33 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Earth Hour to Modern Art. Puppets to Pottery.

The harp is an ancient stringed instrument which dates back as early as 3500 BC. Harps were popular in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance but fell out of popularity with many types of harps no longer being used. The harp has historically been used across many continents and culture and can be an essential element to certain traditional genres of music. On Saturday, March 25, 7:30pm, James Ruff plays the wire harp in his performances of early opera pieces, contemporary works, as well as early Gaelic and Scottish songs. You can hear the harp live and discover its role in Gaelic and Scottish music by attending his performance at the McCulloch Auditorium. Mount Holyoke College. College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Seed Saving to Spanish. Earth Hour to Modern Art. Astronomy to Technology. Nutritional Anthropology to Philosophy. 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 highlight this week: Kuruma Ningyo or “cart puppets” are a style of Japanese puppetry which draws from classical Japanese literature and religious stories. Unlike many forms of puppetry in the United States, Kuruma Ningyo is entertainment for people of all ages, not associated strongly with children. American puppeteer Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V will be performing this style of puppetry in their show Shank’s Mare at UMass Amherst on Thursday, March 30, 7:30 pm. This multi-media performance combines live music and video production with traditional Japanese puppetry for a unique, cross-cultural experience. Bowker Auditorium. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($; Five college students and 17 and under <$)


BotanyPhotographyDendrologyHistoryWorld LanguageEcologyCitizen ScienceBiologyTheaterCriminal JusticeArt StudiesJapanese StudiesPotteryMusic StudiesPaleontologyMindfulnessService-Based LearningCareer DevelopmentSeed SavingSpanishEarth HourModern Art. AstronomyTechnologyNutritional AnthropologyPhilosophy


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Philosophy

WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY
For the next 46 weeks, we will join Hank Green in lessons on Philosophy! In the first video, “Hank begins to teach you about Philosophy by discussing the historical origins of philosophy in ancient Greece, and its three main divisions: metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory. He will also introduce logic, and how you’re going to use it to understand and critically evaluate a whole host of different worldviews throughout this course. And also, hopefully, the rest of your life.” – CrashCourse

BOTANY

SEED SAVING
Saturday, March 25, 10:30 am
Understanding seeds open up a new world of learning and doing. Gardening can be a way to grow your own food, beautify your environment, connect to the Earth, and learn! Master gardener Margaret Larson will be leading a Seed Starting Basics workshop at the Gaylord Memorial Library. Attendees will learn about seeds’ anatomy, the difference between heirloom vs hybrid seeds, what seeds need in order to germinate, which ones need special attention, and what equipment is required. With this basic information, new gardeners will be able to go forth and try planting on their own, just in time for the warm weather. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

SEEDS/SELF-INITIATED LEARNING
Have you ever wondered how a tiny little seed grows into a plant? Well, there’s a special kind of seed, one you’ve probably eaten before, that’s big enough for you to open up and see how it works: a bean!” – SciShow Kids

WILDFLOWERS/PHOTOGRAPHY
Wednesday, March 29, 7 pm
How many New England flowers can you identify? Photographer Ted Watt will be walking participants through the seasons with his images of local wildflowers. You can attend this talk to learn about these wildflowers’ histories and biological adaptations. Attending this presentation at the Hitchcock Center is a great way to get excited about the coming warm seasons. After attending, you can keep an eye out and see if you can identify these species of plants in your own neighborhood. Visit the Hitchcock Center website for more information and to register. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

DENDROLOGY
Saturday, March 25, 10:30am-11:30am
You probably know that maple syrup comes from trees. But how exactly? And why at this time of year? As the temperatures rise during the day and cool down to freezing at night, sap begins to flow through the sapwood of the sugar maples. These native trees are tapped during this time of temperature fluctuation to capture their sap that will eventually be boiled down into delicious sweet maple syrup. If your child has a sweet tooth and a scientific sense of curiosity about the world, this can be a great time of year for learning. A STEM workshop for kids up to age seven at the Ashfield Public Library will teach children how maple flows at this time of year. Participants will have the chance to taste some maple syrup. 413-628-4414. 344 Main Street. Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

