Sheep and Woolcraft Fair Connects Visitors with Local History, Animal Husbandry, and Fiber Art

Annual Sheep and Woolcraft Fair Connects Visitors with Local History, Animal Husbandry, and Fiber Art

Want to learn how to dye wool with Kool-Aid or make a needle-felted fairy? Perhaps you’ve never seen sheep dogs in action or can’t tell a Cotswold from a Corriedale? Indulge your curiosities by attending the annual Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair this Memorial Day weekend!

You may sing your children songs about them and count them when you’re falling asleep, but did you know about sheep’s important role in our history and everyday lives? The first viable flock of domesticated sheep arrived in the colonies in 1609, and shortly thereafter a small but strong wool industry was up and running. Landowners built stone walls to corral their flocks (you probably have come across these in your wanderings!) and colonists even cleared the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket so they could be used for sheep storage. The colonies were so successful in their maintenance of flocks and production of wool that the British government eventually banned colonial wool exports to lessen competition with their own wool markets. This act was one of several that incensed colonists and led to the Revolutionary War. Sheep playing a role in our fight for independence? Absolutely! Read the rest of this entry »

Interpretive Trail Marking the History of the Mill River Flood to Offer Service-Based Learning

Interpretive Trail Marking the History of the Mill River Flood to Offer Service-Based Learning

The Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee is about to begin construction of a new trail that will provide public access to the ruins of the dam that caused the disastrous flood on May 16, 1874. The dam was built by a group of local factory owners to provide dependable water power to their mills. The design and construction of the 600′ long dam, however, proved to be inadequate and the dam burst. The resulting 600 million-gallon flood claimed 139 lives and destroyed much of the villages of Williamsburg, Skinnerville, Haydenville, and Leeds before depositing most of its debris in the meadows of Florence. At the time, it was the worst public works disaster in the history of the nation.

Now, adjacent landowners are collaborating with the Trails Committee on the construction of a new mile-long trail that will allow the public to hike to the ruins of the dam. The trail will traverse land that is part of a 250-year-old farm, and will also be used to tell the story of that farm and of local agriculture and forest management. The trail will include several footbridges, kiosks, interpretive signage, benches, and striking views of the gorge that the river follows below the failed reservoir. There will be extensive technical trail construction needed to make this a safe, enjoyable trail experience for users.

The community is invited to help and to be an exciting part of the creating of a community-based resource that will support the interests and education of residents and visitors to the area.  Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring the History of Fashion through Bicycling

Tweed Run Helps Support A Thriving Community of Cyclists

Local bike ride modeled after rides across the pond, bring placemaking to the streets while raising funds and learning through the lens of history!

Typically, bicycling attire for a modern American involves flexible athletic clothing and sneakers. But at the beginning of cycling history, during the early 19th century, cyclists wore their typical, everyday clothing even when using bicycles for transport. In fact, women’s fashion of the time was a hindrance to their ability to ride, and this was a catalyst for change in women’s style of dress and in the design of the bicycle as manufactures began marketing towards women.  Read the rest of this entry »

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens Doors on 3 Centuries of Rural Living

Community-Based Education Opportunity in an Idyllic Setting

A beloved Western Mass historical institution opens its door for its 67th season when Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum takes us on a tour of 3 centuries worth of rural life. A gorgeous setting on the Connecticut River, the Museum hosts many interesting programs including the family friendly music series- ideal for a summer picnic.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, an historic house museum dating to 1752 in Hadley, Massachusetts, opens Sunday, May 15, 2016 for its 67th season. Guided tours will be available Saturday through Wednesday from 1-4:30pm, closed Thursdays and Fridays.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House, known as Forty Acres, is an 18th-century farm on the banks of the Connecticut River that today showcases life in rural New England over three centuries.  Through the words, spaces and possessions of the women and men who lived here, the Museum portrays the activities of a prosperous and productive 18th-century farmstead. Members of this household along with numerous artisans, servants and slaves made “Forty Acres” an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks. During the 19th century the estate evolved into a rural retreat for the family. In the 20th century the house was preserved as a museum by family members and now contains the possessions of six generations of this extended family. Read the rest of this entry »

