Summer Solstice Illuminates Learning for Families

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

Science, Culture & Community-Based Educational Opportunities! Learn about & celebrate the longest day of the year!

Soon, celebrations will take place all over the northern hemisphere to mark the arrival of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, bringing with it the shortest night of the year while positioning us here in Western MA as close to the sun as it will be for the rest of the year. The simplest way to mark the summer solstice is simply to enjoy the extra daylight while it lasts, but there are a variety of other community-based ways to celebrate how world cultures and ancient civilizations marked the longest day of the year, getting kids engaged and learning about the longest day of the year.

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Family Volunteer Day Summer Series Supplements Food Deserts in Western MA

Food Deserts in Western MA Leaves Many Families Without Access to Healthy Food

Residents of a Springfield community line-up to receive fresh and non-perishable healthy food from The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Mobile Food Bank. To learn more about Family Volunteer Day, including other dates throughout the summer, check out the post, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days!.

The USDA defines a food deserts as a part of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods. They are typically found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. These areas rely heavily on local convenience stores that provide a wealth of processed sugar- and fat-laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The USDA has identified several areas right here in Western Massachusetts considered to be food deserts.

As the leader of emergency food assistance in our region, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been working to reach these communities to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food. It’s been nearly two years since we launched our pilot program for the Mobile Food Bank — a delivery truck full of fresh and non-perishable groceries from our warehouse in Hatfield, shipped directly to a community site. The program reaches underserved populations throughout our region that don’t have access to fresh, healthy food. These food deserts lack local grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other healthy food providers. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Local History Through Textiles

Common Thread: Exploring Local Industrial History Through the Lens of Silk

Discover Northampton’s silk history via this handpainted silk quilt displayed at the Neilson Library at Smith College in Northampton, MA, one of many community-based resources to support an interest in local history and textiles. For a virtual tour, click on the quilt.

Once upon a time, the Pioneer Valley’s mills bustled with activity, producing all sorts of goods and providing a boost to the local economy. Today, many of these mills are filled with offices, art studios, and spacious high-ceiling apartments.

Despite the creative reuse of such industrial spaces, the area’s ties to industries of the past can easily be explored. In particular, the Pioneer Valley’s connection to the textile industry can be studied through self-guided explorations, museum visits, tree identification and hands-on learning opportunities taking place during the next few months. Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Friday, June 19th, 2015 at 8pm

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 06/15/15 by 11:59pm (EST). More 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!

Beginning our summer promotions, we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Ani DiFranco, at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, June 19th, 2015. Peter Mulvey opens.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 06/15/15 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT ANI DIFRANCO

 As a singer, songwriter, activist and independent entrepreneur, Ani DiFranco has been setting her own pace—and encouraging countless admirers to do the same—for more than 20 years. But while she has been known as the “Little Folksinger,” her music has grown far beyond her acoustic solo roots in cozy venues to embrace jazz, soul, electronica and even more distant sounds. All of which are featured in DiFranco’s new Righteous Babe release, Allergic To Water, where she also blends abstract imagery and deceptively understated melodies with personal reflections on her life in New Orleans where she is now raising her two children with her partner, producer Mike Napolitano. — www.anidifranco.com

Enter for a chance to win!

Museum Adventures: Yiddish Book Center

Yiddish Book Center: Something for Everyone (and You Don’t Need to Speak Yiddish)

Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions.

In the Yiddish Book Center’s kindervinkl (children’s corner), three-year-old Eli dons a white apron and begins whipping up an (imaginary) meal of brisket and, for dessert, homentashn. When he’s done, he and his mother settle on a red bench nearby and begin reading picture books.

In the welcome gallery, a dad and two preteen girls enjoy a short film about the history of the Center. When the film ends, they head over to a reproduction Yiddish print shop with vintage printing equipment, including a Yiddish Linotype, a hot-lead typesetting machine used for decades at the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forverts.   Read the rest of this entry »

Cinema Northampton Brings the Big Screen to the Big Outdoors

Catch that Fave From Your Childhood & Your Child on the Big Outdoor Screen!

