31 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Ghandi to Martin Luther King. Cultural Traditions to Adaptive Activities.

Decomposition is an essential part of the cycle of matter on Earth. Often viewed as unpleasant or unattractive, it truly deserves positive attention! Artist Jan Ruby-Crystal appreciates the decomposition process, as evidenced in her current exhibition running January 20 through February 27, 2016 in Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Literary Adaptation to Philosophy in Literature. Moose to Bears. Ghandi to Martin Luther King. Coding to Robotics. Baking to Canning. Book Making to Sewing.These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlights this weekMoose, the largest member of the deer family, survive winter by browsing on twigs. It’s a hard existence, and wading through deep snow makes it even more challenging. How do they do it? Dr. John E. McDonald, assistant professor of environmental science at Westfield State University, will discuss the ecology of these unusual-looking animals on a hike at the Hilltown Land Trust‘s Stevens Property, sponsored by the Trustees of Reservations.on Saturday, January 16, 10am-12noon. Wear warm clothes and appropriate footwear for walking in the snow. Alternative date in case of bad weather: 1/26. RSVP required. 413-628-4485, ext.4. Pisgah Road, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Collaborative ConsumptionFood SwapFilm StudiesAnimal StudiesVisual ArtsBotanyOrnithologyCivil RightsMartin Luther King, Jr. DaySTEMCulinary ArtsNutritionCommunity MealPhilosophyClassic LiteratureCultural TraditionsTu B’ShevatArts & CraftsSkillsharingOutdoor AdventuresAdaptive ActivitiesParenting SkillsADHD

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Collaborative consumption is the practice of sharing skills, knowledge, and other resources with one another. This results in a shift from an emphasis on ownership to one of access, which, in turn, leads to an increased ability to live a sustainable life and create a sustainable community. Engage in collaborative consumption on Saturday, January 16, 11am-1pm, with It Takes a Village, which will celebrate the official opening of The Village Closet, a storage area FULL of donated baby clothes, furniture, and gear, including strollers, car seats, diapers, and more, that are all free to the public. There will be refreshments for adults and kids, and childcare. Take this opportunity to look around and learn about the organization’s other programs. 413-650-3640. The former Berkshire Trail Elementary School, 2 Main Street, Cummington, MA. (FREE)

This week you can also engage in collaborative consumption at a fun food swap! On Saturday, January 16, 9am-2pm, leave your wallet at home and bring your favorite canning creations, baked goods, seeds, plants, or other edibles to trade with fellow preservers, bakers, gardeners, and DIYers at the Valley Food Swap at the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market at Smith Vocational School. It’s a great chance to share any surplus you have and barter for something new and delicious to try at home. Kids love to swap, so be sure to bring them along and get them excited about new foods, skillsharing, and collaborative consumption. 80 Locust Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Learn even more about collaborative consumption in our post, Collaborative Consumption: Supporting Sustainability & Community-Based Education.


