charge at 10am Saturday morning. This event has become an important source of holiday gifts for residents on tight budgets; it also increases the lifespan of consumer goods which are discarded long before their usefulness wanes.
Donations of clean, gently used, working toys and sports equipment will be accepted from the public from 5-8pm on Friday, December 6th, and 8-9am on Saturday, December 7th. The following items are sought: musical instruments; action figures/dolls; sports equipment & bicycles; books, model kits & building toys; arts/craft kits & creative learning toys; cars & trucks; outdoor toys & structures; stuffed animals; electronic toys; video games & DVDs; and baby & preschool toys…
Find out more about the Toy Exchange in Northampton and the Board Game Swap in Williamsburg this Saturday, December 7th!
November 29, 2013 at 5:59 am (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, Holidays, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday Events, Kwanzaa, western massachusetts, Winter Solstice
Find out about family holiday events in Western MA!
We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to
check back each week!
Friday, November 29th — Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Friday, December 6th — Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Friday, December 13th — Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Friday, December 20th — Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Berkshire County ♦ Franklin County ♦ Hampden County ♦ Hampshire County
Tree Lighting ♦ Santa ♦ Holiday Strolls ♦ MYO Gifts ♦ Caroling/Choral Music ♦ Hanukkah ♦ Christmas ♦ Kwanzaa ♦ Winter Solstice
Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Nature Based Education, Resources, Science)
Tags: Botany, lyman conservatory, Plant Studies, Smith College
Calling All Budding Botanists…
Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory Offers Audio Tour for Kids & Adults!
The audio tour can be tailored to visitors’ particular interests, and there are separate tours available for kids and adults. The kids tour contains thirty different recordings spread out through the nine differently themed houses of the conservatory.
With winter approaching, fall is transitioning from a brightly colored celebration of cooler weather to a chilly, shadowy, hunkered-down, hollowed-out version of its former self. While the change in seasons is fascinating to watch, it’s not unreasonable to long for greener surroundings. Luckily, Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory in Northampton has just what you need to enjoy a day full of bright, summer-style plant life!
With ten different indoor exhibits to explore, the learning possibilities offered by the conservatory are endless. Tours are available to large groups of visitors, but families and individuals are welcome to visit during the conservatory’s regular hours to explore the hundreds of different plants housed there.
Despite the lack of human tour guides for smaller groups of visitors, tours are still available! Throughout the conservatory are quick response (QR) codes which, when scanned by a smart phone, generate an audio recording of information about a particular climate or type of plant. Visitors who don’t have smart phones can rent audio tour wands (which serve the same function) for $1 per person… Read the rest of this entry »
November 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: 5K, Chesterfield Gorge, Gorge aprés Gorge
Gorge Aprés Gorge: A Run in the Woods
The Sunday morning following your Thanksgiving dinner gorge, rise and shine to join friends and neighbors for the 10th annual Gorge Aprés Gorge run/walk at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield, MA. Community members are invited to embrace winter by being outside with friends and neighbors in a three mile out and back run/walk/bike/snowshoe/ski along the beautiful Westfield River. It’s a free event and all are welcomed! It’s a family affair. 5K at 9am.
It was a simple yet wonderful idea: reconnecting with friends and neighbors, on a brisk walk in the beauty of the outdoors, was the perfect antidote for the stresses and overindulgences of the holidays.
Evidently it was an idea that had legs, because this year on Sunday, December 1st, 2013, the community-organized “Gorge après Gorge” celebrates the 10th anniversary of its free, family fun walk, and the 4th anniversary of its 5k trail run at the Trustees’ Chesterfield Gorge.
Leslie Anne Charles, one of the event founders, described it as “a grass-roots, seat-of-my-pants type of event,” which turned out to be very successful. “Most people who come one year make it to the following year’s event.” A fun fresh air event that initially began with a few dozen folks has now blossomed, as word of mouth to new friends has spread.
