Photography Exhibits Capture Scenes of Everyday Life at Home and Abroad

Local Photography Exhibits Illuminate Regional Histories

This month, two photography exhibitions in Western Massachusetts will offer audiences a similar, yet very different, viewing experience.  Lisa Quiñones’ Balkan Odyssey, now on view at Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery, and Chester Michalik’s Northampton In Time, on view at Historic Northampton starting Friday, July 11, both contain photographs of everyday life and scenes in their respective regions: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Northampton, Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

PINA Pays Tribute to Legendary Choreographer’s Imagination

Unique Film Showcases the Legacy of a Legendary Choreographer
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 7:30pm

Amherst Cinema’s photography series – of films that explore the “works and worlds” of great photographers – presents an extra-special screening of PINA in conjunction with the Smith College Museum of Art. PINA is an Academy Award-nominated feature-length film by famed German director Wim Wenders in memory of modern dancer and choreographer Philippina “Pina” Bausch. Set to work together in 2009 on a film that would explore Bausch’s “thrillingly unpredictable,” sensual, playful dance pieces, Wenders continued to work on the film after her unexpected and untimely death that year. Featuring her choreography and members of her Tanztheater Wuppertal group, PINA is a monumental tribute to a unique, influential woman, and brilliantly showcases her contributions to the world. Viewers are drawn into the detailed, imaginative sets that Bausch created, including a stage covered with dirt; a cafe-like setup in which the performers dance with their eyes closed, bumping into chairs and tables; and a man-made waterfall. Inspired by Pina’s last words: “Dance, dance, or we are lost,” the film highlights the power of dance as a vital mode of expression. It has been lauded as a milestone in both dance and filmmaking.

Check out the featured trailer: 

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Become a Citizen Scientist to Track & Document Bee Movements & Learn Lots Along the Way

You’re Invited! Help halt the demise of these important pollinators!

While our surroundings continue to bloom, take advantage of the late spring blossoms and the creatures that they attract by participating in some citizen science projects! Pollinator species of all kinds are declining in numbers as a result of environmentally unfriendly practices (like habitat destruction and herbicide use, among others), and by helping to collect data about pollinators, environmentally conscious folks of all ages can contribute to current efforts to support populations and ensure that they continue to exist for years to come.

In particular, families can use their citizen science efforts to help study populations of bees. Loved and celebrated for their role in pollinating some food crops that we enjoy, bees play a crucial role in ecosystems all around the world. This summer, instead of fleeing at the sight of a bee, families can practice photography skills, learn to identify insect species, and contribute data to studies of bee population distribution and the causes of population decline.

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Photography Blitz Aims to Capture Images of Contemporary Northampton

48-Hour Local History Project Seeks Community Participation
Friday, May 2 through Saturday, May 3, 2014

This collaborative activity is a great educational opportunity for parents, families, and educators because it presents contemporary daily life and daily tasks as being significant (both now and to future generations), and can imbue participants with a sense of appreciation for, and pride of, the place the live, work & travel to.

Does your family live in or near Northampton, Massachusetts? Do you have any favorite buildings in town? How about any spots where a treasured memory was made? And, over the course of your time in the area, how have you seen Northampton changed? A free public art project called “Midnight to Midnight” wants to know how YOU would answer these questions (and more)! From 12:01am on Friday, May 2nd through 11:59pm on Saturday, May 3rd, all are encouraged to use photography to document aspects of Northampton that they feel are significant. A collaboration between Historic Northampton Museum, the Forbes Library, and the Northampton Camera Club, this two-day event seeks to create a digital record of the city as it is today, in 2014. Each image submitted will build up a virtual archive of images and information about our present-day Northampton – a story told from many different perspectives and with a variety of photographic tools and techniques. While it is important and exciting simply because it is an accessible, collaborative project organized by three local organizations for anyone wishing to participate, the underlying goal is to foster a sense of connection to the people and places of Western Massachusetts, and an understanding of the larger community that Northampton contains.
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UMass Exhibition Examines Changes in Historical American Landscapes

A Genius for Place: American Landscape of the Country Place Era
A Panel Exhibition from the Library of American Landscape History

The UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting a traveling exhibition called “A Genius For Place,” on view now through May 10th, 2014.  Organized by the Library of American Landscape History (LALH), the exhibition illustrates and analyzes the chronological development of North American landscape design throughout the “Country Place Era,” or the period of time (1890 to 1930) between the Gilded Age through the end of the Great Depression.  During that time, many wealthy American families, convinced that their hectic, crowded, and unclean city lives required periodic retreats to the fresh air and far-ranging vistas of the countryside for renewal and recovery, erected country “cottages” (some of which were more extravagant than the average mansion today).  Of course, these homes were not complete without elegantly sculpted garden paths, man-made reflecting pools, outdoor courtyards, and a spectacular view to top off the experience of nature-filled country life.  Landscape architects creating the perfect outdoor environments for their clients employed a wide range of techniques, structures, and both modern and historical iconography in their designs.  It was a transitional moment, both for the country as a whole and for the practice of landscape design.

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Robin Karson, founding director of LALH, sees the Country Place Era as a significant time in the history of American landscape architecture: balancing on the cusp of the twentieth century, still weighted with the ideas and traditions of bygone years.  One such was the notion of the genius loci, or the “spirit of the place.”  While in some cultures this spirit takes the form of a protective, guardian-like presence, Western cultures more commonly use the phrase “spirit of the place” to refer to a site’s distinctive energy or aura.  In her book A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era, Karson suggests that landscape architects during this time were guided by the genius loci to preserve the natural beauty and quirks of the original landscape while injecting more modern, experimental architectural elements into their designs… Read the rest of this entry »

Landscape Photography Exhibition Encourages Visual Literacy

Landscape Photography Exhibition Encourages Visual Literacy

“The Eye is a Door” by photographer, Anne Whiston Spirn as Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.

From now through the end of August, the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA will be home to a major exhibition of works by Anne Whiston Spirn. Spirn, a renowned author and photographer, has for decades drawn connections between her photographs and the work she does as both teacher and scholar in the field of landscape architecture.

A graduate of Radcliffe College and the University of Pennsylvania, currently teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms. Spirn thinks of photography as a way to more deeply understand landscapes (and all associated fields like geology, anthropology, history, etc).

Her work promotes visual literacy – “the ability to read and analyze visual information” – through her thoughtful use of artistic strategies like composition and framing, the juxtaposition of natural and man-made structures, and focused attention to colors and textures.  Read the rest of this entry »

7th annual Hilltown Spring Festival in Pictures!

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!

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“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.

Photography of Ansel Adams Comes to Western MA!

Ansel Adams: Masterworks on View
Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA
February 9th – June 2nd, 2013

Berkshire Museum presents the special photography exhibition Ansel Adams: Masterworks from February 9 to June 2, 2013. An opening reception will be held Saturday, February 9, from 5 to 7pm. The exhibition features forty-eight works by Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984), about two-thirds of a selection Adams made late in his life to serve as a succinct representation of his life’s work. He himself felt these photographs were his best. The images are from the Collection of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA.

The Berkshire Museum welcomes their newest exhibit this week!  Beginning February 9th, “Ansel Adams: Masterworks,” will be down in the museum’s galleries.  The show contains 48 pieces of Adams’ most striking nature photography, on loan from the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA.  Titled, “The Museum Set,” the works feature scenes from across the country – Yosemite National Park to groves of aspens in Colorado, Cape Cod to the Sierra Nevada.

Known for his breathtaking landscapes, Adams’ work also represented his commitment to the preservation of the natural world.  In photographing beautiful places in nature, he shared with others a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural beauty of the world.  Not only is his work unique and beautiful art, but it sends a message to viewers – one that is difficult to forget.  The photographs are moving, and remind all who see them that nature is a precious resource.

A visit to the exhibit is perfect for young, budding photographers – they can learn about the scale upon which photography can take place, and will see classic examples of nature photography, not to mention a great supplement to art studies.  They can also learn to appreciate photography the way it used to be – when film and darkrooms were used, and digital point-and-shoot had yet to be thought of.  Non-photographers can learn from the exhibit, too – after viewing the images, think about the message that they send for conservation and the role that art plays in helping to create cultural change.

