Learning Ahead: Earth Day

Earth Day & Ecopoetry

Each year, Earth Day takes place on April 22nd. Known as the birth of the modern environmental movement, Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 and continues as a way to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Western Massachusetts is host to many secular celebrations and festivals that honor the commitment to sustainable and resilient living, giving the community many ways to come together to engage on Earth Day through service-based learning opportunities, eco-workshops, and local gatherings. Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for upcoming events that support sustainable living and connection to place.


Since National Poetry Month and Earth Day share the same season and month, it seems appropriate to feature Ecopoetry, a movement of poetry with a strong environmental ethic that acknowledges the relationship between humans and nature.  Poetry has the power to reveal insight and to spark curiosity and inquiry.  Ecopoetry is a way to reflect on our relationship with the Earth during Earth Day and develop a heightened awareness of how we directly interact with nature in our local Western Massachusetts communities.   Read the rest of this entry »

6 Community Resources & Annual Events for Sustainable Living

Community Resources and Annual Events for Sustainable Living

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
CISA is a  Western Massachusetts organization that “strengthens farms and engages the community in building the local food economy.”  CISA connects community members with the farms and farmers that produce food in our region to help ensure food security and fortify the relationship between the land and our dinner tables. CISA offers many workshops and community events to provide folks with the opportunity to learn more about sustainable agriculture such as winter vegetable cultivation, homestead woodlot management, farm financing, making the most out of pasture and hayfields, maple sugaring at home and many other subjects throughout the year!  CISA’s website also connects you to nearby farms where you can source your food as well as find resources and recipes.  Consider volunteering with CISA in celebration of Earth Day and sustainable agriculture!

Local Ecological Art
Local Williamsburg artist Todd Lynch creates ecological art installations throughout Western Massachusetts communities at different natural sites to help foster a dialogue between people and the landscape.  One of his installations, the Flotsam Weirs Installation, utilized woven fences made of material found on-site to create an environmental sculpture that helped people learn about hydrology and ecology as well as how structures in the natural world decay throughout time.  The piece is a way to witness the process of nature and to understand the beauty of its ecology through an artistic lens.It is located in Williamsburg, MA.  Pictures are found at www.ecotropy.net.

Pedal People
Local business Pedal People practice sustainability every day when it comes to trash and compost pickup!  Serving the Northampton area, this group of cyclists utilize bikes to tote away trash and compost from Northampton homes instead of driving fuel-reliant cars and trucks! http://www.pedalpeople.coop

Seed Swaps
Seed swaps are a chance for community members to meet one another, gather together and share gardening tips, ideas, and, more importantly, seeds!  Many local libraries in the Hilltowns and Pioneer Valley host seed swaps in early spring to encourage togetherness, sharing and collaborative consumption by providing the space for people to get together and share the food and plants they grow.  Check out these local libraries for nearby seed swamps. Read more about the embedded learning found in seed saving in our post, Seed Capital Provides Return for Nature-Based Education.

Amherst Sustainability Festival
Every year, the town of Amherst celebrates Earth Day with an annual Sustainability Festival. Usually, during the week of Earth Day, this festival includes performances on the town common, workshops to learn more about how to live more sustainably at home, family entertainment, and local farm animals from the 4-H club!

Earth Day at UMass
The University of Massachusetts celebrates with an Earth Day Festival every year with student groups that host booths, a farmers’ market featuring student grown produce, live music, and art activities.  Each year is different, so best to check the UMass website to see what is on the schedule for this year’s Earth Day Festival at UMass.

Earth Day River Festival Builds in the Berkshires

Earth Day River Festival Builds Community for Preservation

Our local rivers keep the landscape alive – celebrate their importance at the first ever Earth Day River Festival honoring the Berkshires’ Housatonic River! Hosted by the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), the event includes opportunities for community members to learn about and connect with the Housatonic River, and to consider the role that the river plays in their daily lives. Held on Saturday, April 23rd from 11am-1:30pm at Pittsfield’s Fred Garner Park, the Earth Day River Festival brings together environmentally-focused community organizations and offers a rich variety of ways to gain knowledge and skills for conservation and self-sufficiency. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Sustainability on the Amherst Town Common

Amherst Sustainability Festival: April 26, 2014

The Amherst Farmers’ Market and Sustainability Festival takes place this Saturday, April 26th, on the Town Common. Pick up your starter plants and locally grown foods from the Market, and then head to the Common for a fabulous family-friendly festival featuring all things sustainable… including Hilltown Families! Stop by our tent where kids can plant seeds to take home with them while parents can learn about the mission of Hilltown Families.

With springtime comes an increase in our awareness of the natural world – as we plan our gardens and watch trees begin to leaf out, we’re reminded of how essential the earth is to us, and how important it is to live our lives in a way that ensures that our natural resources will be preserved for years to come. Celebrate springtime, sustainability, and all things green at the Amherst Sustainability Festival, an annual free community event that brings together local organizations and resources to promote local sustainability!

This year, the Amherst Sustainability Festival will be held on Saturday, April 26th, 2014, from 10am-4pm. Centered around the Amherst Town Common, the event includes booths from local sustainability-related organizations and vendors, live music and theater performances, demonstrations of skills and techniques, live animals to visit and learn about, local food, and lots of other exciting and educational events and activities for families. Early risers can begin their day of sustainability in the morning by visiting the Amherst Farmers’ Market, whose second market of the season will bring a wide variety of delicious, healthy, local foods to the Town Common from 7:30am-1:30pm.

Once you’ve stocked up on local foods, begin your festival adventure by watching Piti Theater Company’s performance of their original show, To Bee or Not to Bee. Read the rest of this entry »

Earth Day Feature: Unique Recycling Programs

Recycle T-Shirt Sign

Three Unique Recycling Programs

Unidentified keys, trophies from the early 80’s & broken crayons… these three things can clutter up your junk drawer, attics, and art supplies. Here are three unique recycling programs that recycle all three of these items for good causes. Gather items together with your kids, ask your neighbors if they have any to contribute too, then package up and ship off. These teaching moments can spark conversations with your kids about the importance of recycling and help others: Earth Day Feature: Unique Recycling Programs.

Suggested Events for April 19th-25th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


“Hilltown Families lets me connect to great events that are slightly out of the way, but worth the drive! For example, I recently found out about several Earth Day events that are fun for my whole family!” – Sarah Kowalski (Springfield, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.


Summer Camps in  Massachusetts

“Hilltown Families continues to be my go-to place for family events. I really appreciated the organized list of summer camps!”

Over 50 Summer Camps to choose from! Now is the time to start signing up for summer camp! Check out our featured post, 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of over 50 summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.