The “best little run in the Hilltowns” will kick off at 9AM and follow a well-marked course – the dirt fire road – which is a slightly hilly out and back along the wild and scenic Westfield River, starting and ending at The Trustees’ Chesterfield Gorge. Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea will be waiting at the finish line (And you’re invited to bring your own treats to share.)… Read the rest of this entry »
November 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Film, Hampshire County)
Tags: Film Festival, Northampton Arts Council, Youth Film
Northampton Arts Council Call for Entries
The Northampton Arts Council will once again present YouthFilm, a day-long festival of film and video created by local youth in February 2014. The festival accepts film and video entries from throughout the region by young people from 5–18 years old, due by January 20, 2014… so get crackin’!
Is video the most popular creative medium in your household? Young film and video artists are invited to share their work at the Northampton Arts Council’s annual event, YouthFilm – a celebration of the work created by young budding visual artists. Held as a part of the council’s KidsBestFest, a kid-friendly festival of international film, YouthFilm is not only a celebration of the work of local youth – it is an event that builds a bridge between the examination and admiration of others’ work and creating and contributing original work to the field, allowing young artists the opportunity to become part of the world of film-making at a young age.
YouthFilm will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at the Academy of Music on Main Street in Northampton. However, entries to the festival are due by January 20th in order to be considered for screening. Films must be 30 minutes or less and must be submitted in digital form, but entries are not limited by any other restrictions – all genres and subjects are welcome to be explored within the videos.
Here is Emma Strebel’s submission last year titled, “Finding My Way”:
Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: International Women's Day, Speeches
Mothers and Daughters Invited to Participate and Create Speeches for International Women’s Day
On March 8, 2014, in honor of International Women’s Day, Women’s Voices Worldwide, Inc. will be hosting our second annual “Celebration of Speech” extravaganza. This event brings together women and girls from the community for a day-long performance of historic speech re-enactments of women from around the globe, contemporary original speeches by local women and girls, featured speeches by community leaders, and musical acts.
A voice is a powerful thing – but only if you know how to use it. Women’s Voices Worldwide, Inc. is offering women and girls a chance to explore and exercise this power at the annual Celebration of Speech, held on International Women’s Day – March 8th, 2014. The event, held at the First Churches Sanctuary in Northampton, MA, will include re-enactments of historic speeches made by women from all over the world, musical performances, and, most importantly, original speeches from women and girls from the community.
In addition to offering women a chance to exercise the power of sharing their own words and experiences, the event emphasizes the importance of empowering women. Women and girls ages 8+ are invited to create their own speeches to submit for inclusion in the event. While the organization offers a list of prompts to inspire speakers, these are just a starting point and encompass broad ideas and the common threads of women’s lives, allowing for lots of space for creativity and personalization. Speeches are expected to be between 500-800 words (approximately five minutes) and should be submitted to the organization by December 15th, 2013. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-727-3596.
November 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Art, Eric Carle Museum, Hampshire County)
Tags: Barbara McClintock, Children's Poetry, Childrens Music, Natalie Merchant, Poetry, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Leave Your Sleep
by Natalie Merchant & Barbara McClintock
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Nov 26, 2013 — May 4, 2014
The album Leave Your Sleep, which Merchant spent five years researching and writing, originated from a collection of poems — from such notable poets as E.E. Cummings, Ogden Nash, and Edward Lear — that come alive through an eclectic blend of styles, from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic influence.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art welcomes families to a special showcase of the art and collaborative work that resulted in the picture book Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The book, published in 2012, followed the release of Merchant’s very successful double album of the same name two years prior. She transformed a selection of classic children’s poetry from poets including Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, and E.E. Cummings into a collection of original songs that comprise an eclectic blend of styles from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic.
Merchant’s collaboration with McClintock is an attempt to make these poems and ideas even more accessible and exciting to kids: beautifully rendered in watercolors, a “parade of witches and fearless girls, blind men and elephants, giants and sailors” play out the ideas and emotions that the music evokes. “My hope is that this collaborative book of poems, pictures and music will provide many enchanted hours to children eager for beauty and the sort of adventure that happens between the pages of a book and the words of a song,” says Merchant.
