27 Community Highlights: Unquomonk Mountain to Ice Glen. Medieval Music to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Turkeys to Cougars. Unquomonk Mountain to Ice Glen. Medieval Music to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Roosevelt to Kennedy

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  Do wild turkeys make their nest in trees or on the ground? How far can they fly? What kind of sounds do they make? What kinds of habitats do they need to thrive in? Find the answers to these questions and discover the history about Massachusetts state bird this Saturday morning, November 16th, during a Turkey Family Program at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden. Families can also learn about the history of turkeys in Massachusetts and the United States, and then go out on the trails and search for evidence of turkeys with naturalist, Kevin Kopchynski.

Animal StudiesLocal HistoryNatural HistoryMusic StudiesPresidential HistoryCultural StudiesArtWomen’s HistoryCommunity ServiceParent Workshop

Animal Studies

Do wild turkeys make their nest in trees or on the ground? How far can they fly? What kind of sounds do they make? What kinds of habitats do they need to thrive in? Find the answers to these questions and the history about Massachusetts state bird this Saturday morning, November 16th, during a Turkey Family Program at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden. Families can also learn about the history of turkeys in Massachusetts and the United States, and then go out on the trails and search for evidence of turkeys with naturalist, Kevin Kopchynski. Younger children (3-6yo) can also learn about wild turkeys on Friday morning, November 22nd, at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls.

Cougars, or Pumas, were presumed to be gone from this region decades ago, but if that’s true, how can we explain the new field evidence and reports of sightings? Are other animals being mistaken for a cougar, are they being release into the wild, or is there a self sustaining population amongst us? On Tuesday evening,  November 19th in Northfield, author Robert Tougias will present, “The Quest for the Eastern Cougar,” at Dickinson Memorial Library, to discuss his findings. Tougias will also be at the Adawam Library on Tuesday evening, December 10th.

Local History

Dig in deep to the history of the Chicopee and how it’s early founding families impacted the development of the Pioneer Valley.  On Tuesday evening, November 19th, the Chicopee Public Library presents “Chicopee’s Rich and Famous,” a free lecture by local historian Steve Jendrysik. He will talk about many of the early leaders of the city,  show historical photos of homes, businesses, and discuss families and their lineage.

We drive by forests and fields every day that may have once held farms, taverns, or Native American villages, all of which could now be prime archaeological sites. University of Massachusetts archaeologist and lecturer in anthropology, Dr. Eric Johnson, will share images and tales of archaeological finds from across Massachusetts including indigenous people’s rock shelters and villages, colonial backyards and taverns, even the maintenance garage for an early mass-transit company on Wednesday evening at Northfield Mountain. While the stories shared are from other parts of the Commonwealth, many of the same land uses occurred in Franklin County, so artifacts shown and lessons learned throughout more than 10,000 years of archaeological history could easily be applied in our local area. Participants may bring artifacts for possible identification by Dr. Johnson.

In the late 1700′s, the Tyringham Shake Village in the Berkshires was established, but it’s founding history stretches down into the Pioneer Valley into Belchertown.  On Thursday evening, November 21st, the Belchertown Historical Association’s Stone House Speaker Series presents, “Tyringham Shakers and the Belchertown Connection,” by Stephen Paterwic. The talk centers on this small Shaker community, and the Belchertown families that helped found it. Discover local history through the lens of this relatively unknown Shaker community in Berkshire County.

What stories would a letter written by a young women attending Mt. Holyoke College in the early 1800′s contain?  Would they have been sharing stories about their success in learning or social engagements?  Maybe, but they would also have been sharing stories about illnesses and dying at the college as Elizabeth Sharpe will share in her talk,  “A Most Affecting Event,” on Friday, November 22nd at noon. The Amherst Historical Society hosts History Bites, a free lunchtime history talk, and will host Sharpe at the Simeon Strong House.

Natural History

As animals, insects, and deciduous trees and shrubs nestle down for the winter, hiking into various habitats can provide open views otherwise impeded by summer and fall foliage and biting insects.  The Berkshire Natural Resources Council is leading a hike through Thousand Acre Swamp, which is a New Marlborough Land Preservation Trust property on Saturday morning, November 16th. The hike is easy and has very little elevation gain, making this a good activity for all ages and abilities. Participants can look for milkweed pods and cattails while enjoying beautiful views and investigating the remnants of an old mill.

Who knows where Unquomonk Mountain is in the Hilltowns? It’s ranked the 55766th highest mountain in the United States and it’s located in WilliamsburgHike to the top on Sunday morning, November 17th, with Smith College geology professor Robert Newton, and learn about the formation of this Hilltown “mountain” by hearing natural history tales and see the remnants from past periods of glaciation that sculpted the terrain.

Did you know that there is an old-growth forest in Stockbridge, and running through it is a glacial ravine known as Ice Glen?  On Wednesday morning, November 20th, discover Ice Glen with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council on a guided hike. Maintained by the nation’s oldest village improvement society (Laurel Hill Association, 1853), participants can climb up Laura’s Tower (built in the 30′s) for wide open views of Ice Glen, getting clearer look with a better understanding of the natural history of the area.

Music Studies

When you think of musical instruments, what comes to mind? The electric guitar? Piano? Violin? How about the vielle, crumhorn or harp? The First Congregational Church of Williamstown is hosting a free concert by Woodbinde Medieval Band on Sunday afternoon, November 17th.  The Band will perform “Alas, Departynge is Ground of Woe,” a concert of European music from the High Middle Ages (1200-1500), offering attendees a chance to listen and learn about music from an interesting time in history and to see many of the historic instruments that were used, including: crumhorn, finger cymbals, gemshorn, harp, recorder, rebec, Renaissance flute, and vielle.