Apr 17-18; 21-25

For some educational, interactive family fun, bring your kids to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT, a ninety minute drive from Boston and only twenty minutes from Hartford. Thurs., Apr. 17th- Open Cockpit; Fri., Apr. 18th- LEGO Contest & Easter Bunny Visit; Mon., Apr. 21st-Wed., Apr. 23rd- Open Cockpit & Museum Tours; Thurs., Apr. 24th- Zip Line Challenge; Fri., Apr. 25th- Blimp Maze. Also enjoy over 80 aircraft on display, interactive exhibits, guided tours and not to be missed-our newest exhibit “Flight Sim Spot” open daily.

Apr 18, 21-25

During April vacation, join the Springfield Museums for their amazing Puppet Festival, April 21-25, 2014. Classic fairy tales like Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Jack and the Beanstalk will be presented by renowned puppet ensembles including the National Marionette Theater and Crabgrass Puppets (shown here). There’s also live animal demonstrations, hands-on science and art activities, and roving puppetry by Caravan Puppets. The fun gets off to an early start with a performance of Spring into Easter by The Wayne Martin’s Puppets on Friday April 18 at 1pm, along with appearances by the Easter Bunny and more. For more information, visit www.SpringfieldMuseums.org

Apr 19

Skip down to the Odyssey Bookshop for a morning of fun with author, Paul Reynolds! Paul and his brother Peter have teamed up to bring us a fantastic new picture book. Going Places is about working together and letting your imagination soar. In celebration of this new book Odyssey is hosting the author and inviting you to use your imagination to make a creation of your own for a storytime and crafting fun on Saturday, April 19th at 11am. This event if free but RSVP encouraged at www.odysseybks.com. Great for ages 3 and up! Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA, 01075.

Apr 21

The Academy of Music Theatre presents National Marionette Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast on Monday, April 21st at 10am. The classic story of a prince who is changed into a hideous beast by an evil enchantment that can only be broken by true love. When Beauty looks beyond the Beast’s external appearance, she learns to love him for who he truly is on the inside. Using meticulously crafted marionettes and beautifully painted scenery, National Marionette Theatre’s production is classical marionette theater at its finest. Appropriate for family audiences aged 4+. Tickets $7, plus box office fees. For more information and tickets, visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com or call the Box Office at 413-584-9032 ext. 105 Tuesdays-Fridays 3-6pm. Northampton, MA.

Apr 21, 23 & 25

April 21, 23 and 25 from 9am to 11am spring-inspired art projects help kids enliven their creativity at Spring Break Art Detox at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Discover how exhibiting artists preserve, re-purpose, and recycle materials. On Monday, preserve natural materials in resin; On Wednesday, re-purpose objects into a mobile planter; On Friday, recycle found items into sculpture. Parents can drop off their kids or join in the action. Pre-registration is recommended. Reservations are $7 per day for members and $10 for not-yet members, and can be made at the MASS MoCA box office. Sign up for one, two, or all three days. Registration is also open for summer art camps. Find out more online at kidspace.massmoca.org/art-camps.

Apr 21-27

Enjoy April vacation week at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! Create paper sculptures in the Art Studio with guest artist Susan Schwake, go on an underwater storytime adventure with author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, and see the classic tale The Bremen Town Musicians come to life on stage! Cap off this fun-filled week of activities, storytimes, films, and special guests with our Family Poetry Jam on Sunday, April 27! The Museum is open Monday, April 21 for Patriots’ Day. For event details and performance tickets, visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1100.

Apr 26

Middle School Fair. Meet representatives from six independent middle schools: Academy Hill School, The Center School, Four Winds School, The Hartsbrook School, North Star: Self-Directed Learning, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School. Saturday, April 26, 2:00-4:00, at Four Winds School, 54 French King Highway (Route 2), in Gill, MA. More information at www.fourwindsschool.info or call 413-863-8055.

Apr 27

The celebrated Alonzo King LINES Ballet comes to the UMass Fine Arts Center on Sunday, April 27th to enrapture audiences with works of luminous beauty. Described by The New Yorker as “hyper kinetic” and “exceptional,” the Lines Ballet performs exhilarating works that meld classical Western ballet with a diverse set of cultural traditions. The dancers’ flawless technique, mixed with King’s expressive choreography, creates a performance that is like no other. “Gripping, urgently beautiful choreography” hails the San Francisco Chronicle. For tickets call 413-545-2511 or 1-800-999-UMAS or go online to www.fineartcenter.com. Amherst, MA.

Open House: Jun 14

Worthington Swim Club. Enjoy family fun this summer at an outdoor pool in Worthington. The W S C is located at 35 Huntington Road (Rte 112) in a sunny, tree-screened setting. Membership is open to everyone and includes: Certified Lifeguard on duty Monday – Friday from noon to 5 p.m., Children over age 10 can swim without their parent during lifeguard hours, 24-hour key access for adult members (and children with an adult family member), a 25-yard-long pool w/ a low diving board, swimming lessons available. Swim free at open house, June 14th, noon-3 p.m. 2014 membership is: Family Plan $365, Individual Plan $160. Payment schedules available. Call Lynn at 238-8038 or Alain at 238-5954 or visit us on FB www.facebook.com/worthington.swimclub

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April vacation program, afterschool class, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, wellness program or business featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Happy Easter: April 20th. During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Find an egg hunt nearest you, along with spring time craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances and make your family plans to get out into your community and celebrate. Check our list of Easter Events in Western MA, your go-to resource for Easter and spring time celebrations in the region!

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

April 19th-25th, 2014


Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

34 Community Highlights: Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives. Weather to Transportation.

Earth Day to Volunteer Week. Beaver Ponds to Raising Chickens. Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.

Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

Hilltown Family Variety Show: This Saturday, April 20th, we will rebroadcast our Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levey.  Tune in for an hour of great music and learning highlights on all things WEATHER!

Community ServiceEarth DayAnimal StudiesNature StudiesHistoryParent WorkshopsCultural Studies

Read the rest of this entry »

Reuse & Recycling Rally in Northampton

Reuse & Recycling Rally Offers 3 Ways to Practice the 3 R’s!

Northampton Reuse & Recycling Rally happens Saturday, April 20th from 9am-12noon at Smith Vocational High School. Find new-to-you toys for the kids at the community tag sale, shred confidential papers, donate old baby equipment, recycle well-loved pants with holes in the knees and t-shirts with juice box stains for the textile drive, and bring by those hotel shampoos and conditioners from your family winter vacation to Florida to donate to the Hampshire County Interfaith Emergency Shelter. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Northampton Department of Public Works is sponsoring another reuse & recycling rally on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 at the Smith Vocational High School from 9am-12pm, in cooperation with the City’s ReUse Committee, the Salvation Army & ProShred of Wilbraham.  This is the third in a series of events in 2013 to promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling of unusual materials.  Once again, it’ll be a three ring circus:  a community tag sale and donation drop off, a shredding event for confidential papers and a textile drive to keep usable goods out of the landfill.