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History

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY
Saturday, March 25, 10am-2pm
Learning about maple sugaring can connect you with New England history and a thriving, current agricultural practice at the same time. Engaging with this topic can also support an interest in Native American history, as the practice of maple sugaring was first cultivated by Native Americans and later adopted by European settlers. Maple Days at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead include guided walks, outdoor sugaring demonstrations, face painting, and a pancake breakfast! Venture outdoors to see this historical practice in action. 413-532-1631. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (<$)

LOCAL HISTORY
Sunday, March 26, 2 pm
“Shays’ Rebellion was an armed uprising in Massachusetts (mostly in and around Springfield) during 1786 and 1787. Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led four thousand rebels (called Shaysites) in an uprising against perceived economic and civil rights injustices. In 1787, the rebels marched on the United States’ Armory at Springfield in an unsuccessful attempt to seize its weaponry and overthrow the government.” Tom Goldscheider will be giving a talk on this historical event, at the Goshen Town Hall. Call 413-268-7120 with any questions. Goshen, MA. (FREE)

NEW ENGLAND HISTORY
Sunday, March 26, 2 pm
The Townshend Acts placed taxes on items such as glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea in America, the revenue of which benefited English rule. Most people are familiar with the rebellions which ensued, including the Boston Massacre. Historic Deerfield is hosting a winter lecture series to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Townshend Acts through an exploration of the politics of tea, consumer culture, and resistance. This final lecture, “‘Earthen Ware, made in Boston:’ Benjamin Leigh and John Allman’s Revolutionary Partnership,” will be presented by Angelika Kuettner, Associate Curator of Ceramics at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 413-774-5581. 80 Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

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World Language

SPANISH
Saturday, March 25, 10am-11:30am
Learning a second language is a fun and exciting challenge for the brain. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world. For that reason, it is a very practical and enriching second language to learn. Non-native speakers who wish to practice their Spanish are invited to a four-week series of conversation sessions at the Jones Library. Meet other community members and improve your Spanish speaking skills in a relaxed environment. To learn more about the advantages of learning a second language, as well as resources for language learning, read our post: Language Learning Resources in Western MA. Registration is required. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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Ecology

CLIMATE ACTION
Saturday, March 25, 8:30-9:30pm
Tenth annual Earth Hour! Around the globe, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and make noise for climate change action. Find out more at www.earthhour.org and take part with your family in your community!

CITIZEN SCIENCE
Saturday, March 25, 10am-12pm
Want to engage in a community-wide citizen science project while learning about ecology and computer databases? Hampshire College and the Hitchcock Center invite you to contribute to a record of sightings of animals and plants and other organisms on the Hampshire Campus. Participants will explore a portion of the Hampshire woods, record sightings during the guided walk, then gather indoors to learn about the database. Participants will also learn how to enter data into the site and use the information already there. These web-based databases can also be used for personal nature projects! Visit the Hitchcock Center website for more information and to register. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

AQUATIC BIOLOGY
Sunday, March 26, 2pm-3pm
Ecological crises teach scientists a lot about biology, as species under pressure of negative external factors will adapt to their circumstances in fascinating ways. 2016 was a severe drought year for Massachusetts. Aquatic biologist Paula Packard studied the ways in which aquatic plants adapted to drought in areas of Massachusetts including the Quabbin reservoir. You can hear her discuss biology, drought, and species preservation at the Quabbin Visitor Center. 413-323-7221. 485 Ware Road. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

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Theater

MUSIC HISTORY
Saturday, March 25, 12:30pm
Amadeus is a 1979 play by Peter Shaffer which tells a fictionalized account of the lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The play utilizes music by Mozart, Salieri, and other composers. Lovers of theater and classical music can view an HD film screening of this play performed by the National Theatre in London, at Amherst Cinema. This screening is part of Amherst Cinema’s “International Performances in HD” series. 413- 253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION
Saturday, March 25, 2pm and 7:30pm; Sunday, March 26, 11am and 2pm
Come and step through the door of an old wardrobe where two imaginative children, Lucy and Edmund, will lead you on a magical adventure filled with fantasy and wonder. Based on the classic novel by C.S. Lewis, Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, ignites curiosity while providing insight into the emotional climate of childhood during World War II. Come experience the weaving of traditional English folklore, Greek mythology, and 20th-century literature that has made The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a favorite among audiences of all ages! Come 45 minutes early to this performance at Bay Path University and enjoy entertainment for the whole family. Pre-show activities will include building your own lion mask, creating a shield for fighting evil, coloring in your favorite characters, and hearing an abridged retelling of this beloved C.S. Lewis tale. Mills Theater. Longmeadow, MA. ($)