Natural and Cultural Histories of Northampton’s Meadows

The Great Meadow: Natural and Cultural Histories of Northampton’s Meadows
Historic Northampton
May 13, 2016 through June 5, 2016

Once the heart of agricultural settlement in Northampton, today the Meadows is a wild space of parties and encampments, a wasteland where the bomb squad detonates suspicious packages, a nature preserve where birds migrate and birdsong predominates, and a vast farmland where corn is cultivated as it has been for hundreds of years.

The Great Meadow: Natural and Cultural Histories of Northampton’s Meadows at Historic Northampton features the work of three local artists as they represent their unique artistic perspective on the Meadows and its many facets.

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Chemistry is F9 U92 N7!

3rd Annual Demo Show at the UMass Amherst Chemistry Department

People often talk about “chemicals” in our food, water, or hygiene products in reference to possibly toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. Some chemicals certainly are dangerous to humans, but EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals! But what is the exact definition of a chemical, anyway? The Merriam-Webster definition of “chemical,” reads: A substance obtained by a chemical process or producing a chemical effect. And chemistry is the study of how chemicals interact and react with one another.

Here Hank Green gives us a “crash course” in chemistry with a series of fast pace, educational videos:

Cooking is often used as an example of an everyday activity which involves chemistry. When you apply heat to a piece of steak in a pan, water content leaves the muscle fibers. This is why the fillet is smaller after it has been cooked. Think about some other interesting reactions which occur in the kitchen. Why does corn pop? Another way to ask this question would be, why don’t other grains pop? Corn contains water, which turns to steam, creating pressure inside the hard outer shell and eventually exploding.

What do these reactions look like close up? The web site, www.beautifulchemistry.net has amazing videos of reactions, like this one:  Read the rest of this entry »

Mobile Art Boxes Support Placemaking in Florence

Florence Night Out Celebrates with Return of Mobile Art Boxes

Mobile Art Boxes will be blooming in Florence again this spring. These wonderful storage containers/pop-up galleries are part of the village-wide festivities that are happening as part of the 5th Florence Night Out, Friday, May 6, 2016. Florence Night out is a fun, free event that celebrates community through creativity. Starting at 3pm Florence will be hopping with art shows and open houses, an outdoor craft market and walking tours, special food and music all over town. Florence Night Out 2016 officially ends at 8pm but music events continue into the night.

Art is a broad term, referring of course to the visual arts but also to music, film, storytelling, theater, and other forms of human expression. The subject of art can be an interesting pathway into philosophical discussions, since opinions on the definition and value of art vary across individuals, Oscar Wilde once said that, “all art is useless,” possibly meaning that the value of art lies in the object itself, not in how it is “used.” The process of making art, however, can have many practical uses. Creating art, whether you are a professional artist or you are just doodling to pass the time, has therapeutic benefits.

Where art is located or performed may influence the way we think about it. Artwork preserved in a temperature-controlled gallery, for example, may affect viewers differently than land art or sculpture. Land art is a medium in which installations are made from natural elements of nature such as soil, rock, leaves, branches, water, etc, and left in that natural environment. As opposed to gallery artwork, land art is meant to be changed over time by weather and environmental events. Land art draws connections between order in nature, and the organization which humans impose upon nature, as these elements blend over time. Gallery art is sought out intentionally, while land art can be stumbled upon by accident.

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Community Renaissance Festival Makes History Come Alive!

Community Renaissance Festival Makes History Come Alive!

The 14th Annual Community Renaissance Festival hosted by The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies brings history to life! There will be sword demonstrations, juggling, Tarot reading, dancing and music!

Living history and open-air museums and events provide interesting insight into the ways in which we engage with historical information. Renaissance fairs first emerged in the United States in the 1950s, as part of a larger interest in medieval culture and music, resulting is placemaking events that support learning through engagement.

