Learning Ahead: September 21st-25th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 20 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

ART/AUTISM: The Good Purpose Gallery‘s mission is to help integrate young adults on the autism spectrum (and those with other learning differences) into the community and to enrich their lives through creativity and the arts. The Gallery is currently exhibiting Across the Spectrum, a collection of artwork created by College Internship Program’s (CIP) students, as well as by CIP founder, Michael McManmon on Monday, September 21 from 9am-3pm. The wide array of art styles, media, and subject matter are sure to draw you in! This exhibit runs through October 6, 2015. 413-394-5045. 40 Main Street, Lee, MA. (FREE)

COMMUNITY MEAL: Local agriculture is a vital part of local community, economy, and landscape. Berkshire Grown will celebrate the bounty of the Berkshires with their 17th annual Harvest Supper on Monday, September 21 from 6pm-8pm. This event will benefit Berkshire Grown programs and will feature food from Berkshire Grown member chefs and a silent auction. Reservations required. 413-528-0041.The Upper Lodge at Ski Butternut, Rte. 23, Great Barrington, MA. ($$$)

HEALTHCARE/WORKSHOP: Do you help care for a family member, friend, or other community member with special healthcare needs? Full-time and part-time caregivers of children or adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities, or senior relatives, are invited to participate in the Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshop, offered by United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County on Wednesday, September 23 at 5:30pm. Each session will focus on evidence-based tools and strategies to better equip caregivers for the unique challenges they face. The series runs every Wednesday, September 23-November 4, 2015. 413-664-9345. 208 West Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

CREATIVE WRITING: Writing can be a powerful tool of self-discovery and for finding one’s voice. Author, blogger, mother and artist Suzi Banks Baum will offer Powder Keg Sessions, writing workshops for mature, older students and adults, at the Ramsdell Public Library on Wednesday, September 23 from 6:30-8pm. 413-528-2403. Ramsdell Public Library, 231 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

MAKERS SPACE/HOMESCHOOL: Would you like your homeschooler to participate in more “maker” activities? Incorporating arts and crafts enriches the learning experience and helps students make sense of new ideas. Stop by Makers’ Mill‘s Open House on Thursday, September 24 from 1pm-4pm to learn how to make a screen print and contribute to a community weaving project. You can also explore all of the equipment and materials they have, and consider ways to incorporate maker projects with your curriculum themes. 413-749-2073. 73 Main Street, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

ART & HISTORY: The Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to education and art appreciation inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell, an iconic was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. On Thursday, September 24 at 2:30pm, the museum is offering a Historic Property Walk – where you will explore the Norman Rockwell Museum’s bucolic 36 acre site and learn about the historic buildings on its property, including Linwood House, an 1859 Berkshire Cottage, and Norman Rockwell’s own Stockbridge Studio. 413-298-4100. 9 Rte. 183, Stockbridge, MA (FREE with Museum admission)

CULTURAL STUDIES: Cultural attitudes toward and associated support and services for aging populations in are complicated and fraught – both in the U.S and in other nations. In conjunction with its latest exhibition, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs, The Norman Rockwell Museum presents “Aging in America: Attitudes and Access,” the latest in its Four Freedoms Forum series on Thursday, September 24 at 5:30pm. The public forum will explore the dynamic increase of life expectancy in the U.S. and other developed nations, and the challenges and increased needs it places on access to differentiated care. 413-298-4100. 9 Rte. 183, Stockbridge, MA (FREE with Museum admission)

PERFORMANCE ART: DownStreet Art brings art and cultural activities to North Adams to encourage community members to gather and engage with each other and the arts. This month on Thursday, September 24 from 7pm-9pm, Bridgman/Packer Dance’s TRUCK will be performed. This innovative piece incorporates video overlays and is set within a portable space–an 17-foot moving truck! This duo creates art that is not complete until it is experienced by an audience; come be a part of the creative process with them! Advance ticket reservations strongly recommended. 413-663-5253. Main Street, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

CULINARY ARTS/FERMENTED FOODS: Fermented food is an excellent way to maintain a healthy digestive system, including helping with the absorption of nutrients, improvement of immune system function, control of inflammation, mental/emotional well being and for prevention of food allergies and skin conditions. On Tuesday, September 22 from 6pm-8pm, Just Roots will present the health benefits of fermented food and teach some traditional preparation techniques for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Registration required. 413-325-8969. Greenfield Community Farm, 34 Glenbrook Dr, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

HISTORY/EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING/HOMESCHOOL: Historic Deerfield invites homeschoolers to celebrate the fall harvest with seasonal open-hearth cooking, wool carding, loom weaving, and other fun demonstrations and activities that run throughout the day on Wednesday, September 23 from 10am-4pm. Such hands-on learning not only aids in the retention of new information, it encourages the development of fine motor skills and transferrable skills such as measuring and estimating. Pre-registration encouraged. 413-775-7217. 84B Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA. ($; FREE for children under 6, members, and Deerfield residents)

Hampshire County

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT/COMMUNITY PLANNING: A key to sustainable and vital communities is the involvement of local people in the planning and design of city spaces. On Tuesday, September 22 from 5pm-6:30pm, the public forum titled “Pleasant Futures: Designing the Pleasant St. Streetscape” is the fourth time that the community will come together to discuss the area between Hampton Ave to Hockanum Rd. Come for a conversation with the Northampton Office of Planning and Sustainability, City Council member Ryan O’Donnell and Nitsch Engineering. The meeting will end promptly at 6:30 in honor of Yom Kippur. Questions to Wayne Feiden WFeiden@NorthamptonMA.gov. Hearing Room, City Hall (use rear door), 210 Main St., Northampton, MA (FREE)