Read the rest of this entry »
October 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Contest, Hampshire County, Northampton, Parents' Night Out, Video, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: civil rights, Concert Venue, Folk Music, Giveaway, Mavis Staples, Pioneer Valley, Promotion, Western MA
plus Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Thursday, November 7th, 2013 8pm
Mavis Staples, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient, comes to the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA, on Nov 7th! Enter to win a pair of tickets for a parents’ night out!
Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!
For November we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Mavis Staples plus Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Thursday, Nov 7th, 2013.
Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 11/4/13 by 11:59pm (EST). Details below…
ABOUT MAVIS STAPLES
It has been more than sixty years since Mavis Staples began singing with her ground-breaking American gospel, soul, and R&B singing family group, the Staple Singers. She is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. One True Vine, the follow-up to 2010′s Grammy-winning album You Are Not Alone features new songs written specifically for Staples by returning producer Jeff Tweedy (Wilco).
Mavis has been described by Rolling Stone as having “an almost superhuman ability to implant the pure power of passion and emotion.” She just returned from a series of dates in Australia with Bonnie Raitt and dates in New Zealand with Wilco directly prior to her appearance at the White House for the filming of a PBS All-Star show dedicated to Memphis Soul this past spring. Mavis will be touring internationally in support of One True Vine including a stop in Western MA at the Calvin Theater! – mavisstaples.com
October 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events, Westhampton)
Tags: Fall in New England, Massachusetts, New England, New England Culture, Pumpkin Roll, western massachusetts, Westhampton Fall Festival
Westhampton Fall Festival
Sunday, October 20th, 2013
Later in the day, families can participate in the Great Pumpkin Roll, which involves rolling a great many pumpkins down a very steep hill.. Will your pumpkin roll furthest? Think about physics while choosing your pumpkin!
Despite the warmer-than-usual weather this autumn, fall is in full swing here in western Massachusetts! Celebrate the season at the annual Westhampton Fall Festival, held on Sunday, October 20th, 2013. Fun activities, delicious food, New England traditions, and educational opportunities abound at the festival, which takes place in the center of Westhampton, MA, from 10:15am-7pm…
October 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Amherst, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Alternative Learning, Amherst College, western massachusetts
Splash! at Amherst College
Saturday, November 17th, 2013
Splash!… a one-day program in which college students lead fun classes for middle & high school students at Amherst College!
Jump into a deep pool of knowledge at Amherst College’s Splash, an event offering students in grades 6-12 the opportunity to take part in workshops on fun and fascinating topics not generally taught in school. Lead by Amherst College students, the workshops are designed to introduce participants to new topics and teach a few basic skills that can provide the foundation for future learning about each topic – which could be anything from origami to the math behind the electoral college.
Held on Saturday, November 17th, 2013, from 9am-4pm, Splash participation includes five different workshops, as well as lunch. Students are able to choose which workshops they will participate in, and can choose from over thirty different offering in the categories of engineering, math and computer science, humanities, art, and science. Many of the workshops cover topics that are popular amongst teens and tweens, like cartoon drawing, gaming, and food-related science; others cover topics that teens are likely aware of but are not well informed about, such as ethics, social entrepreneurship, and public speaking…
October 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampshire County, History)
Tags: abolitionist, Isabella Baumfree, slavery, Sojourner Truth, unerground railroad, women's rights activist
Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue Committee Offers Educational & Cultural Events to Support History Curriculum
A guided walking tour of African American and Abolition Era History takes place on Saturday, October 5th, 2013. Meet at the Sojourn Truth Memorial Statue at 10am (130 Pine Street, Florence, MA). Rain location at the David Ruggles Center (225 Nonotuck St., Florence, MA).
