Cinema of Law: Screenings at the Berkshire Athenaeum

Criminal Justice Review in Film, 2014

There’s a lot more to law than just Law and Order!  The legal system is not all arrests and gavels – it’s a complicated system to navigate, and its intricacies can be fascinating.  The Berkshire Bar Association (BBA)and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, along with the Berkshire Law Library, are offering a film series filled with popular films following a law theme.  The four-part series is a mix of both documentary and fiction, both new and old!

Best for older high school and college students interested in criminal justice, the film series brings to light the reality of working in the legal system, whether as a lawyer, judge, or officer.  Students can learn about a branch of government not often examined in-depth, and will be able to enjoy some great cinema at the same time!  The films also help to promote the importance of understanding and engaging with government.

All films are free, and will take place at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  Each film comes a legal subject and will be introduced by a member of the BBA. Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, beginning on March 4th and include… Read the rest of this entry »

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack of Tickets to DiNO-Light at The Colonial Theatre

Enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets to…

DiNO-Light
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Friday, February 21st at 2pm

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to see a DiNO-Light, at The Colonial Theatre on Friday, February 21st at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win: 2/18/14 by 11:59pm (EST).  More details below.

About DiNO-Light

Lightwire Theater presents the Corbian Visual Arts and Dance hit, Darwin the Dinosaur. This heart-warming original story, also known as Dino-Light, features a friendly dinosaur who wanders away from home and discovers a world of creatures who light up the darkness and help him find the true meaning of love. Unique and visually dazzling, Darwin has been praised for its cutting edge blend of puppetry, technology, and dance by audiences all over the world.

“An eye-popping display of storytelling that’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen.” “Corbian Visual Arts and Dance is a force to be reckoned with” – Broadwayworld.Com

Read the rest of this entry »

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack of Tickets to “A Christmas Carol” at The Colonial Theatre

Enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets to…

A Christmas Carol
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Sunday, December 15th at 2pm

Your chance to win a free family 4-pack of tickets to see A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre on Sunday, December 15th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA (valued at $120) is easy & simple… see below!

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to see a theater production of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, at The Colonial Theatre on Sunday, December 15th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win: 12/10/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  More details below.

ABOUT A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Revel in the joy and redemptive power of Christmas as told in the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous miser who is reformed and shown the error of his ways by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with terrific turns and infused with holiday music. Shows run: Saturday, Dec 14, 21, & 28 at 7pm; Sunday, Dec 15, 22, & 29 at 2pm; and Friday, Dec 20 & 27 at 7pm.

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Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack of Tickets to Christmas at The Colonial Theatre with Mary Verdi

Mary Verdi Opens the Holiday Season
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Thanksgiving Weekend

Your chance to win a free family 4-pack of tickets to Christmas at The Colonial Theatre with Mary Verdi on Sunday, December 1st at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA (valued at $60) is easy & simple… see below!

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to see Christmas at The Colonial Theatre with Mary Verdi on Sunday, December 1st at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win: 11/26/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  More details below.

ABOUT MARY VERDI

Mary Verdi and special guests Bobby Sweet & Ron Ramsey will ring in the Holiday Season on Thanksgiving Weekend at The Colonial Theatre on November 30 at 7pm and December 1 at 2pm. Every year, Mary Verdi’s Christmas at the Colonial show invites families from across the Berkshires to a very special holiday celebration. Mary created this show for all to enjoy an unforgettable performance that includes a sing-along of old favorites, dancing, a children’s choir, bell choir, and a full band with strings and horns featuring area performers.

In its 4th year at The Colonial, this year’s show will feature Mary Verdi and her band, guest artists Bobby Sweet & Ron Ramsey, A Children’s Chorus, Dalton Ballet, Berkshire Music School Violins, St. Ann Children’s Chorus, Berkshire Pulse Drum Core, Neighborhood Gang, and of course, Santa!

Mary will be performing selections from her Christmas in the Berkshires CD as well as holiday favorites like “Silver Bells,” “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “Oh Holy Night,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!” — www.maryverdi.com

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Contemporary Islamic Art & Events in the Berkshires

Contemporary Islamic Art & Events in the Berkshires
Art Exhibit, Documentary, Music & Eid Celebration

The art exhibit, Islam Contemporary, is just one of several featured events in August that celebrate Islamic art and culture. Over the course of the month, there will be a community Eid celebration, a documentary screening and discussion with the directors, and a concert of classical Middle Eastern music. Find out more about these events!

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield are holding a joint art show, Islam Contemporary, for the month of August, opening on Friday, August 2nd in conjunction with the Pittsfield First Friday Artswalk in the Cultural District. The exhibition features twenty-five artists who hail from around the world, some Muslim, some non-Muslim; some emerging artists, some well-established. Included in the exhibition are works by the Berkshires’ own local artist Daisy Rockwell, granddaughter of Norman Rockwell, and Boston-based Pakistani artist Ambreen Butt. The works on display range from reinterpretations of traditional South Asian art, to critiques of the Western media’s portrayal of women, to statements about multidimensional cultural and gender identities, to attempts to use art to connect communities during times of crisis.

This exhibition offers contemporary and varied perspectives on Islamic art, history, and culture. Students of Middle Eastern studies may find this particularly informative, though families are likely to also learn much from the ideas and images on display. Aziz Sohail, the curator of the exhibition, says, “…this exhibit provides a platform for authentic and diverse voices that grapple with an ever-changing heritage. We hope that the show dispels stereotypes and sparks discussion by facilitating a complex and nuanced look at Islamic heritage and culture.” After (or during) your visit, ask your family to think about the works on display and compare the people and lives that they represent to their own lives. What is similar? What is different? What were they surprised by? What new information were they able to absorb/digest over the course of their visit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cinema of Law: Screenings at the Berkshire Athenaeum

Criminal Justice Review in Film, 2013

There’s a lot more to law than just Law and Order!  The legal system is not all arrests and gavels – it’s a complicated system to navigate, and its intricacies can be fascinating.  The Berkshire Bar Association (BBA)and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, along with the Berkshire Law Library, are offering a film series filled with popular films following a law theme.  The four-part series is a mix of both documentary and fiction, both new and old!

Best for older high school and college students interested in criminal justice, the film series brings to light the reality of working in the legal system, whether as a lawyer, judge, or officer.  Students can learn about a branch of government not often examined in-depth, and will be able to enjoy some great cinema at the same time!  The films also help to promote the importance of understanding and engaging with government.

