Learning Ahead: March 7th-11th, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 27 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

See your banner here! Sponsor Learning Ahead!

Berkshire County

Monday, March 7, 5:30pm-6:45pm
At the Mason Library you will hear two authors, Richard Barberi and Georgia Barberi, discuss and read from their latest works. Georgia will read from her book, CSyay! and discuss the relevance of sustainable farming to individual lives. Her book contains advice on becoming an active farm share member and she even provides recipes for maximizing the benefit of CSA membership. Richard’s novel, Eighteen is a work of historical fiction dealing with themes of greed, racism, and family loyalties. Hear two different voices and genres, and get inspired about reading, writing, and possibly joining a farm share! 413-528-1720. 231 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 7pm
As part of the Williams College film series “In / dependence: Capturing Women in (New) French Cinema,” you can attend a free screening of the 2013 French film La Religieuse / The Nun. All films screened in this series will be in French with English subtitles. Each film explores traditional gender roles in France, with portraits of women who preserve and subvert these roles. If you are able to attend multiple screenings in February and March, you will be able to compare a broad spectrum of French female experiences, from the eighteenth century to present day. Paresky Auditorium. Williams College. 880 Main Street, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 8pm
Muriel Rukeyser once posed this challenge: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” The Powder Keg Sessions is a women’s writing workshop at the Ramsell library, where women come together to share their truths. The workshops are run by Suzi Banks Baum, an author, artist, and mother who teaches classes on nurturing the habit of daily writing. Come see what writing can do for you, and what your writing can do for others. 413- 274-3738. 1087 Main St, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 4:15pm
The concept of “virtual reality,” an immersive form of media which replicates the real world, first came about in science fiction novels in the 1950s. Virtual reality has a wide range of possible uses and forms, including entertainment, education, and therapy. Today, virtual reality products do exist, but are still not yet widespread in their popularity. In this lecture, “Virtual Reality: The Actuality of ‘Total Cinema,” Morgan S. McGuire will discuss modern forms of virtual reality. McGuire teaches computer science at Williams College. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 7:30pm
Love Marriage in Kabul. Love is a universal concept, central to the human experience across all cultures, nationalities and ethnicity. Institutions such as marriage, however, vary greatly across cultures and are influenced by societal forces such as religion and politics. This film follows three main characters. There is Mahboba Rawi, an Afghan-Australian who dedicates her life to helping orphans in Afghanistan. She adopts an orphan named Abdu. Rawi attempts to prevent an arranged marriage, and attempts to help Abdul marry the love of his life, Fatemah. Fatemah wants to marry Abdul, but her father requires a dowry which Abdul cannot afford. Following this screening, director Palangi will join via Skype for a question and answer session. Purchase tickets on the MASS MoCA website. Club B10. 413-662-2111. 87 Marshall St, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Tuesday, March 8, 6pm
While reading, writing, and listening to another language can be helpful in the process of learning, nothing compares to speaking conversationally. Fluent French speakers and those trying to learn are invited to engage in casual conversation at the Cushman Library. Learning a new language is not only a great challenge for your brain, it can provide insight into a culture other than the one with which you are most familiar. Languages often have unique, untranslatable words, which can tell us about the priorities and experiences of people in that culture. The French word “dépaysement,” for example, describes a complex feeling of disorientation and bewilderment that comes from experiencing a foreign environment. 28 Church St, Bernardston, MA. (FREE)

Friday March 11, 7pm
Laws governing the rights of married women were changing in the late 1800s. Women who entered into a business in their own names were required to register these businesses with the Town or City Clerk. Sara Campbell and Shari Strahan have digitized the records found at the Greenfield Town Clerk’s vault and analyzed them to see how they fit into local history. There were a wide range of endeavors, from farming to retail shops to manufacturing. Who were these women? Why did they do what they did? Using historic newspapers, business directories, census and vital records Sara and Shari will retell these forgotten stories of enterprising women in our region. Make sure you pre-register online . GCC Downtown, 270 Main Street . 413-775-1661. Greenfield, MA ($)