As an area rich with history, it is no surprise that the Pioneer Valley has deep connections to the movement that eventually lead to the ending of slavery in the United States. Sojourner Truth, an African-American woman famous for her anti-slavery and women’s rights activism, lived in Florence for nearly fifteen years during the mid-19th century. Born a slave and freed after more than 25 years of labor, Truth used her experiences as an enslaved woman to fuel her passion for speaking out for human rights.
Families can learn about Sojourner Truth’s important role in American history (as well as local history) and the details of her life in Florence by utilizing the many resources offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue Committee. Of these resources, the most easily accessible of them is a walking tour, which families with kids of all ages can take with the help of a downloadable map. Outlined on the committee’s website, the self-guided tour begins at the Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue, located at the corner of Pine and Park Streets, and follows the African-American Heritage Trail on an educational journey through town…
October 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm (Amherst, Art, Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Video)
Tags: Amherst Cinema, Art History, Art Studies, Dutch Artist, Gallery Exhibition, Johannes Vermeer, London National Gallery, Music History, Musical Instruments, Vermeer, Virginal
Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure
Tour of London’s National Gallery Exhibition
Screens at Amherst Cinema this Fall
The latest in Amherst Cinema’s EXHIBITION screening series, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, documents and deeply examines the Johannes Vermeer‘s works on view at the London National Gallery. The film, hosted by British art historian Tim Marlow, tells the story of Vermeer’s life, a Dutch painter from the 1600′s, and gives viewers a chance to experience both the exhibition – which, notably, includes several works by Vermeer that have never before been exhibited together – as well as some stunning close-up footage of the paintings themselves, accompanied by Marlow’s knowledgeable analysis of the works.
The exhibition focuses on the popularity of music as a theme in Dutch paintings, and illustrates this connection quite clearly through its inclusion of “Lady Seated at a Virginal,” “Lady Standing At A Virginal,” and “The Guitar Player,” all by Vermeer himself. To highlight the significance of the instruments’ inclusion in the paintings – and the differences between the instruments and their two-dimensional representations – authentic 17th-century virginals (similar to harpsichords), guitars, and lutes are on display along with the artwork…
September 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm (Hampshire County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Hatfield Historical Museum, Health Care, History, Medicine, Museum Exhibit
Behind the Scenes of Creating a Museum Exhibit
By Kathie Gow
Check out the opening of From House Calls to Hoaxes: The Changing Face of Health Care at the Hatfield Historical Museum on Sunday, October 6th from 11am-3pm during the Hatfield Fall Festival. (Free)
The most exciting thing about creating a museum exhibit is getting to learn about (or learn more about) a new subject. At the Hatfield Historical Museum, myself, as curator, and a handful of volunteers are putting up an exhibit on the history of medical care in our town, and it’s been quite a trip: From House Calls to Hoaxes: The Changing Face of Health Care in Hatfield.
We have been warmed by stories of house calls and dedicated doctors traveling by horse and sleigh through snow to attend their patients’ ills in their homes; as well as, fascinated, surprised and repulsed to learn what techniques and tools were considered standard in earlier times…
September 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Historic Deerfield, Museums, Pioneer Valley, The Beneski Museum of Natural History, The Emily Dickinson Museum, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The Hampshire College Art Gallery, The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, The Smith College Museum of Art, The Yiddish Book Center, University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst., western massachusetts
Museums10: Fall Exhibits & Displays
Museum10 Fall Highlights
Museums10 has release a new seasonal brochure to highlight the fall and winter displays and exhibitions at ten cultural, historical, and educational institutions throughout the Pioneer Valley (collectively known as Museums10). The brochure is a handy resource for both locals and visitors: it provides relevant contact and admissions information for each institution, making trip-planning significantly easier, and helps to publicize, and connect audiences with, a variety of displays and exhibitions that span a wide range of interests, ages, and expertise. This is outreach at its best: the brochure benefits audiences as well as other organizations with similar goals and similar content!
