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A bioblitz can offer students a unique hands-on learning experience that will make them more aware of the amount of biodiversity in their neighborhood and will teach them to identify new species. Communities will benefit from the events as well – neighbors can gain a greater awareness of what’s in their backyards, and perhaps even become better connected to the natural world that surrounds them!

This month we welcome Dr. Boyd Kynard, one the world’s most respected fish behaviorists, who has an urgent message for the people of Connecticut River watershed.

This month, Kurt presents an essay by Rika Tsuji from Osaka Japan, who river-walked two summers ago with Western MA youth. Rika is a Fulbright Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Texas finishing her dissertation on Environmental Philosophy for Children. 

Before wagons, cars, trains, and airplanes appeared, rivers were main transportation routes for our species and attracted and circulated the biotic abundance of plants and creatures through all four seasons. Imagine a road that is also a food source. That’s a living river.

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] To find out about more event, be sure to visit our Suggest an Event Bulletin Board to see what our readers have recently shared! Have an event to share? Feel encouraged to self-post community events here at any time![/caption]

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program, or service-learning opportunity happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our Suggest An Event bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness, and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools, and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families is currently recruiting our newest Interpretive Writer and Development & Sales Officer. Click on the banner above to see the full job descriptions, as well as a slew of other available volunteer and intern positions. We look forward to hearing from our community!

Bulletin Board

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 23[/caption]

Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst on Saturday, September 23 for Elephant & Piggie Art-ventures with Mo Willems and Tom Warburton! In We Are in an ART-ivity Book!, Mo Willems and Tom Warburton have created the first-ever Elephant and Piggie activity books, full of hands-on fun! Meet Mo and Tom. Get books signed. Take your photo with Elephant & Piggie, watch films, and create art! Book signing from 12:30 – 2:30 pm. Limit 1 book from home/unlimited books from The Carle Bookshop. Can’t make it to the event? Reserve signed books online, call 413-559-6333, or

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 23 & 24[/caption]

The 19th Annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is September 23 & 24 from 10am-5pm in Orange, MA. There’s something for everyone at this fabulous family destination. Over 100 booths are vibrant with local artists, farmers, fabulous food, chef demos and skills for local living. Enjoy amazing music, performance, spoken word and dance on three stages. New! ‘The World We Love,’ a giant handcrafted globe in the kid’s activity tent- add your vision and join the celebratory parade at the end of each festival day. Plus hula-hooping, horse-drawn hayrides, and garlic games all weekend. Only $5.00 adults, Kids 12 & under are free! More for travel/parking info and program visit www.garlicandarts.org; Follow festival updates daily on Facebook.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 25[/caption]

Monday, September 25, 2017, 10am-3pm: Soar into spring with Homeschool Day at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. Open exclusively for homeschoolers and their families, and featured activities include: hands-on build & fly challenge activities, interactive flight science demonstrations, open cockpit experiences in historic aircraft, aircraft quests, fight simulators, and more! Virtual Flight Center access available for additional $5 per person. Tickets available for purchase on the day of your visit on a first come first served basis. Pre-registration required. Children ages 3 and under admitted free. www.neam.org for an online registration form. Please call 860-623-3305 x313 for questions.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Add your class[/caption]

Hilltown Families has put together an After-School Classes & Enrichment Programs Directory of classes and programs happening across Western Massachusetts throughout the school year. Our community is rich in learning opportunities to supplement the interests of children, teens, and life-long learners and our directory makes it easier to find these gems while connecting families with resources that support their interests and education. — Have a class or program you’d like to include in our directory? Click here to find out how to have it added. New and updated opportunities are added throughout the year.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Add your school[/caption]

Hilltown Families Preschool Directory: Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, after-school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at at sales@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community-building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish, and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
September 23rd-29th, 2017

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Suggest an Event | Cultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

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“Hilltown Families has made it oh so easy to in a few minutes find fun outings and events for our family. It’s also a wealth of information about this wonderful place that we live in. Thanks for making it so accessible.” – Amy Cullen (Williamsburg, MA)

Imagine the world without roads. No highways, interstates, traffic lights, or roundabouts. For most of us, the only way of life we’ve ever known is shaped by our roads and the technologies that transport us – and what we consume – from place to place. Of course, many defining characteristics of modern life would be completely different or nonexistent without our modern road systems, but perhaps, for now, we’ll focus on the implications that roads have on non-human entities.

Rivers, as flowing water, can be soothing to the ear, or overpowering with noise, depending on the river’s bed or soundscape. Protruding rocks may be the only visible evidence of what creates the sounds a river or stream makes as water tumbles over and around boulders and pebbles. As water levels often drop this time of year, during the summer, the sounds of moving water may become softened and even silent, to be restored by rain storms. Even in winter, the muted voice of a stream can be heard flowing under the ice…

Rivers flow through our lives both metaphorically and realistically – sources of drinking water, energy and transportation, but also as symbols of life “flowing like a river.” Rivers have been dammed, turned into lakes, or redirected into irrigation channels, among other human uses for them. We, as a species, tend to take them for granted, using them as a way to rid ourselves of our waste – out of sight, out of mind – with little regard for the other animals and plants which live within their banks.

