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Hilltown Voices: Forums and film festival put spotlight on environment

  • Markus Spiske/via Pexels Markus Spiske/via Pexels

For the Gazette
Published: 1/18/2020 1:57:36 PM
Modified: 1/18/2020 1:56:39 PM

As climate change, and its multiple effects on the environment, takes a more prominent place on the world stage, residents in the Hilltowns are coming together to address practical strategies to combat habitat and species loss on a local level.

The Plainfield Tree Alliance, together with the Plainfield Agricultural Commission, is sponsoring a four-part series titled “Hilltowns Responding to Environmental Crises: A Practical Approach.” This program will begin on Jan. 27 and feature one event per month through April 20.

Plainfield Tree Alliance member Anne Williamson said that the series will begin Monday with a discussion of the book “Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy. Tallamy is professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on the various ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.

“Bringing Nature Home” provides gardeners with information and recommendations on how and why to provide a welcoming environment for wildlife, giving them the tools to make a positive difference in the health of local insect, bird and other native animal communities.

■On Monday, Feb. 17, Brittany Laginhas, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, will offer a talk titled “Our Landscape and Global Climate Change.” Laginhas is affiliated with the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.

■On Monday, March 16, Desiree Narango, a visiting researcher at UMass, will present “Gardening for Wildlife.” Narango’s research goals are to provide data-driven recommendations to homeowners, land managers and conservationists on preserving biodiversity in a rapidly changing world.

■Finally, on Monday, April 20, gardener, photographer and pollinator advocate Larri Cochran will discuss “Creating and Supporting Biodiversity in Your Landscape.” Cochran is a Master Gardener, vice president of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association and a certified horticulturalist.

The events are open to the public and will be held at the Plainfield Safety Complex at 38 North Central St.

Williamson said the Plainfield Tree Alliance was established two years ago after Eversource had to remove 1,000 trees from the area.

“We started thinking about the environmental consequences of that and also looking at the effects of climate change as we consider what trees would be appropriate to plant in place of the ones that were lost,” she said.

Williamson also said people in the region have noticed a decline in native birds and insects and that her group is committed to seeing what might be done to reverse that trend.

For more information on this event, contact Anne Williamson at 413-634-5695.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

CHESTERFIELD — The second annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Chesterfield Community Center.

This event will feature eight short films about the challenges currently facing the planet and the work that various individuals, groups and communities are doing to protect the environment.

There will also be a raffle held after the show.

Wild & Scenic film festivals have taken place across the country each winter since the first festival began in Northern California in 2003.

In total, they feature over 150 award-winning environmental films.

Tickets are $5 for adults, and children get in free.

The Westfield Wild & Scenic Committee, the Chesterfield Cultural Council and the Chesterfield Council on Aging are sponsors of this event.

For more information, call 413-297-4007.

Family Center playgroups

CUMMINGTON — The Cummington Family Center will hold play groups on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Cummingon Community House.

The Family Center supports families with children up to 5 years old. Play groups are free and open to all.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at

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