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

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Family Volunteer Day with Hilltown Families & The Food Bank in the New Year

Winter months put further strain on struggling households

On a chilly December morning, Volunteers at a Mobile Food Bank distribution in the north end of Springfield finish setting up, as they await the arrival of hundreds of individuals in need of assistance. — In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting our January Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, January 16 from 9 – 11 a.m. All ages are welcome, as families are invited to help prepare food to be distributed to our neighbors in need across Western Massachusetts.

As the days and nights grow colder in Western Massachusetts, we are reminded of the thousands of low-income families that will be forced to choose between heat and hunger this winter season. High costs of heat will further strain the budgets of households already struggle to make ends meet, forcing them to turn to food pantries, soup kitchens and other community agencies to access emergency food. It most instances, these community agencies — many of which are experiencing a slump in donations following the holidays — find it increasing difficult to keep up with the high demand in the winter months.

In a recent report produced by Feeding America, it was determined that many families in Western Massachusetts that are struggling with food insecurity are already faced with crucial choices to keep food on the table. 61 percent reported choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities (such as heat and water). 59 percent reported having to make a choice between food and medicine/medical care. In addition, 53 percent reported choosing between paying for food and paying for housing. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: 10 Learning Adventures with Museums10 this Holiday Season

10 Learning Adventures with Museums10 this Holiday Season

Don’t stay cooped up this winter! Museum adventures await you—make art with your children, enjoy contemporary art yourself, take in a gallery talk, or join in a game of table top nine pins. There is something to explore at each of the Museums10 member institutions during December, and beyond!  Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2015

“Giving at Thanksgiving” Family Volunteer Day with Hilltown Families at The Food Bank

Coming together to end hunger

At a Family Volunteer Day earlier this year, families work together to sort and pack fresh produce to be distributed to our neighbors in need throughout the four counties of Western Massachusetts.

While getting food to people facing hunger is essential throughout the entire year, it takes on special significance during these holiday months. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, food is on the minds of many people. But, probably none more so than those that are forced to go without during times that are supposed to be plentiful.

Currently in Western Massachusetts, there are more than 235,000 people that rely on food pantries, meal sites, shelters, and other emergency programs to get food. An estimated 33,580 of them are children under the age of 18 (according to Feeding America, the national network of food banks). Of these, 22% (or about 7,000 children) are from households that don’t qualify to receive SNAP benefits, but yet their income is still too low to pay for basic household expenses and put adequate food on the table.   Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith Offers Community-Based Learning

Budding Botanists Will Love This Show at Smith College Botanic Garden

It might be chilly outside, but Smith College’s greenhouses in Northampton are bursting with color this time of year! Annually, with the month of November, comes The Botanic Garden of Smith College’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show, an exhibition filled with colorful mums of all shapes and sizes (some as large as eight inches across!). Budding botanists will love exploring the greenhouse and inspecting blossoms to learn about chrysanthemums.

Of particular interest at the show is the showcase of hybrid mums created by students in Smith College’s horticulture class. Every year, the mum show includes blooms engineered by students specifically for characteristics like petal shape, color, and/or size. Hybrid blooms are created by hand-pollinating blossoms, a process that requires careful attention to be paid to the plants’ reproductive process. Visitors to the show can view the students’ hybrid flowers and vote for their favorite of the original blooms. The competition has been going on for nearly a century, and past winners’ blooms can be viewed in an online gallery. Take a look at the archived blossoms and try to guess what the flowers whose genetic material was hybridized might have looked like! Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Carle Celebrates Picture Book Month in November

November is here with its flurry of leaves falling from the trees—or, who knows, maybe even snow flurries—and at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, there will be a flurry of programs. Why? Because it’s Picture Book Month!

This international initiative celebrates picture books during the month of November, and The Carle has a wide array of programs and events, from storytimes and theatre performances to book events and special exhibitions, for families to enjoy. In addition to all of this, they are featuring their regular storytime programs in the Reading Library, hands-on art projects in the Art Studio, and family activity kits that can be checked out at the admissions desk.

