Arts Enclaves Flourish in Easthampton

Easthampton City Arts Enriches Cultural Life of Western Mass Community

Art Walk EasthamptonWestern Massachusetts’ beauty has allowed the area to become somewhat of a haven for artists. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

Amherst Cinema’s Family Film Series- A Blend of Entertainment & Learning

Innovative Cinema Continues  to Give Great Consideration to Clever Programming

Amherst Cinema’s Family Films series showcases a handful of fantastic family movies. Not only are the films entertaining and engaging for viewers of all ages, many of them are historically or artistically significant as well – making the series both fun and educational!

Films for young audiences are far more than a way to keep kiddos quiet and entertained for a few hours. The best of such films include plots that are not only engaging for children, but that can be enjoyed by adults as well. And, in addition to engaging plots, the best of children’s film is artistic and creative to boot!

Families can enjoy some of the best of films for young audiences during Amherst Cinema’s Family Films Series. The series is an ongoing endeavor and features a varied collection of wonderful films that can be enjoyed by folks of all ages. Covering a wide rage of themes and styles of cinematography, the Family Films Series is not only entertaining but educational as well!  Here’s what they have coming up next month: Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing and diversions for kids!

Join us on Saturday, March 14 and Saturday, April 18 from 10am-12noon in Easthampton, MA.

During a breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and fruit, a screening of new episodes of Pancake Mountain will delight families. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix & special guests for the “best ever dance party before noon.” Who needs a night club when you have Saturday Morning Dance Parties with Hilltown Families & Flywheel?! Save on the babysitter and dance the morning away!  Read the rest of this entry »

Dance Appreciation: Five College Dance Department Offers Performances

Five College Dance Department Concert Supports Dance Appreciation

Dance is an art form that has been around for ages, offering humans a form of artistic expression that activates our creative minds and engages our physical bodies as well. For children, dance can be an excellent outlet for energy, and allows for the development of motor skills and body awareness and, when children are able to recognize the creative possibilities that the art form allows for, it can grow from a fun form of exercise to a fantastic creative outlet that uses the human body as an artistic medium.

Here in western MA, the Five College Dance Department, consisting of AmherstHampshireMount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, offers opportunities for families to explore the art form that is dance. Not limited just to familiar forms of dance like ballet and jazz, the Five College Dance department encompasses dance in all of its forms, blending the traditional with its polar opposite.

On February 19, 20 & 21, 2015, families can experience for themselves a true form of expression that is dance at the Five College Dance Department Faculty Concert.

Encompassing six original dances from dancers and choreographers who are either Five College faculty or are in residency within the department, the event uses dance to explore human relationships and the ways in which we interact with the people and spaces around us – given the physical and spatial context in which are able to do so. 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 »

Annual Winter Celebrations in Western MA: Your Cure to Cabin Fever!

Winter Celebrations in Western MA Spotlight Local Culture

During this part of the year, the cold and dark make it difficult to truly enjoy the outdoors. For the past month, temperatures in the single digits (and beyond!) have kept kids and adults alike on the couch instead of in the snow, and we’re all starting to get cabin fever! Luckily, mid-winter ’tis the season to celebrate, as western Massachusetts comes alive with seasonal festivals galore. The coming weeks bring a deluge of indoor and outdoor community celebrations happening across western Massachusetts, offering families opportunities for winter sports, outdoor adventures, friendly competition, community-building, and learning of all kinds! Read the rest of this entry »

STEM Fest For Teens With Science Quest at UMass

UMass’ Science Quest
Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Science Quest is an exciting opportunity for high school students to visit the UMass Amherst campus and engage in hands-on science activities, demonstrations, and guided lab tours. All presentations are organized by UMass faculty members and designed for high school-aged students. Science Quest is a one-day free event happening on Saturday, April 11, 2015 in Amherst. — Space is limited, so register early!

Students learn about a wide variety of STEM topics in school – everything from the periodic table to the Pythagorean Theorem – but all too frequently aren’t shown the interesting, practical, and often surprising ways that STEM topics can be applied to real life!

