Learning Ahead: February 29th-March 6th, 2016


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

This week we are featuring 32 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.


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Berkshire County

FRENCH FILM/GENDER STUDIES
Monday, February 29, 6:15pm
As part of the Williams College film series “In / dependence: Capturing Women in (New) French Cinema,” you can attend a free screening of the 2005 film La Noiraude, followed by the 2014 film Band De Filles / Girlhood. All films screened in this series will be in French with English subtitles. Each film explores traditional gender roles in France, with portraits of women who preserve and/or subvert these roles. If you are able to attend multiple screenings in February and March, you will be able to compare a broad spectrum of French female experiences, from present day and backwards in time to the eighteenth century. 413-458-5612. Images Cinema. 50 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

ARTIST PRESENTATION
Thursday, March 3, 4:15pm-5:30pm
Gouache is a 600 year old method of painting, similar to watercolor but with a higher ratio of pigment to water. Williams College professor of art, Laylah Ali, uses smale scale guache paintings in her work. She combines her small images into a cartoon strip format. She will be discussing her artwork in this lecture, “Relieving the Tedium: On my Attempts to Overthrow a Small Government and More Reflections from my Time as an Artist.” A reception will follow. Thompson Chemistry, 123 (Wege Auditorium) 47 Lab Campus Dr, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

SHAKESPEARE
Friday, March 4, 10am-11:45am
Shakespeare has had one of the longest lasting impacts of any author. His plays from the 16th and 17th century are still performed regularly and are often required reading in high school. Even if his works fell out of popularity he would still have an enduring impact on the English language. Shakespeare invented hundreds of words we use every day including “amazement,” “hint,” “mimic,” “lonely,” “generous,” and “secure.” Hear some of Shakespeare’s words in action at the Tina Packer Playhouse performance of Macbeth. A post-show discussion will follow. 413-637-1199 x131. 70 Kemble Street. Lenox, MA. ($)

OPERA LECTURE
Saturday, March 5, 11am & 1pm
Did you know that you can see The Met opera, live in HD, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center? There’s no need to travel to see great live opera. This week you can watch Puccini’s 1892 opera, “Manon Lescaut” at 1pm (running time approximately 3 hours). To enhance your enjoyment of the music, first come to Scott Eyerly’s lecture at 11am. Eyerly as taught courses at The Juilliard School’s Evening Division. His lectures attract a wide audience of lifelong and emerging lovers of opera. 413-528-0100. 14 Castle St, Great Barrington, MA. (<$ to $$)

WINTER PHOTOGRAPHY
Sunday, March 6, 10am-1pm
In this interactive workshop, photographer Thad Kubis will cover topics such as composition, the exposure triangle, posting, archiving and publishing your images. Winter snow makes a great backdrop for learning about contrast and emphasis. Other colors tend to pop out against the white landscape, and the beautiful terrain of the Notchview Nordic Ski Center, will help you capture stunning scenes. 413-684-0148. Route 9, Windsor, MA. (<$ Members, $ Non-members)

Franklin County

WRITERS WORKSHOP
Monday, February 29, 12pm-2pm; Tuesday, March 1, 12pm-2pm; Thursday, March 3, 12pm-2pm
Writers are welcome to gather in the Greenfield Public Library Levanway Meeting Room for a “writer’s lunch.” Bring a lunch and use this self-directed time to write freely on any topic. Writing is often a solitary activity, which can make it challenging for social writers. The presence of other people working hard is likely to motivate you. After the quiet writing time is over, introduce yourself to these local writers to exchange tips and prompts. 413-7721544. 402 Main St, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

MUSIC STUDIES/CULTURE
Monday, February 29, 6:45-8:15pm
Do you like gospel music? How about South African, Syrian, Balkan and Georgian music? The St. James Episcopal Church is providing community members with the rare opportunity to hear all of these genres in their “Greenfield Harmony Spring 2016” Monday music series. On February 29th, visitors will witness a workshop on Appalachian music. While music is played and enjoyed all across the globe, musical styles and instrumentation vary greatly. These differences can be an entryway for learning about diverse cultures. 413-773-3925. 8 Church St, Greenfield, MA. ($$$)

INTERIOR DESIGN/COLOR THEORY
Tuesday, March 1, 6:30pm
What’s your favorite color? There may be no accounting for taste, and opinions on colors seem especially subjective. Still, being surrounded by colors you find pleasant can have a positive effect on your mood. There are some generally accepted color guidelines for interior design. At her presentation at the Dickinson Memorial Library, Kristin Nicholas can help you navigate decorative color decisions. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

