Learn Local. Play Local.: Raptors to Folk Art. Postcards to Pancakes.

Community-Based Education Highlights
for Western Massachusetts

HarmonyKids TheaterFilm StudiesBroadway MusicalShakespeareDramaHolocaustMindfulness ImproveMeditative HikeExperiential LearningVolunteeringPark Clean-UpCitizen ScienceCommunity MealCreative Free-PlayNon-CommericalNature-Based LearningEarth Day FestivalSeed BombsWildflowersVernal PoolsNative SpeciesAnimal StudiesBatsHerpetologyBearsMigratory BirdsBirds of PreyRaptorsOrnithologySleddogsMarine BiologyFolk ArtPrintmakingChalk ArtPoetryBookfestGraphic NovelPicture BooksKids Book ClubEvening StorytimeTeen Escape RoomRevolutionary HistoryNative American StudiesPostcardsSoapmakingArcticPiratesEaster BunnyRevolutionary MusterPoliceTouch A TruckFire DepartmentMaker FaireComputer CodingRocketsKineticsPhysicsAeronautics

These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week, April 13-19, 2019… Read the rest of this entry »

Learn Local. Play Local.: Slow Art to Matzo. Hero’s Journey to Bird Migrations.

Community-Based Education Highlights
for Western Massachusetts

BalletBroadwayDramaLiterature in TranslationSnow WhiteBeauty and the BeastWomen’s HistoryLocal HistorySleddogsAmerican WoodcockVernal PoolsAmphibiansApril Vacation WeekSummer CampsMovie Theater Birthday PartyFamily CampParents’ Night OutDate NightBaby ShowerEducationEarly Childhood EducationWeek of the Young ChildNature-Based LearningCreative-Free PlaySound ArtMuseum AdventuresSlow Art DayEaster BunnyPassoverRamadanImmigrationRaceIslamic StudiesTEDx TalkHero’s JourneyAnatomy & PhysiologyOrnithologySTEMAstronomyAeronauticsKineticsParenting WorkshopTeen HealthHomeopathy5KRecyclingUpcyclingSustainabilitySeed ExchangeLandscape DesignGardeningFarm to SchoolPancakesMatzaString QuartetOrchestraContradanceFlamencoFiber ArtsAirplanesTrolley CarsMini GolfBasketballKites

These are just a few of the community-based learning highlights we’re featuring this week, April 6-12, 2019… Read the rest of this entry »

Learn Local. Play Local.: Migration to Reconciliation Ecology. Duct Tape to Michelangelo.

Learn Local. Play Local.: Printmaking to Social Justice. Drumming to Farsi Funk.

Learn Local. Play Local.: Hamantaschen to Butter. Neon to Book History.

Mobile Art Boxes Support Placemaking in Florence

Florence Night Out Celebrates with Return of Mobile Art Boxes

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

Hilltown Families: Your Back-to-School Resource, All Year Long!

During the summer months, most children have enjoyed following their interests through outdoor play, reading books they have selected, day-trips with their family, and adventures out in their community. Once late August and early September roll around however, these carefree months of following their own interests and daily rhythms turn towards more organized learning experiences; and for many, the excitement starts to build as families become involved in back-to-school preparations. Maybe this school year will be your child’s first time away from home, or your child is mentally preparing for middle school, or this is their final year in high school… whatever the case, back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for most.

Whether or not your kids are excited about going back to school, or maybe your family homeschools or unschools, that freedom of self-directed learning experienced in the summer months can continue all year round through community engagement outside of the classroom day via community-based education. Read the rest of this entry »

Support Hilltown Families During Valley Gives!

Schedule your donation today for December 10th!

This month, Hilltown Families will be entering our 10th year! We will also be participating in our 1st ever Annual Appeal through Valley Gives this Wednesday, December 10th! Your tax deductible donation to Hilltown Families during Valley Gives will help us continue to support community building and community learning initiatives throughout western MA!

Supporting Education through Community Engagement

For nearly a decade, Hilltown Families has been working towards creating resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens through community-based education and engagement.

Schedule your donation now for December 10th!In this TEDx Talk, “Supporting Education Through Community Engagement,” Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield, shares her story on why feeling connected to where you live matters, and how community-based education and community-service learning can help grow active citizens who care about where they live.

Service-Based Learning

Part of our mission includes connecting, creating and collaborating in service-based learning opportunities for families in Western MA. Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Events are one of our signature events that accomplishes this mission. We have been able to deliver over 1,500 hours of community service through service-based learning with our yearly Family Community Service Events and collaborations with local businesses and non-profit organizations!

Help us generate 1,500 more hours of community service!Volunteering as a family has so many benefits for children, parents, families and the community… yet families are so very busy that it can be difficult to find the time to volunteer together, or to identify ways to support causes and organizations they care about. Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Events offer a bridge between families and service organizations in our region, bringing our community together in the spirit of volunteerism and collaboration to amplify the work of these organizations while supporting service-based learning and the value of giving back to our community.

Learn more about Hilltown Families Community Service Events in this video, Hilltown Families: Sense of Place:

Pay it Forward with Hilltown Families’ Premiums

Local businesses and community institutions love Hilltown Families just as much as our community members! Every day we make connections between the embedded learning & community building opportunities they offer and ways our community can engage with them to support their interests and education.

Schedule your donation now for Valley Gives!We want our donors to be able to share our local community-based educational resource with your friends, family & community members too. During Valley Gives Day we will be partnering with local businesses and community institutions, like Historic Deerfield, Amherst Cinema and A2Z Science Learning Center, to offer Premiums to our donors to share with others! We will be offering museum passes, movie tickets, gift certificates, music and more to our donors, encouraging you to “Pay it Forward” by gifting awarded Premiums to another.

Not only will you feel good about supporting Hilltown Families, but you will also feel good when you share a Random Act of Kindness with another by gifting them the opportunity to engage in our community in a way that supports their interests and education too!

If you own a local business or are involved with a community organization and would like to add a gift to our pot of Premiums, encouraging giving as a Random Acts of Kindness following Valley Gives, contact Sienna to make arrangements.

Why Valley Gives?

Why through Valley Gives? Valley Gives is a collaboration of non-profits throughout western Massachusetts working together to engage 20,000 donors in a single 24-hour day of giving on December 10th.  By scheduling your tax deductible donation to Hilltown Families through Valley Gives you too become part of this collaborative effort while amplifying your donation with bonuses and prizes given out by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to participating non-profit organizations.

Schedule your donation now for Dec 10th!Valley Gives offers big prizes and bonuses for the highest number of new and individual donors. Every tax deductible donation made to Hilltown Families through Valley Gives counts!  Can only give $10? We need your donation and Valley Gives boost your donation & support!

Have you seen Hilltown Families promotional video for Valley Gives video contest?  Hilltown Families placed in the top 10! Check it out:

Matching Grant

Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’  Meet Your Match Bonus is one way you can help us raise over $7,500 on December 10th This is a special competition only for nonprofits that secure matches for Valley Gives Day. Bonus awards will be announced at the end of the day and will be chosen randomly. Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will award $2,500 to 25 randomly selected nonprofits that meet their matches. Minimum match must be $2,500.

If you’re a BIG BIG fan of Hilltown Families and can support us with a tax deductible donation of $500 or more, your donation can be pooled together with other supporters to create a matching grant of $2,500. Please email Rick Feldman or Sienna Wildfield to make arrangements prior to Valley Gives Day.

Join our Virtual Street Team!

Are you already a fan of Hilltown Families? Join our Virtual Street Team!!! Get social with us and share Hilltown Families on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, email and your blogs! As we get closer to December 10th we’ll be asking our virtual Street Team to rally for Hilltown Families, inviting friend, fans and family to support Hilltown Families with a donation during Valley Gives Day.

To get started, connect with us through our various social media channels.

“Like” us on Facebook
“Follow” us on Twitter.
“Follow” us on Pinterest.
Add us on Google+.
“Follow” us on Instagram.

Schedule your donation now for Dec 10th!Then get busy Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, and Pinning our updates, letting those in your own social networks know why you support Hilltown Families and your plans to make a donation of any size on December 10th.

Repair Café in the Berkshires

Pittsfield Resilience Circle Host a Repair Café
Saturday, January 19th, 2013

The Repair Café concept was formulated in 2009 in the Netherlands by journalist and publicist Martine Postma and sustainability accelerator Peter van Vliet. Since January 2011, the Repair Café Foundation has provided support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Cafe (repaircafe.org). [Image: First Repair Café held in Brussels.]

Janet Henderson writes:

What do you do with a broken toaster? Or with a bike that needs repair? Or with a pair of pants when a seam rips? Or a partially dysfunctional umbrella? Throw it away? Certainly not!

The Pittsfield Resilience Circle is organizing the Berkshires’ first ever Repair Café. It will be held in Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the St. Stephen’s Church basement at 67 East St. The event is entirely free.

[The  Repair Café] involves people in the community giving to other people in the community, making needed repairs of all kinds. Various repair persons will be available to fix small appliances, clothing and other fabric items, bicycles, toys, small furniture items, computers, and so on. Anyone with a broken item in need of repair may bring it to the Repair Café between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th. We will fix as many articles as we can during that time. We’re also offering free refreshments for those waiting in line.

The Pittsfield Resilience Circle could use more volunteers for the Repair Cafe. Persons with experience in any kind of repair craft or who would like to provide general help, please call Tom Harter at 413-212-8589 or email Janet Henderson at jmh227@hotmail.com. The Repair Café is looking for more sponsors (those who donate $20 or more). We are thankful for our sponsors, including the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), who is contributing both money and time!

By holding a Repair Café, the Pittsfield Resilience Circle wants to help reduce waste, promote repair skills, teach us all to be more self-sufficient, have fun, come together in a non-consumerist way, forge bonds of friendship through mutual dependency, and make Pittsfield a better place to live.


Members of the Pittsfield Resilience Circle meet twice a month to learn together and become better friends through doing things for and with each other. The Resilience Circle is based on information available at localcircles.org. The group also has an informal Gift Circle. Information about Gift Circles can be found on the OpenCollaboration’s Blog.

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