Community Conversation: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Part 3

Hilltown Families presents…

“Puberty for Parents”
part of the Talking to Your Kids About Sex Series
of Community Conversations with Brooke Norton
Held at Cup & Top Café in Florence
Tuesday, May 21st from 6:30-8:30pm

Hilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are presenting a series of free talks for parents with Brooke Norton and Jane Fleishman, MS, Certified Sex Educators. Continuing with this series, the third talk, Puberty for Parents, will focus on the physical changes, social impacts and emotional aspects of puberty. Brooke and Jane will also touch upon sexual orientation and coming out, and what parents can teach their kids about consent.

“Puberty for Parents” will take place on Tuesday, May 21st after hours at the café from 6:30pm-8:30pm (1 North Main Street) in Florence, MA.

Read the rest of this entry »

Community Conversation: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Part 2

Hilltown Families presents…

Talking to Your Kids About Sex
A Community Conversation at Cup & Top Café
Evening of Tuesday, January 29th in Florence

Hilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are presenting a series of free talks for parents with Brooke Norton, Certified Sex Educator. Continuing with this series, the second talk will continue to look at how to talk with your kids about sex in an age appropriate way.  This talk will take place on Tuesday, January  29th after hours at the café from 6:30pm-8:30pm (1 North Main Street) in Florence, MA.

Brooke would like to invite all parents to attend, regardless of their personal values about sex and sexuality. “All value systems will be honored and respected,” says Brooke. “My whole mission is just to encourage parents to start thinking about how they want to guide their children, and then to get them to start talking as well,” she added.

In the first talk in this series, some of the questions Brooke addressed included:

  • What information is appropriate for my kids’ age?
  • When is a good time to start talking with my child about sex?
  • How do I react when my child asks about something that I am not comfortable with?

Brooke will touch on these questions again and continue the conversation by address additional questions, like:

  • How do we deal with technology and the media and its influence on our kids’ views of sex?
  • How much does my kid need to know about sex?
  • How can I start the conversation?

Co-sponsored by Cup & Top Cafe.

Body image, puberty, and sexual identity issues will be addressed too.

Participants are encouraged to purchase dinner from the cafe (gluten-free & vegan options available) between 6:30-7pm.  The talk begins at 7pm.  Parents who are considering attending should be advised not to bring their children along to this parents-only event. For more information, please contact Brooke Norton at 413-684-8697 or email brookenorton712@gmail.com.

Cup & Top Cafe is located at 1 North Main Street in Florence, MA.

Safe, Healthy Food Choices: Resources for Families in the Pioneer Valley

Safe, Healthy Food Choices: Resources for Families in the Pioneer Valley

Know your farmers and ask questions! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This past Tuesday, May 29th, Hilltown Families and the Hilltown Non-GMO Workshop Group hosted a community conversation, Safe and Healthy Food Choices: Educating and Empowering Families in an Era of High-Tech Food Production, at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg with three local food advocates.  Herbalist Tony(a) Lemos from Blazing Star Herbal School discussed the rise in childhood allergies since the introduction of GMO foods, local organic farmer Ed Stockman did an  informative presentation on GMO Foods, and Jennifer Hartley concluded with a terrific list of resources to empower families in the making of food choices.

Check out Jennifer’s resource list below, or download it and share with your neighbors, family and friends: Safe, Healthy Food Choices: Resources for Families in the Pioneer Valley (pdf)


Safe, Healthy Food Choices: Resources for Families in the Pioneer Valley (pdf)
Prepared by Jennifer Hartley, MSLIS
(Feel free to reproduce and distribute this handout widely.)

GROWN YOUR OWN

Sourcing non-­GMO seeds.

Resources for gardeners

KNOW YOUR FARMERS

  • Questions to ask:
    • Are the seeds that you use non-­‐GMO?
    • What are your growing practices?
    • Do you feed your animals non-­‐GMO feed?
    • Where do you stand on the issue of GMOs?
  • Finding local farmers: CISA database (Be aware, however, that not all farmers are included in the CISA database, and some may grow GMOs.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Hilltown Families presents…

Talking to Your Kids About Sex
A Community Conversation at Cup & Top Café
Evening of Tuesday, June 12th in Florence

Talking to Your Kids About SexHilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are presenting a series of free talks for parents with Brooke Norton, Certified Sex Educator. The first talk will be “Talking to Your Kids About Sex” on Tuesday, June  12th after hours at the café from 6:30pm-8:30pm (1 North Main Street) in Florence, MA.

