Hilltown Families Steps Out as National Model, Seeks New Executive Director
Hilltown Families Steps Out as National Model,
Seeks New Executive Director
Working towards creating a culture of intentional learning, Sienna Wildfield founded Hilltown Families in 2005 as an innovative approach to education and community-development.
Over twelve years later, Hilltown Families is an award-winning non-profit with a Board of Directors consisting of educators, technology experts, and business people. With over 2.2 million visits to our website, we have 6,000 plus subscribers who receive our free eNewsletter every week, and hundreds of participating institutions who partner with us to reach new audiences, contributing to Wildfield’s vision to create a culture of intentional learning. Hilltown Families began as a simple email listserv for families living in the rural regions of Massachusetts, and now serves all four counties of western Massachusetts, sharing tens of thousands of community-based educational events, resources, and opportunities over the years for all generations and all levels of learning.
As Hilltown Families has grown, community organizers and educators in other regions of the country began reaching out to inquire how they too could create a similar network in their communities. Wildfield realized the power a collective of community-based educational networks could have in spearheading a movement towards a culture of intentional learning. She began mentoring and training organizers in locations as different as Honolulu and Mid-Coast Maine and is talking to others. In addition to developing a framework other communities in the country can follow to create their own networks, Wildfield is also working on a book about her innovative ideas for community-based education.
As Wildfield’s work has moved to replicate the Hilltown Families model elsewhere, she continues to write for and consult with the staff and board of directors of the local Hilltown Families organization.
Hilltown Families is now seeking a half-time Executive Director to shepherd the next level of growth of the local organization. Further information about the opportunity is available here: hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/jobs.
In her 2013 TEDx Talk, Supporting Education Through Community Engagement, Wildfield shared her vision for creating sustainable and resilient communities by strengthening a sense of place through community-based education. This vision led her to create a community tool which families, local businesses, and cultural institutions can use to connect and share community-based educational and placemaking opportunities.
“Empowered with the right tools, communities can take action to create a culture of intentional learning that makes education inclusive, accessible, and intergenerational, while strengthening a sense of place, supporting community resilience, and moving towards environmental sustainability,” says Wildfield. “Communities have the potential to become a powerful driving force for real change!”
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATION NETWORK
A Community-Based Education Network ™ (CBEdu) is a community engagement framework developed by Sienna Wildfield which supports a social movement towards a new culture of learning. The guiding principles of a CBEdu Network begin with the aim of creating and contributing to an intentional culture of learning within the context of the places we live (and visit). By engaging with local events, resources, and opportunities as a method of supporting interests and education, and through leveraging local culture that promotes community values, the principles applied through a CBEdu Network strengthen a sense of place while giving communities agency over their learning. The result unites people, places, interests, and personal/community values through purposeful engagement that strengthens the social fabric of our communities through shared interests and values.
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF HILLTOWN FAMILIES?
Hilltown Families’ mission is to support the common good of our community through the development of a sense of place by a shared understanding of the value of self-directed learning through community engagement. These learning values are referred to as “community-based education” and are accessible and inclusive to an intergenerational audience. This process of learning unites community members through shared interests, establishes a shared history and deepens a connection to place.
Hilltown Families works to accomplish this mission by identifying the embedded learning that is found everywhere in communities, interpreting the educational and social value of engagement, and making the information accessible to the community through an online communication network.
Hilltown Families method for identifying, interpreting and curating community-based opportunities that support interests and education is an innovative and established community tool that fosters a community culture of intentional learning. This culture creation tool identifies and connects community events, resources and opportunities throughout the four counties of western Massachusetts and links them together through shared interests, values and methods of engagement.
By making community-based learning opportunities explicit, Hilltown Families reveals intersections of learning, allowing community members of all ages to be self-directed in their education through community engagement. Community-based education strengthens a sense of place in citizens of all ages by making learning relevant to the learner and based in their community.