The member museums and galleries in Museums10 are: The Beneski Museum of Natural History; The Emily Dickinson Museum; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Hampshire College Art Gallery; Historic Deerfield; The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; The Yiddish Book Center; The Smith College Museum of Art; and the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst.
The following is a partial list of each institution’s current and upcoming exhibitions and (if applicable) additional learning opportunities and events…
September 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampshire County)
Tags: american elm tree, Dendrology, dutch elm disease, Forest, Northampton, Pioneer Valley, Plants, Smith College, Trees, western massachusetts
Woods of the World
Smith College Lyman Plant House
The Woods of the World permanent exhibit consists of 178 unique woods from all parts of the globe and hangs from the walls and ceiling near the north entrance of Lyman Plant House at Smith Botanical Garden in Northampton, MA. Utilize this local resource as a way of supporting your child/students interest in dendrology and forest product manufacturing.
Do you know what the inside of a pine tree looks like? How about the inside of something far less common, like a plum, yew, or gum tree? Get an inside look at all of these trees (and over a hundred more!) at Woods of the World, a fascinating permanent exhibit at the Smith College Botanical Garden’s Lyman Plant House in Northampton, MA.
Woods of the World (also known as WoW) features panels of wood from over 170 trees from all around the world. The panels cover a section of the plant house’s walls, ceiling, and floor and are representative of a diverse group of tree species from all over the world. By visiting this intimate hallway exhibit, families can learn about the uses for and origins of many types of wood, revealing wood grains in all shapes and patterns; while none of the panels have been stained, some have changed shades slowly over time, further expanding the exhibit’s range of colors.
Visitors to the exhibit can use a key, along with numbers on each panel, in order to determine what type of wood each panel represents. A handful of informational displays share information on the shapes and patterns of wood grains, and how examination of a tree’s grain can be used to learn about the tree and its life. The exhibit also offers information on the American elm tree, a species decimated by Dutch Elm Disease. In addition, the exhibits cork flooring is accompanied by information on cork which is, much to the surprise of many children, derived from a cork tree…
September 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Amherst, Art, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Community values, Math and Geometry, Mystical Arts of Tibet, Respect for the environment, Tantric Buddhism, Tibet, Visual art concepts of Color theory and Design, World Culture
“Healing the Earth”: Tibetan Sand Mandala on View at UMass Fine Arts Center Concert Stage
The Asian Arts & Culture Program at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center opens its 20th Anniversary season with an outstanding event that speaks to transformation and healing of our planet and ourselves. The Fine Arts Center Concert Hall stage hosts Healing the Earth: the Tibetan Sand Mandala, a visual artwork exploding with color and design, created on by eleven Tibetan monks.
Among all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In the Tibetan language this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor. The literal translation means a “mandala of colored powders.” This week come see eleven Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery at work as they use traditional instruments to lay down the finest grains of colored sand to produce a work of art that explodes with color and detail. This unique event happens at UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst, MA from Wednesday, September 25th – Friday, September 27th, 2013 and highlights the power of the healing arts to ignite peace and tolerance throughout the world.
Over a period of days, millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place in a circular design – a mandala – drawn on a flat platform. The mandala, using traditionally prescribed symbols, geometric shapes, and images, is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants. The experience of viewing this sand mandala will be particularly educational for those interested in, or studying, math and geometry, visual arts and color theory, world cultures, community values and traditions, and respect for the environment.
Sand Mandalas are an ancient Tibetan art form that were used to teach compassion, environmental relations and impermanency. With Tibet being one of the last ancient civilizations, teaching kids the history behind this ancient art form can supplement their global awareness of world civilizations and cultures. Witnessing the making and destruction of one of these amazing sand mandalas joins art and history together into a creative and tactile demonstration.
September 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Food, Hampshire County, History)
Tags: Corn, History, maize
Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain
Maize is the largest production crop in the world and plays a central role in all of United States agriculture and food production. Explore the science of maize, one of the most significant crops to humankind for thousands of years, and why it continues to surprise us today.