The Community Tag Sale is a flea market with a twist.  Fifty-four sellers will load up their trunks and sell stuff from the back of their vehicles in the Vocational School’s back lot at 80 Locust Street (Route 9, Northampton, MA).  Each will be given two parking spaces- one to park in and the other for sales (note: pre-registration is required for vendors through the Northampton DPW.   Yard sale devotees will be delighted with bargains at this huge multi-family tag sale!

The Salvation Army will be on site to accept donations of small household goods, including but not limited to kitchen ware, fireplace sets, lamps, wall decorations, board games, books, DVD’s/CD’s, tools, sporting goods, luggage, radios, umbrellas… practically anything in good condition except mattresses, upholstered furniture, and baby equipment.

Voluntary donations for the Hampshire County Interfaith Emergency Shelter will be gratefully accepted in exchange for this service (hotel-sized shampoos, conditioners & hand soaps, men’s and women’s socks & underwear, small deodorants, toothbrushes & small toothpastes, razors & shaving cream, combs & brushes, women’s hygiene products, gloves & mittens, etc.


The Salvation Army will also be accepting clothing, shoes, accessories and textiles.  Textiles that are unsuitable for reuse or resale will be reprocessed into polishing cloths for industrial use, fibers for insulation, soundproofing, carpet padding and building materials.  Acceptable textiles can be worn, torn, stained or missing buttons- but they must be clean and dry.


Concurrently, a free regional shredding event for confidential papers will be offered to residents and small businesses.  ProShred’s mobile shredding unit will provide confidential destruction of documents on site.  Participants can deliver up to two recycling bins to be safely recycled, and pre-registration is not required.

For more information contact Karen at 413-587-1059 or at kbouquillon@northamptonma.gov, find them Facebook (“Northampton ReUse”) or go to the DPW’s website at www.northamptonma.gov/dpw/Recycling/reuse.

20 Community Service Opportunities in Western MA for Families this Spring

Park Clean Ups & Community Service Activities for Families this Spring in Western MA

In addition to these volunteer park clean-ups and trail maintenance opportunities, Hilltown Families will be hosting a Family Community Service Event on May 4th bringing families together under one roof to participate in hands-on volunteer projects for seven non-profit and community organizations in Western MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

As spring warms the landscape across western Massachusetts, opportunities for outdoor adventures increase exponentially. What would have been a snowshoe trek and bark inspection a month ago has become a woods hike where families can identify plants, trees, and wildlife of all shapes and sizes.

However, as the ground awakes from its snow-covered slumber, trails and parks are in need of some restoration and there are plenty of opportunities for families to volunteer together, including during DCR’s Massachusetts Park Serve Day on Saturday, April 20th, Mass Audubon’s 7th Annual Statewide Volunteer Day on April 27th, and stocking the Connecticut River Watershed with Salmon Fry throughout the spring.

All  of these volunteer opportunities, and many other community service work days, aim to bring together community members for a day of reconnecting with nature and cooperative work while providing service based learning experiences! Community service is a great way to show your appreciation for local resources as a family, and participating in volunteer work can help kids develop a strong commitment to their community and their surroundings. Kids can use volunteer work to learn useful skills for everything from hands-on tasks (like trail maintenance) to social skills (such as working in intergenerational settings).

20 Community Service Opportunities in Western MA this Spring

  • Wednesday, April 10th from 5:30-7pm: Families with older children and train with the Housatonic Valley Association to be part of their Stream Team Project volunteer crew.  Walk or paddle a stretch of the river and report your findings.  Interest meeting at the Dewey Memorial Building. 413-394-9796. Sheffield, MA
  • Saturday, April 13th from 9am-12noon: Look Park is open for the season, but the grounds need some attention!  There are leaves & down branches galore from the October blizzard that need to be cleaned up.  Bring your family and come to the park ready to work (BYO rake and gloves).  Your help ensures that the park remains a valued community resource!  413-727-8457.  300 North Main Street.  Florence, MA.
  • Sunday, April 14th from 1-4pm:  Looking for a way to give back to your community by volunteering with your family? How about a spring clean-up? Greenfield Energy Park’s opening performance will be its annual spring clean-up. Greenthumbers invites families with children of all ages to come and join the fun. Some tools will be provided, but please bring your favorite clippers, rake, shovel, tarp or bucket. 413-774-5667. Energy Park.  Greenfield, MA
  • Wednesday, April 17th from 5-6:45pm: Families with older children can train with the Housatonic Valley Association to be part of their Stream Team Project volunteer crew.  Walk or paddle a stretch of the river and report your findings.  Interest meeting at the Mason Library. 413-394-9796. Great Barrington, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 8am-1pm Earth Day Cleanup!  Meet at the Masonic Lodge and volunteer for the morning cleaning up the environment.  Families welcomed.  Bring waterproof boots, work gloves, and a desire to help clean the environment! Meet at the Masonic Lodge. 413-572-6281. 72 Broad Street. Westfield, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9-11am: Clean up Whately for Earth Day!  Bring the kids and pick up roadside litter debris.  Meet outside of the Town Hall (rain date: 4/21). Whately, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-12noon: Families with children ages 10 and older are invited to the annual Meadows Spring clean-up at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.  Working out in the field, wear work clothes and bring gloves & water. Pre-register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA 
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Clean up the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail! Families with children ages 8yo and older can assist with cleaning up the trail and landscaping. Call for exact location: 413-499-7003. Cheshire, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Chicopee State Park clean up!  Families with children ages 8yo and older can help plant flowers, spread mulch, stain picnic talbes and do general trail maintenance.  Meet at the DCR Park Headquarters. 413-594-9416. 570 Burnett Rd. Chicopee, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Lend a hand to The Trustees of Reservations sprucing up Peaked Mountain.  Bring work gloves, water & snack.  Call to pre-register. : 413-532-1631 x21. Butler Road. Monson, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-2pm: Join the patrons of the Ramsdell Library for a day of cleaning up along the banks of the Housatonic River.  Meet at the library for an assigned route to clean-up. Pizza at the Brick House at noon for all volunteers. Screening of “Fold, Crumple, Crush” in the library theater at 2pm. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9:30am-1pm: Families with older children can help clean up DAR State Forest.  Help prepare for the upcoming camping season by raking campsites & day use picnic areas.  Meet at the campground pavilion. 413-268-7098. Route 112. Goshen, MA

Read the rest of this entry »

Earth Day 2012 in Western MA

Recycle T-Shirt Sign

Earth Day Weekend 2012

Earth Day is this weekend and there are several ways families can be eco and community minded this weekend and next.