All films are free, and will take place at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  Each film comes a legal subject and will be introduced by a member of the BBA. Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, beginning on March 5th and include:

  • The Last Campaign – Screened on Tuesday, March 5th: “The Last Campaign is a documentary feature film about the 2004 campaign for re-election of Justice Warren McGraw for the West Virginia Supreme Court, dubbed the “nastiest” judicial race in 2004, if not the most expensive.” (2005)
  • Caine Mutiny  – Screened on Tuesday, March 11th: “When a US Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes the ship, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court martial for mutiny.” (1954)
  • The Overlooked Suspect – Screened on Tuesday, March 19th: “This documentary film highlights a detailed and on-going 15 year investigation by one of America’s leading private investigators – into the 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson/Ron Goldman murders that prompts the question, “What If O.J. Simpson Didn’t Do It ?” Will be introduced by Albert Harper, Esq., President of the Forensic Science Consortium in Pittsfield. (2012)
  • Amistad  – Tuesday, March 26th:  “About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.” (1997. Rated R)

The Berkshire Athenaeum is located at 1 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield, and can be reached at 413-499-9480.

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack of Tickets to “The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater” at The Colonial Theatre

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater
February 19th, 2013
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA

Enter for a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets for a fun show and visit with The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and the Berkshire Humane Society who will be in attendance too, helping raise awareness about animal adoption! Deadline to enter to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater on Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA!

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater will delight audiences of all ages with amazing circus skills and extraordinarily talented and rescued pets.  Enter for a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets for a fun show and visit with The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and the Berkshire Humane Society who will be in attendance too, helping raise awareness about animal adoption! Deadline to enter to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  More details below.

ABOUT THE POPOVICH COMEDY PET THEATER

The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a perennial favorite featuring Gregory Popovich and his cast of jugglers, clowns, 15 house cats, 10 dogs, 4 geese, 8 white doves, and 2 parrots. Each of the show’s 15 cats and 10 dogs were once strays, rescued from animal shelters.

Gregory grew up in a unique environment, as the child of Russian circus performers Alex and Tamara Popovich. In addition to their juggling and performing skills, Gregory’s parents were dog trainers. From a very young age, Gregory formed a special bond with animals. Eventually, the connection he formed with his mother’s showdogs led to his participation onstage, assisting with Tamara’s dog act. At the age of six, Gregory began to learn the art of juggling. Eight years later, he prepared his first solo act – juggling on a free standing ladder. After the public debut of this feat, Gregory became a member of the renowned Moscow Circus at the age of 17.

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a family-oriented blend of the unique comedy and juggling skills of Gregory Popovich, and the extraordinary talents of his performing pets. They love to show off onstage – performing a variety of stunts and skits! Audiences will be delighted to see this extravaganza of European-style clowning, amazing juggling and balancing acts, and of course, very talented performing pets. Debuting in The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater’s 2013/14 season are the following new vignettes: Funny Winner Dog, Trained Geese, Dog Football, Dr. Doolittle, Brave Parrots, and Pet Fire Marshalls.

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater has performed in more than 20 countries, and is currently in its 4th season at the Planet Hollywood Resort/Casino in Las Vegas. Mr. Popovich and his Pets have been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, and as a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Feature stories have appeared in People, The New Yorker and USA TODAY. Most recently Gregory wrote a book about cats entitled, You CAN Train Your Cats.

Find out more about Gregory Popovich and his world famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater at www.comedypet.com.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE & BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires.  Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Berkshire County, including The Colonial Theatre. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. For more information on BTF call 413-298-5536 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.  The Colonial Theatre is located at 111 South Street in Pittsfield, MA.  For schedule and ticket information visit www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org or call 413-997-4444.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a free family 4-pack of tickets to The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater on Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA (valued at $60) is easy & simple! To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY  THROUGHOUT THE REGION  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win: 02/12/13 by 11:59pm (EST)

Engaging Exhibits & Hands-On Programs at the Berkshire Museum this Winter

Engaging Experiences at the Berkshire Museum

When you think of the Berkshires, images of the green and blanketed Tanglewood lawn may come to mind, or the beautiful colors of fall in the Hilltowns, but the Berkshires don’t close up shop for the winter! The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA has a busy winter season planned, with engaging new exhibitions, hands-on public programming, and lots of opportunities for family fun and learning.

Because the bat population is so fragile, Bats: Creatures of the Night features bat models that visitors can learn from rather than live bats, but the Berkshire Museum will host live bats on March 10th at 1pm! In a one-day-only special event, Rob Mies of the Organization for Bat Conservation will present a big brown bat, fruit bats from Africa and Asia, and the largest bat in the world- the Malayan flying fox – which sports an incredible six-foot wingspan.

The Berkshire Museum’s newest exhibit, Bats: Creatures of the Night, will be on exhibit through May 12, 2013, and is filled with opportunities to have fun while learning about these mysterious creatures. Grab a gallery guide as you enter the exhibit, choose a bat persona, and begin the Bat Survival Challenge, a game that leads you around the exhibit as you see if you can survive a year in the life of a bat. You can also learn how bats navigate and hunt by approaching the museum’s sensor-filled echolocation wall and watching how and when the bat-mimicking sensors pick you up. There are giant bat ears that you can try listening through to see how well bats hear. There are also plenty of bat mounts and models that allow you to see just what these mammals look like up close. Some of them have some pretty funky features!

The Berkshire Museum education department is offering a brand new education program with this exhibition. Bats: Out of the Cave and into the Night can be adapted to students of all ages. In it students will learn about bats’ incredible adaptations, how they benefit us and our environment, and the risks they are facing. Students and teachers will also get to experiment with the Berkshire Museum’s own echolocation machine, BAT-BOT. Teachers- can you navigate blindly through a maze of your students using only the readouts from the museum’s echolocation sensors? Come find out, and then challenge your students to navigate like bats as well. Families can also try BAT-BOT during the museum’s Bats gallery program, which will be presented in the Bats exhibit halls on the second Saturday of each month, through May, at 11am.

Winter can be a time where kids can go a little ‘batty’ themselves. Fortunately the Berkshire Museum has several programs were kids can come in, explore, experiment, and play!

Get a taste of chemistry as a mad scientist at Kitchen Kaboom! at the Berkshire Museum on the last Saturday of every month! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.

Kitchen Ka-Boom, the museum’s new family-friendly physical science program, offers kids the opportunity to learn while making a mess! Whether participants are shooting a rocket to the ceiling with Alka-Seltzer and water, or making gooey slime, participants are learning through some sort of surprise reaction. Taking place on the last Saturday of every month, all experiments involve simple and kid-friendly ingredients, most of which can be found around the house or at your local grocery store. Each participant leaves with a sheet of information detailing the science behind the experiment and how you can replicate it at home. This information is also posted on the museum’s website in case you want to see what we’re up to from home. The museum strives to introduce new experiments each session, keeping budding scientists coming back! Find program details here: Kitchen Ka-Boom.

Animals Up Close: The Wolf will be presented on Tuesday, February 19, at 1pm, featuring special guest Atka, an Arctic Gray Wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. As an animal ambassador, Atka travels to help educate people about wolves and their relationship to our environment, and how humans have an important role in protecting their future.

