31 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Reasoning to Education. Fashion History to Sewing.

Wordplay requires intelligence and creativity. To tell or even merely to understand a pun requires communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (Scientific American). The 2017 Lenox Peeps Show invites people of all ages to create a diorama combines humor (in the form of puns), literacy, and visual creativity on Wednesday, April 5, 10am-3pm. This year participants will be creating dioramas using peeps to depict their favorite story or book, with extra credit given to those who use puns in their concept or title. All entries must be delivered to Ventfort Hall before 3:00pm on Wednesday, April 5th. Visit the Ventfort Hall website for full details. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Reasoning to Astronomy. Scavengers to Education. Fashion History to Sewing. 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: Vernal pools, by definition a temporary habitat, provide the perfect breeding ground for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, tiny mussels, fairy shrimp, and many other creatures. Families can learn more about vernal pools and their inhabitants through humorous skits at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s “Big Night” on Saturday, April 1, 5:30pm-9pm. Guided tours will leave the nature center every 15-minutes to travel a 45-minute forest trail where you will meet costumed characters. There will also be games and presentations. This event is best suited for youth ages 4 through 16 and their caregivers. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (<$)


PhilosophyAerospaceAnimal StudiesWhalesWomen’s StudiesCivic EngagementArt StudiesFiber ArtsDance StudiesEcologyVernal PoolsLanguage ArtsMusic StudiesImmigration StudiesHistoryLiterature in TranslationOrnithologyCreative-Free PlayBotanySeed Saving


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Fashion

HISTORY/HATS
Sunday, April 2, 2pm
Today, hats are typically worn either for the practical purpose of keeping your head warm in winter, or perhaps to denote loyalty to a particular sports team. At earlier points in United States history, however, both men and women donned varying styles of hats regularly as a fashion statement. High crown versus low crown, broad versus narrow brim, feathers and trim, these choices had meanings which Margaret Bruzelius will explain in her illustrated talk: “The Final Flourish: the Rhetoric of the Hat,” at Historic Northampton. Margaret Bruzelius is the dean of the senior class and associate dean of Smith College. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Music Studies

SOCIAL JUSTICE
Saturday, April 1, 7pm
Hear local music while supporting the Greater Springfield NAACP and Arise for Social Justice, at the “Justice for All” concert! The show will feature Lea Gilmore, Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, and the Amherst Area Gospel Choir. Lea Gilmore is a singer and activist, performing in a wide range of musical genres including blues, jazz, and gospel. Peter Blood and Annie Patterson are two local musicians who promote hope and change through their performances. Annie and Peter have compiled two songbooks, Rise Up Singing, and Rise Again. Through these songbooks they aimed to bring the joy of learning and playing music with others, making it easier for musicians to learn over six hundred songs. This performance at the First Congregational Church of Amherst is sure to inspire your musical side while also getting community members together to think about and support social justice initiatives. 413-253-3456. 165 Main Street. Amherst, MA. ($; under 18 <$)

STRINGED INSTRUMENTS
Sunday, April 2, 3pm
How many stringed instruments can you name? There are guitars, lutes, ukuleles, mandolins, violins, the list goes on. These instruments vary in all sorts of ways including their pitch, their size, and their tuning. Instruments in the violin family are held along one arm, or placed upright between the legs, as opposed to guitars, ukuleles, and mandolins. Even pianos are string instruments; hitting the keys causes a hammer to strike a string. The next South Berkshire Concert at Bard College at Simon’s Rock will feature Stephanie Griffin on viola and Cheryl Seltzer on piano. The program includes works by Schubert, Wolpe, Babbitt, Mamlok, Griffin, and a new viola sonata by Roberto Sierra. Kellogg Music Center. 413-644-4400. 84 Alford Road. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

CHORUS
Sunday, April 2, 4pm
The Amandla Chorus of Greenfield has been performing for almost thirty years with the aim of strengthening the community. The name Amandla comes from the Zulu word for “power.” People of all ages are invited to hear them sing powerful songs of inspiration, respect, and justice at their concert. The group will be performing music from around the world as well as original tunes. This concert will benefit the Center for New Americans. The concert will take place at the Shea Theater Arts Center. A second concert will take place at the same venue at 7pm, with themes more suited for adults. 71 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (<$)

NATURE STUDIES
Wednesday, April 5, 12:30pm-1pm
“Smith’s Special Trees: A Musical Tribute” is a unique event which will combine information about dendrology (the scientific study of trees), classical music, and architectural history. Smith College’s campus was designed by the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who incorporated four state champion trees and other distinguished species. Smith College’s Tree Committee will provide information about the trees, and a duo of musical performers will honor the trees through music. They will play pieces by George Frideric Handel, Jean Sibelius, Edvard Grieg, Kaeza Fearn, as well as a new composition written for the Dawn Redwood by Gregory W. Brown. Sweeney Concert Hall. Sage Hall. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Philosophy

REASONING/ARGUMENT
“Before we dive into the big questions of philosophy, you need to know how to argue properly. We’ll start with an overview of philosophical reasoning and breakdown of how deductive arguments work (and sometimes don’t work).” – Crash Course Philosophy #2

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History

LOCAL HISTORY/QUABBIN
Sunday, April 2, 3pm-4pm
Have you ever heard of Prescott Massachusetts? Prescott is one of four towns in Massachusetts, along with Dana, Enfield, and Greenwich, that were disincorporated and flooded through the building of the Quabbin Reservoir. Residents were given a hard deadline to pack up their things and move out so the reservoir could be created. Learn more about this fascinating chapter in Massachusetts History at Jon Melick’s presentation, “Quabbin Time Travel Trip To Prescott.” He will show and tell attendees what the town of Prescott was like before it was lost to history. This program will be held at the Belchertown Senior Center. 60 State Street. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)

THEATER/WOMEN’S HISTORY
Monday, April 3, 7pm
Joan of Arc is a fascinating figure who changed the course of history through her involvement in the Hundred Years’ War. She believed she was receiving visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to assist in the recovery of France from the English. She was later put on trial and famously burned at the stake, becoming a martyr for her cause. George Bernard Shaw’s 1920s play Saint Joan follows Joan of Arc’s life as a young country girl, a Protestant, a nationalist, and an unlikely military leader. You can see a film screening of this play broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse (located in London), at Amherst Cinema. This one-time, international film program should appeal to those interested in French history or contemporary theater. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (<$)

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Astronomy

PLANETARIUM SHOW
Friday, April 7, 8pm
An interest in studying astronomy can develop from an interest in mathematical calculation, or a simple appreciation for the beauty of the sky. Planetarium shows at the Hopkins Observatory feature demonstrations of a range of phenomena including retrograde motions of the planets, phases of the moon, the varying temperatures/colors of stars, locations of neighboring galaxies, the mythological figures and zodiacal signs ascribed to constellations, and much more. They will be offering free shows on Friday evenings through running through May 12. View the video above and arrive curious! Call 413-597-2188 for more information. Williams College. 829 Main Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

AEROSPACE
Saturday, April 1, 10am-4pm
Is your child fascinated by planes or helicopters? How about spaceships? Aviation is an interest which can intersect with engineering and history, and possibly evolve into a potential career! Space Expo at the New England Air Museum will offer the chance to meet a real astronaut, view planetarium shows, fly a Space Shuttle simulator, touch a space rock, participate in experiments and science demonstrations, build rockets, and much more! Meet NASA Astronaut Rick Mastracchio and learn about the realities of an aerospace career. 860-623-330. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. (FREE)

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Animal Studies

SCAVENGERS

WHALES
Saturday, April 1, 11am
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the military which enforces maritime law. They also save lives- and not just human lives. Come to the Granby Library to see a heartwarming 15-minute film which documents how the coast guard saved the life of Inky, the beautiful Pygmy Sperm Whale. It took over one hundred people to rescue, rehabilitate and return the young whale. This short, straightforward film will be entertaining and educational for both adults and young children. There will also be coloring pages and activities for kids. 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

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Civic Engagement

CIVIC PARTICIPATION
Saturday, April 1, 9:30am-4pm
What can you do to become politically engaged on the local or national level? Running for local office, helping someone else run, calling your legislators, canvassing, using social media, and simply engaging in political conversations are all tangible ways you can help causes you care about. The Four Freedoms Coalition, in partnership with Berkshire Community College, is offering a full day of workshops on civic participation basics.  1350 West Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

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Art Studies

ADVOCACY/HUMANITIES
Saturday, April 1, 10am-12pm
Do you want to support art and humanities work in our community? The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two organizations which provide funding to a wide range of innovative projects, are currently under political threat. You can do your part to save the NEH and NEA by attending the Democratic Platform Hearing for our region. Your participation could help shape the state platform on these issues. The hearing will take place at the Norris School. If you (and/or friends) can come please RSVP Janet Cain at southamptonmadems@gmail.com. 34 Pomeroy Meadow Road. Southampton, MA. (FREE)

SCULPTURE/DECORATIVE ARTS
Sunday, April 2, 1pm-4pm
In sculpture, artists often utilize a metal framework called an armature, around which they build their piece. Armatures are also used in stop-motion animation films. The Clark Art Institute’s First Sundays Free program will focus on sculpture and decorative arts. Family art-making activities in the open studio space will include making armature and sculpture. Admission to the galleries is free all day (1am-5pm). Gallery talks take place at 1:30pm and 3pm. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

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Fiber Arts

SEWING
Saturday, April 1, 10am-12:30pm
Want to learn how to sew or practice your sewing in a group, social setting? “Sew-In Saturday” at the library will be bringing together fiber artists of all levels. Beginners can learn from experts at the Storrs Library and leave with a library book bag. More experienced sewers can make a simple basket out of fabric scraps. If you have your own project you want to work on, bring it. Register online at the Storrs Library website or call 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

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Dance Studies

BALLET
Saturday, April 1, 1pm & 4pm
Pioneer Valley Ballet presents the classic, Cinderella live on stage at the Academy of Music. Join Cinderella as she struggles with her evil family for independence, and travel through the enchanted forest as she is magically changed to appear at the masquerade ball where she meets her prince. Featuring guest artists from The North Atlantic Ballet and Ballet X. Academy of Music. Northampton, MA ($)

CIRCLE DANCE
Friday, April 7, 6pm-8pm
Circle Dance at the West Cummington Parish House draws upon the traditional dances of many different cultures. Sacred Circle Dance was founded by the members of Findhorn Community in Scotland. The dances have a range of pace and style, but no experience is necessary. Every dance will be explained and demonstrated, so this is a great opportunity to learn something new while getting exercise and meeting new people. Call 413-634-0132 for more information. 27 West Main Street. West Cummington, MA. (DONATION)

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Women’s Studies

EDUCATION
Friday, April 7, 7pm
Millions of girls worldwide are not offered opportunities for education. The 2013 documentary Girl Rising uses storytelling to inspire action that gets girls into classrooms. Deerfield Senior Girl Scout Troop 11240 will be offering two screening of the film, on Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8. The April 7 viewing is intended for parents to have the opportunity to preview the film before bringing their children. The film is rated PG-13, with no violent or graphic scenes, however, the film may not be appropriate for all children. Frontier Regional Auditorium. 113 North Main Street. South Deerfield, MA. (<$)

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Ecology

RIVERS
Saturday, April 1, 2pm-3pm
Rivers are like the blood vessels of the Earth, and the health of these rivers impacts the entire ecosystem around them. Citizens have a greater impact on the health of local rivers than you may realize. “Be River Smart” month at the Berkshire Athenaeum will help educate community members to become more knowledgeable about river ecology, and better stewards of our rivers. The program kicks off on April 1 with a presentation by Alison Dixon of the Housatonic Valley Association. The presentation will give practical tips on how you can be “River Smart.” Chris Laney will give an introduction to building your own composting bin. (To better understand the connection between rivers and the human circulatory system, check out our post The Ripple: Stewards of Our Rivers!) 413-499-9480. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

VERNAL POOLS
Saturday, April 1, 5:30pm-9pm
Vernal pools, by definition a temporary habitat, provide the perfect breeding ground for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, tiny mussels, fairy shrimp, and many other creatures. Families can learn more about vernal pools and their inhabitants through humorous skits at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s “Big Night.” Guided tours will leave the nature center every 15-minutes to travel a 45-minute forest trail where you will meet costumed characters. There will also be games and presentations. This event is best suited for youth ages 4 through 16 and their caregivers. Call 413-584-3009 to register. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (<$)

Read more about vernal pools in our March/April issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts.