Classic films come to big screen this summer with Cinema Northampton! Made possible by a collaboration by many local organizations, the film series brings old favorites to an outdoor screen on the lawn at Forbes Library for a fun intergenerational evening. It’s movie-going at its best!

Old classics come to the big screen this summer thanks to Cinema Northampton, a community film series made possible by a collaboration between a handful of local organizations. Bringing outdoor movies during the summer months and indoor movies once its cold out, the Cinema Northampton series brings together cinephiles of all ages – offering older folks a chance to watch a favorite film from childhood, and providing an opportunity to share the classics with children.

Created through the pooled resources and expertise of Northampton Community Television, the Forbes Library, the Northampton Arts Council, the Academy of Music, and Northampton’s Parks and Recreation Department, Cinema Northampton is unique amongst summer film and performance series in the Pioneer Valley. As evening is often the most enjoyable part of the day during the hottest parts of the summer in western Massachusetts, films will be screened outdoors in the evening on the lawn at Forbes Library. Families can bring blankets and comfortable seating, bug spray, and snacks or food to buy treats from local vendors who will be on hand to share their wares. Read the rest of this entry »

Connect to Your Community & Follow the Path of History

Join the Dots of Local History Through
Place-Based Educational Walking Tours

Families can explore local connections to important moments in national history by participating in walking tours of Florence, offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee. Held monthly, tours weave stories together with exploration of local landmarks to make for a place-based exploration of history.

This summer, national history becomes place-based through a series of walking tours in Florence. Offered by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, these tours will shed light on local connections to abolition, the Underground Railroad, and, of course, the many remarkable historical figures who spearheaded the radical movements of the 19th century.

Following the path of one of 25 great local walking tours, each expedition will include a thorough look at notable Florence landmarks and will tie each important location to people and events linked to some major parts of history. Among such locations are Park Street cemetery, final resting place of at least four former slaves; the Nonotuck Silk Mill dam, located near a mill where abolitionists processed sugar beets – grown as an alternative to sugar cane; and the Florence Congregational Church, where greats such as Frederick Douglass spoke beneath a 150-year-old old growth pine. Read the rest of this entry »

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

41st 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 41st 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 »

Digging Northampton’s History: A Community Archaeology Project

Digging Northampton’s History: A Community Archaeology Project

On Tuesdays through Saturdays from May 19 through June 6, 2015, an archaeological excavation is being conducted in Northampton at the site of the Parsons House, built in the early 1700s by Nathaniel Parsons, the grandson of Joseph Parsons, one of the founders of the city.

What good does collecting trash do when you’re studying history? A whole lot of it, if it’s the right trash! Local historians and archaeologists, both professional and amateur, will set about collecting historic trash for the community project, Digging Northampton’s History. An archaeological exploration of the history of Historic Northampton’s Nathaniel Parsons House, the project aims to collect artifacts so as to learn more about the lives of women and children in Northampton during the 18th century. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Folk School Taps into Community Resiliency

Classes & Workshops Drive Self-Sufficiency Through Skill Sharing

The primary purpose of the Taproot Commons folk school style workshops is to uplift community teaching talent, and inspire perpetual creativity toward a replenishing future. Taproot is invested in making life-long learning affordable, non-competitive, non-coercive, independent from outside funding, and to the purpose of interdependence. The focus is on re-skilling, melding old and new technologies, regenerative agriculture and forestry, deep understanding of local and natural history, true arts and crafts, and embracing alternative ways of knowing in this unremitting information age.

True resiliency depends on having a wide breadth of knowledge – and lots of it. As such, community resiliency and sustainability depend not only on the knowledge and skills of individuals, but upon the knowledge and skills of a community as a whole. In Cummington, MA, Taproot Commons’ new folk school style workshops offer opportunities for community members to work towards accomplishing a goal of true community resiliency and interdependency.