WeeMuse: Ten Days of Play begins at the museum on Thursday, February 14, continuing through Saturday, February 23. Have you ever spent hours choosing the best new toy for your child, only to find that they are much more excited to play with box it came in? This ubiquitous experience is the basis for this exciting new program. Ten Days of Play highlights the importance of child-directed play. The Crane Room will be filled with play materials like paper and cardboard boxes that you and your child can use in whatever way you imagine daily from 11-3pm. This program is free with museum admission and presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop-Up Adventure Play.

Do you have a budding filmmaker who will be home during February break? Send them to the museum for February Vacation Movie Camp! From Monday, February 18, through Friday, February 22, students in grades 3-6 will get the opportunity to work a group film with film producer Erica Spizz. Students will be involved with all aspects of the film, from creating the storyline to the acting and filming. On Friday, Feb. 22,  friends and families will get to watch the final product in a special screening in the Berkshire Museum Theater.  And this summer, the Berkshire Museum will offer some new and exciting  summer camps, as well as some returning favorites!

ABOUT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM

The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield, MA. The Museum was established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. Little Cinema is open year-round; Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.  The Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday 12noon-5pm. For more information, visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413-443-7171. Museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission.

-Emma Kerr


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emma Kerr is the Natural Science Education Specialist at the Berkshire Museum, where she teaches school and public programs on all subjects, from animation to aquarium animals. A native of central Massachusetts, Emma now lives in Pittsfield.

Repair Café in the Berkshires

Pittsfield Resilience Circle Host a Repair Café
Saturday, January 19th, 2013

The Repair Café concept was formulated in 2009 in the Netherlands by journalist and publicist Martine Postma and sustainability accelerator Peter van Vliet. Since January 2011, the Repair Café Foundation has provided support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Cafe (repaircafe.org). [Image: First Repair Café held in Brussels.]

Janet Henderson writes:

What do you do with a broken toaster? Or with a bike that needs repair? Or with a pair of pants when a seam rips? Or a partially dysfunctional umbrella? Throw it away? Certainly not!

The Pittsfield Resilience Circle is organizing the Berkshires’ first ever Repair Café. It will be held in Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the St. Stephen’s Church basement at 67 East St. The event is entirely free.

[The  Repair Café] involves people in the community giving to other people in the community, making needed repairs of all kinds. Various repair persons will be available to fix small appliances, clothing and other fabric items, bicycles, toys, small furniture items, computers, and so on. Anyone with a broken item in need of repair may bring it to the Repair Café between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th. We will fix as many articles as we can during that time. We’re also offering free refreshments for those waiting in line.

The Pittsfield Resilience Circle could use more volunteers for the Repair Cafe. Persons with experience in any kind of repair craft or who would like to provide general help, please call Tom Harter at 413-212-8589 or email Janet Henderson at jmh227@hotmail.com. The Repair Café is looking for more sponsors (those who donate $20 or more). We are thankful for our sponsors, including the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), who is contributing both money and time!

By holding a Repair Café, the Pittsfield Resilience Circle wants to help reduce waste, promote repair skills, teach us all to be more self-sufficient, have fun, come together in a non-consumerist way, forge bonds of friendship through mutual dependency, and make Pittsfield a better place to live.

ABOUT RESILIENCE CIRCLES

Members of the Pittsfield Resilience Circle meet twice a month to learn together and become better friends through doing things for and with each other. The Resilience Circle is based on information available at localcircles.org. The group also has an informal Gift Circle. Information about Gift Circles can be found on the OpenCollaboration’s Blog.

Learn About Bats: Interactive Exhibit, Facts & Habitat

Berkshire Museum presents
Bats: Creatures of the Night
Learn the true story of the only flying mammal
from January 19 to May 12, 2013

Discover bat habitats and where the different species live around the globe at the Berkshire Museum exhibit, Bats: Creatures of the Night. Match different kinds of bats with their preferred foods. Explore life-size models of a variety of bats, from the Fisher Bat and the Honduran White Bat to the Gray-headed Flying Fox Bat. View exciting photographs of bats in action, featuring the Gambian Epauleted Fruit Bat and the Mexican Free-tailed Bat, among many others. Exhibit opens January 19th and run through March 12th, 2013.

Forget the myths and learn the truth about bats: they are gentle, beneficial animals that play an important role in our planet’s ecology. With larger-than-life models and interactive stations, visitors to Bats: Creatures of the Night at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield can experience the sensitivity of bat hearing, discover how bats find their way in the dark, and understand how mother bats locate their young. The exhibition opens January 19 and runs through March 12, 2013.

Bats use echolocation to navigate the dark, and at the Berkshire Museum, you and your family can try it out! Echolocation is just one of the many bat-related concepts highlighted in Bats: Creatures of the Night. The exhibit features a rich array of video, photography, life-like models, and interactive stations to inform museum guests about how interesting–and vital–bats are. The interactive stations sound particularly interesting, including opportunities to simulate echolocation, learn how mama bats keep tabs on their young, and trying on bat “ears.”

The exhibit runs from January 19th through May 12, 2013. The Exhibition Opening Day happens on Saturday, January 19th from 1-3pm, with a number of activities appropriate for all ages. Kids can experiment with echolocation, go on a scavenger hunt through the museum, or get crafty and make a pair of batwings. There will be an introductory slide show at 4pm, and a preview reception from 5-7pm (museum admission is free after 5pm). There is also a gallery walk about bats with an expert on February 9 at 11am. You can read more about it at: berkshiremuseum.org

BAT FACTS & BOOKS

Bats are fascinating. The largest bats have a wingspan of 6 feet and the smallest weigh as much as a dime. They can eat 2,000-6,000 mosquitoes per night and digest fruit in 20 minutes. Of the more than 1000 species of bats around the world, only three are “vampire” bats, who drink the blood of live animals. While vampire bats have sullied the reputation of this useful and gentle mammal, they are intriguing. Vampire bats have an anti-coagulant in their saliva that keeps the blood flowing as long as they are feeding, but allows the animal to heal quickly upon their departure. Vampire bats are also particularly social and have been known to bring food to elderly or sick bats. Bats play an essential role in the ecosystem, as pollinators, seed dispersers and pest managers.

Books to consider for exploring bats at home:

MAKE YOUR OWN BAT HOUSE

Want to attract bats around your home? Put up a bat house! Families can make their own bat house at an Audubon workshop to be held on Saturday April 13, 2013 at 1:30 at the Audubon Society in Lenox . The program begins with a slide show about bats in our area, as well as their natural history. While there is a registration fee, it includes the materials to construct one bat house. Be sure to bring a hammer. The workshop is suitable for children over 5, as long as they are with an adult. You can read more about it at www.massaudubon.org. – If you can’t make the workshop but still want to make a bat house with your kids, check out these DIY Bat House Kits..


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family.  She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology.  Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.