High school aged youth are invited to UMass’ Science Quest, an annual free event offering students the opportunity to learn firsthand about science research, the practical applications of science knowledge, and the creativity that STEM work sometimes allows!

Students in grades 10-12 who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math can engage in hands-on science activities, demonstrations, and lab tours at UMass Amherst’s Science Quest event on Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 9:30am-3:40pm in the Integrated Science Building (661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA).

Students can choose from a variety of classes, demos, and tours, including ones on topics like food science, physics, biology, nanotechnology, astronomy, alternative energy, chemistry, animal sciences, and engineering. High school students can become more engaged in the sciences through this free event, which promotes hands-on learning and participation. In addition to these activities, UMass undergraduate science students will be present to talk about their experiences as science majors and an admissions representative will be on hand to discuss preparing for college and applying to UMass.

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It’s a Snap! Exhibit in Easthampton Captures Time

Anonymous Snapshots Found by Collectors Encourage Cultural Voyeurism
Sunday, Feb 1 – Saturday, Feb 28, 2015

In today’s tech-saturated world, it’s safe to assume that virtually every single photograph we see was likely taken (and uploaded to the web) only moments prior. We are accustomed to receiving instant updates, we expect constant contact, and we require visual documentation of unlikely experiences. With all this focus on the present, how often do we take time to think about, or look at, the past? Both jaw-droppingly unlikely and seemingly mundane moments throughout American culture have been documented by amateur and professional photographers over time. But what makes a photo valuable as a cultural or historical document? How does one draw the line between “just another family photo” and a particularly special shot? (And why is it necessary to create a hierarchy of photographs?) Read the rest of this entry »

Beat Winter Doldrums by Taking on a Second Skin!

Free Costume Workshops to Prepare for Fire and Ice: Wild at Heart Art Walk

This year’s Fire and Ice Art Walk Easthampton invites all to beat the winter doldrums by taking on a “second skin” in the form of animals, beasts, and creative creatures. The Fire and Ice: Wild at Heart Art Walk is inspired by such traditions as Fasnacht, where communities wear costumes meant to scare off old-man winter and wish for spring to near.

This Art Walk will include costume contests, performances, exhibitions and more. All are invited to make wearable art at workshops or elsewhere and join in festivities as part of Art Walk on February 14, 2015. Two upcoming free workshops include Wearable Arts Costume and Body Puppet: Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2014

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Dar Williams at the Calvin Theatre

Dar Williams Honesty Room 20th Anniversary
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Saturday, December 13th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets! Dar Williams revisits the album that struck a chord for a generation 20 years ago, Saturday December 13th at the Calvin Theatre. Jill Sobule opens.

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!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Dar Williams, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, December 13th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 12/9/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

DAR WILLIAMS WRITES:

In today’s music landscape, the impact of introspective and honest lyrics across a full album is often lost at the expense of the single or a viral video. But in the early nineties, Dar Williams’ The Honesty Room struck a chord and captured a moment in time: A rare time in music when the listener was as likely to hear Tori Amos on the radio as Nine Inch Nails and honesty/raw emotion was paramount. Lilith Fair sold as well as Ozzfest and strong songs were more important than image or anything else. Lyrics still came with an album and people connected on a very personal level with a variety of themes and experiences detailed painstakingly on albums like The Honesty Room and more.  Twenty years later, The Honesty Room endures, carrying with it an unparalleled legacy and an enduring sense of optimism. Dar Williams performs The Honesty Room in full at 8PM on Saturday December 13th at the Calvin Theatre. Jill Sobule opens. Special guests are anticipated. — www.darwilliams.com

Enter for a chance to win!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Dark Star Orchestra at the Calvin Theatre

Dark  Star Orchestra
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Friday, December 5th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

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!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see  Dark Star Orchestra, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, December 5th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 12/2/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT DARK STAR ORCHESTRA

 Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 17 years and over 2200 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead’s extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead’s 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra’s members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience. — www.darkstarorchestra.net