Friday, March 11, 7pm-9pm
Every month, the Great Falls Discovery Center hosts an evening of coffee and music. Refreshments are available and the museum is open during intermission. Check out this museum of natural, cultural, and industrial history, and hear musical duo Keith Murphy and Becky Tracy. They will play traditional from Newfoundland, Quebec, Ireland, France and beyond. Brush up on your French, as some of the lyrics incorporate not only the musical traditions but also the French language. 413- 863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, March 8, 6:30pm-8pm
With an increasingly globalized and industrial food supply in the United States, it can be difficult to track where your food comes from, and dubious to trust those sources. The best way to know exactly where you food comes from is to plant it yourself! And with growing research showing that the presence of flowers and other plants has a positive impact on mood there is more than one reason to learn to garden and farm. For novices, though, this task can feel daunting. Attend a seed starting workshop at River Valley Co Op to increase your confidence and get started. Registration is required. Please call: 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, March 8, 7:00pm
How do you design a physical landscape to encourage visitors but discourage littering? What kind of signage and facilities might help protect the lands? These are the questions being entertained by community members invested in preserving the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Two graduate students of the Conway School of Landscape Design have already begun a project with Arcadia staff that will include a conservation and habitat management plan. You are invited to learn about proposed measures to the space and make your own suggestions about how to prevent misuse of this land. Get involved with your community, meet other nature lovers and help preserve a local resource for hands-on learning. Arcadia Visitor Center. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 7pm
Learn about Chinese history and culture without even leaving your house! You can register now for this free webinar presented by Dr. Sue Tuohy of Indiana University. Dr. Tuohy’s areas of research focus include East Asian music and folklore, Chinese culture, ethnicity, nationalism, and tourism. This lecture will focus on Chinese culture as it is portrayed through Chinese films. Using film as a means to study culture opens up many avenues of exploration since films are visual and auditory. Films can tell us about various cultures’ values, social norms, fashion, music, and even diet. 413-585-3751. Register on the Five College Center for East Asian Studies site. Online. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 7pm-9pm
How many types of renewable energy can you name? Wind and solar power are two commonly known sources. Biomass energy comes from plant material and animal waste. At this UMass Amherst library event, “Renewables are Ready,” presenter Pat Hynes will educate attendees about the many sources of renewable energy and how they could potentially fit into an energy efficient future.W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Floor 26.154 Hicks Way. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 6pm- 7:30pm
People who live in New England often talk about how unpredictable the weather is, and yet, there is a science dedicated to predicting the weather. Even in New England, meteorologists can tell you what you can expect from the weather. Today’s workshop is the first of a three part series about the weather. At this class you will learn about forecasting basics and the severe weather patterns which affect Western Massachusetts. This event is sponsored by Southern Hilltown Adult Education Center located in Gateway High School. Room 152. 12 Littleville Rd. Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 6:30-7:30pm
Gun violence and gun control are controversial topics warranting a great deal of media attention in the United States. Although people may disagree about the most effective means for eradicating gun violence, everyone wants to keep their children and themselves safe. This Crocker Farm School Parent Guardian Organization discussion will provide pertinent information about safe gun storage and the warning signs of suicide. One way to protect your children is to make a habit of asking other parents about guns in their homes. Children are killed each year through completely avoidable accidents involving guns. This event will take place at the Amherst Regional High School library. Anyone interested in learning about gun safety measures is welcome to attend. 413-362-1700. 21 Matoon St, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 6:30pm
The Quabbin River is not only a beautiful place to walk, run, bike, and watch local wildlife. You can fish in the North Quabbin area if you know where to go. Fishing expert Allan Butler is well informed about saltwater and freshwater fishing, including ice fishing and fly fishing. He will teach participants techniques for fishing in the North Quabbin. Come to the Pelham Library to learn how to catch trophy bass and late trout, among other types of fish. 413-253-0657. 2 South Valley Rd. Pelham, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 6:30-8pm
What do Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, John Keats, and Samuel Coleridge have in common? They wrote poetry, and specifically, they wrote poetry about nature. The list of poets who write about nature is much longer than this, of course. It spans the history of poetry until the present. Why are so many people attracted to both nature and poetry? This is a complex question with several possible answers. If you are a nature poet or fan of nature poetry, you may have your own theories. Bring your ideas and your favorite nature poems to the Meekins Library for a nature poetry gathering. Read, listen, and enjoy snacks provided by the library. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams St, Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 4pm
Coming Together is an Amherst-based organization which seeks to bring community members together to explore the question: what can we do to dismantle racism? Coming Together has teamed up with the Jones Library to run a film and discussion series about this topic. For this meeting, we will screen a series of films which feature leaders in the Ferguson, Missouri community, as they discuss their efforts to address racism after the shooting of Michael Brown. For more information, please contact Janet Ryan at 413-259-3223. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Friday, March 11, 4pm-8pm