[Photo credit: Evergreen Exhibitions]

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack to “A Christmas Carol” at The Colonial Theatre

Berkshire Theatre Group’s
7th Annual Community Production of
A Christmas Carol
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA

From December 15-30, 2012, Berkshire Theatre Group presents its annual community production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Eric Hill and presented for the second time at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA. – Enter for your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to their final performance on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm!

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to see BTG’s 7th annual community production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA!

This community production runs Dec. 15th-30th, and we are giving away a family 4-pack of tickets to see their final performance on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm. Win tickets and surprise your family on Christmas Day with the gift of community theater!  Deadline to enter to win: Monday, Dec. 24th, 2012 by 12noon (EST). More details below.

ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE

Revel in the joy and redemptive power of Christmas as told in the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous miser who is reformed and shown the error of his ways by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience Charles Dickens’ classic story filled with terrific turns and infused with holiday music.

“In 2006, we introduced Berkshire audiences to our production of A Christmas Carol at our Unicorn Theatre,” says BTG Artistic Director, Kate Maguire. “The production instantly became an annual favorite. Last year—we moved to The Colonial Theatre where A Christmas Carol has found a wonderful new home. The Colonial is a perfect setting for this timeless tale about goodness and greed.”

A Christmas Carol runs December 15–30, 2012 at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield with 7:30pm performances Thurs.-Sat., and 2pm performances on Sat. & Sun. (excluding opening night). Before each performance families are invited to arrive early and be treated to a performance by BTG’s Children’s Chorus of holiday music and sing-a-longs in The Garage.

The Colonial Theatre is located at 111 South Street in Pittsfield, MA.  For schedule and ticket information visit www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org or call 413-997-4444.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE & BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires.  Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Berkshire County, including The Colonial Theatre. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. For more information on BTF call 413-298-5536 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Berkshire Theatre Group’s 7th annual community production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at The Colonial Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA (valued at $100) is easy & simple! To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY   below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 at 12noon (EST).

New Youth Musical Explores History and Culture of Rhythms

The Evolution of Rhythms
Youth Musical Explores the History of Beats
Saturday, Oct. 27th in Pittsfield, MA

Most kids today enjoy popular music of some sort – especially hip-hop!  But where does the style (and the unique name) come from?  Pittsfield’s Youth Alive presents, The Evolution of Rhythms, an original musical that explores the history and cultural context and significance of beats on Saturday evening, October 27th in Berkshire County. The show features local youth performers (as well as some special guests) and pulls the audience through changes in musical styles and genres from the late 19th century until today.

Students may be surprised to learn that even though modern hip-hop is perceived as the music of younger generations, its roots actually lie in the clapping and stomping dances done to djembe, a traditional Malawean drum brought to the United States during the 1800’s slave trade – it has been around for quite a while!

Rhythm and beats remain central to the storyline of The Evolution of Rhythms as the show moves forward through time, and each scene features exciting original performances of drum, step, dance, song, and spoken word.  Students can use the show to supplement (or begin) studies of music and/or art history – it will provide them with a unique look at the cultural context within which traditions are created, changed, and passed on.  The show is written, directed, and narrated by Pittsfield native and former Youth Alive member Jerome Edgerton, Jr.  and will be performed at the Barrington Stage Company’s mainstage (58 Union Street, Pittsfield) at 7pm on Saturday, October 27th.

Edgerton says a key reason for creating this play has to do with the youth’s ignorance of historically forms of music on today’s most popular forms. “The youth today don’t really understand the culture and where the term hip-hop came from. So, The Evolution of Rhythms gives a history of how hip-hop has its influence on society today. It started with people clapping their hands and stomping their feet to the drums and djembe.”

The Evolution of Rhythms is also sponsored by the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, Youth Alive, Berkshire United Way’s Pittsfield Prevention Partnership, and the Pittsfield Cultural Council. The Pittsfield Prevention Partnership will present their quarterly SAY It Proud Awards at the performance, recognizing young people who are involved in positive activities and making healthy choices.

Tickets to The Evolution of Rhythms are $10/adults, $5/seniors & students, and free for kids under 12 years old. To order tickets, call the  Barrington Stage Company box office at 413-236-8888. Ticket will also be available at the door the night of the show.

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack to “A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar” at The Colonial Theatre

A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar:
Treasured Stories by Eric Carle
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Sunday, October 28th @ 2pm

Enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets to  A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Sunday, Oct. 28th at 2pm. Deadline to enter: 10/23/12.

Hilltown Families and the Berkshire Theatre Group have partnered up to offer a free family 4-pack of tickets to one lucky family to see the much-anticipated new production from Mermaid TheatreA Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar!

This new production brings together three of Eric Carle’s most beloved tales. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is joined by a whimsical cast of adventurous animals drawn from the pages of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and a young girl on an unusual quest from the poignant story, Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me. Evocative music, stunning visual effects and innovative puppetry entertain and educate.

This production in Berkshire County is on Sunday, October 28th at 2pm at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA. Win a 4-pack of tickets and take your family for a delightful Sunday afternoon performance! Deadline to enter to win: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 at 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE & BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires.  Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Berkshire County, including The Colonial Theatre. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. For more information on BTF call 413-298-5536 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Mermaid Theatre’s production of A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA Sunday, October 28th @ 2pm (valued at $60) is easy & simple! To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY   below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 at 11:59pm (EST).

Read the rest of this entry »

15 Films Tell the History of Film at the Berkshire Museum

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA
Oct 18 – Dec 13, 2012

The Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema is offering an in-depth look at the history of films!  The cinema will screen The Story of Film: An Odyssey in eight parts on Thursdays between October 18th and December 13th, starting with “Birth of Cinema:”

The series, which totals just over 15 hours in length, has been divided into fifteen parts – two of which will be shown each week.

Pieced together by film historian Mark Cousins, the series covers literally all of film history, beginning in Thomas Edison’s New Jersey laboratory and ending with a critical look at the multi-billion dollar, technology advanced modern film industry.  Other topics covered include early Hollywood, and the creation of the glitzy Hollywood dream; the so-called “golden age” of cinema, along with the artistry of expressionism, surrealism, and impressionism; the incorporation of sound and color into film; and the effects of changes in American culture on film, especially during eras of historical importance (post WWII, the 1970’s, etc.).

Most appropriate for older students, the film series offers lots of information, presented and narrated in a way that is easily understood.  Students can tie what they learn about film history to their own prior knowledge of American history and culture, and the development of technology.  Each screening costs $5, but passes to all eight screenings are available for $25.  There will be no screening on Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 22nd.  For more information call 413-443-7171 or visit www.berkshiremuseum.org.