Volunteering in their community can help kids learn to appreciate the resources available to them, and spring clean-ups are a great way to get involved. Here are five community service clean-ups which families can take part in:

  1. In Plainfield the Historical Society will be planting sugar maples, a tree with great importance to our local culture and history. Join them in planting more of these important natural resources for generations to come.
  2. In Great Barrington families can volunteer to prepare the Housatonic Riverwalk for the summer (River walk tours follow the clean up).
  3. In Williamstown the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation welcomes families to help them clear land and mark a new trail.
  4. And families can help clean up  downtown Westfield at one of many locations around town.
  5. Then next weekend the Springfield Museums invites families to come help them clean up their grounds.


Looking for an Earth Day community celebration? The annual Amherst Sustainability Festival happens on the town common this Saturday and on Sunday there will be an Earth Day Festival at the Springfield Museums! Both events will have live music, hands-on activities, and opportunities to discover the work of eco-friendly businesses and non-profits.


Other ways the community is marking Earth Day include a screening of The Lorax at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, a seed-planting activity at River Valley Market in Northampton, earth-friendly crafts made out of recycled bottles at the Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield, and the Great Cloth Diaper Change happening simultaneously in both the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley.


Looking for ideas on how to participate in Earth Day, every day? Here are four recycling ideas:

  1. Trophy Recycling Program: Do you have old trophies cluttering up your attic from your days of glory? Did you know there is a Trophy Recycling Program you can donate those beauties to to support non-profit organizations? Find out how you can conduct a Trophy Recycling Drive and collect trophies to be passed along rather than ending up in a landfill or on the free table at your next tag sale!
  2. Keys for Kindness: How many old, unidentified keys can your kids find in your junk drawer? Have them take a look, pull them out, and mail them off to Keys for Kindness. Every key mailed in goes towards raising money for M.S., and is an excellent way to recycle keys from previous cars, unused locks and unknown origins!
  3. National Crayon Recycling Program: Did you know there is a National Crayon Recycling Program that families, schools, day cares, restaurants, etc. can send their unwanted, broken and rejected crayons to for recycling?  Find out how this program works and how you can set up a crayon collect in your local school, library, or community center.
  4. Recycling Shoes into Art: Wondering what to do with that single shoe(s) that is missing it’s matching pair? Donate it to the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls this Friday, April 20th! They are hosting a free shoe-decorating workshop for the village Art Walks and welcome the donation of shoes (single or paired). Drop by any time between 3-7pm this Friday to donate and/or decorate! Art Garden is located at 14 Depot St.

Looking for more ideas? Local families in Western Mass offer helpful tips showing that it IS easy being green. Here are over 10 suggestions on how to celebrate Earth Day and make each day a little greener. Get inspired and share your own idea and inspire others!

Suggested Events for April 21st-27th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


Earth Day Events

With Earth Day on Sunday, there are many ways families can be eco and civic minded this weekend and next, including opportunities to swap, giveaway and recycle clothes and textiles! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.


Saturday, April 21st from 11am-12noon in Berkshire Co. – CULTURAL STUDIES: Learn about the history of shadow puppetry in cultures all around the world with Nanny’s Puppets!  The program, which takes place at the Ramsdell Library, will look as the development of shadow puppets as an art form.  413-274-3738.  1087 Main Street.  Housatonic, MA.  (FREE)

Enter to win a pair of tickets! Deadline: Apr 25th by 7pm.

Saturday, April 21st from 11am-12:30pm in Hampshire Co. – MUSIC  STUDIES: Hear (and learn about!) traditional folk music and how it reflects American history and culture at the Jones Library!  Tom Breiding will share stories (through music) of life during the past 50 years across America.  413-259-3091.  43 Amity Street.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, April 21st from 11am in Franklin Co. – FAMILY PERFORMANCE: Enjoy a pink-themed lunch and a performance of a musical version of the popular children’s book, Pinkalicious!  There will, of course, be pink cupcakes – but don’t eat too many and get pinkitis!  Show begins at 1pm, lunch includes a meet and greet with the show’s cast and crew!  Call to reserve seats: 413-665-1277 ex 1308.  25 Greenfield Road.  Deerfield, MA.  ($)

Sunday, April 22nd from 11am-4pm in Hampden Co. – EARTH DAY: Celebrate Earth Day at the Springfield Museums! There will be live music (featuring environmentally-themed songs), free seedlings, a presentation on a birds of prey rehabilitation program, and displays from many local businesses, nonprofits, and initiatives – all Earth Day-themed! The event is an opportunity to learn about green initiatives happening locally and ways to get involved, as well as a way to celebrate Earth Day! 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)


The Hilltown CDC’s 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will be on Saturday, May 12 at the Cummington Fairgrounds! Entertainment will include live music, workshops, artists & artisans, local food, family contra-dance, kids-made craft bazaar, Maypole, Morris Dancers, and much more!

Saturday, April 28th from 8am-12noon in Hampden Co.  – COMMUNITY SERVICE: Celebrate Earth Day by volunteering with your family to help clean up Springfield’s outdoor spaces!  Sponsored by the Springfield Museums, the clean-up day will include gloves and buckets for volunteers, as well as lunches on a first come, first serve basis.  Meet at Duggan Middle School.  413-263-6800.  1015 Wilbraham Road.  Springfield, MA.  (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, April 28th from 10am-4pm in Berkshire Co. – CLOTHES GIVEAWAY: Gathered Resources of Women (GROW) is hosting a toy and clothes giveaway!  There will be all kinds of gently used kids (and maternity) clothes, as well as great toys, books, etc. for play-hungry kiddos.  Handing down kids items is a great environmentally friendly way of getting “new” things for kids – celebrate Earth Day by refreshing your closets and toy box at the giveaway. Begins April 27th at 4pm, and runs April 28-29 from 10am-4pm. 88 Sheffield Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, April 28th from 10:30-11am in Franklin Co. – ANIMAL ADVENTURES: Learn about all kinds of creatures at Birds, Beasts, and Bugs, a program for kids at the Leverett Library.  Educator Dawn Marvin Ward will help kids learn and guide activities like critter searching, nest making, and more.  413-548-9220.  75 Montague Road.  Leverett, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, April 28th from 11-11:45am in Hampshire Co.  – KIDS’ PERFORMANCE: Miss Leticia Davies performs at Groff Park! Sponsored by the Amherst Family Center, the performance will get kids dancing and singing to fun spring-y music.  Mill Lane.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)


CLOTH DIAPERS: The Great Cloth Diaper Change Western Mass serves to promote the joys of cloth diapering, celebrate Earth Day, and break a World Record! Saturday. April 21st 11:30am at the Florence Community Center, 140 Pine Street, Florence, MA. Colorful cloth diapers galore! Local Eco-Conscious Vendors! Music! Door Prizes! Raffles! Come capture tons of excitement as we attempt to break the Guinness World Record™ of most number of diapers changed simultaneously. Doors Open at 11:30am. World Record Diaper Change Attempt will be at 12:30 sharp! If you don’t already cloth diaper your baby EVEN BETTER! They will have diapers to borrow for the event and there will be demonstrations of various kinds of cloth diapers that are available.