This parents-only talk will begin with discussion about infants and toddlers, and progress to preschoolers, elementary school age kids, middle schoolers, and teenagers.

Brooke would like to invite all parents to attend, regardless of their personal values about sex and sexuality. “All value systems will be honored and respected,” says Brooke. “My whole mission is just to encourage parents to start thinking about how they want to guide their children, and then to get them to start talking as well,” she added.

Some of the questions that Brooke will address are:

  • What information is appropriate for my kids’ age?
  • When is a good time to start talking with my child about sex?
  • How do I react when my child asks about something that I am not comfortable with?

Co-sponsored by Cup & Top Cafe.

Body image, puberty, and sexual identity issues will be addressed too.

Participants are encouraged to purchase dinner from the cafe (gluten-free & vegan options available) between 6:30-7pm.  The talk begins at 7pm.  Parents who are considering attending should be advised not to bring their children along to this parents-only event. For more information, please contact Brooke Norton at 413-684-8697 or email brookenorton712@gmail.com.

Cup & Top Cafe is located at 1 North Main Street in Florence, MA.

Safe and Healthy Food Choices: Educating and Empowering Families in an Era of High-Tech Food Production

Hilltown Families presents…

Safe and Healthy Food Choices:
Educating and Empowering Families in an Era of High-Tech Food Production

A Community Conversation with Local Food Advocates
Tuesday, May 29th in Williamsburg

“The effort to push back against GMOs begins at the family level. There is so much policy change that needs to happen locally, nationally and internationally, but the heart of resistance to GMOs lies with ordinary families making everyday decisions,” says local food advocate Jennifer Hartley, founding board member of Grow Food Northampton. “Through mindful attention to the foods we grow and purchase and the local economies we support, we can take matters into our own hands, directly supporting the well-being of our children and communities.”

Hilltown Families presents Safe and Healthy Food Choices: Educating and Empowering Families in an Era of High-Tech Food Production on Tuesday, May 29th from 7-9pm in the Hawks~Hayden Community Room at the Meekins Library, 2 Williams Street in Williamsburg, MA (FREE). This community conversation will feature three local food advocates highlighting the health risks of genetically modified food (GMO) in children,  and how informed families are the best hope for reversing the flow of GMOs into our food supply.

Genetically engineered foods are required to be labeled in the European Union nations, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries around the world. A recent poll released by ABC News found that 93 percent of the American public wants the federal government to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.  As ABC News stated, “Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare.”

When Hilltown Families readers were asked if they felt genetically modified food should be labeled,  they expressed their concerns over GMO foods and concurred that it would be beneficial to have it labeled. Kara Kitchen, mother of twins, writes, “Grocery shopping has become a research project with conflicting data, poor funding, and high costs (to our pockets and our lives!). I know I spend much more time at the store now from reading almost every label in my cart!” And Jennifer Lee Wildermuth agrees that GMO foods should be labeled, writing, “It would save us a lot of time researching what is safe.”

SAFE AND HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES

Co-sponsored by the Hilltown Non-GMO Working Group

On Tuesday, May 29th from 7-9pm, community herbalist and food activists Tony(a) Lemos, director of  Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, will begin our community conversation sharing information of how GMO foods impact the development of our kids and the our wellness as adults. — Following Tony(a), Ed Stockman will get to the heart of the issue of GMO foods.  His presentation will cover the lack of labeling and regulations of GMO foods, long-term safety studies the FDA overlooks, the prevalence of genetically engineered crops in our food supply, how it contributes to the  increase in childhood allergies, and how consumers, especially families, can play an important role in stopping the genetic engineering of our food supply. —Concluding Ed’s presentation, Jennifer Hartley will offer local resources and vehicles of empowerment to our community and families.

ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS:

Tony(a) Lemos

Community herbalist and food activist Tony(a) Lemos, is the director of Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA, a small school which offers a unique perspective on herbalism; weaving social and political aspects of health and healing through the study of medicinal herbs and food practices.  Tony(a) maintains a clinical herbal medicine practice focused on pediatric health and well-being and is a popular presenter at several local and national herbal conferences.  She has served as vice president of NorthEast Herbal Association.  A lover of real food, in 2003 she traveled to India to study worldwide food politics with Vandana Shiva.  She has organized the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Organization, bringing together community through local food activism.