Though this year marks the first of Taproot Commons’ folk school offerings, the course selection is a dream come true for aspiring homesteaders – yet is still accessible to those who are just beginning to dabble in self sufficiency. Thirty workshops have already been scheduled between now and October, and topics covered include everything from soapmaking and pressure canning to plein-air drawing and livestock buying and butchering. While some workshops offer educational opportunities that are centered around more common skills related to gardening, food preservation, and herbal medicine, others touch on much more obscure and tough-to-learn skills like saw sharpening, buying livestock, and making hay by scythe. 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 66th 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 Saturday, May 16 for its 66th 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 »

Pay It Forward Inspires Community Volunteering

Museum Adventures: Museums10 Turns 10 & Continues to Think Smart

Museums10 Deepens Western Mass Cultural Life Through Creative Collaboration

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA.

Western Massachusetts is rich with opportunities for families to get out into their community to explore, to get to know the world better, and gain a deeper understanding of history. The museums in our region embody that richness to the fullest! Now in its 10th year, Museums10 can point to the fact that they host more exhibitions annually than at the Met, Lourve, and Guggenheim combined and house 1.3 million collection objects (equal to what you’d find at the Harvard Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Art Museum put together!).

Who is Museums10? Ten years ago, 10 local museums came together to build a collaborative to foster greater cooperation. The hope was that by working together they could accomplish more than any could solo. During the past decade, they’ve hosted large joint exhibitions, worked with local organizations to create events, and built relationships with area schools to help make the museums part of children’s educational lives during the school day.  Read the rest of this entry »

Feasthampton Celebrates Launch of Easthampton Public Seed Library

Feasthampton’s public seed lending library increases community food security

Feasthampton, an Easthampton-based group dedicated to encouraging community food security and environmental sustainability, is opening a free, public Seed Lending Library hosted at the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton on Monday, May 11, 2015, from 6 – 8 pm. The Seed Lending Library will be one of only a handful of similar efforts in Massachusetts, and is a major step in the path to food security in the Pioneer Valley.

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Feasthampton, an Easthampton-based volunteer group dedicated to encouraging community-wide projects directed toward local food and environmental resiliency, will celebrate the launch of its free, public seed lending library, hosted at the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton, on Monday, May 11, 2015, from 6-8 pm. The Easthampton Seed Library provides increased opportunity for community resiliency through promoting biodiversity, food access, and a non-monetized, sharing economy accessible to all. The Easthampton Seed Library will offer free, public access to: an ongoing supply of locally adapted, organic, open-pollinated seed, and occasional seed saving and gardening workshops. Read the rest of this entry »

Recognizing and Supporting Seniors during Older Americans Month

‘Get into the Act’

Senior volunteers have fun and prepare bags of groceries to be distributed through The Food Bank’s Brown Bag: Food for Elders program. Click here to register to join The Food Bank and Hilltown Families for another free Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, May 9 from 9-11:30am.

In May, the nation will be celebrating Older Americans Month to recognize seniors’ contributions and provide them with resources to stay healthy and active. Older adults are a vital part of our society. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how seniors are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Throughout the country, older Americans face a number of unique challenges that contribute to food insecurity. Many seniors are living on fixed incomes that often force them to choose between paying for healthcare or prescriptions and buying groceries. Although food insecurity affects people of all ages, seniors are particularly vulnerable because they have unique nutritional needs related to aging and/or medical conditions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Put Your Species Identification Skills to the Test!

Family Friendly Fundraiser Gets in Touch with Nature

Ready, set, identify! Families can learn about local biodiversity and help to support local environmental education opportunities by participating in the Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s 16th annual Biothon – a mad dash to identify as many species as possible!

Ready, set, identify! Western Massachusetts families are invited to put their species identification skills to the test during The Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s 16th annual Biothon! While other organizations might hold a walk-a-thon, a marathon, or even a draw-a-thon, the Hitchcock Center’s annual fundraiser asks participants to do exactly what it is that the event raises money for – explore, interact with, and learn about the local landscape.