ANGLING
Wednesday, March 2, 7pm
The Quabbin river is not only a beautiful place to walk, run, bike, and watch local wildlife. You can fish in the North Quabbin area if you know where to go. Fishing expert Allan Butler is well informed about saltwater and freshwater fishing, including ice fishing. He will teach participants techniques for fishing in the North Quabbin. Come to the Clapp Memorial Library to learn how. 413-323-0417. 19 S Main St, Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

SERVICE-BASED LEARNING/LIBRARY SCIENCES
Tuesday, March 1, 7pm
Who gets to decide what programs libraries host? You could! Join the Teen Advisory Board at the Clapp Memorial Library in Belchertown and help guide the future of your library’s programming. This is a great way to meet up with friends while getting experience for resumes and college applications. 413-323-0417. 19 S Main St, Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

COLLEGE THEATER/CONTEMPORARY
(See Schedule)
Love and Information. In the age of gadgets and modern technology, have we lost the reason for our communication: how to share our feelings, care for others, and love? Love and Information prompts us to see ourselves, our lives, our concerns and our longings in surprising new ways. This multi-faceted play offers something for all audiences, as the dazzling language draws out a story about humanity and connection. Every performance will be followed by a small group discussion moderated by members of the production team and UMass Theater students. This important piece allows audience members to explore their collective experience and interpretation of the material presented. Performance will be held in the Curtain Theater at the Fine Arts Center, UMass Amherst Campus. 413-545-2511.151 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA. ($$)

NUTRITIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Wednesday, March 2, 10am-4pm; Thursday, March 3, 10am-4pm; Friday, March 4, 10am-4pm
Interested in the history of food? Take a peak at the new exhibit in Northampton. Come see how people produced and sold food and how people cooked and ate it, through the years. The exhibition is curated by Barbara B. Blumenthal, a member of Historic Northampton’s Board of Trustees. Barbara was a museum guide and hearth cook at Historic Northampton in the 1980s and early 1990s. Her passion for local history and food history led her to poke around in our collections looking for tasty tidbits to share with the public. For more information, check out Historic Northampton. 46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA. (Admission with donation)

MUSIC STUDIES/UKULELE
Wednesday, March 2, 6:30-8:00pm
The ukulele is one of the simplest instruments to play, with only three chords needed to play most songs. Whether you already play ukulele or you’ve never even picked one up before, you’re welcome to participate in this ukulele jam at the Goodwin Memorial Library. Expert ukulele player Joe Blumenthal will be there with his band “THE AEIOUkes.” Snacks will be provided and players are welcome to bring food. 413-584-7451. 50 Middle St, Hadley, MA. (FREE)

READING/GRAPHIC NOVELS
Wednesday, March 2, 7pm
Three talented cartoonists will show artwork and read from their books at this celebration of the art of graphic storytelling. Comic books were popularized in the United States during the 1930s. The term “graphic novel” emerged in the 1960s as a way of distinguishing the two genres. Whether you are mainly a fan of picture books, comics, or graphic novels, they all share in common the ability to show and to tell, drawing in avid fans of all ages. At the Coolidge Museum in the Forbes Libraryy ou will hear readings from James Strum (author of Market Day), Tillie Walden (I Love This Part) and James Lawson (Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous). 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

FILM STUDIES/ANIMATED SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
Wednesday, March 2, 7pm-8:10pm
The first half of Amherst Cinema’s “Drawn Together” program, an animated short film festival, will focus on experimentation and character. What sort of advantages does animation allow filmmakers in creating a detailed character? What might be some drawbacks? These are questions you can entertain while viewing twelve short animated films. These films are not rated. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity St, Amherst, MA. ($)

ART WALK/POETRY READING
Thursday, March 3, 5pm-7pm
As part of the Amherst Art Walk the Emily Dickinson Museum will be showcasing oil paintings, drawings, and sketches by local artist Nancy Meagher. Nancy Meagher draws inspiration from Emily Dickinson’s poetry when creating her artwork. The art exhibition will open at 5pm, followed by a poetry open mic from 6 to 7 (sign up at 5 to participate). Following the open mic there will be further readings by Lori Desrosiers, editor in chief of the Naugatuck River Review, and Nina Shallman, a student at Amherst College. Expand your knowledge of poetry with these modern readings, and reframe Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the context of the artwork her poetry has inspired. 413-542-8161. 280 Main St, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