The exhibit is open during the Berkshire Museum’s regular hours, 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday and 12noon-5pm on Sundays.  For more information, call the museum at 413-443-7171. berkshiremuseum.org

[Image credit: Aspens, Northern New Mexico, 1958. Photograph by Ansel Adams. ©2012 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust]

A Year in Review: A Photo Journey with Hilltown Families

Western MA in 2012: A Year in Photos

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Youth Exhibit Opens in Hilltowns for New Year

Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western MA Youth Photographers
Opening Reception: Dec. 30th, 2012 from 12-2pm
Cummington, MA

For the month of January 2013, Hilltown Families and the Cummington Cultural Council will present a group exhibit titled Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western MA Youth Photographers, comprising of 20 Western MA youth ages 10-18. All are welcomed to an opening reception on Sunday, Dec 30 from 12noon-2pm at the Community House Gallery at 33 Main Street in Cummington, MA (rear of the Community House). Snow date: Jan. 1st from 2-4pm).

Youth participants in this group exhibit were encouraged to explore, document and share their connections to their hometowns through photographic images and an accompanying narrative. Combined, the pieces together reflect and communicate how these participating youth view and understand their local history, culture and/or community values, as well as the significance of the physical spaces surrounding them.  Participants from around the region submitted nearly 30 entries for this group exhibit.

“The aim of this exhibit was to afford area youth the opportunity to participate in a group exhibit that could aid in their learning and appreciation of their community, town and region,” explains Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families Executive Director.  “Contributors were asked to share the backstory of the images they captured from their town by using local resources, such as their town library, historical society and historical museums, or by interviewing experts and elders in their community. This was a great project for area youth to participate in community-based learning while strengthening their connection to their hometown.”

Images and narratives from this exhibit will be featured here on Hilltown Families in the months to come.  But better yet, come to the opening reception  on Sunday, Dec 30 from 12noon-2pm in Cummington and meet and greet this great group of local photographers and hear what stories they have to share.

Call for Photography Submissions by Western MA Youth for Group Exhibit

Call for Youth Photographers

Affording youth the opportunity to participate in a group exhibit like this can aid in the learning of their community, town and region by researching the background story of the images they capture while giving them a public venue to share their discoveries. Using local resources, information can be researched and gathered at their town library, historical society and historical museums, or by interviewing experts and elders in their community for a supporting narrative. This is a great occasion for young people to participate in community-based learning while strengthening their ties to their local community. – Deadline for entry: Dec 1, 2012

Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.

Presented by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, re-scheduled for the month of January 2013.

This exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA.

Deadline for entries has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Download poster here to post in your school, library and community center.

 

Call for Photography Submissions by Western MA Youth for Group Exhibit

Places We Live, Play & Learn:
Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers

“Affording youth the opportunity to participate in a group exhibit like this can aid in their learning of their community, town and region by researching the background story of the images they capture while giving them a public venue to share their discoveries,” explains Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families Executive Director. “Using local resources, information can be researched and gathered at their town library, historical society and historical museums, or by interviewing experts and elders in their community for a supporting narrative. This is a great occasion for young people to participate in community-based learning while strengthening their ties to their local community.” – Deadline for entry: Dec 1, 2012

Youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.”

Hosted by Hilltown Families with the the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of January 2013. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA.

Youth participants in this exhibit are encouraged to explore, document and share their connections to their hometowns through photographic images and an accompanying narrative. Combined, the pieces together should aim to reflect and communicate how they view and understand either their local history, culture and/or community values, as well as the significance of the physical spaces surrounding them.  For work that speaks of the natural beauty in their hometowns, young people can accompany their image with prose or poetry, or an explanation of their community’s ties to their natural environment.*

“Affording youth the opportunity to participate in a group exhibit like this can aid in their learning of their community, town and region by researching the background story of the images they capture while giving them a public venue to share their discoveries,” explains Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families Executive Director.  “Using local resources, information can be researched and gathered at their town library, historical society and historical museums, or by interviewing experts and elders in their community for a supporting narrative.  This is a great occasion for young people to participate in community-based learning while strengthening their ties to their local community.”