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Animalia: An Intimate Portrait of Endangered Species

Artist Dawn Howkinson Siebel’s Portraits of Endangered Species Are a Call to Action
Sunday, November 9, 2014 through Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Animalia: The Endangered at the Hampden Gallery, celebrates the artist’s keen understanding of the life force embodied in these majestic animals. Siebel paints these intimate oil portraits of endangered species, wherein the being-ness of each animal shines forth. Melting into a deep shadow that holds the animal like an embrace, the darkness swallows form and place, and stands in for context. With each stroke of the brush, Seibel champions for the rights of these animals to simply be. The artist reminds us…the animals are disappearing.

This November, UMass Amherst’s Hampden Gallery hosts an exhibition by the multitalented Dawn Howkinson Siebel, perhaps best known for her painted and batik-dyed silk kimono collection sold at Bergdorf Goodman in the ‘80s, and more recently for her Better Angels series, in which she painted over 300 individual portraits of New York City firefighters who served on September 11, 2001 on burnt blocks of wood. Of Better Angels, she says the project evolved from her desire to “create something positive in response to something terrible.”

Her FAC show, Animalia: The Endangered, is a timely follow-up to that work: one that will hopefully spark a positive, urgent response in viewers to an ongoing environmental disaster. “Over 40 percent of all species on Earth are threatened with extinction,” Siebel says. “The ‘threatened’ classification includes 2129 Critically Endangered, 3079 Endangered, and 4728 Vulnerable animal species – and counting. These numbers are two to three times higher than they were only fifteen years ago.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Beloved Schoolgirl Madeline at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans
On View in Western MA, November 15, 2015 – February 22, 2015

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / Lived twelve little girls … the smallest one was Madeline.” So begins each book in Ludwig Bemelmans’ beloved and universally recognized Madeline series about a brave, mischievous, and lovable young girl attending boarding school in Paris. Published in the United States in 1939, the first book about Madeline came at a time when travel opportunities were limited; Bemelmans’ lush, evocative paintings and illustrations of the “City of Light” offered readers of all ages an escape from the ongoing economic and political turmoil occurring across the globe.

Three generations later, Bemelmans’ illustrations- not to mention his precocious heroine!- are just as beloved. Celebrate Madeline’s 75th anniversary in print by visiting Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA,  this winter! The first exhibition dedicated solely to Bemelmans’ work in fifty years, it contains a selection of original artwork from his books, as well as mural panels, objects from the French bar he briefly owned, La Colombe, and personal items such as his well-loved paintbox. The exhibition begins on Saturday, November 15th, 2014, and will run through February 22, 2015. 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 »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Lyle Lovett & his Acoustic Group at the Calvin

Lyle Lovett
& his Acoustic Group
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

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!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Lyle Lovett & his Acoustic Group, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Thursday, 10/30/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT LYLE LOVETT

A singer, composer and actor, Lyle Lovett has broadened the definition of American music in a career that spans 14 albums. Coupled with his gift for storytelling, the Texas-based musician fuses elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues in a convention-defying manner that breaks down barriers. Lovett has appeared in 13 feature films, and on stage and television. Among his many accolades, besides the four Grammy Awards, he was given the Americana Music Association’s inaugural Trailblazer Award, and was recently named the Texas State Musician.

Lovett has been touring in support of Release Me since its release in February 2012. The album was #1 for several weeks on the Americana charts. Produced by Nathaniel Kunkel and Lovett, Release Me represents the end of an era as it was his last record for Curb/Universal Music Group after being on the label for his entire career. Release Me is quintessential Lyle, mixing a smart collection of originals and songs written by some of his favorite songwriters that show not only the breadth of this Texas legend’s deep talents, but also the diversity of his influences, making him one of the most infectious and fascinating musicians in popular music.

Since his self-titled debut in 1986, Lyle Lovett has evolved into one of music’s most vibrant and iconic performers. His oeuvre, rich and eclectic, is one of the most beloved of any living artist working today — www.lylelovett.com

Enter for a chance to win!

