20 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Photography to Food Studies. Non-Commercial to Collaborative Consumption.

How did the small wild cranberry, known as sasumuneash by the Wampanoag People, become the the plump berry we serve up every Thanksgiving? Get curious about the origin of the foods served during Thanksgiving and the traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. Use your Thanksgiving meal as a catalyst for learning about agriculture, culinary arts, history and culture!

Hydrology to Tortellini. Photography to Food Studies. Non-Commercial to Collaborative Consumption. 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 week:   “Chrysanthemum” is a beautiful word for an equally beautiful family of flowers. The word is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower), though it refers to many different types of flowers in a range of colors and appearances. Families can explore various chrysanthemums at The Botanic Garden of Smith College’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show. The Fall Mum Show has been a popular college and community tradition since the early 1900s and showcases the hybridizing experiments of the horticulture class. This weekend is the last of this amazing flower show!  The conservatory will be open 10am-4pm daily and have extended hours 10am-8pm on Fridays. 413-585-2740. 16 College Lane. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Black Friday  ♦ Community Meals  ♦ Computer ProgrammingNative American StudiesCollaborative ConsumptionGardeningBiologyActivismSustainabilityMYO GiftsSTEM  ♦ Culinary ArtsSeed SavingThanksgiving DinnerPhysics Art StudiesLanguage StudiesGuided WalksMusic StudiesPhotographyImmigrationFood Studies

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Saturday, November 19, 12pm-4pm
Are you someone who always picks a horse on the inside of the carousel, or do you ride one on the outside? All merry-go-round horses make one complete circle in the same amount of time, but the interior horses travel a much shorter distance in that time than the outer ones do, resulting in very different linear speeds. And what happens when you choose a stationary horse versus one that gallops up and down? Experience the fun of physics by bringing your kids, or grandkids, for a ride on the Holyoke Merry Go Round. Known as “Holyoke’s Happiness Machine,” the antique carousel with brightly painted wooden animals and calliope music is a sensory treat for young and old. It was once part of Mountain Park, an amusement park on the side of Mt. Tom, and was moved to Holyoke Heritage Park when Mountain Park closed in 1987. On Saturday, November 19, they will kick off their winter with a holiday themed celebration. The carousel will be covered in seasonal decorations and attendees are invited to play special games. The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round will also house a warming tree. Donate new winter hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens and receive a free ride. 413-538-9838. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (<$)

Curious about physics? Here are five physics phenomenon to stir your curiosity and to get you thinking, why?

Curiosity stirred? Why do you think these phenomenon take place? See what the reasons are in this follow up video that explains all five!

Saturday, November 19, 2pm
Still curious? Interested in science mysteries and phenomenon? The next Forbes Library Scientific Kids Club meeting will invite kids to solve a library mystery using chemistry! This club get kids excited about scientific discovery, offering self-directed learners answers to curious questions! It is open to kids ages 8-11. For more information call 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Monday, November 21, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Today, websites bring us everything from music, to a place to “gather” virtually with friends, to information on nearly any subject. Learning how to code is an invaluable skill today.  With the ability to build websites, you can bring your own unique vision out into the world, whether that be a business, cause your believe in, a video game or something entirely new. Participants ages eleven and up are invites to Holyoke Codes to learn HTML, CSS, and a bit of JavaScript, in order to acquire the basics of web building knowledge. 413- 552-4900. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Native American Studies

Saturday, November 19, 1pm-3pm
The Nolumbeka Project is an organization which seeks to preserve sacred Native American sites and promote education about New England’s tribal heritage. The Nolumbeka Project presents the talk, “Waterways and Crossroads: Connecting Sacred Sites in Nolumbeka,” at the Great Falls Discovery Center. Guest speaker Evan Pritchard, is the Director of the Center for Algonquin Culture and author of several historical books. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, November 20, 7pm-9pm
Thanksgiving is a time to learn the truth about past and current relations between European immigrants and Native Americans. The Wampanoag People continue to live on their native homelands. Learn about their history and the current cultural revival that is taking place by viewing the documentary, We Still Live Here, at Bartholomew’s Cobble. For more information call 413.298.3239×3013. 117 Cooper Hill Road. Sheffield, MA. (Non members <$; Members and children FREE)