Entries are limited to 2 per person and participation is free.  Images can be from any season and must have been taken by the photographer in the past 3 years in their Western MA hometown in which they reside.

All entries will be part of a group show at the Community House Gallery in Cummington during the month of January 2013 and considered as a possible feature on www.HilltownFamilies.orgThe Cummington Cultural Council will host an opening reception on Sunday, Dec 30, 12noon-2pm (snow date 1/1 from 2-4pm) at the Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House on Main Street.

“The Cummington Cultural Council is excited about this special exhibit,” says Kathryn Jensen, Council Chair.  “Our mandate is to promote and support the arts and humanities in the Hilltowns, which we do in a variety of ways.  We’re thrilled to be working with Hilltown Families to create an opportunity for community-based learning and artistic exploration for young people in the area.”

An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf)

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Opening Reception Tonight for “Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit”

Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit
At the Northampton Center for the Arts
in July & August 2011

Opening Reception: Friday, July 8th from 5-8pm

Opening reception: Friday, July 8th from 5-8pm.

On Friday, July 8th from 5-8pm at the Northampton Center for the ArtsHilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit opens in the center’s East Gallery, taking part in Northampton’s Arts Night Out with an opening reception.

Photographs of life and landscape in Western MA featured on HilltownFamilies.org over the years by Hilltown Families founder and photographer, Sienna Wildfield, will be on display.  In a recent interview with Ashley Kohl  of 22News Mass Appeal, Wildfield explains how the images in the exhibit aim to reflect the local culture and community values found in Western MA.

“We’re thrilled to be invited by the Northampton Center for the Arts to display the exhibit in their East Gallery this summer,” says Wildfield.  “It’s a great opportunity to showcase photographs from Northampton, including images from last year’s Chalk Art Festival, the Tuesday Market and this year’s Busker’s Ball.”

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Photography Exhibit Celebrates Five Years of Western MA Grassroots Network for Families

Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA

In February, the show kicks off celebrations for the 5th anniversary of Hilltown Families with its debut at Cup and Top Café in Florence. An opening reception on Saturday, February 5th from 5-7pm offers the opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate while raising money for the network.

A traveling photography exhibit featuring images of life and landscapes in western Massachusetts will kick off celebrations for the fifth anniversary of the founding of Hilltown Families, an online grassroots communication network for families. Featuring work by photographer and Hilltown Families’ founder, Sienna Wildfield, the show will travel to five different towns in 2011, showcasing images relative to the season and the host town. All images have been featured on HilltownFamilies.org over the years and the exhibit is a fundraiser for Hilltown Families, a community communication network that has been helping to connect people in western Massachusetts for over five years. All net proceeds from the sale of images will benefit the organization.

Ellen Doyle of Williamsburg said, “Hilltown Families is the most amazing resource! It’s a great way to keep in touch with the rest of our unique corner of Massachusetts. I love the way Hilltown Families promotes local writers and artists, all while fostering a sense of community.”

The show begins February 1st, 2011 in Florence, MA for two months at Cup & Top Café, with an opening reception to be held on February 5th from 5-7 p.m. Reception is free.

“The community that benefits from and supports Hilltown Families is the same community that benefits from and supports our cafe,” writes Helen Kahn, owner of Cup & Top Café. “Hilltown Families is an incredible resource for connecting, informing and strengthening our community.  We are so pleased to be able to host the debut of Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit while assisting the fund raising efforts of Hilltown Families.”

From Florence, the exhibit travels to Haydenville in April, when Bread Euphoria will be the host; to the Bullit Reservation in Ashfield for May/June; the Northampton Center for the Arts will host the show in Northampton for July; to Williamsburg in September at Meekins Library; to Elmer’s in Ashfield for five weeks in October in time for the town’s Fall Festival; and finally, to Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls in November.

Wildfield, who founded Hilltown Families over five years ago as a way to connect families and strengthen community in western MA, said “Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit is an opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate our past five years while raising money for the network.  All of the photographs to be shown in this traveling exhibit will have been featured on HilltownFamilies.org and tell a visual story that is unique to our community.  These images give a glimpse into the life and culture of western MA to families visiting, moving to and living in the region.”