Hilltown High School Students Mobilize to Support Democracy

Members of Model United Nations Club Raise Awareness

The entrance to Gateway Regional High School in the Hilltowns features student words of support for Hong Kong protesters.

Hong Kong. A city of more than seven million people, is a global financial center known for its film industry and manufacturing sector. And more recently, known for the protests that have brought tens of thousands to its streets, all demonstrating for free and fair democratic elections. Recently, students at Gateway Regional High School in Huntington, MA, put together a campaign to raise awareness of the events in Hong Kong and to show support for the pro-democracy protesters half a world away. Senior, Cory Bisbee,  had followed the protests closely and decided to start organizing a group of fellow classmates to address them after police shockingly used tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters.  Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Calvin

Mary Chapin Carpenter
plus: Tift Merritt
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

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!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter, plus Tift Merritt, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, October 24th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 10/20/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER

Five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and 2012 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Mary Chapin Carpenter, a Pioneer Valley favorite, returns to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA, for a unique and intimate acoustic show. She will be joined e by longtime friends Jon Carroll (piano) and John Doyle (guitars, bouzouki). Carpenter spent 2013 performing alongside world-renowned orchestras since the release of her debut orchestral album, Songs From the Movie (Zoë /Rounder). In March, she performed two milestone concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by six-time Grammy Award winner Vince Mendoza who also arranged the album. She was joined by Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, & Tift Merritt (Tift joins her on this tour). Over the course of her career, Carpenter has sold over 13 million records. With hits like “Passionate Kisses” and “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” she has won five Grammy Awards (with 15 nominations), two CMA awards and two Academy of Country Music awards for her vocals. Her songs speak to the most personal and universal of life’s details. — www.marychapincarpenter.com

Enter for a chance to win!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Esperanza Spalding at the Calvin

An Evening with Esperanza Spalding
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Saturday, October 4th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

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!

Continuing our fall promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Esperanza Spalding at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, October 4th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 09/30/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT ESPERANZA SPALDING

Esperanza Spalding was one of the biggest breakout stars of 2011, garnering Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy® Awards. Her journey as a solo artist began with the 2006 release of Junjo followed in 2008 by Esperanza which topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart, becoming that year’s best selling jazz album worldwide. She was invited by President Barack Obama to appear at both the White House and the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. She performed at the 84th Academy Awards and on the Late Show with David Letterman. (Letterman and Paul Shaffer proclaimed the young musician the “coolest” guest in the program’s three-decade history.) Spalding collaborations include with Wayne Shorter, Prince, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Mae, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monáe. Her latest album, Radio Music Society (see video) featuring a mosaic array of guest artists, is another expectation-defying chapter in the Esperanza Spalding story, as she continues on her journey of new musical horizons. — www.esperanzaspalding.com

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Pop-Up Mobile Art Boxes Take Art to the Streets

Third Florence Night Out Event Showcases Creative Community Members
Friday, September 19, 2014 from 5:30-8:30pm

A year after the first Florence Night Out (FNO), the widely-anticipated event is back and bigger than ever with an innovative new take on installation art: “Mobile Art Boxes” (MABs), a collaboration between FNO founder Donnabelle Casis, several local artists, and Florence-based business owner Tony Gleason. The MABs are six 8’x8’x16’ storage boxes from Gleason’s company, DIY Mobile Box, that have each been outfitted to contain a multimedia installation by a local artist. The types of art presented in the MABs range from performance to sound art to multimedia to simply the physical installation of objects – and to add to the evening’s excitement, the MABs will be located in unexpected spots throughout downtown Florence. The artists whose work is featured in the MABs are: John Slepian (performance art), Jake Meginsky (sound art/installation), Maggie Nowinski (video), Chris Nelson (installation), Sally Curcio & Anne LaPrade Suethe (installation), The Quarry & The Coast with Mount Emult aka Matthew Newman (short films).