Ashfield Community PreschoolPRESCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: The Ashfield Community Preschool invites you to join them for their annual open house on Saturday, April 28th 10am-Noon.  This event is for families with young children age 2.9 – 5yo who are looking for quality care and small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield, MA. Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing sunflowers, pumpkins and blueberries. The preschool grazes the neighbors’ sheep and llamas in their pastoral setting and offers a six week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists.  Join their staff on April 28th and tour their facility and grounds. 103 Baptist Corner Road. Ashfield, MA.  Call for more information 413-628-3248.

SUPPORT THE BALLET: Dance, Dine, & Indulge at Pioneer Valley Ballet’s Third Annual Silent Auction, “April in Paris,” on Friday, April 27th. Treat yourself to a fabulous night of great live music, wonderful food, and an exceptional silent auction that promises something for everyone.  The theme of this year’s auction is “April in Paris.” The event will be held from 6-9pm at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.  Music will be provided by the Paul Collins Quintet. Performers include: mime Chris Yerlig, dance instructor Andre Russo, and dancers from Pioneer Valley Ballet. Food will be provided by the Log Cabin. Cash bar available. Tickets $35 at the door and $30 in advance by contacting the Ballet at 413.527.6363 or www.pioneervalleyballet.org.

SUMMER CAMP: Adventure Camp: Four two-week sessions, June 25-August 17, 2012 The Bement School Summer Programs offer a preschool program and adventure day camp for boys and girls ages 15 months to 15 years. Adventure Camp provides a traditional day camp experience. Your child will participate in many activities to make his or her summer a memorable one. At the same time, parents can enjoy peace of mind knowing their child is in a safe and caring place. A sibling discount is available for siblings who enroll in multiple sessions. Bement School, Deerfield, 413- 475-3044. www.bement.org/summer. Optional services include: round-trip van transportation (Hadley, Northampton, Amherst), extended day supervision, enrichment programming, and bag lunches.

SUMMER CAMP: Adventures in Chinese: Two two-week sessions, July 16-Aug 10. Campers, ages 5-12 years, participate in activities designed to build vocabulary and confidence in speaking Mandarin Chinese. Campers will gain an understanding of Chinese art, culture and tradition. They will learn daily conversations in Mandarin including listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Bement School, Deerfield. 413-475-3044. www.bement.org/summer. Optional services include: round-trip van transportation (Hadley, Northampton, Amherst), extended day supervision, and bag lunches.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN THE FESTIVAL: The Hilltown Community Development Corporation is signing up local artisans, businesses, non-profit organizations and volunteers for the 6th annual Hilltown Spring Festival, to be held Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  This year’s Festival, which is expected to draw 2,000 visitors, will feature performances and workshops by professional musicians and student musicians, specialty food and drink from Hilltown vendors, displays by businesses, artists and craftspeople, children’s activities all day long, and an all-ages contra-dance beginning at 5pm. Registration forms are at www.hilltowncdc.org, or email sethi@hilltowncdc.org or call 413-296-4536 ext. 112.  The deadline for reserving a space is April 29, 2012.

CITIZEN SCIENTIST: Become a Grassland Bird Monitor at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield and nearby communities by helping survey grassland habitat and assist The Trustees of Reservations in evaluating the management of the grassland and agricultural resources on their properties. Conduct three site visits, record survey results on a standardized data sheet, and submit all data to The Trustees ecology staff. For more information please contact the Trustees of Reservations at jrichburg@ttor.org or call 413.532.1631 x1

April 21st-27th, 2012


Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents | Workshops for Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Three Textile Drives to Recycle Outgrown & Outworn Clothes and Linens

Textile Drives for Earth Week in the Berkshires & Pioneer Valley

Last year nearly 100 schools participated in the oneShirt National Clothing Challenge, collecting over 16 tons of recycled textiles!

What does your family do with outgrown clothes when they’ve already been handed down as many times as possible?  How about participating in a textile drive!

Center for EcoTechnology will be partnering with Goodwill in Pittsfield on Saturday, April 14th for a textile donation drive! Families can also bring documents for shredding, courtesy of Valley Green Shredding, and donate computer and small household appliances. Goodwill is located at 158 Tyler Street and the event will run from 10am-2pm.

Then for Earth Week, Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield is hosting a used clothing drive the week of April 16- 20!  Sponsored by SustainU, a Pittsfield company producing 100% recycled t-shirts, the drive will be taking place on college campuses around the country.  As part of the oneShirt National Clothing Challenge, schools will be competing against each other to collect the largest amount (in terms of weight) of used clothing.  During last year’s drive, over 16 tons of clothes were collected!  Clothes donated will be kept out of landfills and donated to organizations who use recycled clothing sales to provide people with valuable work experience (such as Goodwill).

Donating clothing is a way to de-clutter your closets in a way that is environmentally friendly, and it can teach kids about disposing of unwanted items responsibly.  Clothes can be dropped off at Berkshire Community College’s Susan B. Anthony Lounge or at Goodwill Industries at 158 Tyler Street in Pittsfield (bags must be marked BCC Clothing Drive) between April 16th and 20th.  For more information, contact the BCC Student Life Office at 413-236-1660.

And the week will conclude with a textile drive to benefit the Amherst Survival Center and the Fisher Home Hospice Shop at the 3rd Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival in Amherst on Saturday, April 21st from 10am-4pm.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Nick Zadrozny

Third Annual Sustainability Festival on the Common in Amherst

Amherst Sustainability Festival on the Town Common
Saturday, April 21st, 2012

The Raging Grannies performed at the 1st Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival in 2010, singing for peace and justice. This year at the 3rd Annual Festival, featured talent includes the Piti Theatre Company, Carrie Ferguson, Jay Mankita, Who’da Funk It and Iroko Nuevo.

Stephanie Ciccarello, Amherst Sustainability Festival Coordinator, writes:

The 3rd Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival is being held on Saturday, April 21st from 10am-4pm on the Amherst Town Common.  There’s something for everyone!  Learn how you can save money via energy efficiency in your home and/or business, learn about tree care, participate in an Eco-Hero scavenger hunt and see live entertainment, hula hoops, play games, face painting and more! Support local artisans, sustainable product and energy suppliers, as well as non-profit and other agencies, by shopping at over 100 vendor booths.