SYNOPSES OF FILMS:

October 18, 7 p.m.
Part 1: “Birth of the Cinema” (1900–1920)
Filmed in the very buildings where the first movies were made, this hour shows ideas and passion as the driving forces behind film, more so than money and marketing. It covers the very first movie stars, the close up shot, special effects, and the creation of the Hollywood myth, along with a surprise: the women who were the greatest — and best-paid — writers in these early years.
Part 2: “The Hollywood Dream” (1920s)
Star/directors like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made Hollywood a glittering entertainment industry. But the gloss and fantasy was challenged by movie makers like Robert Flaherty, Eric Von Stroheim, and Carl Theodor Dreyer, who wanted films to be more serious and mature. The result of this battle for the soul of cinema: some of the greatest movies ever made.

October 25, 7 p.m.
Part 3: “Expressionism, Impressionism, and Surrealism: Golden Age of World Cinema” (1920s)
German Expressionism, Soviet montage, French impressionism and surrealism pushed the boundaries of film as passionate new movements. Less known are the glories of Chinese and Japanese films, and the moving story of a great, now-forgotten, movie star, Ruan Lingyu.
Part 4: “The Arrival of Sound” (1930s)
Along with the advent of sound with film comes a host of new genres: screwball comedies, gangster pictures, horror films, westerns, and musicals. Director Howard Hawks was a master of most of them. During this period, Alfred Hitchcock hits his stride and French directors become masters of mood.
Read the rest of this entry »

Lord of the Flies Jumps Out of the Pages & Onto the Stage this October!

Lord of the Flies Takes to the Stage
Barrington Stage Co. in Pittsfield
October 3-21, 2012

One of the greatest books of the 20th century comes to life on stage this fall in Pittsfield. Lord of the Flies is a must-see adventure story that begins with a group of English schoolboys stranded on an island and ends with a group of savages playing life and death games.

William Golding’s classic book, Lord of the Flies, is jumping out of its pages and onto the stage!  The Barrington Stage Company’s production of the story will run October 3rd-21st, 2012 – and the show is educational and thought provoking for students and adults alike.

The story chronicles the events following a plane crash that leaves young British schoolboys stranded – unsupervised – on a remote island.  Eventually, the boys begin living a sort of savage life, and battle with each other for power and control.  The story serves as a metaphor for many historic events and time periods, and can provide a segue into discussions about the psychology and sociology of power, as well as the forming of groups and allegiances.

Is your school or homeschool group interested in attending a student matinee of Lord of the Flies? Call to make your reservation sfor a Friday or Tuesday in October. 413-236-8888.

The show is a great supplement to studies of history of any kind, as well as in-depth studies of literature.  Performances will take place Wednesdays-Sundays from October 3rd-21st at the Barrington Stage Company, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA.

Student matinee performances are now being booked for interested schools and homeschool groups for Tuesday and Friday 10am screenings.

Call the theater at 413-499-5446 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org for information on showtimes and ticket pricing.

Pie Contest at Hancock Shaker Village

Youth Invited to Participate in Hancock Shaker Village’s Annual Pie Contest
Deliver to Village on Sept 28th.

Hancock Shaker Village’s 15th annual Country Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Sept 29th-30th from 10am-5pm promises fun for the whole family with Shaker-inspired games in the Kids Tent, a farmers’ market with samples of heirloom vegetables to taste, vendors and demonstrations of handmade crafts, wagon and pony rides, antique engines and tractors, a pie contest, and a juried quilt exhibition.

Hancock Shaker Village’s annual Country Fair takes place on September 29th and 30th! The festival celebrates the fall harvest and all of the many food-related activities and traditions that the season brings. Especially exciting is the festival’s annual pie contest, which features an amateur division for young baker-extraordinaires! Entries in the contest must be baked at home from scratch, and delivered to the village between 3-5pm on Friday, September 28th. Bakers may use the crust recipe of their choice, and can choose their own filling or use one of the provided recipes from The Best of Shaker Cooking. By participating in the contest, kids can learn shaker history, practice chemistry and math skills in the kitchen, and begin to develop culinary independence and creativity! For more information on the fair, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org or call 413-443-0188.

Looking for pie baking books to inspire you or the youth baker in your home?  Here are some suggestions you might find at your local library:

[Photo credit: (ccl) Julie Falk]

Ticket Giveaway: Parents’ Night Out to See FOUND at The Colonial Theatre

FOUND
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Friday, September 21st @ 8pm

We’re giving away two pairs of tickets to see FOUND, a new musical comedy by Hunter Bell, arriving at the Berkshire Theatre Groups’s Colonial Theatre on Sept 21 & 22 in Pittsfield. Enter to win one of two pairs of tickets to the Friday night performance.  Deadline to enter to win: 9/18.

Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families has two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see the new musical comedy, FOUND, on opening night to be performed at Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre on Friday, Sept. 21 at 8pm and Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2pm & 8pm- a night out in the heart of the Berkshires!

Win tickets to the Friday night production and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 9/18/12 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT FOUND

Based on Davy Rothbart’s popular Found books, magazines, tours and appearances on This American Life comes a new musical comedy about the things we’ve lost and the ways they bring us together. Hunter Bell joins composer/lyricist Eli Bolin, director Lee Overtree, and indie-comedy favorite the Story Pirates troupe in a semi-autobiographical account of Davy’s life and loves as he performs around the country, set against a backdrop of the hilarious and heart-breaking real notes and letters from the pages of Found magazine, as they come to life on stage.

Davy has built a touring show sharing notes, letters, any scraps of paper with words, lost by others. With him on his journey, are his best friends Mikey D. (his lovable, bearish tour manager) and Denise (his dry, caught in the friend zone, merch-seller extraordinaire). When Davy meets and falls for Kate, a schoolteacher, the fate of the tour and the trio’s lives change dramatically, forcing Davy to choose between a life on the road or a life with Kate. Painted over the backdrop of hilarious and heartbreaking actual found ephemera, Found explores not just the things, but the people we find in life and proves we all have stories worth telling. Sometimes those stories are big. Sometimes they’re on a post-it note.

From the award-winning team of  Victoria Lang (SILENCE! The Musical, Johnny Guitar, Matt & Ben), Jamie Salka (Dazzle, The Goat), Eva Price (Peter & the Starcatcher, The Addams Family, Voca People), David Gallo (The Drowsy Chaperone, Blue Man Group) and Hunter Bell ( [title of show], SILENCE! The Musical ) comes the next exciting new multi-media theatrical experience.

Adult Audiences Only.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE & BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires.  Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Berkshire County, including The Colonial Theatre. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. For more information on BTF call 413-298-5536 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

HOW TO WIN

We’re putting together a BUCKET LIST of things to do and places to see in Western MA with the family in the fall (Sept-Dec). Recommend your favorite attraction, must see or must do family autumn activity in Western MA, and be entered to win a pair of tickets to see FOUND at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, Sept. 21st at 8pm. To win simply:

  • POST YOUR RECOMMENDATION AS OUTLINED ABOVE IN THE FIELDS BELOW (one entry Ticket Giveaway: Parents’ Night Out to See FOUND at The Colonial Theatreper household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below.
  • We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 9/18/12 @ 7pm (EST)

Read the rest of this entry »

Youth Summit Day in the Berkshires

Pittsfield Youth Summit
Youth-Focused Workshops
Saturday, Sept. 8th, 2012

Free Pittsfield Youth Summit happens Saturday Sept 8th with youth-focused workshops and keynote speaker, former NBA star, Jayson Williams. In cooperation with Healing Winds and a local group that is working to reestablish the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Jayson Williams, a powerful and dynamic motivational speaker will give the keynote talk at the Youth Summit at 9:30am. Mr. Jayson Williams is the author of “Humbled: Letters from Prison,” and speaks to groups about his experiences as a professional basketball player, the decisions and circumstances that ended his career and sent him to jail, and the efforts that he has made at redemption since his release.

