Headliners: Long-haul harvest/ Educating the eye

Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014

Long-haul harvest

“One part food, to two parts politics, to three parts economics” is how Turners Falls filmmaker Steve Alves describes “Food for Change,” his documentary tracing the history of the co-op movement in the U.S. Originating as a request from the Franklin Community Co-op in Greenfield, Alves’ initially modest project grew into a feature-length work including interviews, archival footage and commentary by co-op leaders and historians. Part One describes the emergence of the first food co-ops in the Midwest during the Great Depression and how they restored hope to myriads of the disenfranchised by giving them some control over their lives. Part Two portrays the re-emergence of the co-ops during the 1960s, a time when a new generation was seeking radical social change even as millions family farms were being driven out of business by corporate agriculture and industrial farms. Part Three takes up the present-day renaissance in the co-op movement and how it is revitalizing communities across the United States.

On Saturday at 2 p.m. River Valley Market in Northampton, the Franklin Community Co-op, the Amherst Community Co-op and the Old Creamery Co-op are jointly sponsoring a screening of the film at the Academy of Music in Northampton. The $7.50 admission will benefit the Amherst Co-op’s start-up development funding. Alves will be in attendance for a Q&A, as will several local participants in the film. academyofmusictheatre.com

Educating the eye

Opening today at the Smith College Museum of Art, “The Eye Is a Door: Photography and the Art of Discovery” is show of images by Anne Whiston Spirn, a professor of landscape architecture at M.I.T. and photographer whose twin disciplines have evolved into a campaign to promote the development of “visual thinking” or “visual literacy.”

“Visual thinking is a crucial skill, but one that is widely ignored and rarely taught,” Spirn says. “Research shows that perception and cognition are intimately linked and that many people can think more fluently and inventively with images than with words or numbers, yet schools rarely teach visual literacy.”

Based on her newly published book of the same title, “The Eye is a Door” focuses on urban, rural and natural landscapes Spirn photographed during her travels to different parts of the globe for research over the past 35 years, attended by the argument that “the language of landscape” exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors and that “we imperil ourselves by failing to learn to read and speak this language...” Just as “illness goes undiagnosed when doctors fail to recognize pertinent visual clues,” she notes, so “homes and businesses are built on dangerous ground when planners are blind to evidence of the natural forces that shape a city.”

Spirn will speak on Mon., Feb. 10 at 2:40 p.m. in Smith’s Wright Hall auditorium. On Tues., Feb. 11, she’ll be a participant in “Threshold: An Evening of Dance, Music and Image.” 7 p.m. in Theatre 14. smith.edu/artmuseum

— Dan DeNicola


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