26 Community Highlights: Water Mills to Woodworking. Family Volunteering to Radical Mycology.

Interested in mushrooms? There are a couple of mycology opportunities this week: Radical Mycology in Great Barrington on Thursday (Sep 11) and Fungus Among Us in Easthampton on Friday (Sep 12)

Water Mills to Woodworking. Immigration to Magna CartaFamily Volunteering to Radical Mycology… 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:  All day on Sunday, September 7th, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield is holding their 2nd annual Family Volunteer Day for family members of all ages – even toddlers can help out!  Activities include touring the Food Bank warehouse, sorting food, educational opportunities for kids, and more.  It is important that kids understand the value and importance of volunteering and community service, and this is an excellent opportunity to give them some hands-on experience volunteering for a great local organization.  This all-ages event shows that no one is too young to start making a difference in their community.  Please RSVP on their Facebook event page to let the Food Bank know how many family members will be attending.

TransportationEntomologyMuseum AdventuresMycologyArtisan TradeImmigration U.S. HistorySTEMLocal HistoryCommunity ServiceAnimal StudiesFood HistoryAstronomyWater MillsPreK Activities

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Did you know that Western MA is home to the first gasoline-powered car? Come learn more at Springfield Museums’ History on the Move Car Show on on Saturday, September 6. The show will be featuring tons of classic and vintage automobiles, as well as muscle cars, a driving demonstration using a replica of an 1893 Duryea (the first gasoline-powered car and built in Springfield!), a talk on the early car industry in Springfield, and more. All ages will enjoy learning about these historic automobiles and seeing how cars have changed over time!


Have you ever wondered what benefits bees and other insects provide to the plants and animals they come in contact with? You can learn about the biology, behavior, and ecology of bees and other beneficial insects at the 2nd Annual Springfield Bee Fest on Saturday morning, September 6 in South Branch Park. The festival is part of the lawn mowing study and ReGreen Springfield and will be led by bee biologist Joan Milam. Community members can come celebrate these pollinators and learn about them by studying them under a microscope and asking questions. This is a great chance for all ages to engage with community members in learning about these common backyard visitors, their importance to our food system & ecosystems, and how we can protect their habitats. Attendees can also learn about ReGreen Springfield and their efforts to restore Springfield’s urban forest.

Study the caterpillars in the Berkshire Museum‘s “Butterflies” exhibit in Pittsfield and learn about their life stages at a “Caterpillar Chat” on Saturday afternoon, September 6, and discover some of their amazing adaptationsCome curious and ask questions!

Museum Adventures

Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor in the late-19th and early-20th Centuries, and he is best known for creating the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He spent his summers in Stockbridge, where he had a country home, studio, and beautiful gardens, which are now known as Chesterwood and recognized as a Historic Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Chesterwood is offering free admission to all on Saturday, September 6 as part of their Free Family Day. Families can explore Chesterwood’s studio, residence and grounds, and participate in activities like hands-on clay modeling and a self-guided scavenger hunt. Pack a picnic lunch and spend a fun-filled day at Chesterwood with the whole family! This is a great opportunity to explore this local historic site.


The organization Radical Mycology is coming to the Mason Library on on Thursday evening, September 11! Radical Mycology is focused on accessibly teaching the importance of mushrooms and other fungi for personal, societal, and ecological health. Older students interested in ecology and social justice will enjoy learning about these concepts and how they can be applied at this free event in Great Barrington.

Do you want to learn more about some of our region’s fascinating mushroom species? Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary‘s “Fungus Among Us” program with artist/naturalist Marty Klein is all about the hundreds of species of mushrooms that grow in our area, how to identify them, their ecology, and more. Which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous? How big do they get? How are they important to plant and animal species, and vice versa? These are some of the questions that you can learn the answers to at this interesting program in Easthampton on Friday evening, September 12. Best for self-directed teens and adults who are interested in fungi and ecology.