Living history challenges actors and attendees to think about history beyond events, learning about customs, dress, accents and behaviors. Vendors sometimes sell foods and items traditional for the time period. Living history, unlike historical texts or documentaries, is hands-on and interactive. Some renaissance and other living history events provide demonstrations of skills such as blacksmithing, and early printing methods. People of all ages who enjoy dressing up can feel like a more active participant by donning their renaissance wear along with the actors.

The 14th Annual Community Renaissance Festival hosted by The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies will be highly entertaining and educational. This event will take place on Saturday, May 1, 2016 from 11am-4pm. Attendees of all ages will have the chance to witness and learn about jewelry making, pottery, weaving, and woodworking. There will be sword demonstrations, juggling, Tarot reading, dancing and music. Plus, a book sale will allow for continued historical learning after the event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Financial Literacy for All Ages at the Library

Financial Literacy for All Ages
Jones Library Presents Money Smart Week

It is an ongoing question for educators and policymakers- what should be taught in schools, and what should be left to parents? One benefit to teaching a subject in the public school system is that, if it is part of a core curriculum standard, the information should reach all children equally. Parents, though, have a more vested interest in their child’s learning, have a better understanding of the ways their children absorb information, and can teach them skills over many years of their lives in varied ways and contexts.

Most states in the U.S. do not require financial literacy courses and these topics do not appear on standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. For now, the task is left to parents and the community, but some parents do not feel comfortable talking to their kids about money. These conversations can be difficult as they may alert your child to harsh realities and difficult choices of adulthood. And many adults need support with financial literacy themselves! Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry & Place in the Hilltowns

Poetry & Place: Exploring the Hilltown Home of 19th Century Poet William Cullen Bryant

By Andrea Caluori-Rivera
MassLIFT AmeriCorps Member at Hilltown Land Trust & Kestrel Land Trust

Kindred Spirits was commissioned by the merchant-collector Jonathan Sturges as a gift for William Cullen Bryant in gratitude for the nature poet’s moving eulogy to Thomas Cole, who had died suddenly in early 1848. It shows Cole, who had been Jonathan Sturges mentor, standing in a gorge in Catskills in company of a mutual friend William Cullen Bryant. Painting is by artist Asher Brown Durand (1796–1886).

Western Massachusetts has been home to many poets and writers who were inspired by this region’s remarkable landscapes and natural settings. Since April is National Poetry Month, the spring season is a great time to explore some of the homes and writing places of local poets from the past, such as the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA.

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an editor, abolitionist, conservationist and poet. He grew up in Cummington, MA and later purchased his childhood home and converted it to a country house. Known for his poems inspired by nature, Bryant was also well acquainted with prominent Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. The three of them used their artistic talents in painting and writing to champion the American landscape and helped to inspire the American conservation movement. You can read more about Bryant and his life here: www.poetryfoundation.org.

The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, now a property of The Trustees of Reservations, houses a wonderful collection of items from Bryant’s lifetime as well as interesting objects from later decades left by Bryant’s descendants and those that lived there. The property also boasts an old growth forest and a trail system that follows a rivulet – a water feature Bryant wrote about in 1823 in his poem The Rivulet. Read this poem and his most famous, Thanatopsis.

This spring and summer, The Trustees of Reservations have a variety of activities planned for folks at the homestead where visitors can volunteer, experience history and learn more about this interesting place and its antique objects. These events offer a variety of opportunities to engage your local community through different interests such as community service, local history, poetry, food traditions, and ecology, and hiking.  Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: Mothering with Ease: A Mini Retreat for Busy Moms

Enter to Win a Mini Retreat for Busy Moms

Share ways you model self-care to your kids and be entered to win a pass to Mothering with Ease: A Mini Retreat for Busy Moms on Saturday, May 14 from 9am-1pm in Hadley! Deadline to enter to win is 4/2/16 by 11:59pm (EDT). Details on how to enter to win are below.

How do you model self-care to your children? What tools help you take a breather when needed? What do you do to sustain your energy so you can parent another day? How about a mini retreat!

