32 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Mindfulness to Natural History. Día de los Muertos to Jake Shimabukuro.

There is more to the phenomenon of bird chirping than simple mating messages. Bird songs evolve socially. Although species sing the same song, individual birds learn songs from their fathers and dialects develop regionally. Bird songs have also had a great impact on human music, and as a result, culture. On Tuesday, November 15 at 3pm, Professor of Biology David Spector will be discussing bird songs and the interplay between birds and human culture, at the Westhampton Public Library. Attendees will also have the change to sing along as the Beautiful Future Band performs new and familiar songs featuring the sounds of birds! Learn about ornithology and conservation efforts. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Community Meals to Community Sing. Guided Walks to Meditation. Contemporary Dance to Chrysantemum. These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured community highlights this week: While it is known internationally, the Day of the Dead originated in Mexico, where it is celebrated as a public holiday. Día de los Muertos honors the deceased through the creation of altars and other traditions and ceremonies such as the creation of sugar skulls and catrina dolls. On Saturday, November 12, 10am-7pm, a Day of The Dead celebration will include art, performances, and workshops on how to create sugar skulls and memory boxes. Workshops will be held at the Flywheel Arts Collective. Music and dance performances will take place at the Brookside Cemetery. Bring a candle. 413-529-1440. Williston Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)


Mindfulness ♦  YogaNatural History MuseumsCultural StudiesDay of the Dead  SportsIce SkatingTheaterMusic Studies ♦  UkuleleOrnithologyLocal HistoryNatural HistoryComputer ScienceInternetPsychologyArchitectureFood StudiesNutritionDairy Farming ♦  Animal StudiesLiteracyBook Clubs


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Mindfulness

MEDITATION
Monday, November 14, 6:30pm
In the Western part of the world, people are beginning to appreciate the vast healing benefits of mindfulness and meditation can have on mental and physical well being. Even short meditations can help sharpen focus throughout the day, bringing clarity and awareness of our thought patterns and emotions. You can learn basic meditation techniques at a meditation workshop led by Longmeadow resident Amy Appell at Storrs Library. Register on the Storrs library website or by calling 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

YOGA
Monday, November 14, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Yoga practice has lots of benefits, from improving strength and flexibility, to bringing clarity and awareness to our thoughts and emotions. Thus, the activity can be helpful for people of all ages. You and your family can try yoga together at the West Springfield Public Library’s Family Yoga class. Children must be at least five years old. Please register by calling or visiting the library. 413-736-4561. 200 Park Street. West Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Natural History

“When you think of natural history museums, you might picture exhibits filled with ancient lifeless things, like dinosaurs or meteorites. But behind that educational exterior, there are hidden laboratories where scientific breakthroughs are made. Joshua Drew gives a breakdown of some of the hidden worlds within these museums.” – TED-Ed

View full lesson: The hidden worlds within natural history museums – Joshua Drew

NATURAL HISTORY/IDENTIFICATION
Sunday, November 13, 1pm-4pm
Is there a mysterious fossil that you found while backpacking, or a picture of the bizarre bird in your backyard? Bring in your fossils, seashells, rocks, meteorites, feathers, leaves, or photographs of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, flowers, and insects to the Beneski Museum of Natural History. Scientists will attempt to identify your discoveries while showing you some specimens from the Beneski’s greater collections. Stop by, with or without mystery objects, to see (and touch) the scientific specimens out on display. Items identified in previous years have included a dinosaur footprint, the hip of a very large pig, an amazing man-made slag crystal and an ancient arrowhead from the Connecticut River Valley. The Beneski Museum of Natural History is one of New England’s largest natural history museums, boasting three floors of exhibits with more than 1,700 specimens on display, and tens of thousands of specimens available for use by scholars and researchers from across campus and around the world! Come by even without a specimen, to check out the museum and learn about species and rock identification. 413-524-2000. Amherst College. 11 Barrett Hill Road. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Culture Studies

DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
Saturday, November 12, 10am-7pm
While it is known internationally, the Day of the Dead originated in Mexico, where it is celebrated as a public holiday. Día de los Muertos honors the deceased through the creation of altars and other traditions and ceremonies such as the creation of sugar skulls and catrina dolls. This Day of The Dead celebration will include art, performances, and workshops on how to create sugar skulls and memory boxes. Workshops will be held at the Flywheel Arts Collective. Music and dance performances will take place at the Brookside Cemetery. Bring a candle. 413-529-1440. Williston Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Community Meal

INTERGENERATIONAL
Throughout history, community has been built through the sharing of food. Shared throughout the world as a universal human need, food provides a common thread through which all people can be woven together. Community meals offer much to families in terms of learning opportunities, supporting intergenerational engagement, storytelling and establishing a shared history. An additional benefit of community meals is that the theme of food serves as a common interest for all those involved, providing a foundation upon which for further connections to be built. Here are a couple of upcoming events that include community meals, opportunities to break bread with friends and neighbors, across generations, bridging connections…

VETERANS’ DAY DINNER
Saturday, November 12, 6pm
Veterans are invited to enjoy a community meal at the Lenox VFW’s annual Veterans’ Day dinner. The dinner will take place at St. Ann’s Parish Center. Call 413-822-4343 to reserve your spot. 134 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

COMMUNITY SING
Sunday, November 13, 5:30-7pm
Singing releases both endorphins and oxytocin, leaving the singer more relaxed. Oxytocin also causes a feeling of bonding with others. Combine singing with a sense of community and you are bound to experience a strong sense of belonging. Come to this community singing event at EarthDance, followed by a potluck supper, to experience the benefits of music and community involvement. This community sing will be will be a fundraiser for the Steele Family in Plainfield. 413-634-5678. 252 Prospect Street. Plainfield, MA. (DONATION.)

PSYCHOLOGY

“Often people make decisions that are not “rational” from a purely economical point of view — meaning that they don’t necessarily lead to the best result. Why is that? Are we just bad at dealing with numbers and odds? Or is there a psychological mechanism behind it? Sara Garofalo explains heuristics, problem-solving approaches based on previous experience and intuition rather than analysis.” – TED-Ed

View full lesson: The psychology behind irrational decisions – Sara Garofalo

PSYCHOLOGY/ARCHITECTURE
Monday, November 14, 7pm
This week’s “Nerd Nite Noho” bring you two different presentations covering very different topics. The first, given by Andrea Cataldo, doctoral candidate in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department at UMass Amherst, will discuss the role emotions play in decision making. The second, by Brianne Zulkiewicz from Valley Free Radio, will talk about the origins and current status of triple decker homes in New England. These structures were at first built to house factory workers. The talks will take place at the World War II Club. All ages welcome in the banquet hall, but valid ID required for front bar and alcoholic purchases. 50 Conz Street. Northampton, MA. (<$)

Sports

ICE HOCKEY
Saturday, November 12, 1pm-3pm
Starting a new sport can be intimidating at first. Boys and girls ages four and up, with or without skating experience, are invited to try hockey risk free! The Amherst Hockey Association hosts this free day of hockey for kids at the UMass Mullins Center Community Rink. Skate rentals are free. Please bring winter gloves and a bicycle or hockey helmet. For more information, email mbedan@comcast.net or register online at the Amherst Hockey Association website. Commonwealth Avenue. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

ADAPTIVE WINTER SPORTS
Making winter recreation accessible to all, local organizations are offering a wide array of opportunities for community members of all abilities to participate in inclusive recreational opportunities. From sled hockey and skiing to basketball and bowling, children and adults of all abilities can find activities to match their interests! Read more in our post, Winter Brings Opportunities for Inclusive Recreation.

COMMUNITY-BASED RESOURCES
Though western Massachusetts isn’t known as a sports mecca, it’s filled with communitybased resources for exploring sports and the history behind them. As the birthplace of at least two major sports and home to teams and clubs engaging in a great many more, the area offers a variety of ways to learn about sports of all kind. Read more in our post, Exploring Athletics and Sports History Through Community-Based Resources.

