More and more, communities are working together to create opportunities for pooling knowledge, sharing skills, and increasing each others’ access to useful resources. A few examples in Western MA include repair cafes, time trading, swaps, skill-sharing, and lending initiatives. In creating systems and channels through which to access shared information and materials, communities are building resilient foundations upon which to grow and to learn.
Commonly known as collaborative consumption, such shared economy practices work to shift emphasis from ownership of goods and knowledge to access to them, a shift that would decrease the number of resources each individual would need to participate in a sustainable way of life.
During the spring, when families are looking towards their backyard gardens and plots, gardening tools are on everyone’s mind. Maybe your 20-year-old wheelbarrow now has a broken handle, or you’re needing a spade but have an extra shovel and unused saw. Whatever the case may be, now is an excellent time to tap into a preexisting tool lending library in your neighborhood (i.e., Northfield Tool Lending Library). If one does not exist, consider spearheading the creation of a small-scale tool sharing initiative with friends and families. By starting with folks closest to you, and expanding out with a few interested neighbors, families may quickly discover that not only do they need fewer tools on hand but that they are also seeding and growing meaningful community connections!
Get inspired by seeing what other communities have created in this TEDx Talk, and read more about How to Start a Neighborhood Tool Share.
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6 Community Resources and Annual Events for Sustainable Living
Reuse of objects and materials offers families a means of living more sustainably and inexpensively. Locally, organizations and businesses centered around reuse serve as a valuable community resource. Families can find everything from household items to construction materials through reuse-centric resources, and can learn about reuse and recycling practices in the process!
Held for the first time this year, the Earth Day River Festival encourages communities to rally around the Housatonic! Including opportunities to explore, learn, and care for the environment, the event celebrates all that the Housatonic offers to the Berkshires and encourages responsible, conservation-minded treatment of the local environment.
Have a toaster that just won’t toast? Favorite wool socks whose heels have worn through? A lamp whose cord has frayed? Bring fixable items to the Lenox Fix-It Fair, an event pooling community fixing knowledge in order to give life to repairable items. From appliances to toys and everything in between, the Fix-It Fair aims to reduce consumption and waste!
Differing from regular mending in that it’s meant to be seen, visible mending offers a creative take on clothing repair. Possible to do with just a few basic sewing skills, visible mending offers a great fix for the inevitable rips, tears, and threadbare patches that well-loved clothing inevitably experiences – plus it’s an easy way to upcycle!
While almost all food scraps make great compost, certain scraps can make something even more wonderful – more food! Families can engage in hands-on experiential learning by collecting bits of these special foods and creating their own mini-gardens. Young gardeners can learn about how plants grow, and can enjoy delicious homegrown foods with ease!
Western Mass really drops an abundance of local food into our laps every summer! It’s an incredible bounty that brings with it a possibility of some waste, as storage can prove difficult. Enter Fermentation…a healthy and educational technique to repurpose delicious & healthy food into… delicious & healthy food! Did we mention fermentation is also educational? Involve your kids and they’ll get some experience with cellular biology & chemistry. Read on for some excellent insights!
This month, Hilltown Families will be entering our 10th year! We will also be participating in our 1st ever Annual Appeal through Valley Gives this Wednesday, December 10th! Your tax deductible donation to Hilltown Families during Valley Gives will help us continue to support community building and community learning initiatives throughout western MA! Supporting Education through Community Engagement For nearly a decade, Hilltown Families has been working towards creating resilient and sustainable… Read More
What do storm drains have in common with art, watersheds, and poetry? They’ll all be a part of The Art of Clean Water celebration put on by Enchanted Circle Theater and their community partners on Saturday, November 8th from 10am-11:30am at the Holyoke Public Library! The celebration will feature an unveiling of new artwork inspired by Holyoke students on several of the storm drains in downtown Holyoke. The event will be focused on education and advocacy around water for youth and local families and will have activities and opportunities to learn for the whole family.
We live in a society with a lot of stuff, most of which limits creative free play while having a negative impact on our environment and societies. This summer, rather than buying more stuff to encourage kids to play, make your own toys out of materials you have at hand!
This month in ‘What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community,’ Carries finds a book that inspires her to do just that! The best part about making toys with kids is the pure experimental nature of it. The first try may not work but with comes learning through problem solving…
and may even taking things in a completely new direction! It’s all wonderfully stimulating and drives creative free play through sustainable practices. Read Carrie’s post and get inspired to make your own!
Clearing out your closet will make you feel better and will enable you to find the essence of your style. Read how Project 333 can challenges teens (and adults!) to scale back their wardrobe while supporting awareness in consumerism, community service and collaborative consumption.
The Amherst Farmers’ Market and Sustainability Festival takes place this Saturday, April 26th, on the Town Common. Pick up your starter plants and locally grown foods from the Market, and then head to the Common for a fabulous family-friendly festival featuring all things sustainable… including Hilltown Families! Stop by our tent where kids can plant seeds to take home with them while parents can learn about the mission of Hilltown Families.