This is a community-based way to engage in installation art while connecting with the many creative people and projects in our area! It’s a great opportunity for a family outing or a Parents’ Night Out: the tremendous number of activities and performances – not to mention delicious refreshments! – should satisfy even the most antsy kids or culture-hungry adults! Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Tweedy at the Calvin

Tweedy
plus Hospitality
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Saturday, September 27th, 2014 at 8pm

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

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!

Starting off our fall promotions we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Tweedy plus Hospitality at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, September 27th, 2014.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 09/23/14 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT TWEEDY

As the founding member and leader of Wilco and before that the co-founder of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy is one of contemporary American music’s most accomplished songwriters, musicians and performers. Since starting Wilco in 1994 Tweedy has written original songs for eight Wilco albums and collaborated with folk singer Billy Bragg to bring musical life to three albums-full of Woody Guthrie-penned lyrics in the Mermaid Avenue series. His latest project is Tweedy, a musical collaboration with his 18 year old son and drummer Spencer Tweedy. The father/son duo’s debut album is called Sukierae and features 20 songs written by Jeff Tweedy. With Spencer on drums, Jeff handles his usual guitars and vocals, as well as bass and keyboards. Musician Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., The Minus Five, The Baseball Project) lends additional keyboards and backing vocals on Sukierae come courtesy of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the Brooklyn-­-band Lucius. — wilcoworld.net

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Science Cafes Provide Unique Community-Based Learning Opportunity

Non-traditional Setting makes Science Accessible

Science Cafes, a grassroots movement to open science to everyone and to bring presentations and engaging conversations into casual community settings, have come to Western MA. Here we feature two that take place on Mondays in the Pioneer Valley…

For families living in western Massachusetts, there are lots of opportunities to learn about science topics present within our communities. Local museums offer endless science-related exhibits, and explorations of the biodiversity and natural history present within our local landscape take place year-round (we’re hardy in these parts!). However, opportunities to interact with actual scientists – the experts and researchers who make discoveries – are far fewer and further between. But now, thanks to two local Science Cafes, students can do just that!

In Hadley, the OEB Science Cafe brings monthly events to Esselon Cafe on Mondays. Run by graduate students and faculty of the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program at UMass (hence the OEB title), the cafe’s topics follow along the theme of evolutionary biology and teach participants about topics ranging from the similarities between ants and humans to the way that a bird’s brain learns songs. Though the cafes are designed with adults in mind, self-directed teens and tweens with an interest in biology are welcome and can certainly learn lots by attending. Each OEB Science Cafe takes place from 6-7pm, and is free!

In Amherst, the SciTech Cafe meets at Amherst Brewing Company on the 4th Monday of each month. Covering topics within the realm of science and technology – a vast field, the cafe’s next two upcoming topics are the science of alien worlds (also known as space technology) and the science of sleep. Each event will include a talk by an expert, as well as time for questions and even a game!

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Schubert Sound Installation at Mead Art Museum

Sounding Space Experience Beautifully Dissects Masterpiece

Visitors to the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, are now surrounded, not just by art, but by the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828), in a sound installation that opens Tuesday, Aug. 26, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. This special installation features a five-channel recording of the slow movement from Schubert’s Cello Quintet (1828), played by the Brentano String Quartet and Michael Kannen, director of chamber music at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. The quintet’s second movement, approximately 16 minutes long, plays once every half hour.

Special Sound Installation Featuring Schubert’s Cello Quintet at Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA.

Five speakers are arranged in an oval configuration in the Mead’s Rotherwas Room, the ornately carved seventeenth-century English room that serves as a gallery, event and performance space, and reading room. Each speaker is dedicated to one instrument from the ensemble, which includes two violins, viola, and two cellos. Read the rest of this entry »

When Dinosaurs Walked…Western Mass

Paleontology Fascinates and Stimulates Learning in Kids

As one of They Might Be Giants’ best-loved (and paleontologist-narrated) children’s songs proclaims, “I love diggin’ in the dirt!” The potential for getting dirty is just what many kids need in order to become interested in dinosaurs, but it’s not the only hook. In addition to the fun that comes from digging and discovering, dinosaurs are fascinating to children for the magic and mystery that surrounds them – though we have lots of evidence that supports their long-ago existence, young ones whose understanding of time has not fully developed are astounded by the beasts of long ago. Drastically different from most of the creatures seen on Earth today (at first glance), dinosaurs’ shape, size, and even habitat are fascinating and almost unbelievable to youngsters.