Saturday, January 16, 10am
Belle and Sebastian (Not Rated, 2013) is the story of a six-year-old boy living in the French Alps during World War II who befriends a giant feral sheepdog, despite the warnings of adults. When the Nazis arrive in their village, the two work together to protect their neighbors. Although heartwarming and bearing positive messages, the film, based on the acclaimed children’s novel by Cécile Aubry, is best suited for kids ages 10 and up, due to intense scenes and serious subject matter. Families can discuss World War II, the French Resistance, and the importance of standing up for others. Showing at Amherst Cinema as part of the Family Films Series. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, January 16, 10:30am
In Pixar’s animated film Inside Out (PG, 2015), eleven-year-old Riley’s family is moving from Minnesota to California, and she’s not happy about it. Watch her inner turmoil as Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust struggle for control inside her head. Younger kids will enjoy the colorful, active animation, while older kids may find some self-understanding through Riley’s emotional ups and downs. At the Monson Free Library. 413-267-3866. 2 High Street, Monson, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm-8:30pm
The Theory of Everything (PG-13, 2014) tells the story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, on whose memoir the film is based. Despite being diagnosed with ALS at age 21, Hawking pursues his life work of the study of time, with Jane’s dedicated assistance. The film can open up conversations with teens about the challenges and triumphs of real-life relationships. Eddie Redmayne received the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Hawking. Shown at the Jones Library as part of the Oscars Movie Series. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, January 16, 10am-12noon
Moose, the largest member of the deer family, survive winter by browsing on twigs. It’s a hard existence, and wading through deep snow makes it even more challenging. How do they do it? Dr. John E. McDonald, assistant professor of environmental science at Westfield State University, will discuss the ecology of these unusual-looking animals on a hike at the Hilltown Land Trust‘s Stevens Property, sponsored by the Trustees of Reservations. Wear warm clothes and appropriate footwear for walking in the snow. Alternative date in case of bad weather: 1/26. RSVP required. 413-628-4485, ext.4. Pisgah Road, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Friday, January 22, 10:30am-11:30am
Meet some of the wildlife that share the Connecticut River watershed with us during the Great Falls Discovery Center‘s Kidleidoscope programs on Four Fridays in January. Each program includes a story, interactive games, and a craft. This week’s animal is the bear. What are bears doing this time of year? What’s it like to hibernate? Meet in the Great Hall. Recommended for ages 3-6 with a caregiver. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)


Decomposition is an essential part of the cycle of matter on Earth. Often viewed as unpleasant or unattractive, it truly deserves positive attention! Artist Jan Ruby-Crystal appreciates the decomposition process, as evidenced in her current exhibition at Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery. Running January 20 through February 27, 2016, Ruby-Crystal’s paintings and handmade paper considers themes of life and decomposition as viewed through close visual studies, exploring how fruits and vegetables’ patterns and shapes change through the process. She also offers a transformative perspective as she shows how the decayed pulp can be converted into handmade paper. As the artist notes, “A new beauty arising from their end.” 413-835-0197. 319 Main Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

The Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) program links the study of wetlands and waterfowl conservation with the creation of original artwork. Students from kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether they attend public, private, or home-school, can submit original artwork for this contest. After learning about the habitat requirements of various kinds of ducks and geese, students then express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of these species artistically, through painting or drawing. The contest offers a unique opportunity for young nature enthusiasts and artists to participate in a statewide competition. All entries must be received by February 15, 2016. The Junior Duck Stamp Contest is presented by The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. 508-389-6310. OPEN TO ALL K-12 STUDENTS IN MA. (FREE)

Art Garden Community Exhibit: Winter. Calling all artists interested in having their work displayed in an exciting community art exhibit. All works that relate to the theme of winter will be accepted in mediums that include painting, poetry, photography, drawing, and mixed media, among others. Since no prior experience is necessary, this exhibit offers a unique opportunity for artists of all ages and skill levels to present their art to a larger community audience. All work must be submitted by January 20, 2016 to The Art Garden at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, 4 Union Street, Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)


Sunday, January 17, 3pm
Like Martin Luther King, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi employed nonviolent civil disobedience to bring about social change by inspiring a movement for civil rights and freedom across the world for India.Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will screen Gandhi (1982) over Martin Luther King weekend as an opportunity to consider how each of us can create change, locally or globally. Directed by Richard Attenborough, this film is the eighth-highest Oscar winning film of all time—claiming eight awards from 11 nominations, including best film. It stars Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, John Gielgud, and Martin Sheen. 413-528-0100. 14 Castle Street. Great Barrington, MA ($)

Monday, January 18, 2pm
The Clark Art Institute presents Selma (PG-13, 2014) in the Michael Conforti Pavilion. The movie chronicles the activities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his supporters in the months leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, which led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. King consistently guided his followers in nonviolent resistance and thus achieved one of the most important successes of the civil rights movement. What parallels can be drawn between the events portrayed in the movie and those of the Black Lives Matter movement that is active today? Best suited for mature tweens and teens. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. ($)

In addition to enjoying an extended weekend, families can take advantage of upcoming community events to learn about and honor to legacy of Dr. Martin, Luther King, Jr. Ten special events – including walking tours, screenings, presentations, performances, and opportunities for community service – make up a full calendar of events supporting meaningful community-based learning. Read more in our recent post 10 Community-Based Events To Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2016.