MUSIC STUDIES
Saturday, March 25, 4pm-10pm
“Music and Diversity III” is a multi-media performance festival celebrating a range of theatrical and musical work by people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicity. The afternoon will begin with Grupo Folklorico, a children’s dance troupe, presenting traditional Mexican and South American dances. At 4:30 audiences will see selections from Tenderness, a multi-lingual performance project which explores the difficult topics of violence, mass incarceration, and the school-to-prison-pipeline through talented acting. The evening will include a community meal as well as musical performances by Moonlight and Morning Star, as well as Tang Sauce and DJ Stealth. Shea Theater Arts Center. This is a great event for anyone interested in multi-cultural music, dance, and theater. 71 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (DONATION)

JAPANESE STUDIES/PUPPETRY
Thursday, March 30, 7:30 pm
Kuruma Ningyo or “cart puppets” are a style of Japanese puppetry which draws from classical Japanese literature and religious stories. Unlike many forms of puppetry in the United States, Kuruma Ningyo is entertainment for people of all ages, not associated strongly with children. American puppeteer Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V will be performing this style of puppetry in their show Shank’s Mare at UMass Amherst. This multi-media performance combines live music and video production with traditional Japanese puppetry for a unique, cross-cultural experience. Bowker Auditorium. 100 Holdsworth Way. Amherst, MA. ($; Five college students and 17 and under <$)

PSYCHOLOGY
Thursday, March 30, 7:30 pm
Living in proximity to the five colleges offers the opportunity to see brand new, contemporary plays performed for the first time. The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s New Play Lab will be debuting Life Defying Acts by Pam Dickler on March 30. Play Labs allow the audience to participate in the sculpting of a theatrical work, as audience members are asked to provide feedback on these brand new performances. These new and in-progress performances are offered at a low price. Life Defying Acts tells the story of two sisters struggling with America’s epidemic problem of juvenile depression and suicide. Attending this performance could appeal to anyone with an interest in learning about psychology, mental illness, and contemporary theater. The Curtain Theater. Fine Arts Center. 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. (<$)

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Criminal Justice

CRIMINOLOGY/PRISON POPULATIONS
Saturday, March 25, 1pm-2pm
The United States has the highest prison population in the world. Whether we realize it or not, incarceration has a huge impact on our society. For those on the outside of prison walls, this can be an invisible problem, as we literally do not see the millions of people in this country who are incarcerated. Come to the Emily Williston Memorial Library to see a performance by women who have participated in “Voices from Inside,” an organization that offers writing workshops for women who are or have been incarcerated. Attendees will hear the personal stories of Western Massachusetts women who were formerly incarcerated, gaining an individualized personal perspective on this national issue. 413-527-1031. 9 Park Street. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

WOMEN’S STUDIES
Saturday, March 25, 3 pm
The United States has the highest prison population in the world. Whether we realize it or not, incarceration has a huge impact on our society. The number of incarcerated women has been rising significantly for decades as well. This discussion, “Women, Crime, and Justice: Mass Incarceration and Mothering,” at the Westhampton Public Library will illuminate issues related to this crisis. Participants will discuss the disproportionate numbers of women of color and poor women who are incarcerated, as well as the impact on children whose parents are incarcerated. This event is occurring in conjunction with the Holyoke-Hamptons community-wide reading of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road. Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

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Art Studies

PHOTOGRAPHY
Saturday, March 25, 2pm-4pm
“Chiaroscuro” is a painting technique which arose during the Renaissance and remains an important artistic technique today. This type of artwork incorporates strong light and shadow contrast through three-dimensional objects, a principle which is also important to photography. Winter months can be the perfect time to explore such contrasts of shapes and shadows. To learn more about these concepts and apply them to your own photography, come to a winter photography workshop at Bartholomew’s Cobble. An expert photographer will take participants on a guided walk to enjoy the outdoor views of the cobble and capture them through photographs. 413-229-8600. 117 Cooper Hill Road. Sheffield, MA. (Non-member $; member <$)