Pain specialist, yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton and her colleague, holistic psychotherapist Laura Pontani, are partnering with Hilltown Families by offering an incentive to our readers to share their stories. Share ways you model self-care to your kids and be entered to win a pass to Mothering with Ease: A Mini Retreat for Busy Moms ($120 value) on Saturday, May 14 from 9am-1pm in Hadley!  Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, May 2, 2016 by 11:59pm (EDT). Details on how to enter to win are below.

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Yiddish Language & Culture Celebrated at the Yiddish Book Center

Family Passover Celebration Connects Community to Jewish Culture & Heritage through Yiddish!

Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions. In celebration of Passover, families can connect to Jewish culture or personal Jewish heritage by speaking Yiddish!

How do you think? Do your thoughts take the form of words, images, a combination of the two, or something else? In all likelihood, much of your thought processing takes the form of words. Even when you are not thinking in sentences, the syntax of your native language may influence the way you perceive the world around you. The idea that native language structure affects thought is known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

In English, for example, our sentence structure and patterns of speaking often ascribes an agent for a given action or event. If an object accidentally breaks, we may say something like, “She broke the plate.” In Spanish or Japanese, however, a native speaker may say something more akin to, “The plate broke itself.” (This Wall Street Journal article provides many more examples of linguistic differences and their affects.)

There is a chicken-and-egg problem with the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Does language really affect the way we think, or does the way we think influence our language?  Read the rest of this entry »

Lend your Voice to Close the SNAP Gap

Closing the “SNAP Gap” for 570,000 hungry Massachusetts residents

At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we have a vision of a region where no one goes hungry, and everyone has access to healthy food. Unfortunately, there are still thousands of our neighbors who are going to bed hungry despite the fact that we provided the equivalent of 9.2 million meals last year. From young children to vulnerable seniors, the overwhelming reach of food insecurity in our community continues to widen.

A recent White House report revealed that the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective methods of lifting people (especially children) out of poverty. SNAP has a dramatic impact in our region. Last year, SNAP provided vital food assistance to 150,000 people in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, allowing them to purchase healthy food from local grocery stores, farmers’ markets and farm stands. Not only did SNAP feed so many people, but it also injected nearly $20 million of federal nutrition dollars into our local economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Emily Dickinson Museum

Step into Emily Dickinson’s World

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due –

The Frogs got Home last Week –
Are settled, and at work –
Birds mostly back –
The Clover warm and thick –

You’ll get my Letter by
The Seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me –
Your’s, Fly.
Fr. 983

This poem by Emily Dickinson was written in 1865 during the most productive period of her writing life. By the time she turned 35 that year, she had produced more than 1,100 of the 1,789 poems we know of today.  Read the rest of this entry »

Intergenerational Drawing Events Support Creative Free Play & Community Connections

Community Drawing Events Inspire Creative Free Play and Self Expression

Creative free play and artistic expression are the focus of two very unique upcoming community events. Using drawing as a central element, these events illuminate the versatility and expressive potential of the art form. Accessible to self-identified artists, reluctant creators, and everyone in between, spring’s artistic opportunities offer rich community-based learning opportunities relating to creativity and self-expression.  Read the rest of this entry »

Splash! Learning Opportunities for Teens at Local College Campuses

Splash Events Bring Wide Array of Learning Opportunities to Local College Campuses

From Yiddish to democratic socialism, social change to monster movies, belly dancing to Asian architecture, local Splash events have it all! Held at both Amherst College and Smith College on Saturday, April 9th, Splash events offer mini-courses on a variety of topics to local teens and tweens. Open to all middle and high school students, Splash utilizes the knowledge and expertise of local college students to offer diverse catalogs of intriguing courses. Helping to expose local youth to new ideas, Splash connects local campuses to the community and encourages teens and tweens to uncover their interests and engage in self-directed learning in order to pursue them.  Read the rest of this entry »

Miniature Tracks of Insects in our Local Habitat

Exhibit Features the Tracks and Sign of Insects

When we think of tracking in nature, our minds generally drift to following the footprints of somewhat sizable creatures – generally mammals, and sometimes birds. Some of nature’s most fascinating and beautiful tracks and sign are, however, left behind by the smallest creatures of all: insects! Insect tracks and sign can be found in abundance and in many forms – if you know where and how to look.