BIOLOGY: Did you know that there are more bacterial cells on and in your body than there are human cells? It’s a good thing, too, because these bacteria play an essential role in our health! On Tuesday, September 22 from 6pm-7pm, explore the diversity of human and animal gut bacteria, and the dynamic relationship we have with our gut microbiomes in “Gut feeling: Fostering a diverse and healthy microbiome,” a Science Café talk by Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard at the Jones Library. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

SERVICE-BASED LEARNING/SEWING & CONSERVATION: The BagShare Project seeks to reduce the use of plastic and paper grocery bags by creating reusable bags for borrowing (as opposed to purchase). On Tuesday, September 22 from 6pm-8:30pm the Easthampton Sewing Center invites you to make “The No Sew,” a shopping bag design to make two handled shopping bags from seed and feed bags we are collecting. If you have extra clothesline or rope or damaged rope hammocks please bring them along. Anyone can make these bags without a sewing machine. Registration required, contact Leni at leni@lenifriedprintmaking.com. Easthampton Sewing Center. Eastworks Building, 16 Pleasant St, Easthampton, MA. (VOLUNTEERING)

ASTRONOMY/AUTUMN EQUINOX: September 23 is the Autumnal Equinox! On Wednesday, September 23 at 6:45am & 6pm, come to the UMass Sunwheel at sunrise and sunset to witness the first of each for the new season. Learn about astronomy, the seasons, and the sunwheel by viewing this exciting event. Rocky Hill Road. Amherst, MA.

TECHNOLOGY SKILLS/FILM MAKING: Are you a budding filmmaker? Learning filmmaking skills can be of use for both professional and personal projects, as well as help you think in new ways about communicating a message or story to different audiences. The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center will offer a video-editing class on Windows Movie Maker, an easy-to-use video editing application included in recent versions of Microsoft Windows. Learn how to import and edit video footage, integrate audio, and apply effects, transitions and titles. Registration required. 413-685-1052. Middlefield Town Hall, 188 Skyline Trail, Middlefield, MA. (FREE for Hilltown Residents)

DANCE & ASIAN CULTURAL STUDIES: To mark the dance troupe’s 40th anniversary, Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan presents RICE at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center on Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30pm. Choreographer Lin Hwai-min is heralded as one of the original dance multiculturalists, drawing his inspiration from traditional Asian culture and aesthetics. Set to the music of Hakka folk songs – the oldest among the existing Chinese dialect, operatic arias and sounds from the fields, and against a video backdrop that depicts the life cycle of a rice paddy. Audience members are invited to stay for a post-performance talk with the Company’s Artistic Director in Rand Theater. Amherst, MA. ($$)

HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE: What did Northampton look like throughout its history? What buildings are no longer standing? On Thursday, September 24 at 2pm as part of the “Cookies with a Curator” series, The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum in Forbes Library presents Lost Northampton – view photographs and learn about buildings and homes that were part of Northampton’s history. This is an opportunity to talk to children about historical preservation and architectural evolution – ask them to imagine what buildings might no longer be standing fifty years from now, and why. 413-587-1014. Coolidge Museum, Forbes Library, 20 West St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

HISTORY & FOLK ART/CEMETERIES: New England’s historic cemeteries are filled with beautiful folk art tombstone carvings that are unique to our region. Some of the oldest examples include simple skulls, or “death’s heads,” some of which had wings, and many of which showed two or three rows of teeth! In the mid-18th century, Americans became more interested in discussing and representing the afterlife and family members’ memories of the deceased, not merely the physicality of death. This is when angels began appearing on tombstones, as did urn and willow motifs derived from ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Learn more about gravestone traditions, carvers, and motifs found in the Connecticut River Valley at “Art in the Face of Mortality,” a presentation at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday, September 22 from 6:30pm-8pm. 413-568-7833 x 111. Lang Auditorium, 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

WRITING/MEMOIR: If you were to write a memoir, what stories would you include? Are there life events that helped you discover who you are, what is important to you, or that helped you make an important decision? Share conversation with Thatcher Freund, journalist and memoir writer, on the topic of the significance of stories in our lives at “Why Your Story Matters,” a talk at the Westfield Athenaeum on Wednesday, September 23 from 6:30pm-8pm. Freund will examine how our stories play roles in our own lives and the culture in which we live, and share his views on why we must preserve these tales. 413-568-7833 x 111. Lang Auditorium, 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

COMMUNITY SERVICE/WATERSHED: Healthy waterways are an essential part of a healthy community. You might be surprised to learn the wide variety of trash polluting our local Connecticut River system – in past years volunteers have used human power and sometimes heavy equipment to pull out everything from recyclables, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions and refrigerators. On Friday, September 25, the Connecticut River Watershed Council invites you to help with this year’s annual trash cleanup, when thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities head out to places of their choice all along the four-state watershed (NH, VT, MA., CT) to clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. You can join an existing group or start one of your own. Learn more about the Source to Sea cleanup from this Hilltown Families post. Also on Saturday, September 26. Call 860-704-0057 to learn how to participate. Locations vary, MA. (FREE)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: