10 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Pickleball to Rhubarb. Cake History to Garden Tours.

What do Chiffon, Tunnel of Fudge, Sock-it-to-me, Watergate, Jell-O Poke, Hummingbird, Funfetti, Chocolate Lava, Viennetta, Red Velvet, Bacon, and Pops have in common? They are all popular cakes!

Fiddle Music to Senegalese Music. Pickleball to Kusudama. Plastic to Cake History. 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:

RHUBARB FESTIVAL: This time of year farm stands all over the area are selling rhubarb. A local delicacy, rhubarb has been enjoyed all over the world for thousands of years in both sweet and savory dishes. In China, rhubarb has also been prized for its medicinal properties. For most people, the most common application of rhubarb is paired with strawberries in crumbles or pies. Many 19th century cookbooks even refer to rhubarb as the ‘pie plant.’ Come learn all about things you can do with rhubarb and taste some delicious sweet and savory rhubarb dishes at the 5th Annual Lenox Rhubarb Festival on Saturday, June 9, 10am. Plants and cookbooks will also be available for sale. 18 Main Street, Lenox, MA (<$)


Interest: MUSIC STUDIES

EVENT: Fiddle Music
Saturday, June 9, 10am-11:59pm
According to legend, the fiddle has been a part of the American musical tradition since 1620, when English fiddle player John Utie settled in Virginia. Since then, the fiddle has played an important role in many of the most distinctively American musical genres. But what is the difference between a violin and a fiddle, anyway? As it turns out, the distinction may be somewhat arbitrary. Many musicians use the terms interchangeably but there are some common differences in the construction of the two instruments. The fiddle, for instance, is more often played with steel strings. The height of the strings may be lower on a fiddle and the bridge may be flatter. Learn all about fiddling and the rich tradition of American Old Time music at the first ever Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention, hosted by the Hancock Shaker Village! This all day event will feature workshops, fiddling competitions, and square dancing. Hancock Shaker Village. 1843 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield, MA ($)

EVENT: Ukulele Music
Saturday, June 9, 11am-3pm
Legend has it that the name ukulele, Hawaiian for ‘jumping flea,’ was first given to the British officer Edward William Purvis, who served on the staff of the penultimate Hawaiian king Kalakaua. Purvis was an expert player of the Portuguese instrument known as ‘machete,’ which had become popular in Hawaii after it was brought there by Portuguese traders. King Kalakaua was a merry character, who enjoyed music greatly, and it is said that Purvis’ small stature, agitated disposition, and quick fingers earned him the nickname ‘ukulele.’ Thereafter, the Hawaiian adaptation of the machete was named after Purvis. Join McCuskers Market and Ukulele Scramble for a celebration of the ukulele, featuring live concerts, arts and crafts, and fun games! McCuskers Market. 3 State Street, Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

PODCAST: Ukulele Music
GRAMMY winners Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer are also known as the first ladies of the UKULELE. On this week’s show, they share their love of uke with you, showcasing vintage ukulele songs with contemporary sounds, and hopefully inspiring you to even consider picking up and playing a ukulele. Aloha and enjoy:

EVENT: Senegalese Music
Wednesday, June 13, 6:30pm
Lovers of world music are in for a real treat this Wednesday, when Grammy nominated Senegalese master Kora player Youssoupha Sidibe will be performing live at the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum. Sidibe has played with numerous celebrated musicians including Matisyahu, Michael Franti, Bela Fleck, and Charles Neville. The Kora is a traditional African instrument made from a calabash gourd and cow skin. It has 21 strings and its sound most closely resembles a harp. Sidibe’s music has been influenced by reggae, blues, traditional Wolof music, and Sufi devotional chanting. This is an amazing opportunity to hear a true master perform. Porter Phelps Huntington Museum. 130 River Drive, Hadley, MA ($)

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Interest: CULINARY ARTS

EVENT: Rhubarb/Seasonal Harvest
Saturday, June 9, 10am
This time of year farm stands all over the area are selling rhubarb. A local delicacy, rhubarb has been enjoyed all over the world for thousands of years in both sweet and savory dishes. In China, rhubarb has also been prized for its medicinal properties. For most people, the most common application of rhubarb is paired with strawberries in crumbles or pies. Many 19th century cookbooks even refer to rhubarb as the ‘pie plant.’ Come learn all about things you can do with rhubarb and taste some delicious sweet and savory rhubarb dishes at the 5th Annual Lenox Rhubarb Festival! Plants and cookbooks will also be available for sale. 18 Main Street, Lenox, MA (<$)

SELF-INITIATED ACTIVITY: Rhubarb Recipe
Looking for another rhubarb-inspired culinary adventure? Try making this strawberry-rhubarb sorbet served in ice bowls! After you’ve eaten the sorbet, you can experiment with the bowl as it melts. Does freezing change the herbs that were encased in ice? What happens when you sprinkle it with salt? With pepper?

EVENT: Pastry Arts/British Food
The Great British Bake Off has become a major cultural phenomenon in Great Britain and around the world. Since the show aired in 2010, there has been a revitalized interest in home baking and the show has also played a role in revising traditional misconceptions about British food. Historically viewed as bland and unappetizing, British cuisine is now increasingly being recognized as one of the preeminent culinary traditions in the western world, particularly in regards to its scrumptious cakes, pies, and other baked goods. If you are a baking enthusiast, you won’t want to miss the Great Berkshire Bake Off’s cake party, to determine the winner of the competition! Guests will have a chance to taste the innovative offerings from contestants and even play a role in choosing the winner. The Wolfson Center. 122 North Street, Pittsfield, MA ($)

INTEREST: Cake History
What do Chiffon, Tunnel of Fudge, Sock-it-to-me, Watergate, Jell-O Poke, Hummingbird, Funfetti, Chocolate Lava, Viennetta, Red Velvet, Bacon, and Pops have in common? They are all popular cakes! Featured on Mashed: “Chances are, you have your favorite, go-to birthday cake — but how about enjoying the one everyone was eating on the day you were born? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at all the biggest, best, and most popular cakes that have trended over the years. So, what was the most popular cake the year you were born?”

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Learning Value: GARDEN-BASED LEARNING

ANNUAL EVENT: Garden Tour
Saturday, June 9, 10am-3pm
Home gardens seem to have become popular in the 13th and 14th century in Europe. What started as a trend among rich landowners spread to the working classes in Elizabethan England. Some theories for how and why gardens became so popular at the time revolve around the Black Plague, which drastically increased the availability of land. If you are passionate about gardening you won’t want to miss the 25th Annual Northampton Garden Tour! Check out some of the Northampton’s most amazing gardens, learn some new gardening techniques, and support the Forbes Library, while you’re at it. Northampton, MA ($)

SELF-INITIATED LEARNING
Gardening is a multidisciplinary activity embedded with learning every step along the way, from botany to soil science to meteorology.  Gardening with children encourages their natural inquisitiveness and experimentation. Plus, most kids love to get dirty! If your child loves being outside, gardening together will give you both a productive reason to spend more time in nature. Garden-based learning is a fun and productive activity to try with your children. After you have planted your foods or flowers, your child can nurture them and watch them grow. As children nurture plants and watch them change, they learn about scientific concepts such as habitat and life cycle. On an even more basic level, they learn the logic of cause and effect relationships, for example, if a plant does not get water it will wither. Waiting for a bulb to flower or fruits to grow can teach patience, while plants that require a lot of watering can start discussions about responsibility. Combining gardening with cooking can have a great impact on your child’s nutrition. Getting children involved in growing and preparing the foods they eat can have a positive impact on dietary choices. Incorporating whatever foods are ready to be eaten into your dinner can teach you to be creative and add variety to your meals. Plus, harvesting the result of your effort and enjoying it in a meal can teach your children about long-term rewards. Gardening and farming make vegetables fun, and instill in children the importance of understanding where food comes from.

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Interest: SPORTS

EVENT: Pickleball Clinic
Saturday, June 9, 10:30-11:30am
Never heard of pickleball? Well, you’re not alone, although the sport is rapidly growing in popularity. The game was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. One summer day, State Representative Joel Pritchard and his friends wanted to play badminton but couldn’t find the shuttlecock. So they found a wiffle ball, lowered the net, dug up some plywood paddles from the tool shed and pickleball was born! Commonly played in both singles and doubles, pickleball is played on badminton court with a tennis style net. The rules are similar to tennis, although the ball is served with an underhand stroke. The sport’s popularity has since grown to India, Finland, France and New Zealand. If you are interested in learning to play pickleball, come on down to this free clinic! This event is appropriate for everyone ages 6 and above. Green River Park. Petty Plain Road, Greenfield, MA (FREE)

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Culture: THEATER & BALLET

EVENT: Pomp and Circumstance
Tuesday, June 12, 7:30pm
If you’ve ever been to a graduation ceremony, you have heard English composer Edward Elgar’s most famous piece “Pomp and Circumstance.” Elgar was one of the leading composers in Britain at the turn of the 20th century and was also noteworthy for being one of the first composers who recorded his music on the gramophone. A self taught composer, Elgar came from a humble background and failed to achieve success until his 40s. Being a Roman Catholic in Protestant Britain also made Elgar an outcast socially. The Elgar Variations Tour is a special performance blending theater and ballet, which tells the story of Elgar’s life. This performance is part of Daniel’s Art Party, a three week long celebration of art at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Daniel Art Center. 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington, MA ($)

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Interest: JAPANESE PAPER FOLDING

EVENT: Origami
Wednesday, June 13, 6-8pm
The history of origami, or Japanese paper folding, begins in the 6th century when Buddhist monks first brought paper to Japan from China. By the 7th century, paper folding played an important role in Shinto, the traditional Japanese religion, during weddings and other ceremonies. The most famous origami shape is the crane and tradition holds that anyone who makes one thousand paper cranes will have their deepest wishes come true. Over the years origami has evolved as an art form and many related types of paper folding have developed. Kusudama, for example, is a type of paper folding that features the use of pyramidal units that are folded together to form spherical shapes. If you are interested in origami or arts and crafts in general, come check out this kusudama workshop! For more information and to register, please visit Japanese Paper Folding. Hatfield Public Library. 39 Main Street, Hatfield, MA (FREE)

SELF-INITIATED ACTIVITY: Origami Kusudama Flower
Make your own at home! Watch the video below and find step by step directions here.

Practicing origami is a fun method for students to learn about this traditional Japanese art, providing a concrete illustration of mathematical concepts.  Add to the workshop a family discussion, exploration, or study of Japanese culture, and the origami lesson becomes even more interesting!  Explore, for example, traditional Japanese art and architecture, then look for similarities between origami and other art forms. Here are some online resources for families to review for more forms of origami and paper crafts:

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Interest: WORLD HISTORY

EVENT: Film/Korean War
Wednesday, June 13, 6:30-8:30pm
The Korean War (1950-1953) is often referred to as ‘The Forgotten War,’ due to the general lack of awareness surrounding the conflict, both during and after. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and an estimated two million civilians were killed during the war. In fact, the aftermath of this war still heavily influenced both the political climate on the Korean peninsula and diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea. While the end of the war was technically considered a stalemate, North Korea was devastated by massive aerial bombing campaigns. The Korean War is notable, as well, for the fact that it represents the first instance of a “police action” type of war. That is to say, none of the combatants, including the United States, ever actually declared war. The authorization for the use of force came directly from the United Nations Security Council. Come learn more about this often neglected, but crucial, piece of 20th century history with a screening of the film Memory of Forgotten War. The film tells the story of the war through the lives of four Korean-American survivors and blends these personal accounts with archival footage and analysis by academics and historians. Forbes Library. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA (FREE)

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Interest: SCIENCE/PLASTIC

SELF-INITIATED LEARNING: Plastic 101
“Once a completely natural product, much of today’s plastic is man-made and largely dependent upon fossil fuels. From polymers to nurdles, learn how plastic is created and what we can do to slow the lasting repercussions this material will have on both our planet and our lives.” (via National Geographic)

SELF-INITIATED LEARNING: Life Cycle of Plastic
What really happens to the plastic you throw away? “We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world.”

View full TED-Ed lesson: What really happens to the plastic you throw away – Emma Bryce 

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[Photo Credit: (cc) Shari’s Berries]


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Ashfield, Bernardston, Chester, Chesterfield, Conway, Erving, Heath, Holyoke, Montgomery, Pelham, Rowe, Russell, Shutesbury, South Hadley, and Springfield Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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