The network now hosts a dynamic web site, online bulletin boards, social network, listserv, a weekly radio show and podcast, and collaborations with civic and nonprofit groups, including the Hilltown CDC, Flywheel Arts Collective, Hilltown Home Gardeners Exchange, the Old Creamery Co-Op, among others.

Seth Isman, Economic Developer of the Hilltown CDC says, “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.”


Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit” is supported in part by grants from local Cultural Councils in Ashfield, Buckland, Chesterfield and Cummington — all local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Miss the Shot, Be in the Moment

Putting the Camera Down

Photo Credit: Alisa J. Blanchard

It’s a beautiful morning as the family rushes to pack the car and get on the road. We attempt to account for the various items we will need for the current family excursion: diapers, wipes, “cow’s milk,” snacks, change of clothes, swim suit, gloves, toys for the ride, music CD’s, and the list goes on.

I grab my point and shoot camera, a nice easy to use model and toss it into the diaper bag with hopes someone else will pick it up and get some great shots. Next to the pile I place my DSLR, it is hard to leave the house without it in tow, over the past months it has unfortunately spent more time with me, than my own daughter.

My husband peeks into the diaper bag to make sure it is all set, grabs it and my daughter and says “ready? I’ll go get her in the car.” I grab my DSLR bag and head for the door.

We arrive at our destination and start the process of unloading the vehicle, and there it sits, the camera bag. My husband reminds me “You brought your ‘little camera,’ it’s in the diaper bag.” I am now faced with the decision to bring the bag with me or leave the DSLR camera in the car.

It won’t matter which camera I take, the issue will come down to do I spend all day attached to the camera or do I “miss the shot” so I can be mom and enjoy the activity.

At a recent cookout at a friends house, I spent a good majority of my time connecting with good friends I hadn’t seen in months, wading in the kiddie pool with my daughter, chasing my dogs away from the picnic table and occasionally trying to get my daughter to eat or drink, something. A few days later the friend posted a request for all photos from the cookout on Facebook.

It hit me; I didn’t really take many pictures that day. I had brought the big camera and only pulled it out once or twice. And though I am happy with the images I got, I realized most people wont want to see the 20 images of my daughter’s silhouette slam dunking a basketball (with my husband holding her up for me).

I replied to my friend “Sorry, I didn’t get many. I know, I know, the photographer didn’t get pictures.” Her kind reply “even you deserve a day off every now and then.”

I am sure she doesn’t understand how important that was to me, but it seemed to be just what I needed to hear in order to allow me that freedom to occasionally “miss the shot” and be in the moment with my daughter.

Since this cookout I can say I have been less incline to always insist on bringing “the big camera” as it is known in my house. My husband reminds me frequently “You took amazing images with this little thing before you got the big camera.”

He seems to understand the compulsion I have to capture the moment in a way I want to frame, which marketing and professional “peer pressure” has so cleverly taught me to believe, was not possible unless I used a DSLR.

I don’t have the same need to take photos of every moment, as I have come to realized sometimes living the moment is often more important than capturing it “just so.” (Though my husband might disagree.)

Now I find when I do take “the big” camera along, just in case, it is easier for me occasionally leave it in the car or in the basket of the stroller (which incidentally is also hardly ever used).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alisa J. BlanchardAlisa J. Blanchard

A Berkshire transplant, Alisa is a: tattooed mom of an almost 2yr old girl; a photographer; singer (with her local chapter of Sweet Adelines International); writer; trained Doula (labor and postpartum support); and all around life enthusiast. She supports her family with her “day job” as a bookkeeper and fills her need for artistic expression in many diverse ways. When she is not making a mess with paints and her daughter; playing pranks on her husband; gardening; or hiking with the dogs; Alisa can be found working on her passionate dream of becoming a full-time photographer (Common Moments) and doula. cmoments@earthlink.net

350.org International Climate Action Day in the Hilltowns (Oct. 24th, 2009)

Join us on October 24th in Cummington, MA!

Join other hilltown families on October 24th in Cummington, MA for 350. International Climate Action Day!

Amy Pulley of Cummington, MA writes:

Dear Friends,

Save the date! Spread the word! October 24th is the 350.org International Climate Action Day. Come be part of our local action at Warner Farm (4 Porter Hill Road) in Cummington, MA from 2:00 pm on into the evening.