MUSICAL THEATER/LITERATURE ON STAGE
(See Schedule)
Orlando. This play is based on a biographical parody of the same name, by Virginia Woolf about her companion and lover Vita Sackville-West, to whom it was dedicated. The 1928 novel was once described as Sackville-West’s brother as, “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature.” Smith College students invite you to see their theatrical interpretation of this classic, as they take you on a musical romp through time under the Big Top! Led by a rambunctious chorus, Orlando tells the story of a young nobleman who falls asleep one night and wakes up a woman. Come watch as Orlando chases after passionate love, a sense of unwavering identity, and the euphoria of being fully alive in every given moment. Student director J. Mehr Kaur ’16 explains that “The power of the play is in the scope of the ensemble – constantly fluid and unapologetically shattering our notions about identity. The story stops us in our tracks and opens us up to the possibility that we may be so much more than just our singular selves.” Performances will be held in the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre at Smith College. 413-585-3220. Northampton, MA. ($)

LITERATURE FESTIVAL
Thursday, March 3, 7:30pm-9pm
On March 3rd, Amherst College will kick off their three day LitFest with a talk from Angela Flournoy and Amherst College alumna Lauren Groff. Flourney has taught at several universities and her debut novel, The Turner House, reached acclaim as a New York Times notable book and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Lauren Groff has written three novels: The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia and, Fates and Furies. This talk will be followed by a question and answer session. Aspiring writers can gain inspiration from these creative success stories, and ask questions about the writing process. Johnson Chapel at Amherst College. Open to the public. Quadrangle Drive, Amherst MA. (FREE)

LITERATURE FESTIVAL
Friday, March 4, 9am-9pm
Join students and community members at Amherst College for the second day of LitFest. This full day of literature talks will kick off at the Frost Library with a quick yet in-depth discussion of the book business and the publishing industry. At 11:30, Deborah Treisman will discuss modern fiction. Treisman has worked as fiction editor for The New Yorker since 2003. Then, round out the day with a presentation from author Michael Chabon. This event is unique in that attendees will hear from multiple viewpoints about the craft of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Come to think about books from many angles. Open to the public. Quadrangle Drive, Amherst MA. (FREE)

CITIZEN SCIENCE/HERPETOLOGY
Friday, March 4, 6pm-9pm
Come to the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary to learn how you and your family members can help amphibians. Experts will teach you how to identify and report the calls of local frogs and toads. Don’t wait until Spring to get outside! Find and explore the wetlands in your community. This program will be taught at a level best suited for adults and self-directed teens, but the talk will cover ways in which you can get your younger community members involved as well. Please register by calling 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Rd, Easthampton, MA. ($$)

HISTORY/COMMUNICATIONS
Friday, March 4, 7pm
How do you communicate history in today’s digital world? Join prominent historians, journalists, and thought leaders from across the nation in “lightning conversations” on how we communicate history in the 21st Century. Co-hosts Jason Steinhauer (Library of Congress) and Susan Kaplan (NEPR) will moderate the event. Make sure to RSVP. UMass Campus Center. 1 Campus Center Way. Amherst, MA (FREE)

BOTANY
Friday, March 4, 7:30pm
Every winter, the Pioneer Valley’s greenhouses burst into bloom despite the cold weather outside. Not only do these first blossoms bring hope towards the end of winter with their color and fragrances, they present a seasonal opportunity for families to learn together about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and the structural nuances that differentiate one species from another. From Saturday March 5 to Sunday, March 20, the Smith botanical gardens will be open, displaying Spring flowers. Start off your Spring celebration at the Smith CollegeCampus Center (Caroll Room) for Thomas J. Campanella’s lecture on the origins of elm culture in the United States. 413-585-2740. 16 College Ln, Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

SEED SHARING/COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION
Saturday, March 5, 10am
The ancient practice of swapping seeds serves many purposes: ensuring food security, building community ties, and increasing biodiversity. Even if you don’t have seeds to share, you can come to a seed swap at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. In addition to acquiring new seeds and making good use of your excess seeds, you can learn about seed saving and swap farming/gardening techniques. In addition to seed swapping, there will be workshops and a seed guessing activity. 80 Locust Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

LITERATURE FEST
Saturday, March 5, 10am-2pm
Join students and community members atAmherst College for the final day of LitFest. This day of literary celebration will commence in Valentine Hall with a presentation from authors Mark Bowden and Stacy Schiff. At noon, attendees will meet at the Emily Dickinson Museum for a walking tour of Amherst and a discussion of Dickinson’s life there. Learn about modern writing and local history at this final day of the festival. Open to the public. Amherst College. Quadrangle Drive, Amherst MA. (FREE)