Some artists lament that “everything has been done before,” while others feel inspired, rather than daunted, by the art of the world. On this afternoon of free activities at the Smith College Museum of Art, creative people of all ages will draw inspiration from the exhibitions and apply these ideas to a hands-on project. Participants will build a sculpture out of cardboard. Following this activity there will be a guided tour and a 7pm screening of the film Kuhle Wampe (Who Owns The World)? (1932) This German film tells the story of a family in Berlin through a fragmented narrative. 413-585-2760. 20 Elm St, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, March 7, 4pm-6pm
Community members interested in thinking critically about our country’s education system are invited to Heritage Academy to discuss the book Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era. In this book, authors Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith highlight the ways in which our education system fails to adequately prepare our children for success. The authors take a historical perspective, arguing that our schools structure was designed a century ago and no longer reflects students’ needs in an evolving economy. Come with your thoughts, suggestions, and frustrations and we will brainstorm ways to work around these educational gaps and fight for improvements in the system. 413-567-1517 x594 Converse Street Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Monday, March 7, 4pm-6pm
The internet has made genealogy research much easier, and for that reason, more and more people are delving into solving the mystery of their origins. Still, what sort of information might you not be able to find online? This workshop at the Holyoke Public Library will address that question in addition to teaching participants how to use the online service Ancestry. This is the first class of a month long series to take place on Monday afternoons. Next week, delve even deeper and work towards getting past any roadblocks you run into in this process. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 3pm-4:30pm
March 6th through March 12th is “Teen Tech Week” in the library world. But at the Westfield Athanaeum, teens will be celebrating unconventionally with “anti tech day!” In moderation, technology can have a positive impact on teenagers’ creativity, learning, and motivation. However, too much screen time can be detrimental to their attention, sleep, and even their ability to read emotions. At this anti-tech program, teenagers will be able to socialize and engage in screen free games and activities. Hopefully the screen break will relax participants and enable them to feel more engaged in the moment. Registration is required. Boys and Girls Activity Room. 6 Elm St, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 5:30pm-7:30pm
PHP is a programming language which can be embedded into HTML code to make web pages more interactive. Using PHP can help you collect user-generated data from a webpage. If you already know HTML, come to this workshop at Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center and learn how to add forms to your webpages. After this introduction to PHP we will discuss relational databases and Javascript. We will also engage in a small project so you can test out what you’ve learned! Ages twelve and up. Sponsored by Holyoke Codes . 413-552-4900. 100 Bigelow St, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, March 9, 7pm
There are many reasons why someone would want to commission a new musical piece: to support the arts in general or one composer in particular, to feel involved in the creation of a new piece of art, or for use in a film. At this Bay Path University talk, “Commissioning a Classical Concerto in the Digital Age,” you will hear from two modern composers, Kevin Rhodes and Kenneth Fuchs. You will hear excerpts from The Spiritualist, a piano concerto composed by Kenneth Fuchs and commissioned by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Come prepared with questions as both Rhodes and Fuchs will end this talk with a question and answer session. Mills Theatre, Carr Hall. 588 Longmeadow St, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 3pm-5pm
3D printers are a type of industrial robot. At a time when the vast majority of products are manufactured outside of the home, by companies, 3D printing allows even laymen to be more involved in the industrial process. Teenagers interested in learning how to use a 3D printer, and finding out how it works, should come to the Westfield Athanaeum. Participants will print a 3D selfie. No experience necessary. This program is part of “Teen Tech Week,” a nationwide project connecting teenagers with technological programs through libraries. 413-499-9480. 6 Elm St, Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Join us for the 5th annual “Celebrate Springfield” dinner to learn about and support your thriving community. Proceeds from this event will support the work of Develop Springfield, a project working for neighborhood revitalization. This event will include a silent auction. Purchase tickets at the Develop Springfield website. 413-209-8808. Mass Mutual Center 1277 Main St, Springfield, MA ($$$)

Thursday, March 10, 7pm
The Great Plains in Western parts of America offer a different kind of beauty than we see here in New England. In the West, vast stretches of flat land make it possible to see far ahead of you. Some areas also have a relatively low degree of light pollution, giving way to miraculous views of the stars. Musician Marc Berger was born in the East, but he has traveled to the West extensively and used this experience to inspire his song cycle, “Ride.” Come to the Holyoke Public Library to hear Marc’s travel inspired stories and songs. 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, March 10, 7pm
Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt dreaded becoming first lady? Today, first lady of the United States is a prestigious role and first ladies use their positions of power to influence political change. When FDR became president in 1932, however, the position of first lady was a restricted and domestic role. You can celebrate Women’s History Month by learning more about the woman who redefined what it means to be first lady. Donald Blais will present this historical lecture at the Palmer Historical and Cultural Center. Donations are appreciated. 2072 Main Street, Three Rivers, MA. (FREE)

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