  • This year’s featured talent includes the Piti Theatre Company, Carrie Ferguson, Jay Mankita, Who’da Funk It and Iroko Nuevo.
  • See baby goats, demonstrations by Pure Flight Disc Golf and Ultimate, martial arts by Moving Zen Karate, hooping by Alottahoopla and electric vehicle displays by the Pioneer Valley Electric Automobile Association.
  • Booth demonstrations include Lou Leelyn of Lou’s Upcycles.
  • Arbor Day highlights feature bucket lift rides, tree identification activities and games led by Jim Terruso, Mt. Tom Park Ranger, free seedlings provided by WD Cowls Inc., Land Company and a display of the Amherst school’s 4th – 6th grade entrants and winners of the Arbor Day poster contest!
  • Bring your unwanted clean and dry clothing, bedding, linens, stained and worn out items to benefit the Amherst Survival Center and the Fisher Home Hospice Shop.
  • The Spring Street Farmer’s Market will kick off their 2012 season between the North and South Common.
  • The festival is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company, the Berkshire Gas Energy Efficiency Program, the Town of Amherst, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.
  • For more information visit our website: www.amherstma.gov/sustainabilityfestival

Suggested Events 04/23/11-04/29/11

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


Hoop trundling at the Historic Deerfield this past weekend during their Patriot's Day Revolutionary Muster & Parade. Click on the image above to see more photos in this series. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you


On Saturday, April 23rd, your family can celebrate Earth Day at multiple locations, including an Earth Day Fair in Pittsfield, Eco-Fair in Northampton, Sustainability Festival in  Amherst, and an Earth Day Festival in Easthampton.  All details listed under our Saturday events here.

On Sunday, April 24th from 2-4pm – FARM ADVENTURE: Winterberry Farm’s Lambs’ Open House! Visit newborn baby lambs, as well as (maybe) some baby rabbits, ducklings, and/or goslings. There will definitely be chicks! Donations will be collected for Right Sharing of World Resources. 21 Teawaddle Hill Road. 413-548-3940. Leverett, MA. (FUNDRAISER)


Mark your calendars for the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival! Three music stages 16 fabulous musical performances, including family concerts with The Nields, Mister G, Ben Rudnick and Friends, Sarah Pirtle and Lui Collins! - Great local food! - Kids-Made Craft Bazaar! - Solar powered stage! - Sustainable vendors! - May pole & Morris Dancers! - Kids under 12 free. All others only $5 per person!

Saturday, April 30th at 10am, 12Noon & 3pm- FAMILY TRAIN RIDES: Take a ride on a train from Pittsfield to Lenox and back on the historic Housatonic Railroad as part of Pittsfield’s 250th anniversary celebration. Pre-ticketing only- tickets can be found at City Hall, the Colonial Theater, or the Berkshire Atheneaum. 232 West Housatonic Street. 413-443-7201. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

In the Hilltowns on Saturday, April 30th from 10am-12Noon – FAMILY DAY: Take the kids to Guyette Farm to build a blue bird house with the Franklin Land Trust. Call to register 413-625-9151 x108. Plainfield, MA ($)

Sunday, May 1st at 10:30am – MAY DAY FESTIVAL: Join the Great Barrington Rudolph Steiner School in celebrating May Day! There will be all sorts of celebratory activities including a puppet performance, dancing, games, and a BYO picnic! 35 West Plain Road. 413-528-4015. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

In the afternoon on Sunday, May 1st at 2pm – FAMILY THEATER: Ja’Duke presents the musical “Doctor Dolittle” at Greenfield High School. 1 Lenox Avenue. 413-863-0001. Greenfield, MA. ($)


GREAT CLOTH DIAPER CHANGE: The Great Cloth Diaper Change Western Mass happens on Sat., April 23rd at the Florence Community Center (140 Pine St.). This event promotes the joys of cloth diapering, celebrates Earth Day, connects families, & will set a WORLD RECORD! Bring your child & a cloth diaper and be a part of history! There will be extra cloth diapers on hand if needed. – Doors open at 11:30am and the change happens PROMPTLY at 12:30pm, synchronized with thousands of changes around the globe! – There will be prizes, snacks, speakers, music & local vendors. $1 Donation to Real Diaper Association. For more info email jmontagna10@gmail.com. Sponsors of the GCDC: Mother Herb Diaper Service, Cradle, Motherwear, Second Chances, Cup & Top Café, Warm Welcome Birth Services & Loveybums.

OPEN HOUSE: The Ashfield Community Preschool invites you to their Open House on Saturday, April 30th from 10am-12noon. Come and meet their dedicated teachers who create a warm, loving environment for your children. Located in the heart of the hilltowns of Western MA, near the center of Ashfield, the preschool is a child centered, creative and loving environment surrounded by a large playground and enchanted woodland trails. The preschool is accepting applications for their summer and fall programs at this time. Full and half days available. For more information call 628-3248 or stop by on Saturday, April 30th from 10am-12Noon at 103 Baptist Corner Road, Ashfield, MA. acpres@verizon.net

Alison Krauss

Deadline to enter to win: May 6th

KID-GEAR SALE: On May 7th from 8am-12noon, the South Hadley Family Center will host their 4th annual Mom-to-Mom Sale, an event where moms (and families) get the opportunity to sell clothes, toys, books, etc. that their children have outgrown. Table rental is $15, and proceeds will go directly to the Family Center. If you have items to get rid of but don’t want to participate in the sale, you can drop them off at the Family Center and they will be sold to raise money for the center. For more information, please contact shfcckids@yahoo.com.

POSTPARTUM SUPPORT: On Saturday, April 30th from 12noon-1:30pm, there will be a initial meeting of the Berkshire County Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalition. The meeting is an opportunity for care providers in Berkshire County to discuss how to best create a support network for mothers that utilizes all of the resources available in the area. Contributing organizations include Berkshire Children and Families, MotherWoman, Gathered Resources of Women, and more! The meeting will take place at the Redfield House at 48 Elizabeth Street in Pittsfield. To RSVP, contact liz@motherwoman.org.

HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION: South Berkshire Household Hazardous Waste Collaborative has scheduled their spring collection events. The first paint and oil collection is Saturday, April 30th from 9-11:39am at the Great Barrington Recycling Center, and there will be six more to follow. Families must register in order to drop off your hazardous waste. To do so, contact Avie Maloney at 413-445-4556. For more information, visit www.cetonline.org.

Lucindia Williams

Deadline to enter to win: May 6th

TUESDAY MARKET: Northampton’s beloved Tuesday market will be awakening from its winter slumber on May 3rd! However, before then the market, alone with Grow Food Northampton, needs to raise $4,000 in order to ensure that the food stamp (SNAP benefits) program offered at the market last summer can remain. The program not only allows the market to accept food stamps but offers double benefits- shoppers can use $10 of benefits for $20 of local food. To make a (tax deductible) donation of any amount, checks can be made out to Grow Food Northampton (include “FoodStampsx2 Program” in memo line) and mailed to PO Box 849, Northampton, MA 01061.