Artisan Trade

Learn about woodworking during the WoodWorks Weekend at the Hancock Shaker Village on Saturday & Sunday, September 6 & 7 in Pittsfield. The weekend features demonstrations on timber framing, portable saw milling, custom furniture-making, historic preservation, restoration, and more; a show and sale of many different handcrafted items; and a chance to meet experts in the field and representatives from different vendors. Students with a strong interest in woodworking can learn a lot from this woodwork-oriented weekend!


The Norman Rockwell Museum and the Berkshire Immigrant Center will be a hosting a naturalization ceremony in the galleries of the Museum on Saturday morning, September 6 in Stockbridge. Berkshire residents who immigrated to the United States will be sworn in as naturalized citizens in front of Rockwell’s iconic “Four Freedoms” paintings – “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Worship,” “Freedom from Want,” and “Freedom from Fear.” The paintings are based on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, in which he outlined those four freedoms as essential human rights to be protected. This is the third annual naturalization ceremony at the museum – this year, over a dozen Berkshire residents will become citizens in front of the “Four Freedoms.” This is a rare opportunity to witness members of the Berkshire community become recognized as U.S. citizens against the historic backdrop of some of Rockwell’s most famous works. To read more about this free event, read our post, Learning About Immigration in Modern Times at Norman Rockwell Museum.

U.S History

The Clark Art Institute’s new exhibition, “Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution” opens on Saturday, September 6 in Williamstown and will be open until November 2. The exhibition brings together six documents of great importance to American history – the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These documents span eight centuries and each is important to the history of the United States.

The Very Reverend Philip Buckler, Dean of Lincoln, will present an illustrated talk at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown to accompany their newest exhibition, “Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution,” on Sunday afternoon, September 7. The talk, titled “Living with Magna Carta,” covers the document’s 800-year history, as well as the history of London, from Roman times up to the present. The Magna Carta on display at the Clark is one of only four surviving copies. Older students interested in history can learn from the talk and the exhibition – this is a rare chance to see this document on display, so don’t miss out!


Are you interested in learning more about computer programming or web design? Looking to improve your set of skills and abilities within these fields? Or are you just looking to try something new? The New England Regional Developers (NERD) are holding a free, three-day conference – NERDSummit – for all experience levels at the UMass Hotel and Conference Center from September 12-14. The conference has many workshops and activities for teen and adult programmers of all skill levels, in addition to some geared toward the younger crowd. Kids can participate in workshops on topics like Intro the Web and HTML, Intro to Javascript, Learn to Program with Scratch, and Physical-Digital Chain Reaction with Scratch and LEGO WeDo. Kids, teens, and adults who are interested in learning more about computers and programming will benefit from this super fun conference and all it has to offer. More information on the conference and how to sign up can be found on the NERDSummit website. Call 413-387-4540 for more information. The UMass Hotel and Conference Center can be found at 1 Campus Center Way in Amherst, MA.

Local History

Discover some interesting bits of local history at the Stockbridge Library’s fourth Cemetery Tour of the season – “The Library: From Idea to Building/From House to Community Center,” on Saturday afternoon, September 6. Come to Stockbridge Cemetery to learn about the early days of the Stockbridge Library and how it has changed over the past 225 years. The tour will focus on the people and stories behind the library’s transformation. These cemetery tours are a fun way to learn about the history of Stockbridge and some of its interesting history!

Community Service

All day on Sunday, September 7th, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield is holding their 2nd annual Family Volunteer Day for family members of all ages – even toddlers can help out!  Activities include touring the Food Bank warehouse, sorting food, educational opportunities for kids, and more.  It is important that kids understand the value and importance of volunteering and community service, and this is an excellent opportunity to give them some hands-on experience volunteering for a great local organization.  This all-ages event shows that no one is too young to start making a difference in their community.  Please RSVP on their Facebook event page to let the Food Bank know how many family members will be attending.

Animal Studies

See the documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine (2013) at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Tuesday evening, September 9. This film is about several non-human animals that live within or have been rescued from the global animal industries – entertainment, food, fashion, and research. The film tackles the question of whether or not animals deserve the same sorts of rights as humans. Older students interested in animals and animal rights will be moved by this film.