View the trailer, We Still Live Here:

Collaborative Consumption

Engaging in opportunities for collaborative consumption invites the acquisition of knowledge related to many themes through authentic use of community-based resources and community members. Emphasizing togetherness, opportunities for collaborative consumption are often intergenerational, allowing young community members to work alongside and learn from people of all ages, sharing skills, stories and knowledge. Additionally, collaborative consumption emphasizes cooperation, allowing families to learn how to work together and with others toward a shared goal of community resilience – the strength and cohesiveness to survive and thrive through challenges big and small. Read more about collaborative consumption in our post Collaborative Consumption: Learning How to be Resilient Supports Community-Based Education.

Saturday, November 19, 10:30am-11:30am
Libraries, among other many other purposes, serve as a meeting center for community members with similar interests. Libraries can also serve as a bridge for acts of collaborative consumption, both through the lending of books and media material, and also through community swaps! The Seeds and Stories End of Season Garden Swap at the Gaylord Memorial Library is open to community members to swap their gardening books, tools, or seeds for something new. Drop off items for the swap on November 18th from 3-4:30pm. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)


Exploring biology through the lens of water, we can support learning about molecular structure & hydrogen bonds, cohesion and surface tension, hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances; ice density, heat capacity, and much more:

Saturday, November 19, 12pm-3pm
In order to be politically active on a local and national level, you have to first become informed about political issues. There are tons of topics to explore when it comes to public drinking water. Quality of drinking water, sources, looming shortages, and issues related to climate change are all major concerns. You can attend a sort of “crash course” in water issues at this community symposium: “Global, National & Valley Perspectives – Problems, Solutions, and the Challenges Ahead,” held by the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Registration is required via the website. 413-256-6006. 845 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)


Want to make your holiday season more “green” while participating in less consumption? Check out our post, 13 Tips On How To GREEN Your Holiday, and watch our web site for opportunities to make your own holiday gifts this season, starting with this upcycling event listed below…

Saturday, November 19, 1pm-4pm
Celebrate the holidays this year with artistic creativity, intergenerational bonding, and, of course, giving! The annual Community Make Day at Shire City Sanctuary’s makerspace invites people of all ages. Participants will learn how to create garlands and wreaths out of recycled fabrics. The holiday season is the perfect time to learn about creative repurposing. All decorations made will be used to decorate Shire City Sanctuary out for the upcoming 10th Annual Holiday Shindy. 413-236-9600. 40 Melville Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Culinary Arts

Saturday, November 19, 1pm-4pm
Packages of fresh or frozen tortellini are available at most American grocery stores; however, making your own tortellini is a fun, satisfying way to connect with your Italian heritage and to learn about food culture. Even if you are not Italian, you can come to the Italian Heritage Center and learn how to make this delicious food, fresh at home. Please bring an apron. Adults and children are welcome. Take home what you make. Call 860-305-1175 to request a registration form and to check seating availability. 56 Margaret Street. Springfield, MA. ($$)

Before heading over to the Italian Heritage Center to learn how to make tortellini by hand! Check out how tortellini is mass produced for a better understanding of culinary arts and food production:

Seed Saving

By learning to save seeds, children can take an active role in helping beautiful, delicious, and fascinating varieties of fruits and vegetables stick around – in our gardens, on our plates, and in our bellies – for generations to come. And in doing so, they’ll get lots of solid hands-on experience with gardening, plant anatomy, and proper seed (and perhaps food) preservation techniques. A handful of upcoming community events offer valuable opportunities for families to learn about seed saving and to participate in community-based seed saving projects. In attending an event (or two, or three), families are sure to learn skills and information, and will be able to build a foundation of knowledge upon which to begin their own seed saving practices. Additionally, local organizations, Red Gate Farm Seed Bank and Hilltown Seed Savers, are local resources for seeds and seed-saving information, educational programs, and support for beginning seed-savers.