Here are just of few of the many programs presented this month:  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Diá de los Muertos in Easthampton

Dia de Los Muertos

In honor of the Mexican Day of the Dead, or Diá de los Muertos, community members can meet at Brookside Cemetery (Williston Avenue) on Sunday, November 1, 6pm in Easthampton. Dancers and musicians will lead a vigil through Easthampton and perform a reimagined folk dance. Learn about this Mexican holiday and folk tradition at this community-based event.

Interested in learning more about Day of the Dead  (Diá de los Muertos)? Check out our post, “El Diá de los Muertos (Video & Resources“) to learn about this Mexican celebration. This post is from our archives and includes a short education video, traditional foods, curriculum & activities, history & photos, suggested titles and web reviews.

We also have a terrific DIY tutorial on how to make your own Mexican sugar skulls in our archives.  Learn how to make this traditional Mexican Day of the Dead culinary art in our post, “DIY: Mexican Sugar Skulls.

Ticket Giveaway: Mister G’s 4th Annual Halloween Fiesta Costume Party for Families

Mister G’s 4th Annual Halloween Fiesta Costume Party for Families
Academy of Music Theatre ♦ Northampton, MA
Sunday, October 25th at 11am

Mister G’s 4th Annual Halloween Fiesta Costume Party for Families at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, MA, is proudly sponsored once again by Hilltown Families! Be our guest! Enter for a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets!

Mister G, a 2015 Latin GRAMMY nominee, who has been dubbed a “kid-friendly, bilingual rock star” by The Washington Post and “irresistible” by People magazine, will be presenting his fourth annual Halloween Fiesta concert… proudly sponsored by Hilltown Families

Be our guest! We have a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway to this fun family event!

Win a tickets to take your family to Mister G’s 4th Annual Halloween Fiesta Costume Party for Families at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, MA on Sunday, October 25th at 11am. Deadline to enter to win: 10/22/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

Read the rest of this entry »

How Local Farms Support Food Security in Western MA

Local Farms Help Cultivate Our Community

Last year, local farms contributed a more than 480,000 pounds of fresh produce to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

We are fortunate to live in a very special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a seemingly endless number of farms in our region, many of which generously provide a portion of their annual harvest to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts throughout the year. Their commitment to helping feed our neighbors in need has continued to strengthen our community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Community Resource Supports Native American and Indigenous Studies

Discussion Series Builds Community to Support Native American and Indigenous Studies

Offered through UMass, the weekly Community Connect discussion series provides adults and teens with an opportunity to explore Native American and Indigenous studies and build community to support further learning surrounding such topics. Such topics include Halloween and building awareness of cultural sensitivity.

Through a new community-building discussion series, adults and teens can learn about and engage in critical discussion of Native American and Indigenous issues. Offered through UMass’ Certificate Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies (CPNAIS), the Community Connect discussion series is an ongoing weekly forum intended to help build community amongst those with knowledge and experience surrounding the topic and those who seek deeper understanding of Native American and Indigenous issues.

Still in its early stages, the CPNAIS Community Connect series offers serves as a space for educating, listening, and creating, wherein participants can learn about Native American and Indigenous history and culture, as well as local resources that can be used to support and deepen their understanding. While a focus topic is sometimes identified for meetings, Community Connect conversations are meant to be open, allowing the series to take shape based on the interests and needs of participants. Topics explored in past meetings have included cultural appropriation and Halloween costumes and Native American and Indigenous history and culture in education.  Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club Adios Tour
Calvin Theatre ♦ Northampton, MA
Thursday, October 29th @ 8pm

At a time when historic changes are taking place between Cuba and the United States, the role of the renowned Buena Vista Social Club as cultural ambassadors has taken on a new level of significance. Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to see Buena Vista Social Club Adios Tour at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on Thursday, October 29th, 2015, at 8pm. Deadline to enter: 10/25/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This week we have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club Adios Tour at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA on Thursday, October 29th at 8pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. This concert series is also a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to the music and culture of Cuba. Deadline to enter to win: 10/25/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT ORQUESTA BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club say ‘Adios’ in a very different world than the one that discovered them sixteen years ago. In one of only two New England shows, they are coming to western Massachusetts this fall!