For thousands of years, corn has been a staple in the diet of countless cultures. Today, corn is the largest produced crop in the world, and the United States is no exception – large scale agriculture in our country revolves around corn production. What’s so great about corn, though? How is it that the yellow, red, blue, and white kernels have persisted in their importance to humans?
Find an answer to this question (and many others!) at the Smith College Botanical Garden’s fall exhibit, Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain. Open through December 15th, 2013 at the garden’s Lyman Plant House, the exhibit features history and cultural significance of corn, as well as lots of information about changes that the grain has undergone – both naturally and as a result of genetic engineering.
While visiting the exhibit, families with younger students can focus on the history and use of corn throughout history…
September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am (Hampshire County, Health, Northampton)
Tags: Breastfeeding, Breastmilk
Donor Breastmilk Depot Opens in Pioneer Valley
Life-Saving for Preterm Infants
Thank you to the first donor to the breastmilk depot!
If you find that you have more than enough breastmilk, milk donation may be a way for you to protect the health of premature infants… and for Valley families, it just got more convenient to donate!
The Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition has announced the opening of a new donor breastmilk depot, housed at Northampton Area Pediatrics in Northampton, MA. This depot will store and send milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
Donor milk banking, which began in the U.S. in 1911, is a way of providing human milk to premature and very sick infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Donor milk is provided as a supplement – not a replacement – for preterm babies whose mothers aren’t able to provide enough milk…
September 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Art, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: Art, Culture, Food
Women and Food Photographic Exhibition
September 3rd – September 30th
Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery
Springfield Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, her daughter, Mahmooda, and son, Dawud.
Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery will display local artist and writer Sarah Platanitis’ photographic project, “Women and Food,” this September. Platanitis edits and writes for the blog Sarah in the Kitchen, and developed The Women and Food Project while working on articles for the blog, for which she visited women from many walks of life in their kitchens and food-related spaces.
“During interviews, I would hear such great side stories that I sadly couldn’t include in the pieces. Still, I wrote them down anyway, hoping that one day I could go back and spend time again with these women,” says Platanitis. “I wanted to learn more about why they do what they do when it comes to food.”
When asked how she thought this exhibit would appeal to a younger audience, Platanitis explains, “I think a younger audience would benefit from seeing the exhibit because the women in the Project are great role models. They are successful at their work, they give back to their communities and they love what they do…”
August 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm (Contest, Hampshire County, Northampton, Parents' Night Out, Video, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: Concert Venue, Giveaway, michael franti, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Pioneer Valley, Promotion, Western MA
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2013 at 8pm
Parents’ Night Out! We’re giving away a pair of tickets for a night out at the Calvin Theater in Northampton to see Micahel Franti & Spearhead on Tuesday, Sept 17th at 8pm. Deadline to enter for a chance to win is 9/10/13 by 11:59pm (EST). Details below…
Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!
For September we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2013.
Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 09/10/13 by 11:59pm (EST). Details below.
ABOUT MICHAEL FRANTI
Musician, humanitarian, and children’s book author, Michael Franti, is recognized as a pioneering force using music as a vehicle for positive change as well as his unforgettable, high energy shows with his band, Spearhead. With the multi-platinum success of his song “Say Hey (I Love You)” and the chart breaking 2010 release of The Sound Of Sunshine, Franti and his band guarantee a show that will be thought provoking as well as a fun dance party! ”Music is sunshine,” says Franti, one of the most positive and conscious artists in music today. “Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.” Franti has a brand new single, “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” hitting radio now leading into his brand new album, All People. — www.michaelfranti.com.