Families can explore the miniature world of insect tracks through a special photography exhibit at the Westhampton Library featuring the work of Charley Eiseman, one of the country’s best entomologists and inhabitant of the Connecticut River Valley. Co-author of Tracks and Signs of Insects, Eiseman has explored the insect world extensively, and his photographs show not only attention to detail and beauty, but deep knowledge of the habits of insects, whose sign can easily go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Read the rest of this entry »

Discovering Place with Hilltown Land Trust & Hilltown Families’ Trail Guides!

Explore Someplace New with Hilltown Land Trust & Hilltown Families’ Trail Guides!
By Andrea Caluori-Rivera

Hilltown Land Trust and Hilltown Families have joined together through a shared love of the land to offer free interpretive trail guides that connect families to local Hilltown hiking spots. The properties are all owned by Hilltown Land Trust and are available year round for public use. Each property offers a variety of paths to walk and explore forests, waterways, and wildlife habitat. The guides are accessible online and can be downloaded from the Hilltown Families’ website.

Exploring the natural world in our communities helps us construct a sense of place. By interacting with the land, we learn more about local history, land use practices and the importance of cultivating a meaningful relationship with nature.  Spending time outside offers space for activity and thoughtfulness; it’s an opportunity to recharge and feel more connected to your community.  These trail guides go beyond the typical map and route. They highlight interesting features and information from cultural, scientific, artistic and historical perspectives. They encourage users to think about how their experience outdoors relates to other interests such as citizen science, history, literature and social activism.  Additionally, the A Sense of Place guide complements the trail guides by providing additional resources and activities that extend your learning off the trail.  Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: 2016 CSA Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm

Enter to Win a 2016 Summer Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm!

Enter for a chance to win a Small Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA for the 2016 season by sharing ways your family engages in our local food culture and the learning you glean from your experiences in the comment field. Deadline: March 29th, 2016.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a fabulous way families can support local farmers.  By purchasing a CSA share for your family, shareholders pledge their support of a local farm and receive weekly shares of fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, honey, eggs, dairy and meat products.  CSA’s are also great opportunities for community-based learning! Here on Hilltown Families we highlight educational opportunities in the region that integrate our local food culture, encouraging families  to engage with our community while learning through the lens of local food. For a list of CSA’s in the Pioneer Valley, check out CISA’s list of local farms.

FOOD-BASED EDUCATION

How does your family participate in our local food culture?  Maybe you have a garden in your yard, a plot at the community garden or container pots on the front stoop or windowsill? Do you buy your food at farmers’ markets or roadside stands? Is volunteering to support food security and sustainable agriculture in our region a priority to your family? How does Hilltown Families support your family in your food, farm and garden-based interests?

We invite our readers to share ways your family engages in our local food culture and how you use this lens of community engagement as a way of supporting the interests and education of your children. Hilltown Families sponsor, Crimson & Clover Farm, a community based farm on the Northampton Community Farm land, is partnering with us by offering an incentive to our readers to share their stories. Share ways your family engages in our local food culture and the learning you glean from your experiences, and be entered to win a Small CSA Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm, a $420 value!  Deadline to enter to win: March 29th, 2016, by 11:59pm (EST). Details on how to enter to win are below.

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Local History Through the Lens of Food: Nutritional Anthropology in the Pioneer Valley

Exhibit Chronicles Northampton History Through Food

Interested in the history of food? Take a peak at the new exhibit in Northampton. Come see how people produced and sold food and how people cooked and ate it, through the years. The exhibition is curated by Barbara B. Blumenthal, a member of Historic Northampton’s Board of Trustees. Barbara was a museum guide and hearth cook at Historic Northampton in the 1980s and early 1990s. Her passion for local history and food history led her to poke around in our collections looking for tasty tidbits to share with the public.

