Learning Ahead: September 14th-18th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 12 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

Tuesday, September 15. 3pm-4:30pm — LANDSCAPING/HORTICULTURE
From 1928 to 1956, Fletcher Steele created stunning gardens and landscapes, now available for all to enjoy at Naumkeag, a Trustees of Reservations property. For a period of time, the gardens languished, but the Garden Restoration Project has brought them back to their original design and vibrancy. Get behind the scenes with an expert horticulturist to learn about what went into this landscape restoration project! The Chinese Garden is currently under restoration, too, and visitors will be able to take a special sneak peek at that undertaking. Reservations required. 413-298-3239 x 3016. 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($; FREE for members)

Wednesday, September 16. 7pm-8:30pm — MUSIC HISTORY/GENDER STUDIES
The Girls in the Band documents the stories of female musicians who were a part of the jazz and big band movements of the 1930s onward. These women endured countless challenges and setbacks, yet many persevered to share and develop their musical talents for decades to come, paving the way for today’s female jazz musicians. Gain an appreciation for their talents and struggles at a screening of this film at the Ramsdell Library. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main Street, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, September 17. 2:30pm-3:30pm — MUSEUM ADVENTURES/LOCAL HISTORY
The Norman Rockwell Museum‘s 36 acre property is dotted with several buildings of historical significance, including Linwood House, an 1859 Berkshire Cottage, and Rockwell’s own Stockbridge Studio. Tour the museum’s acreage on foot and enjoy the lovely outdoor experience while learning about the fascinating history behind these notable structures. Intended for older teens and adults. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE with museum admission)

Thursday, September 17. 5pm-7pm — BOTANY/CULTURE
The Chinese Garden at Naumkeag, a Trustees of Reservations property, is currently under restoration. Take a look at what goes into a restoration of this sort at the Asian Fusion Hard Hat Party, where you can appreciate a traditional Chinese garden, and enjoy Asian-inspired foods and music. Because this is an active restoration site, participants will all get to personalize their own hard hat, too. 413-298-3239 x 3016. 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA. ($)

Friday, September 18. 5pm — MUSIC FESTIVAL/BLUEGRASS
The FreshGrass music festival, September 18-20, celebrates grassroots music in its many forms, and aims to create a new hub for the burgeoning bluegrass community. In addition to four stages of fabulous bluegrass and roots music, there will be workshops led by talented musicians, and skilled luthiers offering instrument construction demos and discussions (plus plenty of instruments to view up close, hold, or play). The children’s component of the festival, FreshKids, offers spaces for family music-making, art projects, snacks, and shade tents. Kids can also enjoy special performances intended for younger audiences and make their own instruments! MASS MoCA‘s Kidspace will also have its ArtBar outside for inspiring creativity. 413-662-2111. 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. ($$$; FREE for children 6 and under)

Friday, September 18. 6:30pm — LITERATURE & HISTORY
Sheffield has the honor of being the home of many fiction writers and poets, as well as the setting for various literary works. Find out who these authors are, and which writings feature Sheffield, at the Authors and a Sense of Place lecture at Bartholomew’s Cobble, a Trustees of Reservations property. 413-229-8600. 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA. (< $)

Franklin County

Tuesday, September 15. 5:30pm-8pm – FILM MAKING
The Red Gate Farm Film Club meets on the third Tuesday of every month to watch and discuss films in the farm’s program building. A homemade dinner is served, with an optional small donation to cover food costs. All ages welcome, but parents should know that PG and PG-13 movies are shown. Anyone in 3rd grade or younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and participants under 17 must have a signed parental/guardian consent form in order to attend. 413-625-9503. 4 Norman Road, Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, September 17. 4pm-10pm — HISTORY/LATINO CULTURE
The Pioneer Valley is home to over a century of rich Latino heritage and history. In celebration of this, several organizations have partnered to create Herencia Latina, a nine-month project (September 2015-May 2016) exploring Latino history and culture in this region. As a part of its participation in this community project, Turners Falls RiverCulture is celebrating Latino History Day with traditional Central and South American music, food, and crafts, as well as a documentary film and discussion. Head over to Spinner Park (Avenue A and 4th Street) for lively musical performances, to 109 Avenue A to decorate paper mache masks representative of those used in a variety of traditional ceremonies, stop by 113 Avenue A for a delicious meal of rice and beans, and get to the Shea Theater by 7pm for a screening and discussion of Peril & Promise. Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Thursday, September 17. 7:30pm — FINE & PERFORMING ARTS
What does it mean to be creative? Where does one’s creativity originate, and what does the creative process look like for different artists exploring a variety of modes of expression? Discover answers–or more questions!– when you visit Artists in Conversation, an evening dedicated to exploring the creative process in poetry, dance, and painting, hosted by Gallery A3. Special guest artists Constance Hamilton, Tom Morton, and Alicia Morton will engage in conversation about their personal experiences with creativity. 413-256-4250. Amity Street, 1-D, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Tuesday, September 15. 6pm — POLITICAL SCIENCE
The 2016 presidential election is barreling down upon us. What major issues are being debated? Who are the candidates and how do they differ? Political analyst Mark Shields and The New York Times columnist David Brooks share their informed perspectives on the important components of the 2016 election at a special event hosted by the Springfield Public Forum. Whether you are feeling confused, invigorated, frustrated, or disengaged from the upcoming election, the information you gather at this event may be quite useful to you as your ideas about the election evolve. 413-732-2020. Springfield Symphony Hall, 34 Court Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, September 16. 7pm — THEATRE
Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire, examines gender, social class, and power in 1940’s New Orleans. The Majestic Theater begins its 19th season with this celebrated piece, which runs September 10-October 18. Due to mature themes, this play is appropriate for older teens and adults. 413-747-7797. 131 Elm Street, West Springfield, MA. ($$)

Thursday, September 17. 7pm — SOCIOLOGY & RACE
How can one’s skin color affect one’s perceptions, problem-solving techniques, and engagement in racial justice work? Listen to a talk by Debby Irving, author of Waking up White, community organizer, and racial justice educator, then engage with her and other attendees in a discussion on these timely and important issues. Debby creates a safe and welcoming atmosphere for her talks, in part by sharing sometimes cringe-worthy experiences from her own life, and works to help others see how their well-intentioned mindsets might actually perpetuate ill-conceived ideas about race. Hosted by Bay Path University. 413-565-1066. Mills Theatre, Carr Hall, Longmeadow Campus, Bay Path University, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

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