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club released its only studio album, produced by Ry Cooder, in 1997 and achieved instant success. The album, featuring a specially assembled group of veteran Cuban musicians, was further propelled by Wim Wenders acclaimed film and a series of international tours and albums. The group will take to the road one final time forThe Adios Tour,celebrateing the Orquestas storied journey as ambassadors for Cuban music. The past few years have been tremendously successful for the orchestra, playing sellouts in renowned venues including the Paris Olympia and London’s Royal Albert Hall as well as prestigious festivals around the globe.Each of the Orquestras artists has his or her own take on a wide range of Cuban music styles and has put an individual stamp on son montunos, danzon, cha cha cha, boleros, and Cuban jazz. This remarkable group of musical giants performs with an exuberance that is as vital as ever. — www.buenavistasocialclub.com

Enter for a chance to win!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Marco Benevento at The Parlor Room in Northampton

Marco Benevento in Concert at
The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds
in Northampton, MA
Thursday, October 15th @ 7pm

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to see Marco Benevento on Thursday, October 15th at 7pm. Deadline to enter: 10/11/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Signature Sounds have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets for a Parents’ Night Out to see live music in their artist-and-audience-friendly listening room/performance space, The Parlor Room, in downtown Northampton, MA.

We have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Marco Benevento on Thursday, October 15th at 7pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Have a teen interested in live music? Take them instead! This venue is a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to various music genres too! Deadline to enter to win: 10/11/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT MARCO BENEVENTO

For more than a decade pianist Marco Benevento has been amassing an extensive resume of composition and collaboration. His albums set forth a vision that connects the dots between MGMT and Tortoise on one side, Brian Eno and Brad Mehldau on the other. In the live setting, his performances reverberate with pulsating dance rock energy, which has led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall to Celebrate Brooklyn, Newport Jazz to Bonnaroo. Benevento has been invited to open for The Books, Ben Folds and Rubblebucket, while headlining shows from coast to coast.

The 36-year old artist took a major step forward with the release of his 2012 album, TigerFace. The ten-track collection is painted in a myriad of sonic colors, shimmering with acoustic piano, synths and analog keyboards, while the songs are seemingly conceptualized from every wisp of melody that’s ever tickled his ear.

In 2014, Benevento returned to the studio to record his latest work with producer Richard Swift whose resume includes The Shins, Foxygen and Tennis. Together, they focused their attention on a collection of news songs Benevento had written that expand upon his lush instrumental piano rock to include vocals. The album, entitled Swift, will be released September 16 on Royal Potato Family.

As anybody who’s seen Marco Benevento perform can attest, with eyes closed, smile wide across his face and fingers free-flowing across the keys, the pianist is a satellite to the muse. With a devout and growing fan-base, Benevento is an artist whose story is only beginning to unfold. — marcobenevento.com

Enter for a chance to win!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Jonny Lang at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton

Jonny Lang plus The Record Company
Calvin Theatre ♦ Northampton, MA
Saturday, October 10th @ 8pm

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to Jonny Lang plus The Record Company at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on Saturday, October 10th, 2015, at 8pm. Deadline to enter: 10/4/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This week we currently have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Jonny Lang plus The Record Company at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA on Saturday, October 10th at 8pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. This concert series is also a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to music from around the world. Deadline to enter to win: 10/4/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT JONNY LANG

Almost two decades ago, an unknown teenage blues guitarist named Jonny Lang was thrust into the mainstream spotlight. Lang, who grew up in North Dakota and began playing the guitar at age 12, found himself on MTV at 16, promoting his 1997 major-label debut album Lie to Me and opening shows for Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones and then, a legendary mentor stepped forward: B.B. King. The elder statesman took Lang on tour and took the kid under his wing. Lang, now 34, played many gigs through the years with King until the performers death in May. The musical part of it was there, of course, but the biggest thing I took away was how he treated me. Respective differences in race, geography and upbringing didn’t diminish in their sharing of blues music. Lang has a keen sense of what he aims to achieve creatively, what music means to him, and is focused on the impact that his songs bring to the lives of those that encounter his repertoire. With his latest album, Fight For My Soul, the maturing songwriter has found his true voice. – www.jonnylang.com

Enter for a chance to win!