Historic Northampton offers a food-centric take on the city’s history through Table Talk: Food, Cooking, and Eating in Northampton Then and Now, an exhibit chronicling the production, purchase, and preparation of the foods enjoyed throughout two and a half centuries of Northampton’s history. With its focus lying on the city’s food-filled downtown, the exhibit offers a new take on the history of local food : rather than sharing the history of farming in Northampton, the exhibit emphasizes the role that local businesses – especially restaurants – have played in the local food chain.

On view from now until May 1, 2016, Table Talk: Food, Cooking, and Eating in Northampton Then and Now has much to offer. Made up of a collection of photographs, food-related objects and tools, and historical information and anecdotes, the exhibit speaks to more than just food history.

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Museum Adventures: Hampshire College Art Gallery

Students Work is Center Stage at Hampshire College Art Gallery

Hampshire College opened in 1970, along with an art gallery in its library building designed to give students an opportunity to present their work and enjoy exhibitions of local, national, and international artists. Though it is primarily a teaching space, the gallery has become a great place to experience edgy, engaging works by both well known and lesser-known artists.

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Goshen Rocks! Teen Initiated Arts Expo Comes to the Hilltowns.

Goshen Rocks: Youth Arts Expo Empowers Teen Artists through a Collaborative Network

Teens in western Massachusetts have outstanding skills, knowledge, and creativity to offer to the world! Celebrate their interests and accomplishments at Goshen Rocks: Youth Arts Expo, a collaborative showcase of music, poetry and visual art – all created and performed by local teens!

The Arts Expo is organized through a collaboration between Graffiti Cat Zine and People to Watch: The Next Generation – both are teen initiated arts-based resources that build creative community by connecting local teens with community venues and outlets for sharing their work. In keeping with this mission, Goshen Rocks offers the first event of its kind to western Massachusetts: not only does the expo combine visual, written, and musical creative work, it is the first community-based teen-specific creative event of its kind.

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Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Whole Children brings a new film festival to the Pioneer Valley. The Sprout Film Festival aims to make the invisible visible by bringing a collection of films featuring people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to the big screen. Featuring films both entertaining and memorable, Sprout explores neurodiversity and spotlights an ever-present but infrequently artistically explored experience.

Held from 4-6pm at Amherst’s Converse Hall, the festival is appropriate for most ages (audience skills necessary!), and stands out amongst local film festivals in its unique focus: rather than spotlighting artistry and creativity in film, the festival intentionally sheds light on the experiences of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and invites conversation about community inclusion. After the film, families can stay for a discussion with festival curator and local filmmaker, Ted White – older festival-goers in particular can benefit from this opportunity to hear more about the reasons for the films’ inclusion in the Sprout Film Festival.

The festival connects to a theme of late-winter explorations of film through community-based educational opportunities. Additionally, the Sprout festival encourages families to explore the ways in which people with disabilities of all kinds are included in our society. Using resources recommended in our recent Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities, families can explore neuro- and physical diversity so as to build empathy and understanding for the differences between their own life experiences and those of others.

7 Day Film Sprint Inspires Filmmaking With Quick Turnaround

7 Day Film Sprint Inspires Filmmaking With Quick Turnaround

True to its name, the 7 Day Film Sprint is a week-long filmmaking event calling for the creation of original films in just seven days. Ideal for aspiring filmmakers, the upcoming creative event offers the opportunity to become part of the local filmmaking community and to explore filmmaking technology.

The second half of winter in western Massachusetts is filled with film-based learning opportunities. From upcoming events exploring film-and-music pairings to community-based resources for film education (including film clubs, festivals, and independent theaters), local film-based learning abounds this month as yet another film event joins the scene.

Northampton Community Television’s 7-Day Film Sprint is a mini-marathon of film-making, calling for the creation of short films over the course of a single week and culminating in a mini-festival screening event celebrating the hard work and creativity of those involved!