Saturday, January 16, 7pm; Sunday, January 17, 7pm; Monday, January 18, 1:30pm and 7pm
Although jobs in the technology industry are growing faster than colleges can produce computer science graduates, the number of tech positions held by women has declined, from roughly one-third to one-quarter, over the last 25 years. African-Americans and Hispanics are also underrepresented in the field. Code: Debugging the Gender Gap (Not rated, 2015), showing at the Berkshire Museum, examines how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, and other factors brought about this imbalance and endeavors to inspire change. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA. (<$ Members, $ Non-members)

Sunday, January 17, 12noon-5pm
Inventing is not just for grownups. When he was 11, Benjamin Franklin created a pair of paddles for his hands to help him swim faster. Put on your thinking cap and create something new during Kid Inventors’ Day, celebrated on Franklin’s birthday, at the Berkshire Museum. Work to solve local and global problems with the materials and ideas provided in Spark!Lab. Do hands-on activities, and participate in the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA. (FREE Members, $ Non-members)

Sunday, January 17, 1pm-3pm
Calling all experienced Scratch game developers! Help Holyoke Codes create a game engine that will allow others to build better Scratch projects more easily. During “Advanced Scratch: Build a Game Engine,” you can contribute your best practices in developing custom block functions for jumping, side-motion, wall-jumping, wall sensors, velocity, gravity, shooting projectiles, displaying messages, scorekeeping, and more. The end-product will be a template for creating awesome Scratch games. This is the first of a two-part workshop. The second session meets Wednesday, 1/27, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. You do not have to attend both sessions. For ages 10 and up. Registration requested. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, January 20, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Build and program a robotic wrestler at the “SumoBots” workshop at Holyoke Codes. Based on the Japanese sport of Sumo wrestling, SumoBots are small robots that attempt to push each other out of a raised ring. This is the first of a two-part workshop. The second session meets Saturday, 1/23, from 2pm-4pm. You do not have to attend both sessions. For ages 9 and up. Registration requested. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Friday, January 22, 10am
When children use different tools and supplies, they engage and strengthen new muscles, practice cause and effect, and discover things about themselves and the world that they might not have known. At Tool Time, children can explore with a variety of age-appropriate tools, including magnets, magnifying glasses, scissors, markers, and crayons, sponsored by the Family Center of Northern Berkshire County at Adams Free Library. Registration requested. 413-664-4821. 92 Park Street, Adams, MA. (FREE)


Monday, January 18, 9am-3pm
Kids can learn cooking skills and enjoy a craft project during “Bread Baking and Soup” at Stone House Farm. Cooking shows kids how math and science apply to real life and lets them practice following directions. For kids in grades 1-8. Registration required. 413-549-4455. 649 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. ($$$)

Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm
By canning your own produce (whether purchased or grown), you can save money and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your food is free of chemicals, such as BPA. Learn how to make and can jam with Sara Cooper of Chumutka Farms at the Whately Library. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, January 21, 10:45am-12pm
Children ages 2.5-5 years and their caregivers are invited to Kids’ Kitchen, a fun cooking group that meets on Thursdays. Children who participate in meal preparation often show greater tolerance for a variety of foods and healthier eating habits than children who do not. The focus will be on learning basic food prep techniques and making healthy choices for everyday meals. Sponsored by Community Health Programs of Berkshire County. 413-644-0104 x 1159. 442 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Friday, January 22, 5pm-8pm
Red or white, beans or no beans — what’s your preference? Shake off winter’s chill while supporting local students at the Farmington River Elementary PTA‘s Chili Cookoff at the Knox Trail Inn. Sample various chili entries submitted by your neighbors then vote for your favorite. After warming your insides, generate some heat on the dance floor with David Reed & Trio Traumatica. Route 23, Downtown, East Otis, MA. (<$ DONATION)