Participants in the 2015 Biothon will be competing to see who can identify the most species in a location. Intended as an exploration in biodiversity, Biothon asks teams to set their own time, location, and species type (birds, mammals, trees, fungi, or everything!) before setting out into the field to identify what has been found. The winning Biothon team will be the one who manages to find the greatest amount of biodiversity in their chosen location, but truly, all participants are winners, as they will get to participate in a valuable experiential learning opportunity! Read the rest of this entry »

New England Culture & Learning Through the Lens of Sheep & Wool

Sheep & Wool: Catalysts for Community-Based Education in Western MA

In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks.

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Four community events take place this spring that are rich in learning opportunities! Baby animals, history, animal husbandry, and even fiber arts, are all great catalysts for learning through community engagement at these annual events: Read the rest of this entry »

5 Community Walks Lead Towards Seeing a Hidden Landscape in the Hilltowns

Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills: Exploring the Plainfield Landscape

Click to enlargeJoin the Plainfield Historical Society for five free walks and talks exploring and interpreting our forested historical landscape this spring and summer! Starting on Saturday, April 25, 2015, with the Plainfield Aquaduct Company, the first commonly-held utility in Plainfield history.

Sinking deeply into spring mud, as most families living in the Hilltowns are doing, reminds us of the abundance of water that once made Plainfield a center of industrial farming, a boomtown of sorts in which land speculation went hand in hand with great civic efforts to build a community. In five guided talks/walks, learn to see old Plainfield in the landscape, about the mills, springs, and wells, “read” stone foundations and walls like so many tablets, interpret trees and plants to find cellar holes, and enrich your understanding of this beautiful Hilltown.

All tours meet behind the Shaw Memorial Library (Plainfield, MA) at 1pm and are free (donations welcomed). There will first be a “show and tell” of the historical research involved in creating the walk, followed by a walk or hike.  Read the rest of this entry »

Amherst Bee Friendly Week to Begin on National Arbor Day

Amherst Seeks to “Bee” Friendly!

Amherst has declared the week of April 24th – May 1st as “Amherst Bee Friendly Week.” In efforts to meet the certification requirements, community-based programs, workshops and educational opportunities are being offered!

The Town of Amherst is hoping to become the first certified “Bee Friendly” community in Massachusetts! In an effort to assist the declining honey bee population, Shelburne’s Piti Theatre Company, led by Jonathan Mirin and Godeliève Richard, are leading a campaign to raise awareness, educate and create more bee friendly habitat.

“Amherst Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello and Grow Food Amherst embraced the Bee Week idea last year and have incorporated it into their programming in 2015. They are pioneering the Bee Friendly Town model and it’s very exciting,” said Jonathan Mirin. Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective this Saturday!

UMass Amherst Libraries Host Human Library on Earth Day

Check Out a Living Book from the Human Library on Earth Day

Founded in 2001 in Denmark to promote human rights and social cohesion, the human library project seeks to create greater understanding between people and provide a safe space where we can learn more about each other and work through stereotypes and discrimination present in our community in order to ultimately to forge new connections between people.

If you missed the Human Library Project when it took place at Williams College this past February, you have another chance to participate on Earth Day, this time in the Pioneer Valley! The UMass Amherst Libraries invite the public and the campus community to participate in the Human Library on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, from 10am-2pm in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, Learning Commons (Lower Level), at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is free and open to the public.

Originating in Denmark, the Human Library is an international phenomenon, having occurred in 65 countries over the past 12 years. This event promotes dialogue and encourages understanding by providing a safe and encouraging environment within which people of different backgrounds can interact and learn from each other.  Read the rest of this entry »

Eyes are the Window Poetry Contest

Amherst Poets Can Have Their Words On Poetry Windows

As Shakespeare wrote, “eyes are the window to the soul.” This visionary truth has inspired the theme for Amherst Together’s “Eyes are the Window” poetry contest. Held in conjunction with the Amherst Public Art Commission and in celebration of National Poetry Month, “Eyes are the Window” asks poets to answer the question, “When you I look into your eyes, what will I see?” Open to poets of all ages living, working or studying in Amherst, the contest’s prompt encourages creative and self-reflective writing.

Winning submissions will be displayed in Amherst’s Poetry Windows in Boltwood Walk. Originally installed in 2002, the poetry windows were the work of artist Ritsuko Taho and displayed poems in green liquid crystal. This past January, the poetry windows underwent a digital makeover and will now display poems on miniature iPads. The top five poems submitted to the contest will be announced in May and displayed in the windows, and another 125 poems will be selected and displayed in rotation through May of 2016.

Poets can submit their work in person in a drop box at the Jones Library or online by April 30th, 2015. All work must be original, and may include no more than 25 words, and poets may submit only one piece of writing to the contest.

Build Community & Inspire Change During National Volunteer Month

National Volunteer Month provides opportunities for the entire family to support the community

Families from across Western Massachusetts joined together at a recent Family Volunteer Day held at The Food Bank to sort and pack fresh produce. The food is distributed through The Fook Bank’s ‘Mobile Food Bank’ and ‘Brown Bag: Food for Elders’ programs, to food insecure families throughout the region.

April in National Volunteer Month — a time when we celebrate and honor the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and support their community. The month-long celebration is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. By working together, we can meet our challenges and accomplish all of our goals.

One of the best aspects of volunteering is that there are so many different reasons to get involved. It’s a fun opportunity to meet new people, network and gain new working skills. It’s also a great way to help an organization that aligns with your personal values and beliefs. Most importantly, volunteering is the best way to support your community.

At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we rely on the continued efforts of our volunteers to help us provide healthy food to the more than 235,000 people in our region struggling with food insecurity. We asked some of our volunteers why they donate their time to us. Here’s what they had to say:  Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: CSA Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm

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

Enter for a chance to win a Small Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA for the 2015 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: April 28th, 2015.

Locally grown food is a great community connector! This past winter families could enjoy Winter Farmers’ Market in the Pioneer Valley while connecting with friends and neighbors during these festive weekly markets.  And during the growing and harvest season Farmers’ Markets happen nearly every day of the week and have quickly become places the community not only shops for fresh produce and local products, but a place they can participate in collaborative consumption by taking free workshops and learning from farmers who freely share their knowledge on growing a better garden or preserving food.

But Farmers’ Markets aren’t the only way the community can participate in farm-based learning while connecting with their neighbors and supporting local farmers… Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is another fabulous way families can support, participate and learn through the lens of our local food culture.  By purchasing a CSA share, shareholders pledge their support of a local farm and receive weekly shares of fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, honey, eggs, dairy and meat products.  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 engage in with farmers, buying your food at farmers’ markets or roadside farm stands? Is volunteering to support food security in our region a priority to your family?

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: April 28th, 2015, by 11:59pm (EST). Details on how to enter to win are below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Millennium Project in Pioneer Valley Integrates Art with Citizen Scientists

Exhibition to Document Next Millennium of Climate Change in History’s Slowest Photograph

Formed 200 million years ago in the Late Triassic and boasting hundreds of distinct microclimates, the Holyoke Range is a site selected to document the transformation of the environment over the next 1,000 years.
This spring, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will install a camera, designed by experimental philosopher and Amherst College graduate Jonathon Keats, that will take a millennium-long photograph of the evolving landscape. The museum will unveil the photograph in the summer of 3015. Prior to the camera’s installation at the Mead, it will be it will be on display in the exhibition Jonathon Keats: Photographing Deep Time, on view April 15 through May 31, 2015.

What will the landscape of the Pioneer Valley look like a millennium from now? The Mead Art Museum and artist Jonathon Keats are determined to find out. As part of an exhibition of Keats’ work, the museum will install a special camera that will take a 1,000-year-long photograph tracking the changes in the local landscape over the next millennium.

Created using the basic design for a pinhole camera, the Millennium Camera will use oil paint and the light that enters the camera through a tiny hole in order to create an exposure that will reflect changes in Amherst’s landscape over time. Mounted at the top of the Stearns Steeple, the camera will get something a bit like a bird’s eye view of its surroundings. In 3015, the image created by the camera will be unveiled and viewed by a community living in a very different world than today’s.