Ed Stockman

A biologist with forty years experience in organic farming, Ed Stockman is one of our region’s leading educators on GMO issues.  Basing his presentations on the work of Jeffrey Smith (author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Food), Ed speaks at agricultural conferences, universities and community events around the Northeast.    Ed served as the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Mass Chapter “Organic Extension Educator” for six years, and was named the NOFA/Mass “Person of the Year” in 2012 for his work in educating the public about GMOs.

Jennifer Hartley

Jennifer Hartley is a homeschooling mother, radical homemaker, permaculturally-inspired gardener and local food activist.  She was a founding board member of Grow Food Northampton, and lives on a budding, quarter-acre homestead with her family in Florence, Massachusetts.  A former reference librarian, she loves to connect people to the resources they seek.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Darwin Bell]

Community Gathers to Discuss Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World

Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World
A Community Conversation

On Tuesday, February 7th, a group of parents, grandparents and childcare professionals came together for Hilltown Families’ Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World to discuss a variety of subjects related to the theme of creative free play in a commercialized world, a continuation of the presentation Hilltown Families hosted before the holidays with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids.

COMMUNICATION

The roundtable was a lively discussion with a variety of perspectives and ideas for empowerment.  One point reiterated several times during the conversation was the importance of communication.  Caring about the impact of media on our kids and their growing minds, we need to talk to them about commercialization, helping them navigate our media saturated world by pointing out advertising and marketing strategies geared toward children. Proactive ways parents can communicate with their kids include watching the same TV shows/movies their children are watching, or exploring the internet with them, giving parents opportunities to find teachable moments and openings for engagement in dialog.

TEACHING

One idea that came out of our discussion on how parents can make their kids savvy to the marketing strategies of corporate marketers was to take a walk with them through a big box grocery store in search of movie or television characters on products placed at their eye level, then talk about why these characters are on these products in these locations.  Another idea was to choose non-commercial educational videos and apps for children when consuming media. Video series like the Liberty Kids to supplement Colonial Studies, or Bill Nye the Science guy to supplement science studies were suggested.

CREATIVE FREE PLAY

As always, the notion of involving children in real world activities as much as possible is the antidote to too much media consumption, and Hilltown Families provides a comprehensive list of events each week for families that supports this practice.  Providing opportunities for creative free play that enhances imagination is essential.  A recent event at a local family center utilizing empty boxes for play was a perfect example.  Ironically, allowing children to be bored can often lead to creative solutions.  Several parents related stories of the most creative play originating out of moments of boredom resulting in toilet paper roll towers or made up stories exercising the imagination.

OTHER TOPICS

Related subjects discussed included:

  • violence and inappropriate language in media
  • sexualization in media and the impact on girls
  • children who are not exposed to certain media feeling left out among peers
  • over-scheduling of childhood
  • older teens/young adults and the over-use of Facebook
  • tensions from protecting our children from the impacts of commercialization in a media saturated world versus creating opportunities for dialog and critical thinking

A couple of resources were recommended to empower parents with young girls who struggle with the challenges they face. The book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World was recommended to parents with tween aged girls.   And the video from the Dove Self Esteem Campaign Ad “Evolution,” which shows how models are photoshopped, was suggested as a video to screen with girls (and boys) to illustrate how the current ideal of beauty is manufactured and promoted through media.

CONCLUSION

The discussion was concluded with an invitation to parents and professionals who have ideas/thoughts on how to empower our community and children on these topics to work with Hilltown Families to share and grow these ideas. Drop us an email at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com anytime.  And please continue to be part of the ongoing dialog about the importance of creative free play and helping our children navigate a commercialized world.  To receive updates and notices on events and opportunities on this topic, share with us your email and we will keep you posted:

Big thank you to Northampton Public Schools for co-sponsoring this month’s discussion, and to Cup & Top Cafe for hosting.

[Image credit: (ccl) Monette Enriquez]

Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World

A Community Conversation with Hilltown Families…

Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World
Tuesday, Feb 7th from 6-7:30pm in Florence, MA

Come together as a community on Tuesday, February 7th at 6pm in Florence, MA to casually discuss some of the challenges families and educators face in an age of rampant commercialism and ubiquitous technology, while brainstorming together on ideas and strategies for preserving non-commercialized creative free play for our children.

Hilltown Families will host a free informal roundtable discussion for parents, educators and community members interested in a dialogue about creative free play in a commercialized world on Tuesday, February 7th from 6-7:30pm at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA, sponsored by Hilltown Families and the Northampton Public Schools.

  • WHAT: Roundtable Discussion on Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World: A Community Conversation with Hilltown Families
  • WHERE: Cup & Top Cafe, 1 North Main Street, Florence, MA
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2012, 6-7:30pm (Snow date: Feb. 21st)
  • COST: Discussion is Free. Dinner from Cup & Top is available through 6:30pm ($).
  • CONTACT: Hilltown Families, hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

On the heels of the holiday season, with another commercialized holiday approaching on Feb 14th (Valentine’s Day), Hilltown Families invites parents, educators and community members to come together to informally discuss some of the challenges we face in an age of rampant commercialism and ubiquitous technology, while brainstorming together on ideas and strategies for preserving non-commercialized creative free play for our children.  

This free roundtable discussion will take place at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA. Participants are warmly welcomed to purchase dinner from the cafe through 6:30pm (gluten-free & nut-free options available).  Free childcare is available in the cafe’s playspace. To sign up for childcare, email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Hilltown Families roundtable discussions are part of a series of Community Conversations presented by Hilltown Families that invites the community to engage in conversations about raising healthy children including helping children develop a positive sense of self and empathy for others and the world around them.  This evenings roundtable discussion is a continuation of the presentation Hilltown Families hosted before the holidays with with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids, and is co-sponsored by  the Northampton Public Schools/CFCE through a grant from the MA Department of Early Education and Care.

[Image credit: (ccl) Monette Enriquez]

A Recap: The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World

An Intergenerational Crowd Comes Together for Hilltown Families Community Conversation with Dr. Susan Linn on The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World

Jackie MacNeish of Ashfield, MA writes:

“On Tuesday night this past week I went to hear Dr. Susan Linn speak of the Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World hosted by Hilltown Families at the Meekins Library (Williamsburg, MA). It was fantastic – A topic I’m passionate about and yet wanted to know more about, a knowledgable and interesting presentation, and a community of different people (young, teenagers, elders, students, teachers, parents, etc) gathered together to listen, think and discuss. I would like to attend one of these discussions each month, so I hope there are more coming our way!”

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VIDEO

If you missed the talk last week here she is on TEDxTalks with an abbreviated presentation of last Tuesdays Community Conversation:

ONLINE RESOURCES

So what can a parent do to level the playing field? “They can begin by looking a their own patterns of consumption,” says Dr. Linn in a recent interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “They can work to limit access to screen time and work to limit commercialism in their schools by urging school systems to have a policy on commercialism and marketing.”

Below we have several online resources we’ve compiled, many of them recommended by Dr. Susan Linn during her presentation last week:

Continue the Conversation

Many people are interested in continuing this conversation. If you would like to be a part of this continued discussion on the importance of creative free play for our kids, drop us a line and we’ll give you a heads up on future opportunities for gather and discuss:

Q&A: Community Conversation on Creative-Free Play Continues

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

In a recent interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Dr. Susan Linn, founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says, "This is the first time in history that, even during leisure time, we can no longer assume that children are engaging in active creative play. Creative play is no longer the norm, the norm is now that kids will be in front of a TV." - How does your family protect, promote and reserve time for creative free play? There are many challenges, and many great ideas too! Share yours! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Leading up to the Dr. Susan Linn’s visit last week for the Hilltown Families Community Conversation, The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World with Dr. Susan Linn, we engaged our readers on the topic of creative free play by asking them about favorite toys, how to reserve time for creative free play, and how they feel they can protect and promote play for their kids.
We started off by asking our readers to share their child’s favorite toy and if they remembered a favorite toy they had from their own childhood.

  • Kara Kitchen wrote: Legos! Me and my kids!
  • Sienna Wildfield wrote: We have a large cedar chest filled with dress up clothes, costumes and accessories picked up at tag sales here and there that our daughter loves! And when I was a kid, my favorite “toy” was my bike!
  • Jess Kuttner wrote: Legos at our house too! When I was very young I had a couple of dolls that were more like companions and went along with a lot of imaginary play.
  • Martha Maloney wrote: My kids – wooden blocks, me, wooden blocks and a favorite doll I still have from so long ago..

After sharing favorite toys, we asked families if/how they are able to reserve time for creative free play for their kids, inviting readers to share strategies or challenges they experience with finding free time for their kids to play.

  • Jeanne Westcott shared: The problem is that when parents discover the benefits of play and expect their children to explore those benefits in daycare or preschool settings, they will be very disappointed. the majority of these necessary organizations are still using the empty slate concept and forced early learning is the norm….I got so sad I had to change careers.
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler shared: I have to say that the Early Learning Academy in Greenfield, where my child attended pre-school, had the best free play EVER. No complaints here.
  • Pauline Delton shared:  I have an only child, and we don’t have a lot of kids in our neighborhood with whom we’ve connected. We found a group of families who make a conscious effort to gather at least once a week (the common thread is that we homeschool, so we do… this on a weekday). It is amazing what kids will find to do when they have their imaginative little brains working together. We went to the dinosaur tracks last week… the adults were wondering how on Earth this trip would last more than 30 minutes, but we were there for over 2 hours! Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, arts and crafts, cooking, reading, puzzles are all great activities. The challenge for us is when we’re inside, but even when my son is playng with toys (like Legos), he’s being creative.
  • Margaret Betts shared: ‎10 years ago we got rid of our TV. It is amazing how insulated we are from commercial media, Q&A: Toys and Play: hteven with computers and other technology. I encourage all people to throw away your TVs!
  • Melissa Moody Belmonte shared: One of the main reasons we homeschool.
  • Swansea Benham Bleicher shared: Not having TV connection is key for us.

And last week for our Q&A column we shared reader responses to how parents can protect and promote creative free play for their kids.

Let’s continue this Community Conversation on creative free play!  Share your questions, comments, resources and suggestions in the comment field to continue the dialog.

The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World

Hilltown Families presents…

The Importance of Creative Play
in a Commercialized World
A Community Conversation with Dr. Susan Linn
Tuesday, Nov 15th from 7-9pm
Meekins Library • Williamsburg, MA

Co-sponsored by the Media Education Foundation and the Odyssey Bookshop.

Hilltown Families presents “The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World” with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids on Tuesday, November 15th from 7-9pm in the Hawks~Hayden Community Room at the Meekins Library, 2 Williams Street in Williamsburg, MA (FREE).

In the critically acclaimed Consuming Kids, Dr. Linn, the nation’s leading advocate for protecting children from corporate marketers, provided an unsparing look at modern childhood molded by commercialism. In her book, The Case for Make Believe, Dr. Linn argues that while play is crucial to human development and children are born with an innate capacity for make believe, the convergence of ubiquitous technology and unfettered commercialism actually prevents them from playing.

In an era when toys come from television and media companies sell videos as brain-builders for babies, Dr. Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us how and why to preserve the space for make believe that children need to be happy and to become productive adults. Dr. Linn will speak about her book and help generate ideas for preserving non-commercialized creative play, especially around the holidays. - Join us on Tuesday, Nov 15th from 7-9pm for a community conversation with Dr. Susan Linn in Williamsburg . (FREE)

This talk is free and open to all adults and older students studying the effects of commercialization and childhood development. A Q&A session will follow along with a book signing.  Titles will be available for sale on site in limited quantities.

Book Giveaway: We’re giving away a couple of copies of The Case for Make Believe to our readers. Find out how you can enter to win below.  Deadline to enter to win is November 14th by 12noon.

ABOUT DR. SUSAN LINN

Susan Linn, Ed.D. is co-founder and director of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. An award-winning producer, writer, and puppeteer, she is the author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, and Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood and lectures internationally on reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers. She has been featured on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Today Show, The Colbert Report and Good Morning America.  In 2006, she received the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Citation for her work on behalf of children. Dr. Linn lives in Brookline, MA.

ENTER TO WIN

A Q&A session will follow the talk and Hilltown Families invites the community to submit questions to Dr. Linn in advance about the importance of make believe and how to preserve creative play for our children. Submit your questions in the comment field below and be entered to win a copy of Dr. Linn’s book, The Case for Make Believe. Must include your full name and town to be eligible to win. We’ll randomly draw winners and will share the results below. Winner does not need to be present at the event to win.

Questions can also be submitted to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

This is the first in a series of Community Conversations presented by Hilltown Families that invite the community to engage in conversations on the themes of helping children connect to the good inside each of them and their development of empathy for others and the world around them.


❤  Thank you ❤ to our co-sponsors of “The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World,” the Media Education Foundation and the Odyssey Bookshop.

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