August 12, 2013 at 9:44 am (Contributing Writer, Hampshire County, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)
Tags: Only in Northampton, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser
We ‘Like’ Living Here
A few weeks ago, my ten year-old-son and I walked back from town toward our house along Elm Street. We do this on a fairly regular basis. A woman stopped us and inquired whether we knew where the Campus Center was, specifically the loading dock. We pointed and explained and asked why she needed the loading dock. She explained that she was on campus for a weaving conference and needed to load her wares in; she was a vendor. We nodded and wished her luck at the conference.
“Only in Northampton do you give directions out for the weaving conference,” my ten-year-old remarked as we continued on our way. He was grinning ear-to-ear with amusement about his little town…
August 6, 2013 at 9:00 am (Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity, Wendy Somes)
Tags: Amherst College, Community Based Education, Informal Learning, Mead Art Museum, western massachusetts
Dig into Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College This Summer
Informal learning environments like libraries and museums are important in preparing children for success in school and life. Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally!
Art museums can seem daunting for families with children—untouchable artworks, quiet galleries, and security guards at every turn. But don’t rule them out, because art museums are the perfect destination for children this summer.
The Mead Art Museum now provides free activity totes for families to borrow while at the museum. A new theme will roll out every six months. The Museum’s debut theme, available now, is Dig into Art. Kids can dress up like Indiana Jones, with explorer vest and pith helmet, as they hunt for artifacts in the museum. Families can curl up on one of the Mead’s cozy armchairs and read a picture book of Greek mythology. Budding archaeologists will each receive a take-home gallery notebook to record their discoveries, inspired by real-life scientific field journals.
Dig into Art complements the Massachusetts Libraries summer reading program Dig into Reading. Libraries and museums are natural partners for helping kids and families prevent “summer slide”—the loss of school skills over the break…
The Institute for Library and Museum Services—a federal organization—recently published a report on how important libraries and museums are in preparing children for success in school and life. Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally. The more opportunities young children have to learn in an informal, non-school setting, the more successful they will be in school…
August 6, 2013 at 9:00 am (Art, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Contemporary Art, historic Northampton, samplers, silk needlework
Local Contemporary Artists’ Work On View at
Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center
August 9 – August 30, 2013
The Northampton Center for the Arts, A.P.E. Gallery, and the Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center have teamed up for another exhibition of contemporary art by local western Massachusetts artists. This month’s featured works are by Taiga Ermansons and Kim Carlino. Each artist’s work draws on Northampton and its history for inspiration.
Weather by Taiga Ermansons: Ermansons’ delicate tissue creations – often made on the terrace of her Northampton home – record specific moments in time, either through the intervention of weather elements (such as rain) on the tissue or through the use of embroidery techniques much like the ones Northampton women would have used over one hundred years ago…
July 9, 2013 at 6:00 am (Animals, Citizen Scientist, Hampshire County)
Tags: Bird Banding, Citizen Scientist, Citizen Scientists, Neighborhood Nestwatch, Smithsonian, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Hilltown Families Participates in Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch Citizen Scientists Program
Red-eyed Vireo’s were caught in our mist nests on Sunday morning in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sara Berk)
Every Autumn since 2010, Hilltown Families has participated in a yearly Citizen Scientist project with Biocitizen where families come together to conduct a Rapid Biotic Assessment of the Westfield River. This collection of data involves capturing and cataloging the bugs—benthic invertebrates —that live on the riverbed. Certain bugs like stonefly-nymphs need lots of oxygen to survive, and when you find a bunch of them, it’s a sign that the river water is fresh and clean and that aquatic habitat is unimpaired. If you find less, the data collected over a period of years will tell a different story. In the end, contributions by citizen scientists help scientists in the collection of important data and in the preservation of our local watershed.
New this summer, Hilltown Families committed to another yearly Citizen Scientist project, Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch. Recently expanding from the Washington, D.C. area to the Pioneer Valley, participating youth and families learn about bird populations while helping scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center answer critical questions regarding the survival of backyard bird populations.
