Learning Ahead: August 31st-September 4th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 9 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Berkshire County

Monday, August 31. 1:30pm — CULTURAL & FILM STUDIES
Watching a film allows the viewer to consider a range of perspectives and experiences he or she may not have been exposed to before. This can be an important component of developing empathy as well as a sense of community on a global scale. Older students and adults interested in exploring themes of identity and community may be interested in A Borrowed Identity (NR, 2015), based on the autobiographical writings of Arab-Israeli author/journalist Sayed Kashua, which asks audiences to consider what it means to belong, what it means to be an outsider, and what happens when one’s identity presents challenges to one’s pursuits. 413-443-7171 x 320. Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (< $)

Tuesday, September 1. 12pm-6pm — PHOTOGRAPHY & LOCAL LANDSCAPES
Viewing photographs can inspire one to ask questions (Where was this taken? What is the subject? How does this make me feel? What is the photographer hoping to convey?), make discoveries, and create art of one’s own. When the subject of the art is the land that you call home, the effects can be even more profound. View the Berkshire region through the eyes and artistic sensibility of Geoffrey Coelho, whose photographs of landscapes, architecture, street scenes, and still lifes will be exhibited at the Otis Library and Museum for the month of September. 413-269-0109. 48 North Main Road, Otis, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 1. 4pm-6pm — ARCHITECTURE & WOMEN’S STUDIES
Renown architect Frank Lloyd Wright employed female architects well before women were widely accepted in the field. Many of these women later went on to launch impressive careers of their own. At Ventfort Hall‘s “A Girl Is a Fellow Here” Tea & Talk, architect and philanthropist Beverly Willis will introduce two films about the female architects who worked with Wright, addressing the social, cultural, and professional forces that influenced their lives. The films and discussion will be followed by a Victorian tea on the grounds. Reservations recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. ($$)

Friday, September 4. 3:30pm — ART HISTORY
Familiarly known as Whistler’s Mother, Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 is currently on view at the Clark Art Institute, on a rare loan from the Museé d’Orsay! Attend a lecture by curator Kevin Murphy to learn about the artist’s fine brushwork and distinctive use of line, then view a selection of Whistler’s paintings on site to bring a greater depth to your understanding and appreciation of his artistic techniques. Intended for older students and adults. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE with museum admission; FREE for children under 18)

Franklin County

Tuesday, September 1. 6pm — JOURNALISM & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Do you read The Recorder? Does it provide news and stories you find relevant and interesting? What features do you particularly enjoy, and which would you like to see amended? Get involved in shaping the local journalism scene, as George Forcier, new editor of The Recorder, visits the Whately Library to solicit input from Franklin County residents and other readers of the paper. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Friday, September 4. 5pm-8pm — COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
If you are planning on spending money on dinner, a gift, or a necessity, it’s great to keep your dollars local and support the health of your community! Towards this end, the Greenfield Business Association hosts “First Friday” celebrations every month from May through December. Meet up with friends and neighbors downtown to enjoy food, live music, special sales, and give-aways. This month’s theme is “Midway Madness.” 413-774-2791. downtown Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, September 1. 7:30am-9am — COMMUNITY BREAKFAST & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Often we read or hear about elected officials, business owners, and other community figures without ever having the opportunity to meet them and gain a better understanding of their lives and community roles. Sit down to a comfortable community breakfast with area legislators, mayors, business owners, select board representatives, and members of the academic communities at the 49th annual Community Breakfast, hosted by UMass and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Free parking will be available in the Campus Center Garage. 413-577-1101. UMass Student Union Ballroom, 41 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Thursday, September 3. 5pm-8pm — ART WALK & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Enjoy the richness of local culture through an art walk! This week’s Art Walk in Amherst coincides with Hope and Feathers Framing‘s fifth anniversary as well as the opening reception of Five by Five, a new exhibition by Pioneer Valley artists. Local band And the Kids will perform and Mission Cantina’s Taco Tina food truck will be serving tacos! So much local goodness in one spot! 413-835-0197. 319 Main Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Wednesday, September 2. 6pm-8pm — COMMUNITY ART SHOW
Twenty artists from the Pioneer Valley will display their works amid the tools, seeds, appliances, bikes, and other inventory at the Highland Hardware Store‘s unique art show. The store’s wares make an interesting context for experiencing the art, and visitors will be invited to engage with the art in fun and accessible ways. This show runs through October 17, 2015, with a special opening reception September 2. The hardware store’s owner, Harry Craven, has also shared his extensive collection of Holyoke-related antique objects and photographs for a concurrent exhibit at the Taber Gallery, which makes a nice complement to the hardware store art show! 413-533-4883. 917 Hampden Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

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