SPORTS/LOCAL HISTORY
Monday, November 12, 6pm
Springfield can boast a rich sports history as the birthplace of basketball, invented by James Naismith. Created in 1891 in order to offer athletes an exciting and physically challenging indoor sport, basketball is now internationally known and loved. Professors Dennis Gildea and Rick Paar of Springfield College will be giving a presentation on the history of basketball, at the Holyoke Public Library. Materials on the origins of the game will be on display on the third floor of the library through November. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

ICE SKATING
People have been skating on ice for many hundreds of years, although this “early” skating was pragmatic rather than recreational. “Skate” is derived from the Dutch word “schaats,” which means leg bone, as the first skates were simply lengths of animal bone strapped to the bottom of boots. When wood, and then iron, blades were introduced as a replacement to bone, skaters gained more control and speed, and skating for sport and fun began to rise. Our local skating culture traces its roots to Scottish immigrants, who brought skates with them when they resettled in the U.S., and can be a great topic to explore on and off the ice while learning about world and New England culture and history. Find local skating resources in our post, 24 Ice Skating Rinks in Western Mass.

ICE SKATING
Friday, November 18, 11:30am-1:30pm
The Mullins Center at UMass Amherst invites homeschooling families to skate on November 18 and December 2 at discounted prices. All children school age and younger are invited. Adults must be accompanied by children. Parents receive free admission and skate rental when accompanying children. Cash only. Commonwealth Avenue. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Animal Studies

“To human eyes, the world at night is a formless canvas of grey. Many nocturnal animals, on the other hand, experience a rich and varied world, bursting with details, shapes, and colors. What is it, then, that separates moths from men? Anna Stöckl uncovers the science behind night vision. ” – TED-Ed

View full lesson: How do animals see in the dark? – Anna Stöckl

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Monday, November 14, 7pm-8:30pm
Earlier sunsets in fall and winter provides more chances to observe and study astronomy as well as nocturnal animals. Families are invited to a walk by the light of the full moon at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary to learn about the survival techniques of nocturnal animals. This program is best suited to youth ages six to twelve, and their caregivers. Registration is required. Call 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. ($)

Theater

MUSICAL/STAGE PLAY ADAPTATION
Saturday, November 12, 2pm and 7:30pm; Sunday, November 13, 2pm
The character of Mary Poppins originates from beloved books by 19th century author P.L. Travers. Her tale has been adapted into the Walt Disney classic film. You can see a stage adaptation performed at Bay Path University. Introduce your children to this classic character, and see her portrayed on stage. Mills Theatre, Carr Hall. Bay Path University. Call 413-565-1307. To purchase tickets. Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow MA. (Adults $; 18 and under <$; College students with ID FREE)

CHILDREN’S STORY
Friday, November 18, 7:30pm
Reading to your children at bedtime is a relaxing activity which can ease them into sleep and help instill a love of stories. You and your family can see a beloved children’s story, Ludwig Bemelman’s tale of Madeline, brought to life by The Drama Studio. This story has been popular with people of all ages for decades. 413-739-1983. 41 Oakland Street. Springfield, MA. (Adults $; Students <$; The Drama Studio students FREE)

MUSIC STUDIES

CHORAL
Saturday, November 12, 7pm
Celebrate homecoming weekend at Amherst College with world music. Performers from the Concert Choir, the Chorus and the Glee Club will be singing compositions from Estonia, Georgia and Ireland, as well as traditional Amherst College songs. 413 542 2484. Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. Amherst, MA. (Adults $; Children and senior citizens $; Five college students with ID FREE)

UKULELE
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30pm
Have you ever wanted to learn a music instrument? Or, if you already know how to play one, would you like to expand your knowledge to a new instrument? Julie Stepanek will be offering ukulele classes for beginners at the Storrs Library on November 16, and December 14. You can attend one lesson or both. Loaner ukuleles will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Arrive early if you would like to borrow one. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

So what’s so big about this tiny instrument. Let Jake Shimabukuro show you…

OPEN MIC
Friday, November 18, 7pm
Open mics provide the rare opportunity for anyone to practice playing in front of a crowd, and for audience members to hear brand new local music! Try out a few songs or simply listen at Palmer Historical and Cultural Center’s Triple Creek Coffeehouse Open-Mic Night. This event is all ages and open to all levels of ability. Center 413-289-9295. 2072 Main Street. Three Rivers, MA. (FREE).