The exhibit that marks the camera’s start is titled Photographing Deep Time, and will showcase Keats’ other work in deep time photography, including a 100-year photographic survey of the changing cityscape of Berlin. Rather than being focused on the end result of any image, Keats’ deep photography process is focused on connecting photograph viewers with the changes that take place over time that, together, create the final product.

Older students and adults wishing to hear more about the monumental project and Keats’ artistic process can attend an artist conversation at the Mead Art Museum from 2-3pm on Wednesday, April 15th. Photographing Deep Time will be on display at the museum through May 31st, providing families with the opportunity to explore the intersection of art, science, and the future’s history. This Wednesday afternoon event is free and open to the public and is part of the Arts at Amherst Spring Festival.

The Mead will also produce 100 pinhole cameras, each with a 100-year exposure time, for the public to hide somewhere in the Pioneer Valley, invisibly monitoring changes in the surrounding landscape between now and 2115. The cameras will be available at the Mead for $5 each and will come with a registration card for visitors to document their camera’s location. Participating families can join is a art-based citizen scientists! Read the rest of this entry »

Family Friendly Fun at Easthampton BookFest

Community-Based Literacy Opportunities!

Celebrate all things local and book-related at the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Created by Easthampton City Arts+, and supported by countless literary folks from the community, the event is chock-full of book- and story-themed events that encourage learning and creativity. This is an opportunity that is not to be missed!

Residents of western Massachusetts suffer no shortage of independent bookstores, and there are wonderful authors and illustrators residing throughout. Easthampton City Arts+ – along with a great many local business, artists, and authors – celebrates the region’s rich literary culture with the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, at locations all over Easthampton, the event highlights local authors and illustrators, as well as storytellers, bookbinders, translators, zine artists, and book-centric locations throughout the city.

Made up of many different independent workshops, presentations, hands-on activities, celebrations, performances, and other happenings, Easthampton BookFest will take place from 10am-10pm, filling the city with all things literary all day long. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

The Art of Eric Carle:
Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

On View April 7 – August 30, 2015

Amateur entomology takes the spotlight at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art during the next few months, as a new bug-themed exhibit fills the galleries! The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs will be on view from April 7th – August 30th, 2015, and brings with it not only beautiful and delightful images featuring a host of insects, but a swarm of special bug-themed and Eric Carle-centric events as well.

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Sparked by copious amounts of time spent outdoors as a child, Eric Carle’s picture books have often featured lovable insect characters, from fireflies to ladybugs to the iconic starving green caterpillar. The images featured in the exhibit are full of wings, crawly legs, and stingers, but portray the crawliest of earth’s inhabitants beautifully, with respect, reverence, and the light, playful style unique to Carle’s artwork.

In addition to a bug-filled gallery, the Eric Carle Museum will hold special events to accompany the exhibit. Over the next few months, families can take advantage of opportunities to engage in bug-themed hands-on art making in the museum’s studio, and can create their own original bug creations to add to a community art project that will adorn the trees in the museum’s orchard. Additionally, special events featuring bug-themed storytelling and comedy will be held, and the museum’s Children’s Book Festival (held on June 6th) will be bug-themed as well!  Read the rest of this entry »

Parents’ Night Out: Sinbad at the Calvin Theatre this Saturday!

Parents’ Night Out!

One of Comedy Central’s all-time top 100 standup comedians, Sinbad tells hilarious stories about the foibles of daily life, and he’s profound without being profane. We’re giving away two pairs of tickets for a night out in Northampton, MA, at the Calvin Theatre. Click on the image to find out how you can enter for a chance to win tickets:

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

Big Wiggle Tour Makes Its Valley Stop!

Caterpillar Mobile Inspires Kids To Read

The Very Hungry Caterpillar himself will be gracing the streets of the Pioneer Valley very soon! Following a cross-country tour of libraries and bookstores between California and Massachusetts, a Volkswagen Beetle designed to look just like the iconic children’s book caterpillar will be making its new home at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The new caterpillar-mobile’s arrival will coincide with Very Hungry Caterpillar Day, held on Sunday, March 22nd from 12noon-4pm! Read the rest of this entry »

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