JAPANESE STUDIES
Sunday, March 26, 3pm
“Ukiyo-e” is a genre of artwork which originated in 17th century Japan. The term ukiyo-e translates in English as “pictures of the floating world.” These works, taking the form of woodblock prints or paintings, depict subjects such as beautiful women, sumo wrestlers, landscapes, and scenes from history (Ukiyo-e Wikipedia). University of Pennsylvania Professor of History of Art, Julie Nelson Davis, will be giving a lecture on ukiyo-e at the Clark Art Institute. This lecture coincides with the exhibition, Japanese Impressions: Color Woodblock Prints from the Rodbell Family Collection, on view through April 2 in the Clark Center. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

POTTERY
Tuesday, March 28, 7:30pm
When European colonists first came to America, all brick products were imported. In the early 17th century, this importation ceased and brick kilns emerged in areas such as Boston, Massachusetts. In Pelham and surrounding towns, potters and brick-makers used clay for utensils and home products up through the 19th century. Clay was the basis for several colonial industries. Learning about clay working can be an interesting lens through which to learn about New England businesses and everyday colonial life. Rick Hamelin, who has researched the Massachusetts clay industry since 1985 and is a Master Potter from Warren, MA, will be giving a talk on these topics at the Pelham Library. “Pottery, Tile and Brick-Making: A History and A Primer” will give audiences insight into local and New England history. 413-253-0657. 2 South Valley Road. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

MODERN ART
Sunday, March 26, 2pm
Sometimes art galleries and collections are curated based on the tastes of an individual and can provide historical insight into the man or woman behind the collection. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a museum in Venice, is a modern art museum comprised mainly of Guggenheim’s personal art collection. In addition to collecting art, heiress Peggy Guggenheim spent time with artists such as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, and Marcel Duchamp. Learn about her life and her impact on modern art movements by viewing the 2015 film Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict at the Yiddish Book Center. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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Music Studies

HARP MUSIC
Saturday, March 25, 7:30pm
The harp is an ancient stringed instrument which dates back as early as 3500 BC. Harps were popular in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance but fell out of popularity with many types of harps no longer being used. The harp has historically been used across many continents and culture and can be an essential element to certain traditional genres of music. James Ruff plays the wire harp in his performances of early opera pieces, contemporary works, as well as early Gaelic and Scottish songs. You can hear the harp live and discover its role in Gaelic and Scottish music by attending his performance at the McCulloch Auditorium. Mount Holyoke College. College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

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Paleontology

DINOSAURS/LOCAL HISTORY
Sunday, March 26, 1pm
Trends come and go, but there are some topics which fascinate children across generations. One such topic is dinosaurs! Extinct species tell us a lot about evolution, biology, and the history of the Earth. Dinosaurs are particularly interesting because, in some cases, their massive size. The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s family learning exhibit, “Reading the Rocky Book of the Past,” includes two simulated 19th-century cabinets (precursors to today’s museums), provides hands-on activities, and tells the story of how dinosaur tracks were discovered in the Connecticut River Valley. Families are invited to the Holyoke Heritage State Park Visitor’s Center to learn from this exhibit and enjoy a screening of the film Dinosaur Train which teaches audiences about fossils and rock formation. Refreshments and dinosaur-themed party favors included. 413-534-1723. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

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Mindfulness

COMMUNICATIONS
Monday, March 27, 5:30pm-6:30pm
It’s often easy to be an effective communicator during low-stress conversations. During a conflict, however, emotions can have a negative impact on our ability to accurately and tactfully convey information. Sharon Coleman, a clinical psychologist, mindfulness practitioner, and leadership consultant, will be offering a workshop: “Conflict as a Doorway to Radical Connection,” to help participants become better communicators. This workshop will explore topics such as nonviolent communication and mindfulness. These principles could help individuals at home, at work, and in all types of relationships. Mason Library. 413-528-2403. 231 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