A coalition of city departments, community organizations, and adults and youth from the local community have come together in hopes of developing strategies to empower our youth, facilitate communication between adolescents and adults, demonstrate and teach civic responsibility, and increase community accountability. The group, called the Coalition for Greater Community Collaboration, has organized a free Pittsfield Youth Summit, to be held on Saturday, September 8th, from 8:30am to 4:30pm at Berkshire Community College (1350 West St.) in Pittsfield, MA.

The Summit is free to all Pittsfield area youth ages 13 to 20, and free bus transportation will be provided. It begins at 8:30am with registration and a continental breakfast, followed by welcoming remarks from Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi and others.

Following the keynote talk at 9:30am, attendees will have a choice of workshops followed by lunch (provided at no cost to attendees) and another workshop session. Workshop choices sessions include youth/police relations; health, nutrition and fitness, money management; race and identity; art and music; how to find and keep a job; and more.

In the evening Berkshire Youth Summit Nite Show at Berkshire Community College will be offered at 8pm, free to attendees and $5 for the general public. Performers will include Cloud9, Youth Alive, hip hop dancers Mackenzie Buckley and Julius Reese, local singer-songwriter Christine Bile, and special guest rappers Buddha Da Great from New York City, and Young Gwop Rapper, Hartford, along with others.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ticket Giveaway: Family 4-Pack to Story Pirates at The Colonial Theatre

Story Pirates
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Saturday, September 15th @ 2pm

Described as “Monty Python meets Schoolhouse Rock,” Story Pirates is different every time, and includes a story that’s improvised onstage based on suggestions from the kids in the audience. Enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see them at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Saturday, Sept. 15th at 2pm. Details on how to enter to win are below.

Story Pirates, a nationally respected education and media organization and creators of the pre-Broadway workshop, FOUND, perform a hilarious and kid friendly show presented by the Berkshire Theatre Group at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on September 15th, 2012 at 2pm… and Hilltown Families has a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway!  Win a pack of tickets and take your family for a delightful Saturday afternoon performance! Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, Sept. 12th, 2012 at 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT STORY PIRATES

While many children’s theater troupes tell stories to kids, the Story Pirates believe that every child has a story to tell!  The process begins by collecting stories from local kids — whether it’s a world where cats can fly or a rock opera about fuzzy alien tickle monsters, the Pirates will turn any short story into a hilarious sketch comedy musical!  Described as “Monty Python meets Schoolhouse Rock,” this show is different every time, and includes a story that’s improvised onstage based on suggestions from the kids in the audience. Story Pirates is pitched perfectly to grown-ups and kids alike!

Story Pirates was founded in 2003 by a group of people seeking to bring quality education programs to under-resourced New York City public schools. The Pirates approach was to show kids everywhere that their ideas, their words, and their stories are important. They made kids’ own stories the basis for a big, loud, outrageous, musical sketch comedy show; because they believe kids’ imaginations are worth cultivating and ought to be celebrated.  Story Pirates now operates branches in both New York and Los Angeles, and serves to over two hundred and fifty schools and community-based organizations annually around the country.  Find out more about Story Pirates at www.storypirates.org.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE & BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires.  Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Berkshire County, including The Colonial Theatre. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. For more information on BTF call 413-298-5536 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

HOW TO WIN

We’re putting together a BUCKET LIST of things to do and places to see in Western MA with the family in the fall (Sept-Dec). Recommend your favorite attraction, must see or must do family autumn activity, and be entered to win a 4-pack of tickets to see Story Pirates at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, Sept. 15th at 2pm. To win simply:

  • POST YOUR RECOMMENDATION AS OUTLINED ABOVE  (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below.
  • We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 9/11/12 @ 7pm (EST)

Read the rest of this entry »

World Culture Celebrated through Music and Culinary Arts in the Berkshires this Weekend

Celebrate World Cultures through Music & Culinary Arts at the Ethnic Fair in Pittsfield, MA
Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Celebrate the many cultures and traditions that make Pittsfield and the Berkshires so vibrant at this year’s Pittsfield Ethnic Fair, a community tradition scheduled for Sunday, August 5th from noon to 6pm. This free family-friendly outdoor street festival will be held on the first block of South Street between Park Square and Housatonic Street, rain or shine. – Food from around the world will be served by local vendors, including Italian, Indian, Irish, Mexican, German, Malaysian, amongh others.

Celebrate world cultures at the annual Pittsfield Ethnic Fair this weekend!  Held on South Street in the heart of downtown Pittsfield, the fair features music, food, performances, and more!

Begin the day at an opening ceremony featuring Scottish bag pipers, learn about klezmer music while watching Klezamir perform, transport your mind to Italy at Bell Acosto’s concert, and see dance troupes (made up of dancers of all ages) perform traditional dances from all around the world.

For lunch, try German sausages with Malaysian spring rolls on the side, Italian chicken cacciatore and a traditional Indian mango lassi, or corned beef sliders straight from Ireland!  There will also be vendors, sharing goods from all around the world!

The event is a chance for families to learn about world cultures through music and food, and also to learn about their community – many of the groups performing are local, and the delicious foods available are provided by local groups and restaurants.  Families can learn together about a culture (Irish, Italian, German, Malaysian, etc.!), then discover about how it is present in their community.  Supplement studies of immigration and world cultures by visiting the ethnic fair!

This free event takes place from 12noon-5pm on Sunday, August 5th.  For more information, visit downtownpittsfield.com.

Enjoy the Brazilian rhythms of Bossa Triba, traditional Italian ‘piazza’ music by Bell ‘Accordo, salsa from Bronte Roman and El Grupo Caliente, traditional Irish tunes from Rakish Paddy, world music from HuDost, klezmer with Klezimir, and original African songs by Appollo Nzima on two different stages at the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair this Sunday!

Want to explore world cultures at home? Music and food are a great way to introduce different cultures to your kids! Here’s a suggested list of music and cookbooks to get you started:

WORLD MUSIC

CULINARY ARTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Family Volunteering at the Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village Offers Volunteer Opportunities for Families

Assist young visitors in the Hancock Shaker Village hands-on Discovery Room.

There is a unique volunteer opportunity available for families with older children happening at one of our living museums! Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA offers families with children ages 13 and older the chance to volunteer at the village, and there are many different activities to help out with!