Learn about the business behind rock ‘n’ roll, first hand! On Sunday afternoon, the Lenox Library’s Distinguished Lecture Series is hosting “The Glory Days of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Business: An Insider’s Perspective,” presented by Tom Werman. Werman produced albums in the 1970s and ‘80s and is an expert on the subject. He will discuss his rise in the record industry, some of the musical groups with whom he worked.

Brass instruments can conjure up images of great jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Wynton Marsalis, but brass instruments lend to the music of many, not just the genre of jazz, and not just trombones and saxophones. On Wednesday evening, November 20th, the UMass Amherst Music and Dance Department presents the Low Brass Fest – Music from the Horn, Trombone, and Tuba/Euphonium Studios, Plus: University Brass Choir. Musicians will perform orchestra pieces by Brahms, Handel, Kawai, and more, along with original compositions.

Presidential History

Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of the country’s leading presidential historians, will speak at Mt. Holyoke College’s Chapin Auditorium in South Hadley on Saturday afternoon, November 16th, about her new book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Just as much a talk about Presidents from the dawning of the Progressive era, Goodwin’s talk will be about the history of journalism and reporting too, and how relationships between Presidents and reporters brought about reform during a tumultuous time.

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country…” November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Meekins Library is recalling the legacy of JFK with friends and neighbors at the Library’s free Remembering JFK” community event on Thursday evening, November 21st in Williamsburg. Much loved, Kennedy’s 1000 plus days as President were not without controversy.  Events included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the early stages of the Vietnam War, his domestic “New Frontier” program, and the creation of the Peace Corps. Come listen to recordings and watch videos of JFK and share stories in order to remember his presidential years. Adults can remember and share their memories, while younger attendees can learn about JFK and his legacy.

Cultural Studies

The full moon of each month is known by name to Native American nations.  November’s full moon is called the Beaver Moon, a time to set out beaver traps in the swamps before they froze.  Beavers were a source of warm fur for many and their pelts ensured that families would stay warm during the long winter months. on Saturday, November 16th, the Nolumbecka Project is sponsoring a Beaver Moon Celebration in the Great Falls Discovery Center’s Great Hall in Turners Falls. Families can enjoy Native American music, demonstrations, and children’s activities. Stone tool-making and primitive fire-making demonstrations will be offered too. Come learn about Native American culture and music in western Massachusetts at this free community event.

Can ice cream help heal the past and create a new future? In 1994, Rwanda suffered a devastating genocide where nearly 1,000,000 were killed. Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe which includes women from both sides of 1994 Rwandan genocide and offers a supportive, healing environment. On Sunday evening, November 17th at the Amherst Cinema, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding present Sweet Dreams, a film which follows the group’s journey as they partner with Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream to open Rwanda’s first ice cream shop. Karuna board member Joseph Sebarenzi will be present for a question-and-answer session about the film.


Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor and environmentalist, is well know for his outdoor art installations that use brightly colored petals, leaves, twigs, stone and ice to create ephemeral works of nature based art.  On Saturday afternoon, November 16th, Katywil Farm Community in Colrain is holding an afternoon of art-making, inspired by the work of  Goldsworthy.  Everyone is welcomed to come participate in this intergenerational, outdoor art-making activity!

Did you know that all snowflakes are six-sided, yet no two are identical? On Sunday, November 17th, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst is holding a Family Snowflake Workshop, during which families can have fun together doing snowflake-themed activities. Visitors can learn about the science of snow, create snowflake stamps, make a wooden sculpture, and create snowglobes. Get creative and spend time with your family engaging in creative free play!

Women’s History

The Women’s Action Movement (WAM) Theatre invites students ages 13 and up to its matinee showing of Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson on Friday at noon, November 22nd in Pittsfield. The play explores the accomplishments and reputation of Emilie Du Chatelet (1706-1749), who was one of Europe’s leading interpreters of modern physics and a master of mathematics and linguistics, as well as the wife of a Marquis who both embodied and challenged the expectations placed upon French noblewomen during the Age of Enlightenment. In Emilie, the title character must defend her life by tallying her achievements in Love and Philosophy… and attempting to identify a formula that will convince the world of her worth.

Community Service

Volunteering as a family has so many benefits for young children, teens, parents and the community. Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Here are five community service highlights for this upcoming week that welcome families, some with young child and other with teens:

  • Saturday in Hadley: Help maintain the Silvio O. Conte Refuge’s walking trail.
  • Saturday in Stockbridge: Lend a hand at Naumkeag by helping to clean up leaves and doing general tidying work.
  • Sunday in Windsor: Come work on the trails at Notchview with the Trustees of Reservations and help get them ready for winter skiing.
  • Thursday in Sheffield: Take part in the Trustees of Reservations’ Eco-Volunteers program at Bartholomew’s Cobble.
  • Thursday in Hatfield: The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is offering a volunteer orientation for those 16yo+ who are interested in volunteering regularly in the future.

Parent Workshop

Can’t get your kids to sleep? “What About Sleep?” is a free workshop for parents/caregivers presented by Beth Grams Haxby on Saturday afternoon, November 16th at Little Bear Learn & Care in Easthampton. Haxby will discuss the importance of sleep to infants and young children and the science behind helping kids get better sleep.

Plain noodles and chicken nuggets… is that all you can get your kid to eat? “Yuck! Do I Have to Eat That?” is part of the Puzzle of Parenting free workshop series, presented by the Collaborative for Educational Services at the Palmer Monson Family Network in Three Rivers. This workshop takes place on Tuesday evening, November 19th, and deals with picky eaters, explains how to introduce new foods, and how to help kids maintain healthy diets.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

[Photo credit: (cc) Anita363]

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