Saturday, November 19, 1pm-4:30pm
Once you’ve reaped the delicious benefits of a summer’s harvest, look further than your plate in order to find a purpose for what you’ve grown. Seed saving is a fantastic way to practice self sufficiency and resilience, and also helps to preserve plant varieties for years to come. In addition to the cultural and agricultural value of holding onto these plants (and their seeds), practicing seed saving at home is a great way to engage in hands-on science learning. You can learn more at the Hilltown Seed Saving Network’s fifth annual Seed Exchange! People of all levels of experience are welcome and you do not need to bring seeds to attend. Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm will speak and answer questions. Community House. For more information call at 413-475-2692. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA. (DONATION)

Art Studies

“Bob Buck, the original model for Norman Rockwell’s ‘Willie Gillis’ series talks with Norman Rockwell Museum about his experience posing for his Arlington, VT, neighbor, and America’s favorite illustrator. Army private Willie Gillis appeared on several Saturday Evening Post covers created by Rockwell from 1941-1946– it was one of Rockwell’s many efforts to help boost public morale during World War II.” (via  Norman Rockwell Museum)

Saturday, November 19, 1pm-5pm
Willie Gillis, featured in the video above, is a fictional Army private created by artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell. Gillis was a popular character during World War II and was used to represent American culture through art. In celebration of this character’s 75th anniversary, the Norman Rockwell Museum will be hosting various afternoon of talks, art making, tours, and a Willie Gillis look-a-like contest. 413-298-4100. 9 Glendale Road. Stockbridge, MA. ($. College students with ID <$. Ages 6-18 <$. Under 5 and museum members FREE)

Sunday, November 20, 10am-11:30am
Outdoor sculptures use the natural landscape as a backdrop for contemporary artwork, thus influencing our time spent in nature and shedding new light on our environment. Williamsburg artist Todd Lynch has created a work of environmental sculpture at Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary titled Plant Vandals. He will be leading this guided walk to the site of his work. Participants will see the remnant mill infrastructure which is incorporated into his sculpture. 413-584-3009. Adams Road. Haydenville, MA. (FREE)

Friday, November 25, 10am-12noon
Artists often draw upon time spent in nature, and natural scenes, as inspiration from their works. You are invited to do the same at William Cullen Bryant Homestead. For “Green Friday,” enjoy a guided hike to explore the Old Growth Forest. Walk leaders will read poetry inspired by the grounds, look at examples of nature drawings, and sketch some trees. Bring a sketchbook and pencil. For information call The Trustees at 413-628-4485 x3. 413-532-1631. 207 Bryant Road. Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Food Studies

on Thanksgiving Day is a meal when extended family and friends come together to celebrate and share the harvest. It’s a holiday when we talk a lot about food, sharing cooking tips and family recipes. In year’s past we ask our readers to share what they serve for their Thanksgiving Dinner and to offer cooking tips, starting with kitchen tips on how to cook a turkey, followed by a request for favorite vegetarian dishes to cook up too. Read more in our post, Thanksgiving Dinner: Tips & Recipes.

Wondering what the origins are of traditional Thanksgiving meal dishes? Learning about the evolution of foods like corn on the cob, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and of course, turkey…

Saturday, November 19, 11:30am-12:30am; Sunday, November 20, 11:30am-2:30pm
Celebrate the holiday with 19th-century traditions of at Old Sturbridge Village. Learn about Native American food traditions and customs and their influence the harvest dinner while learning about 1830s dining etiquette. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. ($)

Guided Walks

Saturday, November 19, 2pm-4pm
Guided walks along rivers allow participants to learn about natural history and geology, as well as human influence on the land. Naturalists John Sinton and Laurie Sanders will teach attendees about 15,000 years of geological history and 10,000 years of human history on this riverwalk sponsored by Historic Northampton. This guided walk will go from Paradise Pond to Old South Street. Self-guided tour brochures of this walk will also be available. Email lsanders@historicnorthampton.org to register for the guided walk. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (<$)

In Western MA we are so fortunate to have easy access to nature in our communities through local trails, nature preserves, and forests. This diversity of options inspires naturalists and conservation-minded enthusiasts to lead guided walks, hikes, and river paddling trips, teaching the richness of our local landscapes and biodiversity. Find our about guided & self-guided hikes and Vistas in our Sept/Oct Season edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.