Rise Again: 1,200 Songs to Expand our Musical Horizon

People’s Music: Songs About Real Life Experiences that Real People Enjoyed Singing Together

A singalong concert will be held at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley, MA, on October 3rd at 7pm with a Family Matinee at 3pm to celebrate the release of Rise Up Singing. The concert will feature Annie Patterson & Peter Blood, the creators of Rise Up Singing and Rise Again, teaching and leading songs out of their new book. They will be joined by Emma’s revolution, Kim & Reggie Harris, Charlie King, The Nields, Sarah Pirtle and Magpie- all of whom have songs in this new collection.

After more than a quarter of a century, the long wait is over! From the creators of the beloved songbook Rise Up Singing, comes its much-anticipated companion Rise Again: A Group Singing Songbook, with preface by Pete Seeger and foreword by Billy Bragg.

Conceived, developed, and edited by western Massachusetts based folk singers Peter Blood and Annie Patterson under the guiding hand of the late Pete Seeger, Rise Again is a treasure trove of lyrics and chords to 1,200 well-loved songs spanning genres as diverse as British Invasion, blues, country, jazz, Motown, composed folk, traditional ballads, gospel, Broadway, early rock ‘n’ roll, alternative/indie artists, “pub songs” and much more, arranged in 39 themed chapters, with commentary on the songs, cross-reference listings at the end of each chapter, and Artists, Cultures, and Titles indexes.

Pete Seeger played a central role in the development of both Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. Following the publication of Rise Up Singing in 1988, Pete Seeger urged the creation of a second songbook with the same format as Rise Up Singing but with even more inclusion of genres that were not heavily represented in the original book. Until his death in 2014, he regularly sent Annie Patterson and Peter Blood suggestions for songs to include in the second volume, lobbying for a balance of song genres and subjects, and for the songs to reflect a message of empowerment and positive change through community music making.

Every page of Rise Again: A Group Singing Songbook reflects the vision of Pete Seeger, who did not believe in artificial boundaries like “folk music”‘ and constantly encouraged Patterson and Blood to center their work on songs he referred to as “people’s music”– songs about real life experiences that real people enjoyed singing together. Read the rest of this entry »

3 Support Groups for Grandfamilies

Grandfamilies Offers Unique Support to Families

A support group for families in which a relative parents another relative’s children, Grandfamilies offers support for adults navigating both the joy and challenges of such a family structure.

Communities are made up of families of all kinds, and the United Arc is offering local families a new resource for support. Located in the Hilltowns and Franklin County, Grandfamilies is a support group for families in which a relative cares for another relative’s children. This type of family structure is not uncommon, and can happen for a multitude of reasons. Grandfamilies offers folks who have such a family structure with a space in which to share the joy and satisfaction of raising children, and also serves as a source of support for the grief, financial strain, loss of independence, and other challenges that can accompany this type of family situation.

Grandfamilies groups provide families with the opportunity to learn about other useful community resources, share stories, and connect with other community members who are also raising a relative’s children. Grandfamilies group meetings are relaxed, and offer a friendly and supportive atmosphere within which participants can engage in essential and meaningful self-care.  Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based Celebration of the Autumnal Equinox at the UMass Sunwheel

UMass Amherst Sunwheel and Sky-Watching Events Mark the Autumnal Equinox on September 23, 2015

The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset associated with the autumnal equinox among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015, at 6:45am, and 6pm. These Sunwheel events mark the astronomical change of seasons when days and nights are of nearly equal length in the Northern Hemisphere.

At the gatherings, which have attracted more than 10,000 visitors over the past 18 years, UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider will discuss the astronomical cause of the suns changing position during the hour-long gatherings. He will also explain the seasonal positions of Earth, the sun and moon, and answer questions in astronomy such as the definition of blue moon, supermoon, and why September 23 is celebrated despite the fact that September 17 is actually the shortest day of the year.  Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Alison Brown at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton

Alison Brown
Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton, MA
Thursday, October 8th @ 7pm

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to see Alison Brown at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Thursday, October 8th, 2015, at 7pm. Deadline to enter: 10/4/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and IIron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

We currently have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Alison Brown, at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Thursday, October 8th at 7pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. This concert series is also a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to music from around the world. Deadline to enter to win: 10/4/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT ALISON BROWN

Alison Brown has achieved success in many areas: a Harvard graduate, record label co-founder and owner, mother, and, the role that most people know her in: banjo virtuoso.Whether lyrical Celtic music, sophisticated polyrhythmic Jazz, or pedal-to-the-metal Bluegrass, Alison Brown does it all, offering hybrid compositions that are as pleasing as they are complex. Often compared to fellow banjo prodigy Bela Fleck, Brown holds the honor of International Bluegrass Music Associations Banjo Player of the Year. A three-time GRAMMY Award winner, she has toured with Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked and is the driving force of Nashvilles indie label, Compass Records. — www.alisonbrown.com

Enter for a chance to win!