During the spring, volunteers are needed to help with Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm, an ongoing event featuring baby animals of all types that visitors can meet and interact with. In the summer, volunteers can teach visitors how to make butter, perform traditional Shaker music, assist in facilitating hands-on activities at the village’s Discovery Room, help care for gardens and orchards, and demonstrations of other ways of life from the 1800s. And in the fall, volunteers are needed for their Country Fair and Shaker Suppers.

There is training available for volunteer activities that require special skills (like making butter or blacksmithing). By volunteering, families with teens can learn about Shaker culture and local history, and will play an important role in visitors’ learning! Volunteering allows families to be a part of the village, a unique local resource, and is a great way to contribute to your community. For information on volunteer activities, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT GIVEAWAY: Traditional Irish Music with Danú in the Berkshires

Traditional Irish Musical Group, Danú
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Friday, March 16th @ 8pm

Internationally acclaimed traditional Irish musical group, Danú, comes to at the Colonial Theatre on Friday, March 16th at 8pm to ring in St. Patrick’s Day. At the forefront of the Irish music scene, Danú takes its audiences on a musical journey to their native Ireland, offering a moving and memorable concert experience not to be missed. Enter to win tickets for a parents' night out in the Berkshires. Deadline to enter to win: 3/14th @ 7pm (EST).

Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families has a pair of tickets to giveaway to one very lucky couple to ring in St. Patrick’s Day with internationally acclaimed traditional Irish musical group, Danú, on Friday, March 16th at 8pm at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, March 16th at 8pm - a night out in the heart of the Berkshires!

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT DANU

Named after an ancient Irish goddess, Danú is at the forefront of the traditional Irish music scene. Having toured extensively throughout the world, Danú takes its audiences on a musical journey to their native Ireland, offering a moving and memorable concert experience.

Danú’s standing room only concerts throughout Ireland are truly amazing events, featuring high-energy performances and a glorious mix of ancient Irish music and new repertoire. According to The Washington Post, Danú is a “vibrant mix of virtuosity, energy, and empathy.”

For over a decade, Danú’s virtuosi players on flute, tin whistle, fiddle, button accordion, bouzouki, and vocals (Irish and English), have performed around the globe and recorded seven critically acclaimed albums. Their live DVD, One Night Stand, was filmed at Vicar St. Dublin. Winners of numerous awards from the BBC and Irish Music Magazine, Danú has toured throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America with stops at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Symphony Space in New York City and major concert engagements in the United Kingdom, India, Israel and across Europe. Danú’s popular recordings are available on the Shanachie label and live performances are often broadcast on NPR, the CBC and the BBC. – www.danu.net

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Danú in concert, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, March 16th at 8pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!   To enter win simply:

  1. KINDLY CONSIDER SHARING THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
  2. TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES CONNECTS YOU WITH EVENTS IN THE BERKSHIRES and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
  6. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 7pm (EST).  Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientist Opportunity in the Berkshires with Mass Audubon

Bird Count at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

There have been lots of opportunities lately to become a Citizen Scientist and assist with bird population counts!  Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count and Bald Eagle Count both took place recently, but there’s another bird count that you can do any time of year!  Mass Audubon offers a checklist of birds that visitors to Canoe Meadows (located in Pittsfield) can print and take along on their excursion.

After visiting, you can submit your bird observations to Audubon’s website to assist with the Oriole Project, Whip-poor-will Survey, Breeding Bird Atlas, and other projects.  In participating, you’ll not only get to have a great outdoor adventure (go for an afternoon hike or strap on some show shoes once the flakes come down!), but you’ll learn more about their behaviors and habitat while contributing to an important study!  Citizen scientists’ contributions to Audubon’s studies are very important, as the organization’s observation capabilities are limited.  Along with this ongoing opportunity at Canoe Meadows, Audubon is hosting numerous birding events over the course of the next few months:

Arcadia in Easthmapton, MA:

Pittsfield History: A Curriculum

Pittsfield History: A Curriculum

The city of Pittsfield is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year!  As part of the year-long 250th celebration, a curriculum has been developed for teaching kids about the city’s history- and it has been posted online so that parents and families can utilize the resources and information offered.  There are units on how the Great Depression affected the city, the changes in mills and mill buildings over time, immigrants, notable locals, and more!  There’s even an activity that takes kids on a walking tour of war memorials, and one that sends them on a scavenger hunt at the state forest- get your kids to learn about local history and their community while spending time outdoors!  Check out the curriculum on the city’s website: pittsfield250.com/curriculum

We Are Pittsfield: Oral History Project in the Berkshires

Pittsfield Debuts “We Are Pittsfield” Oral History Project

There are thousands of stories in a community two hundred and fifty years old, and the City of Pittsfield aims to collect as many as possible this year through an oral history project called We Are Pittsfield. The We Are Pittsfield project is designed to capture & retell Pittsfield’s past and present for future generations, told by those who live in, visit, and love the city. We Are Pittsfield will create an archive of stories and memories about Pittsfield on a dedicated website, located at www.WeArePittsfield.com, as well as being stored at the Berkshire Athenaeum’s Local History Room.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our city than through the shared memories of our community members,” says Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.  “The stories we collect through We Are Pittsfield will provide future generations with an extraordinary window into the beloved people and places of Pittsfield.”

The We Are Pittsfield oral history project is funded through a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, and is part of the Pittsfield Panorama project, using arts and culture to celebrate Pittsfield 250th anniversary in 2011. The city of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development is providing staff support.

Andy Kelly and Sue Kelly are co-chairs and co-founders of We Are Pittsfield. “We were inspired by other communities that have organized oral history projects and felt that this was the perfect time to do it in Pittsfield, as we celebrate our 250th anniversary,” says Andy Kelly. “As a Pittsfield native, I know there are so many great stories out there, and we want to share them!” Sue Kelly adds, “It’s important to us that all voice be heard, including youth, immigrants, and elders, in order to provide the fullest and most accurate portrait of our city.”

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PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT GIVEAWAY: Tickets to Tom Paxton at The Colonial Theatre

Tom Paxton
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Saturday, May 21st @ 8pm

Tom Paxton has become a voice of his generation, addressing issues of injustice and inhumanity, laying bare the absurdities of modern culture, and celebrating the tenderest bonds of family, friends, and community. Enter to win tickets to see Tom Paxton on Saturday, May 21st in the Berkshires!

Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families has a pair of tickets to giveaway to one very lucky couple to see acclaimed storyteller and legendary folk musician Tom Paxton at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, May 21st at 8pm - a night out in the heart of the Berkshires!

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT TOM PAXTON

Tom Paxton will appear in a solo acoustic concert at the Colonial on Saturday, May 21 at 8pm. This legend of the folk music scene will take the stage for a one-night only event.