“Our eyes are practically magical, but they cannot see everything. For instance, the naked eye cannot see the moment where all four of a horse’s legs are in the air or the gradual life cycle of plants — but cameras can capture these moments. Bill Shribman gives examples where photography can pick up where the eye leaves off.” – TED-Ed

View full lesson:
What cameras see that our eyes don’t – Bill Shribman

Sunday, November 20, 3pm
Photography is an art form as well as an innovative, human invention. Photography as a scientific idea stems from the discovery that substances can be altered by exposure to light. Robin Kelsey, dean of arts and humanities at Harvard University, will be discussing photography in his talk, “Finding Remains: The Process of Discovery in Early Photography.” This is the opening lecture for the special exhibition Photography and Discovery at the Clark Art Institute. 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Adults $; Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID FREE).

Music Studies

With a treasure trove of music and stories, Bonnie and Stephen Simon will take listeners on a magical journey on their Hilltown Family Variety Show segment, with offerings from luminaries like Rossini, Tchaikovsky, and Handel performed by a variety of ensembles ranging from the London Philharmonic Orchestra to the Michigan State University Marching Band, with an electro-pop dance remix of music from Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale thrown in! The program kicks off in rousing fashion with the New York Philharmonic blazing through Rossini’s William Tell Overture, then downshifts to an elegant performance by the Kirov Orchestra of a selection from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker before Arthur Fiedler takes the field, conducting John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.

A complete playlist Classical Music Episode with Guest DJs, Stephen and Bonnie Ward Simon

Saturday, November 19, 5pm
It is a goal for many parents to instill a love of music in their children. Long, formal concerts, however, can be difficult for kids to sit through . This Smith College orchestra performance is specifically designed for families. This concert will feature abridged version of the orchestra’s repertoire, and will include excerpts of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bare Mountain and Pictures at an Exhibition. A full-length, formal concert will also take place at 8pm. Sweeney Concert Hall. Sage Hall building. 144 Green Street. Northampton. (FREE)

Saturday, November 19, 8pm
Weekend entertainment does not need to be expensive or encourage consumerism. You can enjoy some free classical music on your Saturday night out. This fall concert, “To Russia with Love,” will be performed by the Smith College Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Hirsh, with Henry Kramer on piano. The program includes Piano Concerto #1 by Prokofiev and Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov, and excerpts from “Pictures at an Exhibition,” orchestrated by Ravel. Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall. 144 Green Street. Northampton. (FREE)

Monday, November 21, 7pm
Wind ensembles can include brass instruments, such as trumpets, as well as woodwinds, such as saxophones. You can hear the Smith College wind ensemble perform: “The Four Seasons in One Day.” Celebrate the seasons of New England as we transition into fall and winter. The Smith College Wind Ensemble is conducted by Ellen Redman. Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Monday, November 21, 7pm
Music Mondays at the Gaylord Memorial Library invite community members to see local music to kick start their week. At this performance, jazz musician Giacomo Gates will perform in a trio format, joined by revered local sidemen Paul Arslanian on keyboards and George Kaye on bass. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA. ($)


Tuesday, November 22, 7pm
The Pioneer Valley is home to immigrants and refugees from around the world. Their presence helps to shape our culture. Ilan Stavans is editor of Words in Transit: Stories of Immigration. He is a Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and an immigrant himself. He will be facilitating a discussion about immigration with a panel of contributors to the book. Attendees are welcome to tell their own immigration story or join in the discussion, at the Jones Library. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Black Friday

“Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the entire year for Americans. Stores massively discount their prices, and millions of people scramble to get the limited goods before they’re sold out. Black Friday has only grown since it began, but how did it become such a big deal in the first place?” – Life Noggin

Looking for non-commercial alternatives to Black Friday that are value-based or support interest and education? Click here to check our list of events happening across Western MA and just over the border!

[Photo credit: (cc) Aivar Ruukel]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.




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