Engaging children in dinosaur-related learning allows them not only to learn about the prehistoric beasts, but presents opportunities for lots of other types of learning as well. Learning to identify dinosaur species can help young children practice putting words to specific characteristics related to a species’ shape, size, and coloring, while for older learners, species identification serves as a means of understanding the role of each specific body part that distinguishes one type from the next – information that can help children to understand animal adaptations and evolution. Additionally, dinosaur studies supports children in learning about the climate- and landscape-related changes that the Earth undergoes over time. Read the rest of this entry »

Hampshire and Hampden Canal: Gone but not Forgotten

Photographer Examines Hidden History of Local Landscape in the Valley

At 2pm on Saturday, August 16, 2014, Carl Walter, a canal historian, will give a talk in Historic Northampton’s Gallery III. He has been studying the Hampshire and Hampden Canal since 1991, and has created a digital database that contains several thousand photos and documents containing information about the canal. In his talk, he will explain why the canal was built, where it was located, and how it was constructed, as well as its importance to the canal towns, with an emphasis on the relationship between the town of Northampton and the canal.

As part of Historic Northampton’s Contemporary Art series, Anthony W. Lee will exhibit seven large format photographs, collectively titled A River of Dreams, from Friday, August 8 through Saturday, September 6, 2014.

Lee, an historian and documentary photographer, is the Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History at Mt. Holyoke College. His show is inspired by the history and legacy of the early-nineteenth-century Hampshire and Hampden Canal, which ran from New Haven, Connecticut to Northampton, Massachusetts. Established in the 1820s, the canal was New Haven’s attempt to prevent the city of Hartford from gaining a monopoly on the trade and movement of goods in the region. In Northampton, the canal ran along the west side of New South Street, then known as Canal Street, and continued north, crossing King Street at Damon Road until it joined the Connecticut River. Despite the relatively successful operation of commerce over a ten year period, the venture as a whole was fraught with problems, and the canal was defunct by 1946. The remains of the canal beds were rapidly repurposed into railroad lines, streets, and other modern edifices, and it takes a discerning eye to see the subtle clues left on the landscape.  Read the rest of this entry »

Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!

This summer, the Sheffield Historical Society hosts the Milt Barnum All American Tool Exhibit, an extensive show of tools used by workers of all kinds throughout the past few centuries. Check out our list of 15 historical societies and history museums below and find out what these community-based educational resources have to offer and discover your local history while nurturing a better sense of place in your kids and in yourself!

Nestled amongst the hills of western Massachusetts are pockets of history – the streets of cities and towns are lined with historic buildings, fields are dotted with centuries-old cemeteries, and even the landscape itself tells stories of generations past, its shape hinting at human influences. It’s obvious that our communities’ history surrounds us, but the challenge in learning about local history is learning how to access it in a meaningful way. Luckily, historical societies and museums across the region offer families a wide variety of ways to learn about the history of their community. From wartime tales to walking tours, resources for learning about local history abound during the summer in western Massachusetts.

An added bonus of the easy accessibility of local history resources is that children will be supported in learning about the history of their own community and a familiar landscape, but they’ll also learn about major historical events – events that took place on a national or international level – and the ways in which they affected folks here in western Massachusetts. In allowing children to learn about large-scale events or cultural shifts on a small scale, families can support learning about broad topics on a level that meets children where they’re at developmentally, while strengthening their sense of place. Adding familiar context to an unfamiliar or confusing topic can help children to understand it – and they’ll develop a deeper connection to their history once it becomes personal. Many local historical societies only open their doors to the public during summer months (for many reasons, including the availability of volunteer staff and the lack of heat in many old buildings), so don’t miss this year’s history-exploring season! In addition to open museum hours, many historical societies and museums offer interactive activities, speakers and educational events, and other special programming – be sure to check out your local society’s calendar for learning opportunities that extend beyond a visit to the local museum or archives. Here are history museums, historical societies and events to consider this summer with your family throughout the region: Read the rest of this entry »