  • Ongoing from 2pm – 350 Neighbors slide show and photo display in the big beautiful Warner Farm barn. We still need about 200 more photos to reach our 350 goal! Bring your photos of native local plants and animals to the Old Creamery and send them by e-mail to wsrw@verizon.net to enter them in the slide show. Go to the hilltownsustainability.org website to preview the slide show. Call Amy at the Old Creamery with questions.
  • Ongoing from 2pm – Community Cider pressing! There will be 4 cider presses available. Bring your locally harvested apples (no spray preferred) and your own containers to take home your fresh-pressed cider!
  • 3pm – Group photo with 350 written in apples to send to legislators.
  • 6pm – Local and wild foods potluck. All welcome.
  • Throughout the afternoon and evening – Bonfire to warm us. Local musicians to sing to and with us. Weed walk.

Other events to be announced. If you have ideas, please come on Wed. Oct. 7th, 2009 to the sustainability meeting (7:30pm at the Village Congregational Church in Cummington, MA) to add them to the mix. More info coming.

Lunch Room Updates

School Lunch Updates:

Lunch Lessons by Ann Cooper.  Remember how simple school lunches used to be? Youd have something from every major food group, run around the playground for a while, and you looked and felt fine. But today its not so simple. Schools are actually feeding the American crisis of childhood obesity and malnutrition. Most cafeterias serve a veritable buffet of processed, fried, and sugary foods, and although many schools have attempted to improve, they are still not measuring up: 78 percent of the school lunch programs in America do not meet the USDAs nutritional guidelines.  Chef Ann Cooper has emerged as one of the nations most influential and most respected advocates for changing how our kids eat. In fact, she is something of a renegade lunch lady, minus the hairnet and scooper of mashed potatoes. Ann has worked to transform cafeterias into culinary classrooms. In Lunch Lessons, she and Lisa Holmes spell out how parents and school employees can help instill healthy habits in children.  They explain the basics of good childhood nutrition and suggest dozens of tasty, home-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The pages are also packed with recommendations on how to eliminate potential hazards from the home, bring gardening and composting into daily life, and how to support businesses that provide local, organic food.  Yet learning about nutrition and changing the way you run your home will not cure the plague of obesity and poor health for this generation of children. Only parental activism can spark widespread change. With inspirational examples and analysis, Lunch Lessons is more than just a recipe book—it gives readers the tools to transform the way children everywhere interact with food.

"Lunch Lessons" by Ann Cooper.

How the USDA Helped Bring Processed Food to School Lunch

Most adults don’t have glorious memories of school lunch. It was sloppy Joes, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti with meat sauce, and it was usually on the bland side. But the food wasn’t bad, and it was almost always cooked from scratch by an army of school lunch ladies. Read more at School Lunch Talk.

Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children

Remember how simple school lunches used to be? You’d have something from every major food group, run around the playground for a while, and you looked and felt fine. But today it’s not so simple. Schools are actually feeding the American crisis of childhood obesity and malnutrition. Most cafeterias serve a veritable buffet of processed, fried, and sugary foods, and although many schools have attempted to improve, they are still not measuring up: 78 percent of the school lunch programs in America do not meet the USDA’s nutritional guidelines. Chef Ann Cooper has emerged as one of the nation’s most influential and most respected advocates for changing how our kids eat.

In Lunch Lessons, she and Lisa Holmes spell out how parents and school employees can help instill healthy habits in children. They explain the basics of good childhood nutrition and suggest dozens of tasty, home-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The pages are also packed with recommendations on how to eliminate potential hazards from the home, bring gardening and composting into daily life, and how to support businesses that provide local, organic food. Yet learning about nutrition and changing the way you run your home will not cure the plague of obesity and poor health for this generation of children. Only parental activism can spark widespread change. With inspirational examples and analysis, Lunch Lessons is more than just a recipe book—it gives readers the tools to transform the way children everywhere interact with food.

American Lunchroom: A Photo Essay

Check out American Lunchroom for a photo essay of what our kids are eating at school: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Viewers are invited to send in a photo of what their school lunch looks like too.

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