Exploring Latino American History through Community-Based Educational Events & Celebrations

Herencia Latina Brings Exploration of Latino History and Culture to the Pioneer Valley

Held over the course of nine months, Herencia Latina brings a host of educational opportunities and cultural celebrations to the Pioneer Valley.

For over a century, Latino Americans have been a part of communities within the Pioneer Valley. With over 50 million people making up Latino communities across the country, the group is the largest minority group in the country.

In order to celebrate and educate about Latino American history and culture, the Pioneer Valley History Network – in conjunction with local museums, libraries, colleges, and community organizations – brings Herencia Latina to western Massachusetts.

Offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore the history of Latino Americans in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, Herencia Latina brings educational opportunities to western Massachusetts through May of 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Twisted Pine at The Parlor Room in Northampton

Twisted Pine in Concert at
The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds
in Northampton, MA
Wednesday, September 23rd @ 7pm

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to see Twisted Pine at The Parlor Room at Signature Sound in Northampton on Wed., September 23rd, 2015, at 7pm. Deadline to enter: 9/20/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Signature Sounds have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets for a Parents’ Night Out to see live music in their artist-and-audience-friendly listening room/performance space, The Parlor Room, in downtown Northampton, MA.

We have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Twisted Pine, a Boston based 5-piece bluegrass band, on Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Have a teen interested in bluegrass? Take them instead! This venue is a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to various music genres too! Deadline to enter to win: 9/20/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT TWISTED PINE

Twisted Pine is a Boston based 5-piece bluegrass band whose members all share a common love for the traditional music of Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, and the Stanley Brothers. The band is composed of Adam Moore on bass and vocals, Kathleen Parks on fiddle and vocals, Rachel Sumner on guitar and vocals, Dan Bui on mandolin, and Ricky Mier on 5-string banjo. On any given night a Twisted Pine show is a wild, unpredictable affair delivering powerful vocals, foot-stomping rhythms, and hot instrumental pickin’. In short, you get more notes for your money.

The band formed while studying at Berklee College of Music. After realizing the incredible chemistry they had together the band secured a monthly residency at the Cantab lounge where they honed their chops, repertoire, and group sound, quickly becoming immersed in the vibrant Boston bluegrass community. Twisted Pine has performed on festival stages at Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Down Home Bluegrass Festival at Club Passim, Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special, Freshgrass, and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.

Enter for a chance to win!

Sidewalk Chalk Art in Downtown Northampton

Northampton Chalk Art Festival

Many children have used sidewalk chalk to create drawings, make hopscotch boards, or write notes and signs. When fine artists take to the sidewalks with their own ideas, the materials and setting are still very relatable for–and interesting to– kids, even if the products are quite different. The artists of this year’s Northampton Chalk Art Festival on Friday, September 11, everyone is invited to observe as they create new masterpieces on the sidewalks downtown.

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Watching these artists at work provides opportunities to learn about different techniques, perspective, proportion, and expressing ideas through art.  Read the rest of this entry »

Solving Hunger: Keeping Communities Healthy & Strong

Healthy Food Leads to Stronger Community

Volunteers prepare to distribute healthy food at a Mobile Food Bank distribution site in Springfield last summer.

There is more than enough food in America to feed every man, woman and child. Yet, here in Western Massachusetts, more than 235,000 people are at risk of hunger and health problems that come with not having enough nutritious food to eat. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting more food to people in need. Together, we can solve hunger and help keep our communities healthy and strong.  Read the rest of this entry »

NERD Summit in Amherst

NERD Summit: Helping to Raise the Next Generation of Innovators, Creative Thinkers, & Technologists!