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Silent Film-and-Music Pairings Highlight Art of Filmmaking

Silent Film-and-Music Pairings Highlight Art of Filmmaking

Pairing original music with decades-old films, two upcoming events spotlight the true art of filmmaking. Screenings of two vastly different silent films will be accompanied by original scores created by Alloy Orchestra – offering two unique opportunities for older learners to explore the art of filmmaking.

A winter of community-based opportunities for film studies continues here in western Massachusetts, with opportunities to enjoy and learn about the art of silent film coming to the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires. Adding to an already healthy dose of local opportunities for film studies, two more upcoming events spotlight the true artistry of film and highlight the intersection of music and film, allowing original scores to accompany silent films.

The first of these two such events is a special screening of classic film, The Son of the Sheik. Shown with live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra, the screening will feature the recently digitally remastered version of the 1926 original classic. Starring Rudolph Valentino, known as the first great lover of the silver screen, the movie is touted as one of the best love stories in film (and is, appropriately, going to be shown on Valentine’s Day!). Alloy Orchestra’s original score will add to the grandeur of the film, blending the sounds of a collection of surprising instruments to create a score created just for the film. After the screening, audience members can choose to stay for a Five College film and music master class, in which Alloy Orchestra will outline their compositional process. The screening is part of the Northampton Center for the Arts’ Four Sundays in February series, and will take place at 2pm on Sunday, February 14th at the Academy of Music.

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Museum Adventures: Beneski Museum

Discovery and “Wow” Moments at the Beneski Museum

From February 16-19, 2016, families can enjoy student docent–guided tours at 11am and 1pm daily. Scavenger hunts for the whole family will be available throughout the entire month. Admission is always free.

The Beneski Museum of Natural History in Amherst 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!

At the Beneski, visitors can step inside the museum and see:

  • Dramatic displays of fossil skeletons, from fish to dinosaurs to Ice Age megafauna
  • An extraordinary collection of dinosaur footprints
  • Geological specimens and immersive exhibits that tell the history of the local landscape through geologic time, including when dinosaurs inhabited the area
  • Dazzling mineral specimens from around the world and meteorites from beyond Earth

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Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel During Easthampton WinterFest

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids!  Beginning the series with a New Year’s Day Music Party that was our best party to date, we will be continuing on Saturday, February 13 during Easthampton WinterFest, from 10am-12noon at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton.

During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, families can craft handmade valentine’s with the Easthampton Family Center while enjoying a new performance with our special guests, Scotty Swan Puppet Co. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.” Save on the babysitter and shake off the winter blues with a Morning Music Dance Party!

These Morning Music Parties are a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun! Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Resolution: Volunteering with Your Family

New Year’s Resolution: Volunteering

Volunteers help pack bags of food at a Brown Bag: Food for Elders distribution location.

Each day, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts relies on the hard work and dedication of our volunteers that share our vision of a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food. Their tireless work and generous support are just one of the many “ingredients” in the recipe to end hunger.
With the need for emergency food in our region continuing to grow, it takes many hands — all working together — to help feed our neighbors in need. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Look, Learn, Explore: Family Fun at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum!

Photograph by Laura Shea.

Going to an art museum can feel like an adventure, a chance to travel back in time through encounters with objects from faraway cultures. Many museums also give you the chance to unlock the magic of learning about your own local history and stories from closer to home.

In both cases, looking at art and material culture gives parents and children an opportunity to make discoveries together and create shared experiences. Here are some tips used by museum educators that can easily be used by family visitors as well. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Day Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

On the first day of 2016, Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids!  This year we are starting off this family series on New Year’s Day with a morning music party from 10am-12noon in Easthampton, MA.

During a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, families can enjoy a performance with our special guests, Scotty Swan Puppet Co. & The Magic of Jeff P. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.” Start off the new year with a New Year’s Day Music Dance Party! Save on the babysitter and dance away on the first morning of the new year!

These Morning Music Parties are a fundraiser for both Flywheel & Hilltown Families, with a “pay what you can” admission to attend with your family. So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun! Read the rest of this entry »

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