Early this past Sunday morning, Sara Berk from Neighborhood Nestwatch, a recent graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, joined us near the banks of the Westfield River in West Chesterfield to erect three mist nests to catch and record eight Nestwatch focal species. Out of the eight Nestwatch focal species we were able to catch and band three different species, including a female Song Sparrow, a juvenile Carolina Chickadee and a beautiful (albeit, angry) male Northern Cardinal:
[Photo credits: Sienna Wildfield]
July 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm (Contributing Writer, Easthampton, Hampshire County, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)
Tags: Easthampton, Ice Cream Stand, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser, Tasty Top
Note 27, Tasty Top in Easthampton
Tasty Top in Easthampton, MA (Submitted photo).
While I have never made an exhaustive search nor done a scientific study, I am pretty confident that the following statement holds true: Tasty Top in Easthampton has the best soft serve ice cream in the Pioneer Valley. Please comment below if you disagree with the better option—and a description of why it’s better.
In my humble opinion, Tasty Top doesn’t taste plastic-y or fake or chemical-laden. It’s a bit rich compared to some soft serve ice creams. There are three flavors, vanilla and chocolate (of course) and black raspberry. Two of my kids (that’s half, by the by) swear by the black raspberry. I’m more chocolate or vanilla or chocolate and vanilla myself. My small gal is chocolate all the way.
Note, if you’ve never been there but plan to go: the servings are gigantic…
June 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Archaeology, Collaborations, Community Based Education, Literacy, Pioneer Valley, Reading Program, summer reading program, western massachusetts
Literacy Meets Archaeology in Amherst This Summer!
On Saturday, June 22, from 11am-3pm, Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum and Beneski Museum of Natural History will host a day of free, drop-in, kid-friendly activities. Activities include scavenger hunts and archaeology-themed art projects that are thematically linked to the Jones Library summer reading program.
Do your kids totally dig archaeology? Here’s your chance to tie their interest in dinosaurs, fossils and artifacts into reading this summer…
The Jones Library in Amherst along with its branches will be collaborating with two local museums in a free family event, Dig It! A Festival of Art, Books, and Fossils. Dig It! will be held at both the Beneski Museum of Natural History and the Mead Art Museum to kick off the library’s Dig Into Reading summer reading program on Saturday, June 22nd from 11am-3pm! To accompany the Dig Into Reading summer theme, these two Hampshire County museums, along with the Jones Library, have designed a collaborative event that will focus on archaeology and literacy!
At the Beneski Museum, families will learn how archaeologists find, uncover, and preserve bones and fossils. Kids can get up close and personal with dino skeletons and items that represent Pioneer Valley in eras past. Meanwhile, the Mead Art Museum will focus on items related to human history and culture, such as pottery and tools, offering families the opportunity to learn about the inferences that archaeologists are able to make about human history based on the artifacts that they uncover.
June 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Hampshire County, Hilltown Spring Festival)
Tags: Hilltown Community Development Corporation, Hilltown Spring Festival, Hilltowns, Photography, western massachusetts
Hot Fun at the 2013 Hilltown Spring Festival!
The 7th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival took place this past Saturday, June 1st at the Cummington Fairgrounds! An all day celebration with music on two stages, workshops, maypole, morris dancers, animals, kids-made craft bazaar, puppets, local food & vendors, and water sprinklers!
Terrific music on two stages! Performers included percussionist Tony Vacca, acoustic string band Appalachian Still, singer-songwriter Heather Maloney, the Lonesome Brothers, Hot Day at the Zoo, the Walkin’ Blues Band, and Dan Hales and the Frost Heaves. Music for children of all ages was performed by Mister G, David Grover and Terry A La Berry!
Here’s a pictorial from the Festival, a super fun day for families living throughout the region!
“It was awesome… we will be back next year!” – Eric Sutter (Springfield, MA)
Proceeds from the Hilltown Spring Festival go towards the Hilltown CDC programs that support low and moderate income Hilltown residents. These programs include small business support, housing rehabilitation, child care subsidies, and social services for families and the elderly. More info at www.hilltowncdc.org.
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