SERVICE-BASED LEARNING
Tuesday, April 4, 5:30pm-7pm
Adventures in or along local rivers offer the opportunity to learn about ecology. The Housatonic River is one of Western Massachusetts’ many amazing bodies of water. You can become familiar with the Housatonic river by attending a Stream Team Training, and learn how to complete river assessments. Volunteers will walk or paddle a 1 – 2-mile segment of the river and record observations. This training session at the Mason Library will give you all the necessary knowledge and skills to volunteer. Call the Housatonic Valley Association at 413-298-7024 to register. 231 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

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Language Arts

STORYTELLING/POETRY
Saturday, April 1, 7pm-9pm
No Fools Slam at the Berkshire Museum offers an educational and enlightening evening for community members who enjoy spoken word performances. The slam will feature poetry and spoken-word storytelling from performers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four. These heartfelt and unfiltered stories may involve content challenging for young children. The performances could foster productive conversations between parents and mature teens, or the event could be a unique activity for a parents’ night out. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Route 7. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

POETRY
Monday, April 3, 7pm
The term “poetry” comes from the Greek term, “poiesis,” which translates to “making.” How do you make poetry? Typically by applying your choice of poetic techniques such as rhythm, rhyme, line breaks, repetition, puns, alliteration, or others, to your writing. Whether you make poetry yourself, or simply enjoy reading it, you can enrich your study of poetry by meeting other community members who enjoy this literary art form. The Forbes Library Poetry Discussion Group will be analyzing the work of Ocean Vuong, award-winning poet and essayist and author of the best-selling, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. This ongoing group will continue to meet weekly through through Monday, May 15. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

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Immigration Studies

COMMUNITY DISCUSSION
Sunday, April 2, 3pm-4pm
In the United States, unless you are a Native American, you are a descendant of immigrants. Immigration is a political issue which affects all communities in various seen and unseen ways. “Immigration: A Gathering” at Double Edge Theater will bring community members together to discuss immigration questions relating to our area, for example through conversations about how rural Hilltowns can respond to the changing political climate. The event will be led by acclaimed author Ilan Stavans, with special local guest contributors. 413-628-0277. 948 Conway Road. Ashfield, MA. (FREE)

CULTURAL PRESERVATION
Thursday, April 6, 12:15pm -2:15pm
Immigration stories are integral to the history and present culture of our communities. If you have an immigration story to share, The Berkshire Immigrant Stories Project will be offering assistance with the process of digitizing a chosen object and narrating a personal story. These narratives and artifacts will be shared on the “Your Story, Our Story” website. This workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum will include writing and translation service, as well as the availability of laptops, scanners, and digital cameras. Food and drink will be provided. The workshop is open to all. For more information on participating in the project or volunteering: call 413-236-4607. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE/VOLUNTEER)

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Literature in Translation

FAMILY THEATER
Saturday, April 1, 6:30pm
Performing in plays can help kids learn to articulate and project their voices, think about how emotions are expressed and have a great time entertaining the audience. You can support a group of junior actors by attending Westhampton Elementary School’s performance of Really Rosie. This play is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, with music by Carole King. Rosie is a young girl with a big imagination who wants to cure the boredom of the kids on Avenue P. Tickets are available by calling the Westhampton Elementary School at 413 527-0561. 37 Kings Highway. Westhampton, MA. (<$; children 2 and under FREE)