Tuesday, January 19, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day at the Jones Library with Pooh stories, a craft, and snacks. A. A. Milne’s classic tales of a bear, his animal friends, and his special person, Christopher Robin, offer simple lessons about how to approach life, what it means to love and be loved, and how to treat others with kindness. Consider these gems that appear in the Winnie the Pooh books:

  • “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
  • “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
  • “Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”
  • “A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”

For ages 4 and up. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, January 16, 7am-5pm & Sunday, January 17, 7am-5pm
The Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat marks the start of a new year for trees. According to the Torah, trees must be three years old before their fruit can be eaten. On the 15th day of the month of Shvat, all trees turn a year older, no matter when in the year they were planted. To mark the occasion, people plant trees and eat fruits from Israel. The Springfield Jewish Community Center is collecting junk mail for a hands-on community project that will be displayed in the lobby for Tu B’Shevat (1/24). Please bring your junk mail to the front desk by 1/18. To learn more about this special day and to watch a short video, Tu B’Shevat Tale, check out our archived post, Tu B’Shevat: A Birthday Celebration for the Trees.
413-739-4715. 1160 Dickinson Street, Springfield, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, January 16, 10am-12pm
Make your own sketchbook or journal at a Stab Stitch Bookbinding Workshop at Knack. Peter Cangialosi will show you how to use this easy-to-learn style of binding that can be customized for various materials, from scrap papers to finer artisan papers. All materials will be provided, but if you have a favorite six-pack box, lightweight decorative cardboard, or other materials you’d like to use for your cover, feel free to bring them along. All skill levels welcome. 413-529-0126. Eastworks, 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 126, Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Saturday, January 16, 10am-12:30pm
Learn to sew and make a book bag for the BagShare Project at Storrs Library‘s Sew-In Saturday. If you know how to sew, feel free to bring your own project as well. For adults and kids in grade 4 and above. Pre-registration requested. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, January 16, 11am-3pm
People of all abilities can enjoy outdoor winter activities at Wendell State Forest. All Out Adventures will provide instruction, adaptive equipment, and assistance for accessible snowshoeing, kicksledding, sit cross-country skiing, sled skating, and snowmobile rides. Discover the thrill of playing in the snow! Pre-registration required. Dependent on snow/ice conditions. More accessible and adaptive winter adventures await you! Read our recent post, Winter Brings Opportunities for Inclusive Recreation! 413-584-2052. 392 Montague Road, Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, January 16, 12:30pm-4pm
Snowshoeing is an easy-to-learn way to get outdoors during the winter. With a relatively minimal investment in equipment and some simple tips, you can get exercise and socialize with friends as you explore the many trails in our area. The Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center is offering an Introduction to Snowshoeing for Women workshop, taught by women. Following an indoor overview of equipment, join other active women exploring the center’s trails and learning some winter natural history. Return to the center for warm drinks around the wood stove. Participants should dress in layers, and bring lunch, snacks, and water. All levels of experience are welcome for this moderately strenuous outdoor adventure. For ages 16 and up. Registration required. Into doing even more outdoor sports this winter? Visit our recent post, Nordic Skiing Connects Families to the Outdoors through Local Resources. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA. ($)

Sunday, January 17, 10am
Add some excitement to your fitness routine by testing your abilities against other skiers. The Berkshire Trails Nordic Ski Club hosts a low-key 15K skate race at Notchview Reservation. 413-684-0148. Route 9, Windsor, MA. (<$ Members, $ Non-members)


Wednesday, January 20, 12pm-1pm
Dr. Miriam Defant will discuss Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at
The Bridge Family Resource Center as part of the Lunch and Learn Series. Lunch and childcare provided. 413-549-0297. 101 University Drive Suite A3, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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