Phoebe Gelbard debuts as Hilltown Families newest Contributing Writer, taking over “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers,” a monthly column previous written by Kurt Heidinger. For her debut post, Phoebe writes, “We are not the movers and shakers of the earth, for that would be far too appraising of how we have laid claim to a home that was never rightfully ours; rather, we are the Takers of all things wild and free and the Leavers* of a world whose light dims a little more each day.

“With all of our advancements, we have not progressed to the point of living in ways that will allow us to continue to inhabit the earth. We are simply atoms that are arranged to form beings capable of comprehending arrangements of atoms, and we have not yet mastered the art of awareness – or so we pretend.”

“Follow the water and you’ll never be lost. That maxim has a zen-ish, new-agey ring to it, even a poetry. But it is based on the hard physical fact that all places on the terrestrial earth are composed of watersheds….”

The Importance of Ice Every time there’s a big storm in Miami, the ocean fountains up through the storm-drains and swamps the streets. This happens regularly now, not just in Florida but all the way to Virginia. The earth has warmed and is warming.

This month the Ripple takes us to the riverside, to witness a life larger than we imagine, older and stronger than the mountains and the sky, and as immediate as we are.

Imagine the long course of evolution that took our species out of the trees of Northeastern Africa, led us on the great tribal migrations that dispersed us across the globe, and left us to settle on the banks of rivers. Kurt shares his thoughts this month in “The Ripple.”

The Lessons of Drought In the one hundred and twenty years that flow records have been kept for the Westfield River, never has it been as low as it is today. Drought is a phenomena we are going to experience more now and in the future because our climate is warming. How we learn about and deal with this planetary change will mean everything: the success or failure of our own species’… Read More

When Rivers Talk, They Speak River, Not English

Despite the damage that invasive flora and fauna do to our local landscape, invasive species can serve as a community-based resource for citizen science, community service, and studies of environmental science. From identification to eradication, invasive species present unique educational opportunities!

When I started writing this column in 2011, I did so hoping to inspire readers to “make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!” Rivers are all around us, but they don’t form as much a part of ourselves as roads do. Close your eyes again: can you see a river? How far can you follow it? Does it lead anywhere?

Sustainability: the River Knows the Way Biology tells us that water is life. Religion tells us that life is sacred. Biology does not want to admit that life is sacred (because that would not be “objective,” but it would not exist without water.  Think of any biologist and name one not totally dependent upon water for life. Einstein’s brain was 75% water, and so are ours. Think of how you are reading… Read More

A River Is Always In Synch Like tiny submariners bursting up and out of the bottom of the brook, breaking into wings and soaring for a short time above the world they once knew, the stoneflies are here, molting from crab-shells they lived in. On the back of my neck, computer keyboard, every boulder around me: they multiply, skitter all directions, avoiding the rushing water they recently called home. The frenzy begins. 

Service Learning can provide an inspiring context for nature exploration and the outdoors. In our Western Massachusetts communities, there are many ways at home and with local organizations that you can engage in service learning while spending time outside and learning more about our environment and the species with whom we share it.

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary offers a training on the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, families can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

Living the life riparian—what does it mean? What could it mean? How can we live it? The best place to consider these questions is by the river side. Every river drains a unique watershed, collects unique nutrients, which in turn become habitat and food for unique creatures, which eventually become nutrients themselves, again. And all tumble down to the sea from mountain heights, carried by streams, brooks and rivers. — Read more in The Ripple!

In Chile Rivers are everywhere, and one of the joys of paying attention to them is—if you let them, they bring you places far from what you have left behind. Sometimes that new space, that new place to wander, is exactly what is needed, for there the unexpected can find you, and in finding you, can awaken you to the multiplicity (and miracles) of worlds there are on our small, living planet. In… Read More

We carry the ocean inside of ourselves. This is a fact; but, due to our cultural make-up, it is a fact that is not connected presently to a larger intelligence. What I mean is: is this fact ever taught in school? Does it form a part of any day-to-day mode of consciousness? Read more in this month’s column, “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers.”

Freshwater Sponges: A Most Ancient and Wonderful River Friend

Kurt takes us on an adventure to Rock Dam in Turners Falls, connecting us to our landscape and broadening our awareness of place… this month in “The Ripple: Stories About Western MA Rivers.”

Call for citizen scientists! Adventurous, bug-loving families in Western MA can help to contribute to ongoing ant research and identification of species by participating in a project called School of Ants…

Connect to where you live by learning about invasive species and how they impact biodiversity. Then take action to eradicate! —

Japanese knotweed is one such species. This month in “The Ripple,” Kurt’s poetic approach to understanding the influence this invasive species has on our ecology and what you can do about it will leave you thinking and feeling more connected to the creatures that call the banks of our local rivers home.

This month on Mass Appeal, Sienna and Ashley talk about community-based events and resources that support an integrative approach to nature-based learning. The summer months are a great time of year to get outside with your kids and allow nature to become their classroom. In this video clip, Sienna talks about looking through the lens of your local habitat to find ways for your families to engage in your community while supporting interests and education. Look for opportunities and resources that integrate learning cross a variety of interests!

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