“Every day we are challenged to be authentic. Authentic to ourselves, to community, and to our loved ones through our speech or actions…” writes Angie this month in ‘Parenting Green.’ “Whether it’s walking or biking into town, hiking the mountains, gardening in the backyard, making medicine from plants, going to the farmer’s market, or participating in river clean-ups, we are aligning our our actions with our intentions and being our authentic selves… Share it boldly & create habits from the things that make your heart soar.”
More and more, communities across western Massachusetts – and around the world! – are working together to create opportunities for pooling knowledge, sharing skills, and increasing each others’ access to useful resources. In creating systems and channels through which to access shared information and materials, communities are building resourceful, resilient foundations upon which to grow…The power of collaborative consumption not only supports sustainable efforts, but is a great source for community-based education too!
The Children’s Garden Project started in 2013 with two college students, a hodgepodge collection of garden tools and a goal: to connect urban children with nature and basic agricultural concepts through a specially designed educational curriculum…
“For our family it really boils down to 6 things that we do with a little extra effort to reduce our trash,” writes Angie this month in her column, “Parenting Green: Earth Friendly Ideas for Raising a Family.” Check out what her family does to reduce their consumption and recycle their waste, and post your ideas to in the comment field…
“I am always amazed at how the kids tend to be the ones to notice the pulse of our natural world through their curiosity,” writes Angie this month in ‘Parenting Green.’ What are some of the ways your family stays connected to nature when the winter wind and snow makes you feel like it’s not worth the fight to get bundled up?
Does holiday consumerism & consumption eat at you? This month in “Parenting Green,” Angie shares ideas for gift wrapping alternative that are reuseable and creative. With over 4 million extra tons of waste being disposed of in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, finding sustainable ways to wrap your gifts is one easy way to put a dent into that number…
“In our house, it’s hard to remember how we made it from the days of paper towels by the roll and paper napkins by the stack to the cloth napkins that prevail in our home now,” writes Angie this month in “Parenting Green.”
Amherst Cinema will screen the film “More than Honey,” partnering with CISA to bring a panel of local community members to discuss the vital relationship between humans and bees, and addresses the mysterious, drastic decline of honeybee colonies around the world in the last 15 years…
Angie’s earth friendly idea this month for raising a family is about repairing that which is broken, rotted, torn or cracked– and how it helps her feel aligned with the simplicity of being human…
No Seat Belts My nine year old rides the public transit bus to school, with no adult chaperone. Just with some classmates, typically some war vets, and sometimes a doughnut in hand, this is how she experiences the responsibility of being on time. As well as the reward of it: the once a week ‘doughnut day’ is our incentive for getting out of the house on time (or early rather). It helps… Read More
Reuse & Recycling Rally Offers 3 Ways to Practice the 3 R’s! The Northampton Department of Public Works is sponsoring another reuse & recycling rally on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 at the Smith Vocational High School from 9am-12pm, in cooperation with the City’s ReUse Committee, the Salvation Army & ProShred of Wilbraham. This is the third in a series of events in 2013 to promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling of unusual… Read More
Northampton’s Free Kid’s Stuff Exchange Smith Vocational High School Cafeteria Saturday March 9 from 8am-12pm The Northampton DPW’s ReUse Committee is sponsoring a free “Kid’s Stuff Exchange” at Smith Vocational High School this coming Saturday March 9th, 2013. Pre-registration is required to participate from 8-11am, opening up to the general public from 11am-12noon. This swap meet will allow local families to exchange clothing, toys, books and sporting goods in good condition at… Read More
Pittsfield Resilience Circle Host a Repair Café Saturday, January 19th, 2013 Janet Henderson writes: What do you do with a broken toaster? Or with a bike that needs repair? Or with a pair of pants when a seam rips? Or a partially dysfunctional umbrella? Throw it away? Certainly not! The Pittsfield Resilience Circle is organizing the Berkshires’ first ever Repair Café. It will be held in Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 19 from… Read More
7th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival Sunday, September 23rd When was the last time that you enjoyed a bike-power-blended smoothie? Have you ever made your own cornmeal, or dyed your own fabric using wildflowers? Families can do all of these things and more at the North Amherst Harvest Festival! The harvest festival takes place on Sunday, September 23rd from 12noon-5pm at the North Amherst Community Farm (NACF), a farm run as a… Read More
Growing a Model Sustainable Campus: UMass Permaculture Documentary Series UMass Permaculture Committee writes, “Together, we have the unique ability to create huge positive global transformation, and inspire more colleges and universities, towns and cities, and all communities to adopt permaculture and sustainable design principles into their Master Planning. A powerful video can sometimes be a catalyst for this kind of big change, and the goal of this entire project is to inspire… Read More