BOTANY
Saturday, March 5, 10am-4pm
Every winter, the Pioneer Valley’s greenhouses burst into bloom despite the cold weather outside. Not only do these first blossoms bring hope towards the end of winter with their color and fragrances, they present a seasonal opportunity for families to learn together about habitat, the life cycle of plants, and the structural nuances that differentiate one species from another. From Saturday March 5 to Sunday, March 20, the Mount Holyoke College botanical gardens will be open, displaying Spring flowers. Start off your Spring celebration off with all your favorite fragrant plants, including hyacinths, narcissus, pansies, freesia, primroses, canary broom, as well as tulips, anemones, ranunculus, crocus, scilla, muscari, cineraria and calceolaria or pocketbook plant. 413-538-2116. Open to the public. Wheelchair accessible. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

FOOD HISTORY
Saturday, March 5, 10am-4pm: Sundays 12 to 5 pm
Interested in the history of food? Take a peak at the new exhibit in Northampton. Come see how people produced and sold food and how people cooked and ate it, through the years. The exhibition is curated by Barbara B. Blumenthal, a member of Historic Northampton’s Board of Trustees. Barbara was a museum guide and hearth cook at Historic Northampton in the 1980s and early 1990s. Her passion for local history and food history led her to poke around in our collections looking for tasty tidbits to share with the public. For more information, check out Historic Northampton. 46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA. (Admission with donation)10am-4pm

PROJECT NATIVE FILM FESTIVAL
Saturday, March 5, 10am-6pm
Name any topic you find interesting, and someone has made probably a documentary about it. Environmental documentary is a huge and growing genre spanning several topics and using various methods for sparking political and personal changes in behavior. Audiences learn a great deal from documentaries and few other art forms have a greater impact on personal beliefs and actions. You can expand your knowledge of environmental issues at the 6th annual Project Native film festival at the Tower Theater. Saturdays screening will begin and end with full length documentaries. In between, short films about water and energy will play. 413-533-3456. 19 College St #1, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

HISTORY/ASTRONOMY
Saturday, March 5, 2pm
Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. These eclipses can either be partial or total, depending on what percentage of the sun is obscured by the moon. In a partial solar eclipse, the edges of the sun are still visible in the sky. Predictions of when solar eclipses occur depend on complex, very large scale geometry. Eclipses occur several times per year but are not often visible from Earth. David Todd taught astronomy and in 1905 he built a telescope which remains today at Amherst College. He went to great lengths to witness eclipses, and thoroughly studied the planet mars. At this Historic Northampton Museum lecture, you can learn about astronomy and local history at the same time! Astronomy professor and author George Greenstein will deliver this presentation. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

BLACK HISTORY/WOMEN’S STUDIES
Monday, February 29, 5pm
Black Girls Rock is a national organization which empowers black girls and black women through community building educational programs. This non profit organization puts together a yearly award ceremony on BET featuring activists, humanitarians, actresses, musicians and other accomplished women of color. This will be the second year that Westfield State University” hosts their own “Black Girls Rock” award ceremony, honoring women of color who are leaders in their community. This ceremony will take place in Scanlon Hall. 413-572-5300. Westfield State. 577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

TRANSPORTATION HISTORY
Wednesday, March 2, 6:30pm
The United States has more than 2.6 million miles of paved roads and highways. Roadways shape our landscapes and our daily lives. The history of local roads provides insight into our constantly evolving communities. Writer, editor, and filmmaker Barry Deitz will discuss the history of Route 91, at the Storrs Library. His talk will focus on the effect Route 91 had on the town of Longmeadow. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow St, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

FILM/CULTURAL STUDIES
Friday, March 4, 6pm-9pm
The word “amancord” means “I remember” in Italian. In the 1973 film Amancord, (rated R) Federico Fellini shares memories of 1930s Italy through a series of vignettes. In this screening of Amancord at the Italian Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts, community members can remember their Italian heritage through Fellini’s vision. Viewers who have never been to Italy or lived through any part of the 1930s can learn about this time and place in history through a comedic and nostalgic portrayal. 413-784-1492. 56 Margaret St, Springfield, MA. (Members FREE. Non-members <$)

EXHIBIT/CULTURE STUDIES/WOMEN STUDIES
Saturday, March 5, 2pm-5pm
Wistariahurst Museum’s new exhibit, “Nuestras Abuelas de Holyoke” will celebrate the stories of Holyoke grandmothers and their connections to their grandchildren. Through a lens of empowerment and legacy, this exhibit will explore the often untold story of grandmothers raising grandchildren, with an additional focus on latina culture. Museum goers can see this as inspiration to start new discussions with their grandparents, or to ask their parents for more information on their grandparents’ lives. The exhibit will run for from March 5 through and April 24: Thursday and Friday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from Noon to 4 p.m. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot St, Holyoke, MA. (FREE on opening day)

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