ORNITHOLOGY
Tuesday, November 15, 3pm
There is more to the phenomenon of bird chirping than simple mating messages. Bird songs evolve socially. Although species sing the same song, individual birds learn songs from their fathers and dialects develop regionally. Bird songs have also had a great impact on human music, and as a result, culture. Professor of Biology David Spector will be discussing bird songs and the interplay between birds and human culture, at the Westhampton Public Library. Attendees will also have the change to sing along as the Beautiful Future Band performs new and familiar songs featuring the sounds of birds! Learn about ornithology and conservation efforts. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Local History

PLAINFIELD
Sunday, November 13, 1pm-4pm
An area of Plainfield, Massachusetts has been designated as a landmark in the National Register of Historic Places, and new signs have been erected to mark the site. You are invited to celebrate this achievement, which is the result of a decades long research process dating back to the 1980s. Countless hours have been spent working on Plainfield’s historic house inventory. This designation will help preserve the historic character of Plainfield into the future. Meet at the Shaw Hudson House for a walk to admire these new signs, and convene at back at the Shaw Hudson House at 3pm for donuts. Email judithbryanwilliams@verizon.net, or call 413-634-8099 to register. Shaw Hudson House. Plainfield, MA. (FREE)

GOSHEN
Sunday, November 13, 2pm
Infrastructure often lends insight into the values and daily life of a society. Studying architectural structures around you can teach you a lot about history. Margaret Waggoner will be presenting a documentary about Goshen history, exploring who built the Goshen tunnel and why, at this Goshen Historical Society Program. Refreshments will be served. The screening will take place at the Goshen Town Hall. 413-268-7120. Goshen, MA. (FREE)

NORTHAMPTON
Sunday, November 13, 2pm
Have you ever heard of “Roberts Meadow?” This is the name of a small village which once resided in the northwest corner of Northampton on Kennedy, Sylvester and Chesterfield roads. John Irving Clapp will be giving a presentation at Historic Northampton about his book, The Lost Village of Roberts Meadow: Northampton’s Forgotten Settlement. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

AMHERST
Friday, November 18, 12:15pm
Before the University of Massachusetts, there was the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), a small school providing a rural education. In this “History Bites” lunchtime lecture, Robert Cox will explore the daily lives and permanent legacies of the first nine African American students at MAC. Bring a lunch. Coffee, tea, and cider will be provided. For more information see the Amherst Historical Society and Museum website. Simeon Strong House. 67 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Computer Science

COMPUTER PROGRAMMING
Monday, November 14, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Some educators in the field of computer science have taken up the motto that, “Coding is the new literacy.” Programming languages, the logic used to build tools such as websites and video games, do have similarities with the written word. Lab nights at Holyoke Codes offer unstructured time for participants to work on any project, independently or in groups. People of all ages are welcome to attend.413- 552-4900. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

COMPUTER BASICS
Thursday, November 17, 5pm-6:30pm
The ability to navigate basic computer tasks can open up a world of educational possibilities. The Sunderland Public Library is offering a series of introductory computer classes in November aimed at helping adults learn more about computers. This second session will focus on the internet, including how the internet works, how to use a search engine, and what the cloud is. This classes is free and open to all, and you do not need to bring your own computer in order to attend 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Remember dial-up? (Maybe you’re still on dial-up if living in the Hilltowns?) Remember life before the internet? How would your life be different without the internet? Here’s a short history on the history of the internet, which began in 1957!

Guided Walks

WILDERNESS EDUCATION
Saturday, November 12, 10am-12pm
Spending time outside with your child can help instill a love of nature and outdoor play. Sue Kelly of the Amherst Family Center will lead a wilderness education hike for families. The group will meet at the Mill River Playground and continue north connecting with the town’s conservation area. Pine Street. 413-545-0865. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

WETLANDS
Saturday, November 12, 11am-2:30pm
What sorts of species thrive in wetlands? You can find out, up close, on this guided walk of Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. Participants will look for signs of mammals preparing for winter. This program is open to participants ages sixteen and up. Directions to nearby meeting location will be shared with registered participants. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Literacy

STORYELLING
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30pm
You’ve heard of story hours for kids, but what about adults? The Sunderland Public Library is bringing the joy of oral storytelling to adult audiences with a Short Story Series. Actors will give dramatic readings of expert tales. In this program, Kermit Dunkelberg will read “Ed Has His Mind Improved” by Walter R. Brooks and Myka Plunkett will read “Exchange” by Ray Bradbury. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

BOOK CLUBS
There are book clubs for people of every age and readers of every genre. Participation in a book club is almost always free, and library-hosted book clubs are sometimes able to provide copies of the book for members to check out. But what if you can’t find a local book club which appeals to you? There is always the option of starting your own club! Get started by gathering together like-minded friends with similar reading interests, or meet avid readers at a literary event. Read more in our post, Book Clubs for Early Literacy and Lifelong Learning.

BOOK CLUB
Thursday, November 17, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Book clubs add fun to reading as participants have the chance to discuss their feelings and reactions to the book. Everyone in grades 5, 6, and 7, is invited to a brand new tween book club at the Meekins Library. Participants will have the chance to vote on which book is read for the next meeting. Contact Wendy Peppercorn at kmit@cwmars.org with any questions and to register. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

POETRY
Thursday, November 17, 6:30pm-7:30pm
In addition to being a journalist and an editor, William Cullen Bryant was a poet in the Romantic tradition. You can visit the William Cullen Bryant Homestead for a celebration of both local history and poetry. In honor of the season and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, local Hilltown poets will explore the theme of gratitude. Call 413.628.4485 x3 for more information. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (Non members $; Members FREE)

Dance Studies

CONTEMPORARY DANCE
Thursday, November 17, 8pm-10pm; Friday, November 18, 8pm-10pm
Dance is an art form which evokes emotion and tells stories through choreographed movement and interaction. You can see contemporary dance pieces performed by Smith College faculty. New works will be performed by Chris Aiken, Rodger Blum, Angie Hauser and Marilyn Sylla, and guest artist Ephrat Asherie. There will be a resetting of Bill T. Jones’ work “Story/Time,” choreography by Bill T. Jones with Janet Wong.Theatre 14.Mendenhall. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

Horticulture

CHRYSANTHEMUM
“Chrysanthemum” is a beautiful word for an equally beautiful family of flowers. The word is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower), though it refers to many different types of flowers in a range of colors and appearances. You can explore various chrysanthemums at Smith College Botanic Garden’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show. The Fall Mum Show has been a popular college and community tradition since the early 1900s and showcases the hybridizing experiments of the horticulture class. The show runs daily through November 20th. The conservatory will be open 10am-4pm daily and have extended hours 10am-8pm on Fridays. 413-585-2740. 16 College Lane. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Food Studies

FILM: NUTRITION
Monday, November 14, 7pm
Based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling book , the film In Defense of Food investigates food and health, shedding light on misconceptions. Learn about chronic diseases associated with the modern American diet, and learn the truth about certain foods. This free screening at Images Cinema will be followed by a discussion with Williams College Professor of Biology Hank Art. 50 Spring Street. 413-458-5612. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

FILM: DAIRY FARMING
Tuesday, November 15, 7pm
There are many different types of farms, growing different crops or raising animals, and running their businesses in various ways. Farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (farm shares) are growing trends in many communities, but dairy farmers are often left out of these markets. The film Forgotten Farms explore cultural divides in New England’s farm and food communities with a focus on dairy farming. You can screen this film at Amherst Cinema, and enjoy a Q & A session with filmmakers Sarah Gardner and Dave Simonds. 413- 253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. ($)

[Photo credit: (cc) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region]


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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