YOGA
Wednesday, March 29, 1pm-2pm
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice which dates back to the fifth century BC and originates in India. Why has yoga become such a globally widespread, popular activity? Yoga can help you build your physical strength and flexibility, connect you to the present moment, and relieve stress. No matter what you wish to get out of your yoga practice, attending a beginner’s course is a great way to get started. The Storrs Library is offering a beginner’s yoga class on Wednesdays March 29, April 5, 12, and 19. These classes will get you started with basic poses and also teach you how to use the online lesson streaming service Hoopla so you can continue this practice from home. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

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Astronomy

STARS
“Five of the most unusual, amazing and interesting stars we’ve discovered in our universe. Red giants, supernovas, hybrid stars, orbiting binaries, large stars, old stars, small stars, we’ve discovered thousands of stars within our milky way galaxy. Astronomers use incredible tools to figure out the characteristics of a star. These are 5 of the most amazing stars we’ve ever discovered in our galaxy.” – Physics Girl

FILM STUDIES
Tuesday, March 28, 7 pm
Astronomy is a fascinating area of study for people who enjoy both complex mathematics, and the beauty and mystery of the sky! The 2015 film Star Men (not rated) follows four exceptional astronomers as they celebrate and discuss their 50 years of work and friendship. Screen this film at Amherst Cinema to learn about both astronomy and United States history. This event is part of the ongoing Science on Screen program and will feature an introduction by Dr. Suzan Edwards, Professor of Astronomy at Smith College. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

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Parenting

TECHNOLOGY
Tuesday, March 28, 7pm-8:30pm
According to a 2015 study from Common Sense Media, teenagers spend an average of almost nine hours per day looking at a screen. Parents have been debating the merits and detrimental effects of television since its inception. Parents today, though, have to make many more decisions about technology in their households. Screens in the form of phones, tablets, and computers, are now both portable and often individualized as opposed to a shared television which is easier to monitor. The personalized nature of social media also opens vulnerable teens up to bullying and other interpersonal problems even after they get home from school. The documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age provides parents with useful information on teen technology use, as well as resources and tips for navigating this parenting issue. Parents are invited to a screening of the film followed by a discussion about teens and social media, video games, academics and internet overuse, at Easthampton High School. 70 Williston Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

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Service-Based Learning

ECOLOGY/INVASIVE SPECIES
Thursday, March 30, 8:30am-10am
Though quite unwanted and dangerous to our fragile ecosystems, the numerous invasive species that have become part of the local landscape can serve as a community-based resource for learning. Hardy Kiwi is a locally invasive species which kills all other vegetation as it spreads. Native to Japan, Korea, Northern China, and Russian Siberia, hardy kiwi has been cultivated commercially in the United States since the early 1900s and has only recently begun spreading dangerously in the Northeast. You can help remove Hardy Kiwi from the area around Burbank Park. Volunteers meet weekly on Thursdays at Burbank Park on Onota Lake, off Valentine Road, at the little parking area on the east side, just north of Lakeway Drive. Call 413-230-7321 if you are planning to attend. Pittsfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

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Career Development

LEADERSHIP
Thursday, March 30, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Who inspires you in our community? Women and girls are invited to meet local leaders and learn about leadership development opportunities at Springfield City Library’s leadership panel. This popular program, “My Beloved Springfield: Honoring Pioneering Librarians and Women’s Leadership Panel,” supports placemaking by educating attendees about the inspiring work being done in our community. It can also help young girls and young women develop career readiness skills, while more experienced women can come with specific goals and questions. The event will be held at the Mason Square Branch Library. 413-263-6828. 765 State Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

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Nutritional Anthropology

CULINARY ARTS
Thursday, March 30, 6pm-7pm
Did you know that Koreans sometimes say “kimchi” when they are photographed, the same way that Americans say “cheese?” Come to a Fermented Foods Workshop to learn all about the origins, cultural significance, and health benefits of kimchi. Participants will learn how to make kimchi, from finding the right vegetables to the process of canning and fermenting. The first ten people to register will leave with their own jar of kimchi! Call 413-663-7588 ext. 28 for more information. UNO Community Center. 157 River Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

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[Photo credit: (cc) Artotem]


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Belchertown, Buckland, Chicopee, Colrain, Cummington, Gill, Hadley, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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