Tom Paxton has become a voice of his generation, addressing issues of injustice and inhumanity, laying bare the absurdities of modern culture, and celebrating the tenderest bonds of family, friends, and community. In describing Tom Paxton’s influence on his fellow musicians, Pete Seeger has said: “Tom’s songs have a way of sneaking up on you. You find yourself humming them, whistling them, and singing a verse to a friend. Like the songs of Woody Guthrie, they’re becoming part of America.” Paxton has been an integral part of the songwriting and folk music community since the early 1960s, and continues to be a primary influence on today’s “New Folk” performers.

Paxton’s song books, critically acclaimed children’s books, award-winning children’s recordings, and a catalog of hundreds of songs, all serve to document Tom Paxton’s 45-year career. An internationally recognized and loved cultural figure, he has always chosen goodwill over commercial success. … This is the man who wrote and lives the words, “Peace will come, and let it begin with me.” He is one of the great songwriters of the last century and will be reckoned as one of the greats in this century, as well. – www.tompaxton.com

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets Tom Paxton in concert, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, May 21st at 8pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!   To enter win simply:

  1. KINDLY CONSIDER SHARING THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
  2. RECOMMEND A SONG FOR OUR COMMUNITY PLAYLIST and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
  6. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 7pm (EST).  Read the rest of this entry »

Student-Scientists in the Berkshires

Science & Innovation Fair in the Berkshires

The First Annual Science and Innovation Fair, featuring the work of over 100 student-scientists from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, will be hosted by Berkshire Museum on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Berkshire high school students, who have conducted scientific research and completed engineering projects in concert with faculty advisors, will display the exciting results of their work. The public is invited to view the work of these innovative students from noon to 8pm, which includes free public admission to Berkshire Museum that day.

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PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT GIVEAWAY: Tickets to see Sweet Honey in the Rock in the Berkshires

Sweet Honey in the Rock
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA
Friday, January 28th @ 8pm

In the best and in the hardest of times, Sweet Honey In The Rock has come in song to communities across the U.S. and around the world raising her voice in hope, love, justice, peace, and resistance. Sweet Honey invites her audiences to open their minds and hearts and think about who we are and how we treat each other, our fellow creatures who share this planet, and of course, the planet itself.

Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families has two pairs of tickets to giveaway to two very lucky couples to see the Grammy Award winning a cappella ensemble, Sweet Honey in the Rock at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, January 28th at 8pm - a night out in the heart of the Berkshires!

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK

The internationally renowned ensemble, Sweet Honey In The Rock, founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, is coming to the Colonial for one performance only.  The metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures completely these African American women whose repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.

Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess that captures the complex sounds of Blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. Sweet Honey’s collective voice, occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, produces a sound filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms. Find out more about Sweet Honey In The Rock at www.sweethoney.com.

ABOUT THE COLONIAL THEATRE

The Colonial Theatre re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, as a year-round performing arts center. Located in the heart of the Berkshires, the theater presents all genres of live music, touring Broadway musicals, comedy acts, family presentations and community events. The Colonial Theatre is a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit organization. For more information, call 448-8084. For tickets, call 997-4444 or visit www.TheColonialTheatre.org

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets Sweet Honey in the Rock in concert, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, January 28th at 8pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!   To enter win simply:

  1. SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
  2. RECOMMEND A SONG FOR OUR COMMUNITY PLAYLIST and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
  6. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 7pm (EST). And your odds are doubled as two participants will win two pairs!

If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are $35 and $55 and may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street Monday-Friday 10pm-5pm, by calling 997-4444, or online at http://www.TheColonialTheatre.org.

Kwanzaa Community Celebration in Western Mass

Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration
December 30th, 2010 in Pittsfield, MA

The Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires presents the 5th annual Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration on Thursday, December 30th, from 6pm to 8pm at the American Legion (41 Wendell Ave.)  in downtown Pittsfield.

Kwanzaa is a festival that is celebrated annual from December 26 through January 1.  An annual celebration of family and community, the name Kwanzaa is a Swahili word for “first fruits”.

The Berkshire Community Kwanzaa Celebration on the 30th is a community celebration open to everyone.  The evening will focus on food, singing and  ceremony to highlight Nia, the fifth principle of Kwanzaa.  Swahili for purpose, Nia is celebrated on this 5th day of Kwanzaa.  According to Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Kerenga, on this day “we focus on ways to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

Local member of the Grammy Award-winning African-American women’s a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, Evelyn Harris, will be performing during the celebration.

The fifth annual Berkshire Kwanzaa Celebration is cosponsored by the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development. Tickets will be sold at the door (>$). For more information, contact Nakeida Bethel-Smith at 464-7307.

A Day at the Berkshire Musuem

Mummified in the Berkshires

The performance of "The Mummy's Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond" sparked the boys imaginations! (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

As the heat wave continued, the boys and I packed it all up for a full day at The Berkshire Museum, including a performance of The Mummy’s Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond. My youngest child is four years old so I was unsure he’d be able to sit through a play. I was even a little nervous that he might be scared of the mummy, or more likely of the house lights going dark.  It turned out there was nothing to fear and so much to enjoy. Ancient myths are comics full larger than life characters – the very good, the ever so bad, all saviors, helpers, hopeless causes. Because of this, the boys just ate them up. They jeered at bad guys and cheered for happy endings. We all danced and laughed along with the young cast who came out after the show to thank the audience and gave the little kids high-fives and big smiles.

After the show, we wandered downstairs for Chow Time at the aquarium, which is held each Saturday at 12:30. We watched tortoises crunch salads bigger than their shells, turtles dive for earthworms and geckos go for jumping crickets.  After a quick stop at the touch tank to visit with the sea-stars, we headed upstairs.

Mummy Jigsaw Puzzle (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The current exhibit , Wrapped: The Search for the Essential Mummy, is open through the end of October. It’s an extensive adventure into the forensic science of exploring mummies.  The interactive science exhibits were fun, but what my boys truly loved was the art.  The performance had sparked their imaginations. We spent the afternoon examining hieroglyphs, tomb art, headdresses and necklaces. If you go, don’t miss the mummified animals – snakes, cats and more, wrapped to spend eternity with their beloved owners, I suppose.

We moved back down stairs where the Berkshire Backyard exhibit showed us how much there will always be more to explore in the amazing Berkshires. The kids and I tested our animal tracking skills – more successfully than ever this time. We flight tested feathers and even examined a working bee hive, which included access via a plexiglass tube through a window, to the actual outside Berkshires!

Dinosaur excavation (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

Just before it was time to go, we had our own excavation in the dinosaur exhibit. Once goggled, the boys dug industriously in the pea stones dumping them in the trenches to uncover their own dinosaur discoveries. Theo insisted on digging for mummies or snake mummies, but kept finding dinosaur bones anyway. He was the smallest most aggravated little excavator around that day. “This is not a mummy! It’s a dinosaur!”

We left the Berkshire Museum with a few corners not yet explored and made note to come back for more adventures in the fall.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

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