Read the rest of this entry »

Families in Western MA Offer Earth Day Eco-Tips

Earth Day Eco-Tips from Western MA Families

"Eat food from the earth not from a box to reduce the amount of packaging thrown into landfills." - Cheli Mennella of Colrain, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

“Egg cartons make great seed starters! Windows sills are wonderful places to grow the tiny seeds! Kids love to watch life happen inside and outside their world!” – Elizabeth Jensen (Leeds, MA)

“Toilet paper rolls become trumpets in our house.” – Jessica Morris (Northampton, MA)

“My daughter Kacia, age 8, is fanatical about litter. We recently went to the Energy Park clean up and Kacia was very disappointed to be weeding instead of picking up trash! She grabs it everywhere we go; on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, on the grass. She tells people not to drop it on the ground and really notices when others do so. Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” – Pam and Kacia Kinsmith (Greenfield, MA)

“Stop buying bottled water! There are so many beautiful water bottles you can buy and re use. Our tap water is great, give it a try! Also, unplug your phone charger when you are not using it (all chargers). And don’t let the water run when you are brushing your teeth or doing dishes.” – Anna

“We unplug electronics when we are not using them. We also reuse plastic bags!” – Kristy Dyer (Hatfield, MA)

“Eat food from the earth not from a box to reduce the amount of packaging thrown into landfills.” – Cheli Mennella (Colrain, MA)

“Reuse bread bags and produce bags to wrap food items, everything from cheese to sandwiches to leftovers. no need to buy ziplocs, ever.” – Sandra Dias (Holyoke, MA)

“We line dry our clothes almost all year long. They smell great and the sun works as a natural sanitizer. This is especially useful for cloth diapers and towels.” – Robyn

“Recycling is a great thing, my son Joseph and I spread the word and help people learn what items go in what recycle bin. We have fun doing it .” – Lynda Medina

“We put our wireless router and all those miscellaneous computer appliances all on 2 easy to reach power strips. When we leave the house or go to bed, we turn the power off. There was a noticeable drop in our electric bills when we started this and we’re not wasting energy to power things we’re not using.” – Beth Caissi (Greenfield, MA)

“Here are my daughter Zoe’s environmental tips: No paper cups (she holds me to this one); No plastic spoons forks or knives; No plastic bags; Compost; Recycle; Repurpose; and Plant trees.” – Zoe and Tony(a) in Ashfield MA

Giant Earth Day Ball Aims to Educate

Northampton Public Schools Join Together to Make a Giant Earth Day Ball!

Charlotte Causton on Northampton, MA writes:

"The ball will be available to schools and environmental groups wishing to display it as an educational tool in promoting respect for the environment and the reduction of waste," writes Charlotte Causton.

All Northampton Public Schools will work together in April to make the largest ball ever made entirely of single-use plastic shopping bags. The event will culminate on April 23rd at Northampton’s Earth Day celebration in Pulaski Park when the ball will be rolled down the streets of Northampton and into the park. In a tribute to the inspiring kids’ book, Theo and the Giant Plastic Ball, published by the United Nations Environmental Program, Green Action in Northampton Schools, GREEN Northampton and the Center for EcoTechnology are coordinating this project to raise awareness of the environmental impact of using plastic bags in stores and get Northampton to become a bring your own bag shopping district.


This project is an opportunity for Northampton schools to work together and make an impact on our local environment. All four elementary schools in the district, JFK Middle School, and the Environmental Club at Northampton High School have signed up for the program and teachers and students are busy collecting bags. Classrooms are collecting used plastic bags from their homes and family/friends’ homes that are being tied together to form a rope. The number of bags tied together by the class are being counted and recorded. Plastic bag ropes from the different classrooms will be joined together and a total count taken on 15 April, after which the ropes will be picked up by volunteers and taken to a central location. During spring break students and volunteers will assemble the ball ready for the Earth Day celebration on Saturday April 23rd. After the Earth Day celebration, the ball will be available to schools and environmental groups wishing to display it as an educational tool in promoting respect for the environment and the reduction of waste. Teachers are also using this project as an educational opportunity for hands-on math and science/energy conservation investigations.


WGBY, GREEN Northampton and the City of Northampton have teamed up as they did in April 2010 to hold an Earth Day Eco- Fair on April 23 in Pulaski Park in Northampton. The Giant Earth Day Ball will be the star among one of over 20 environmental and recycling based exhibits and activities for families and children available between 10a.m.-4:00pm. WGBY will hold an Earth Day film festival at the Academy of Music. WRSI  will once again provide a stage and live entertainment from 12:00-4:00pm in Pulaski park and in Amherst at the Amherst Sustainability Festival which will also be held on the town Common from 10-4:00. The Earth day Planning committee hopes that Fair goers will visit both venues and encourage visitors to take a bus or use the bike trail to the different events.

Photo credit: (ccl) mtsofan

Earth Day 40th Birthday Media Giveaway

Three Great Media Giveaways In Honor of Earth Day

This year commemorates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, and Western Mass is filled with events that raise awareness and honor the planet.  In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th Birthday, here on Hilltown Families we have a fantastic media collection to giveaway to one very lucky family.  Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 04/28/10 @ 7pm. Details below.

Here’s what being offered in our Earth Day 40th Birthday Media Giveaway:

  • CD – The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends, Ask the Planet
  • DVDHe’s Got the Whole World in His Hands … and More Stories to Celebrate the Environment
  • BOOKA Child’s Introduction to The Environment by M. Driscoll & D. Driscoll

The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends, Ask the Planet (CD)

Ask the Planet is a great educational CD designed to reconnect children to their natural environment while discovering concepts of biomimicry. Released last year, this album was created by the Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends. “Friends” on this CD include: Dar Williams, Ani DiFranco, Erin McKeown, Bill Harley, Amy Martin, Brandi Carlile, Laura Love, Bill Sims, Jr. and Bruce Cockburn. A stellar cast of musicians!

Educators have long called for more creative and palatable approaches to raising awareness about environmental problems. Given the reality of the current ecological crisis, it is challenging to develop the emotional connection to the natural world that creates caring without instilling fear or hopelessness. Today’s children need positive solutions and realistic tools, such as biomimicry, to address the environmental challenges that they will grow up with. There is a teaching guide that can be downloaded on-line that supplements Ask the Planet.  The guide includes curriculum for grade school children.

Songs on this album like “The Great TV Rebellion” (with Ani DiFranco) and “Start From Here” (with Amy Martin) (both featured this week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show 3Rs Episode) will inspire and motivate kids to make change in this world. This award winning album can be used as an educational tool in both formal and non-formal settings.

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands … and More Stories to Celebrate the Environment (DVD)

Coming out this April, Scholastic Storybook Treasures will release He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands … and More Stories to Celebrate the Environment on DVD. Featuring a guide for parents and kids with tips on how to be green, the 60 minute DVD includes a wonderful adaptation of this beloved folk song, illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Kadir Nelson and sung by Crystal Taliefero. With environmental issues top of mind, this DVD is perfect for a new generation of eco-conscious kids ages 5 and up.