NERD Summit is back! All are welcome to a free weekend of workshops, training sessions, presentations, youth activities, and more, September 11th-13th at UMass Amherst’s Conference Center.

Want to learn CSS or HTML? Ready to turn your app idea into a real app? Perhaps you’ve been wanting to make 3D drawings using SketchUp or itching to learn about LEGO EV3 Robotics? Look no further than the NERD (New England Regional Developers) Summit, a 3-day learning camp focused on helping people build coding, web design, and related skills, and to welcome everyone into this interesting industry.

Many sessions at NERD Summit are intended for self-directed teens and life-long learners; and there are lots of great FREE facilitate workshops for kids at the NERD Summit 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities.

Over the years, Hilltown Families has partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in several ways, offering families in the region opportunities to engage in service-based learning while volunteering together as a family in support of food security in our region. We’ve organized a field trip and a couple of virtual food drives and told you how you could organize your own field trips and food drives too. We’ve given you a heads-up on youth volunteer opportunities, services for families during summer months, and resources to support child(ren)/student’s learning of hunger and food security, including Children’s Books on Food Security/Scarcity and Youth Against Hunger Education Curriculum.

One of the issues participants learned during our field trip was how difficult it can be for some families to have access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables. In response, we organized a station at our Family Community Service Event to empowered families to learn how to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries, and collaborated with local business and farms to offer gleaning opportunities for families.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts &
Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!

Families continue to seek out new ways to spend time together that supports values and learning, and volunteering as a family at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is great way to do just that! In partnership with Hilltown Families, families are invited to attend a series of monthly volunteer sessions where they will help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. Volunteering together as a family encourages quality time, increases communication, and provides opportunities for family members to be role models.  Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Music from Around the World with Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton

Music from Around the World with
Vieux Farka Touré (and band) & Julia Easterlin
Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton, MA
Friday, September 18th @ 7pm

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to Vieux Farka Touré (and band) & Julia Easterlin at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Friday, September 18th, 2015, at 7pm. Deadline to enter: 9/13/15. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

We are continuing to offer tickets to Dean’s Beans Music from Around the World  concert series! We currently have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Vieux Farka Touré (and band) & Julia Easterlin, at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Friday, September 18th at 7pm.

Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. This concert series is also a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to music from around the world. Deadline to enter to win: 9/13/15 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT VIEUX FARKA TOURE & JULIA EASTERLIN

When Vieux Farka Toure (Niafunke, Mali) and Julia Easterlin (Brooklyn, USA) met for the first time for an impromptu studio session as Vieux passed through New York in the summer of 2014, something divine happened, transcending what each was capable of on their own. Thus their collaboration was born and an entire album project entitled TOURISTES conceived; to examine their respective musical roots and passions together and transform what they find into something entirely new and unique.  The album, due September 18, 2015, on Six Degrees Records., features eight original tunes, along with covers of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” and Fever Ray’s “I’m Not Done.” Both inspired performers on their own, together Vieux and Julia prove themselves kindred spirits in moments of pure beauty, joy, melancholy and magic.  They create music equal parts modern and ancient, haunting and playful, subtle and visceral. They will be backed by Vieux’s road test banded that has steadily built an energetic and loyal fan base throughout North America and the world.

The Aliya Cycon Project Trio opens the show

Inspired by Arabic instruments, melodies, rhythms and people, ACP was formed by Aliya Cycon at Berklee College of Music with fellow Berklee students and denizens of Arabic culture. Cycon uses her highest reverence for the Arabic tradition to expose her own unique voice in her compositions and performance. Her compositions salute the Arabic tradition, as well as to step just outside of its mellifluous frontiers.

Enter for a chance to win!

Museum Adventures: University Museum of Contemporary Art

Turning 40, the University Museum of Contemporary Art Continues to Shine

September is a hectic but exciting time of the year. As summer winds down and new routines set in, we invite you to explore what the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) has to offer!

Now in our fortieth year as a teaching museum at UMass Amherst, we continue to serve the community as a powerful resource. Through our outstanding exhibitions, visiting artists program, growing permanent collection, and varied educational programming, the museum is an amazing place to explore.  Read the rest of this entry »

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