Photography Exhibits Capture Scenes of Everyday Life at Home and Abroad

Local Photography Exhibits Illuminate Regional Histories

This month, two photography exhibitions in Western Massachusetts will offer audiences a similar, yet very different, viewing experience.  Lisa Quiñones’ Balkan Odyssey, now on view at Easthampton City Arts+ Gallery, and Chester Michalik’s Northampton In Time, on view at Historic Northampton starting Friday, July 11, both contain photographs of everyday life and scenes in their respective regions: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Northampton, Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

Harriet the Spy Turns 50!

After surviving early library bans; continues to inspire critical thinking, writing and observation skills in children. 

Now through November 30, 2014, the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst invites you to a special exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of author and illustrator Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 book Harriet the Spy.  The exhibition will feature a selection of original drawings from both Harriet the Spy and its sequel, The Long Secret.  Eleven year old Harriet, the only child of wealthy New York socialites, wants to be a writer, and spends her afternoons secretly observing her friends and neighbors and recording her observations in a notebook.  The book helps readers explore themes of class, gender, and friendship in the 1960’s.

Harriet the Spy is now widely regarded as a classic children’s story – even more well-known and well-loved following its reincarnation as the 1996 film of the same name starring a young Michelle Trachtenberg – but, interestingly enough, when the book was first published in the mid-sixties, it received a good deal of controversy and was even banned by some libraries!  Compared with other children’s and young adult book characters at the time, Fitzhugh’s curious, independent, impatient, and tomboyish young protagonist challenged dominant social ideas about how children, girls in particular, could and should behave.  Many reviewers have since noted, though, that it is precisely Harriet’s fierce independence and desire to understand other people through observation that endears her to readers of all ages.  Her “bad” behavior is relatable, and a refreshingly honest portrayal of childhood, while her struggle to stay true to herself and her ideas in a world that doesn’t understand or appreciate deviance from the norm resonates deeply with readers on their own path to self-discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Volunteer Event Helps to Close the Summer Meal Gap!

Summer Family Volunteer Event at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Tuesday, July 1 from 12noon –  4pm

You can help close this “Summer Meal Gap” for working families in Western Massachusetts by bringing your family to The Food Bank’s Summer Family Volunteer Event on Tuesday, July 1 from 12noon-4pm in Hatfield, MA. Everyone is welcomed.

Without school meals, grocery budgets are stretched to the brink, and many parents find it difficult to replace the two to three free meals they receive five days a week during the school year. Nearly half of the families must make tough choices between paying for food and paying for utilities, fuel, rent, mortgage or medical care, because they don’t have enough money to meet all these basic needs.

How important are school meals to kids in our area?

  • 1 out of 5 children in Western Massachusetts are classified as “Food Insecure.”
  • More than 365,000 children (nearly 2/5 of Massachusetts students) receive free or reduced meals in school.
  • Families that rely on school feeding programs must provide an additional 10 meals per child for each week of summer!

You Can Help

You can help close this “Summer Meal Gap” for working families in Western Massachusetts by bringing your family to The Food Bank’s Summer Family Volunteer Event. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

Time & place literally provides for experiential education opportunity on the longest day of the year!

Here in western Massachusetts, families can take part in three different events that provide the opportunity to learn experientially about solstice-related cultural traditions – all of which will be held on the solstice itself, Saturday, June 21st…

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice – our portion of the globe’s longest day of the year. The light-filled solstice that our days have been lengthening towards will bring with it, of course, the shortest night of the year, and will place our geographic location as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. Of course, the simplest way to celebrate the solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate that will encourage children to learn why we have extra hours of daylight in the summer but traditional celebrations, world cultures, ancient civilizations, and the summer landscape.  Read the rest of this entry »

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