FILM/DISCUSSION
Tuesday, April 4, 7pm
The Triplex and Beacon Cinemas, in partnership with the Four Freedoms Coalition, will join over 180 independent movie theaters across the country in 165 cities and in 43 states, to offer a free screening and post-film moderated discussion of the feature film “1984.” The film, based on George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel of the same name, stars John Hurt and Richard Burton. This screening date was chosen because it’s the day George Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith, begins rebelling against his oppressive government by keeping a forbidden diary. The screenings at The Triplex and Beacon will be followed by a moderated discussion, coordinated by the Four Freedoms Coalition. Free tickets are available on a first come, first served basis at the theaters during box office hours on the day of the event. The Triplex is located at 70 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA. The Beacon Cinema is located in Pittsfield, MA at 57 North Street. For more information on the screenings nationwide visit www.unitedstateofcinema.com. (FREE)

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Ornithology

Springtime is filled with sightings of all kinds of exciting natural wonders. The season’s outdoor appeal makes it a perfect time of year not only for enjoying our natural surroundings, but for learning about conservation and species preservation, too! Springtime is the season for bird sightings as Western Massachusetts becomes filled with a variety of migrating bird species in the early spring months. Read more in our March/April issue of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts.

BIRD MIGRATION
Wednesday, April 5, 8am-10am
Spring is in the air…and so are migratory birds! Beginner and expert bird watchers alike are invited to Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to look for species of wood warblers, orioles, thrushes, and more, who make their temporary homes here in the warm months. Participants will walk through wetlands, meadows, and woodlands. During this weekly event, participants will see how the ecology changes and different birds arrive over time. Please bring binoculars. This program is for adults and will be instructed by Pleasant Valley’s caretaker. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
Wednesday, April 5, 7pm-8:30pm
Courtship displays, in which animals attempt to attract mates through a set of behaviors, can take the form of dances, songs, or displays or strength. These displays are more commonly executed by males, or done mutually, though there are a small number of species whose females execute courtship displays. The courtship display of the American woodcock is executed by males, and it is both a dance and a song, designed to both attract a mate and mark territory. Wet meadows and fields in early Spring set the stage for the woodcock dance. Lifelong birder Dale Abrams will be helping community members look and listen for the American woodcock at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. This event is suitable for children six and up. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (<$)

BIRD MIGRATION
Friday, April 7, 8am-10am
Spring is in the air…and so are migratory birds! Beginner and expert bird watchers alike are invited to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary to look for species of wood warblers, orioles, thrushes, and more, who make their temporary homes here in the warm months. Participants will walk through wetlands, meadows, and woodlands. During this weekly event, participants will see how the ecology changes and different birds arrive over time. Please bring binoculars. This program is for adults and will be instructed by Noreen Mole – Sanctuary Volunteer and Hoffmann Bird Club leader. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

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Creative Free Play

LITERACY
Wednesday, April 5, 10am-3pm
Wordplay requires intelligence and creativity. To tell or even merely to understand a pun requires communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (Scientific American). The 2017 Lenox Peeps Show invites people of all ages to create a diorama combines humor (in the form of puns), literacy, and visual creativity. This year participants will be creating dioramas using peeps to depict their favorite story or book, with extra credit given to those who use puns in their concept or title. All entries must be delivered to Ventfort Hall before 3:00pm on Wednesday, April 5th. Visit the Ventfort Hall website for full details. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

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Botany

AGRICULTURE/SEED SAVING
Wednesday, April 5, 7pm-9pm
Do you know where your food comes from? Agriculture is a business which affects all of us, whether we realize it or not, and it is a business currently undergoing drastic changes in conjunction with political and cultural shifts. The 2016 film, Seed: The Untold Story, tells the story of the seed keepers who are protecting a 12,000-year-old food legacy. Over the course of the last century, nearly 100 varieties of seeds have disappeared as a result of large agricultural companies who control the majority of the global seed market. You can view the film at Grow Food Northampton’s office in the Arts & Industry Building to find out more about this agricultural issue, and learn what can be done. Locally-grown popcorn will be served! 221 Pine Street. Suite 349. Florence, MA. (DONATION)

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[Photo credit: (cc) Dizzy Girl]


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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