Learn about hawks and how to classify and identify them at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Tuesday evening, September 9. Hawks migrate in the fall, making this a perfect time to search the skies for them and learn about them. This program is best for teens and adults who are interested in learning about birds of prey.

Food History

Exhibit, “Drinking, Distilleries & Prohibition,” opens at Sheffield Historical Society (Old Stone Store) on Sunday, September 7. Antique distilling and brewing equipment, bottles and photos will be on display in this exhibit that explores how alcohol production played a part in shaping Sheffield’s economy, politics, and culture. A section on the Temperance movement and Prohibition will trace how alcohol consumption went in-and-out of public favor over the centuries in Western Massachusetts.

Russell Steven Powell will speak about his new book, Apples of New England: A User’s Guide, at the Keep Homestead Museum. in Monson on Sunday afternoon, September 7. Apple enthusiasts can learn about apple flavor and texture, history, ripening time, storage quality, uses, and more from this informative book. Powell will discuss his new book and some interesting facts about apples in New England at this free program.


Learn about Japanese culture and astronomy at Western Gateway Heritage State Park‘s “Japanese Moon Appreciation Month” in North Adams on Saturday afternoon, September 6.

Bascom Lodge in Lanesborough presents a free talk on the trial of Galileo, an Italian scientist and astronomer, on Wednesday evening, September 10. Older students interested in astronomy, science, history, and the work of Galileo will enjoy this informative talk.

The Milham Planetarium at Williams College in Williamstown will be open to the public for a planetarium viewing every Friday evening through December 5. You can learn about the motions of the planets, the phases of the moon, comets, and much more at this free viewing.

History/Water Mills

Turners Falls has a rich history as an early American industrial center during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Due to its location on the Connecticut River, Turners Falls was an ideal location for water-powered mills. The town was home to four paper mills and several other factories between 1869 and 1940, during which time many immigrants came to work in the mills and factories. You can learn about this fascinating history with Great Falls Discovery Center at “The Paper Mills of Turners Falls,” presented and led by Bill Wilson from the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, on Saturday morning, September 6. Learn about the town’s four paper mills and then walk along the canal to imagine the town with the mills and factories and see what is left of them today.

Learn about Joseph Griswold, a young industrialist from Buckland in the early 1800s, at the Colrain Historical Society on Thursday evening, September 11. Griswold harnessed the power of the North and Connecticut Rivers in order to run water-driven mills and was at one point responsible for employing almost half the working population of Colrain! Older students interested in local history will enjoy learning about this fascinating figure from the past and discovering the lasting impact of his industry.

PreK Activities

  • Saturday, September 6, 10:30am-11:30am – ARTS & CRAFTS: Kids ages 2-5 and an adult can participate in an Art Lab at the Berkshire Museum on September 6. Come build fine motor skills and improve language by using paintbrushes, learning colors and techniques, and more. Space is limited; call to register. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171 x10. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. $
  • Saturday, September 6, 4pm – STORYTELLING: Park Hill Orchard presents a storytelling with Tim Van Egmond. He will perform dulcimer music and stories for all ages. Come enjoy this fun program in a beautiful outdoor setting. Rain date 9/7 at 4pm. 413-527-6186. 82 Park Hill Road. Easthampton, MA.
  • Monday, September 8, 10:15 am – STORYTIME/MUSIC: Pathways for Parents is offering “Toddler Two Step” for toddlers ages 12-24 months at the Wilbraham Public Library. This music class features rhymes, songs, and fingerplays. This program is a six-week session and registration is required for the whole program. 413-596-6141. 25 Crane Park Drive. Wilbraham, MA. (FREE)
  • Tuesday, September 9, 3:30pm-4:30pm – LEGOS: Join the Family Resource Center at the North Adams Public Library for LEGO Group! Kids ages 4-8 can get creative with LEGOs and have fun building with peers. 413-664-4821. 74 Church Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc) Liza]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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