Additional stories in this celebration of all things green include Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon about a magical, night-time walk through the snowy woods in search of the Great Horned Owl; “Come On, Rain!” an ode to a good, soaking rainstorm by Karen Hesse, narrated by Laila Ali, and the appreciative Thanksgiving address, “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message”, written and narrated by Chief Jake Swamp. Three bonus stories include “The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks” narrated by B.D. Wong and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, multiple Caldecott Medal winners who’ve also received five New York Times Best Illustrated Book Awards; “Patrick”, written and illustrated by Quentin Blake, and a live-action adaptation “A Boy, A Dog and a Frog”, based on the book illustrated by Mercer Mayer.

A Child’s Introduction to the Environment (Book)

A Child’s Introduction to the Environment by Michael Driscoll and Professor Dennis Driscoll is both an activity and educational book that gives a tour through text and lovely watercolor illustrations by Meredith Hamilton of the air, earth and sea.  Through experiments, projects and hands-on activities, young environmentalists (ages 9 & up) will find this beautifully illustrated gem a great resource for studying the planet.

Opportunities for kids to learn how they can help solve some of our eco-challenges are highlighted in sections titled, “How You Can Help!”  Experiments like “Make a Smog Detector” and “Make Your Own Ice Sheet” allow kids to test and explore what they learn.  And the book comes with a reusable lunch sack, stickers with save-the-Earth messages, and a poster.

Key words are highlighted throughout the text for kids to add to their eco-vocabulary, like coniferous, hibernation, aquifers and plankton.  And in the back of the book is a handy glossary of all these new words.   A Child’s Introduction to the Environment is a great tool for teaching children about the earth or letting them read and learn themselves!


Your chance to win our Earth Day 40th Birthday Media Giveaway is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!

To win simply:

  1. SHARE BELOW AN ECO-TIP WITH OTHER FAMILIES (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) PLEASE include your town and state to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 04/28/10 @ 7pm (EST).

Events to Mark Earth Day in Western Mass

40th Anniversary of Earth Day

April 22nd, 2010 marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. This month we have many opportunities to work towards building a healthy community as local organizations, community members, museums, and schools all over Western Massachusetts are offering up ways to participate and join together to create a clean environment and sustainable economy.  Movies are being screened and songs are being sung; classes on gardening and sustainability are being offered; opportunities to recycle and clean-up;  nature studies, art, local food … the celebrations and opportunities are abundant this month.

With the excellent help of Susan Olshuff, we’ve put together a list of events in April that address the concerns and needs of our communities here in Western Ma, with locations ranging from Pittsfield out to Amherst, from Greenfield down to Springfield.  Below are many opportunities to get involved, explore your local environment and entertain/educate your family.  And more events are coming in, so check back often as this list is updated.  If you have an Earth Day event to share, please post in the comment box at the end of this list: Read the rest of this entry »

Have you done your Earth Day shopping yet?

Marketing Earth Day (and Other Stuff) to Children
By Susan Linn and Josh Golin

Have you done your Earth Day shopping yet? Between greeting cards, jewelry, mugs, and teddy bears commemorating the day, its roots in environmental activism have all but been forgotten. Now corporations use Earth Day to sell us on the belief that we can buy our way into ecological sustainability. We can’t.

Reducing consumption is essential to preserving the earth’s resources and preventing its degradation. The same companies that are painting themselves green depend on the profits they earn convincing us to buy more than we need.

Nowhere is this more obvious, and more troubling, than in the world of children’s media and marketing, where companies like Disney, Sesame Workshop, and Nickelodeon are eco-marketing as never before.

Read the rest at Huffington Post.

Suggested Events 04/18/09-05/01/09

Fox Den in West Chesterfield, MA

Fox Den: Mama fox with her kits in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


Earth Day is this Wednesday.  Included below are events happening on and for Earth Day for families.  Check out the side bar for links to on-line resources for Earth Day too.


This week’s list of suggested events will include the weekends of April 18th/19th and April 25th/26th, along with event links for Earth Day.  Be sure to check out our  “Suggest an Event” page for event happening during spring vacation week, along with our “Suggest a Camp” page.  If you didn’t get you event posted on our “Suggest an Event” page on time, no worries … go ahead and post it and families can find events there.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page.

Northampton Puppet Festival (April 20-25, 2009)

Northampton Puppet Festival. Click on image to see a full schedule of shows.


Puppet Festival in Northampton!  Marionettes take the stage at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA during the April School Vacation period, April 20-23, 2009. The finest puppet companies in New England will bring the magical world of Marionette Theater to Northampton every morning of School Vacation with two shows daily: 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Each day a different show will be presented.  Click on the image to see a full schedule of events.


Tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturdays from 9-10am on Valley Free Radio (VFR), 103.3FM (Northampton, MA), or listen via streaming audio at www.ValleyFreeRadio.org for an encore presentation of the Bill Harley Episode.

Every Saturday VFR offers four hours of commercial-free, quality family program from 6-10am, including Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child from 7am-9am. It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons!

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings and Delays | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 04/18

Read the rest of this entry »

Call for Participants: EarthWeek 2009 at UMass

Brittni Reilly of Amherst, MA writes:

This year, UMass Amherst is hoping to join together the larger Pioneer Valley Community to celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd, 2009) with festivities, workshops, information sessions, a keynote speaker, and community building. We are hoping to recruit people engaged in progressive, environmentally responsible projects working towards the greater goal of sustainability in the Pioneer Valley. We are having a preliminary meeting this Friday  (March 27th, 2009) at the Campus Center (see letter below for details), and if you are interested in attending that, then you would be most welcome to send a representative of your organization/project. If you have any interest in becoming involved in any way (from tabling, selling wares, donating funds, to hosting a workshop) than we would be most interested in hearing from you.

EarthWeek 2009 letter: Read the rest of this entry »

Web Review: Earth Day Movies

HFVS Earth Day 2007 Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Earth Day 2007 Episode

Hilltown Family Variety Show
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM
Northampton, MA
Tuesdays at 7pm

April 17th, 2007

New Podcasts ♦ Archived PodcastsSubscribe to Podcast
Radio ♦ FacebookTwitter



  • Pete Seeger – “Oh Sacred World”
  • Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer – “Gentle Arms of Eden”
  • Malvina Reynolds – “Little Boxes”
  • Dr. Seuss – “The Lorax”
  • Pete Seeger – “50/50 Chance”
  • Pete Seeger – “One Grain of Sand” (excerpt)


You can’t discuss music and the environment without mentioning folk singer Pete Seeger. Seeger founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an environmental organization that advocates and educates to protect the Hudson River. I took my daughter last summer on a sail for Clearwater members.  My daughter took an interest in Seeger after that sail. We borrowed “American Folk, Games and Activity Songs” by Pete Seeger from our library. It’s a great CD to introduce this noteworthy folk singer to your kids. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: