You’re Your Community’s Expert. Invite People to Explore… 

Jane’s Walks Inspires Us to Showcase Our Community’s Beauty

janes walkImagine that a new family moves into your neighborhood. What parts of your community would you most like to share with them? How would you help them to learn about what makes your neighborhood unique? What hard-to-find things would you be sure to let them know about? Families can use their imaginations to answer these questions and more in order to develop tours of their very own communities. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Engaging as Citizen Scientists Along the River

Hilltown Families Citizen Scientists
4th Annual Assessment of the Westfield River

A few days ago a friend of mine, the talented Northfield potter Tom White, posted a Facebook picture of himself holding a wild King Salmon he caught in Pulaski, NY, on the Salmon River near Lake Erie.

That’s what 30 pounds of pure aquatic vitality looks like—and once upon a time our CT, Westfield and Deerfield rivers were teeming with their cousins, the Atlantic Salmon, that were declared extinct last year by the National Fish and Wildlife Service.

This past Friday, Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield, and an energetic group of Hilltown Families citizen scientists and I conducted our fourth annual rapid biotic assessment of the Westfield River in West Chesterfield, and we marveled at how alive this beautiful watercourse is! Consistent with the two assessments we’ve done since hurricane Irene, we found that the populations of crab-like bugs has shrunken while the worm-types have increased (Compare assessments: 2011 & 2013).

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Though we would like to find a wide variety of river bugs, because biodiversity is a sure sign of ecological health, we did catch five types of the “most wanted” cold-water oxygen-loving bugs. They signaled that the Westfield River continues to enjoy “exceptional water quality,” the highest of EPA rankings. YAY!

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Pioneer Valley Bread House Welcomes Autumn with Community Baking

Pioneer Valley Bread House Connects Community

Bread House gatherings are centered around, but not limited to bread-making. While the bread rises and bakes, bread-makers enjoy conversations, story-telling, and other creative activities. One of the goals of the PVBH is to stimulate community engagement with issues vital to our towns – issues of food, health, local resources, sustainability, and intercultural dialogue.

The Pioneer Valley Bread House brings the transformative experience of communal bread-baking to Northampton, MA. On Tuesday, September 24th, from 4-6pm, bread-lovers of all ages are invited to make and share bread with others at the generously donated kitchen space of the B’nai Israel Temple (253 Prospect Street in Northampton). The event is free and open to everyone. Gluten free breads are also made.  Then on Monday, October 14th from 4-6pm, the PVBH will celebrating World Bread Day, also at the B’nai Israel Kitchens in Northampton.

The Pioneer Valley Bread House (PVBH) organizes bread-making events as fun and creative community activities. “We need joy and we knead joy,” says Nadezhda Savova, founder of the global Bread Houses Network, in a recent interview for National Geographic.

“The Breadhouse can be a vital connecting point for all members of our community. We all have something to contribute: a recipe, a story, a song, a smile, and knowledge of how to better use our local resources. You don’t have to be a baker or a talented artist. Just show up and enjoy the company of others and the creation of bread,” says Dr. Leda Cooks who is one of the co- founders of the PVBH and a University of Massachusetts Professor of Communication…

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