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Arts Briefs: The Paradise City Arts Festival returns to Northampton, the MIFA Victory Players perform in Holyoke, and more
05-23-2024 2:41 PM

Paradise by the fairground lightsNORTHAMPTON — One of the area’s largest artistic celebrations returns this weekend, as some 220 artists and craftspeople gather at the Three County Fairgrounds for the Paradise City Arts Festival.The biannual festival,...

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Earth Matters: Biodiversity crisis in our backyard: The science behind saving habitat for wildlife
05-23-2024 2:36 PM

By KARI BLOOD

One of the reasons many of us love living in the Valley is being able to see wildlife around us. But those sightings will become increasingly rare if humans don’t take bold steps to slow the loss of species around the world. Scientists are sounding...


Rattling those musical bones: Folk/blues veteran Chris Smither releases his 20th album ahead of 80th birthday
05-17-2024 2:22 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

When Chris Smither found his live gigs shut down during the worst months of COVID-19, he figured it might at least be a good opportunity to write some new songs — something the veteran folk/blues singer and guitarist admits is not the easiest process...


South County Senior Center opts not to renew church lease after rift over LGBTQ program
05-10-2024 10:18 AM

By CHRIS LARABEE

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Senior Center Board of Oversight has opted to not renew the center’s lease to use the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church’s function hall after a disagreement over the Rainbow Elders program.With the current lease expiring May 31,...


Valley writers shine in initial round of Mass Book Award competition: 12 area authors and author/illustrators long-listed for 2024 awards
05-03-2024 4:41 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

NORTHAMPTON — It’s been another good year for Valley writers.Twelve area authors (and author/illustrators) have had new work long-listed for the 2024 Massachusetts Book Awards, presented annually by the Massachusetts Center for the Book (MCB) in five...


Earth Matters: Honoring a local hero: After 40 years, Hitchcock Center bids farewell to educator and creative leader, Colleen Kelley
05-03-2024 1:51 PM

By TED WATT and HELEN ANN SEPHTON

This column honors Colleen Kelley, the education director at the Hitchcock Center, who will soon be leaving her post after 40 years.In the fall of 1984, Colleen walked into the Hitchcock Center — young, bright, idealistic, and fresh off a position as...


Time to celebrate kids and books: Mass Kids Lit Fest offers a wealth of programs in Valley during Children’s Book Week
04-25-2024 11:56 AM

By STEVE PFARRER

Just in time to coincide with Children’s Book Week, a national event established in 1905, the Massachusetts Center for the Book (MCB) has created a children’s literary showcase here in the Valley.The Mass Kids Lit Fest, a new book festival taking...


Earth Matters: From Big Sits to Birdathons: Birding competitions far and near
04-18-2024 1:46 PM

By JOSHUA ROSE

A few months ago, headlines flared that Peter Kaestner had seen his 10,000th bird species. This could have been anticlimactic, as Kaestner has been renowned for years among birders for traveling worldwide and seeing more species than anyone.However,...


U.S. Rep. McGovern talks national issues, local effects at South County Senior Center
04-06-2024 11:02 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

SOUTH DEERFIELD — In a visit to the South County Senior Center, much of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern’s discussion with residents focused on national issues, such as immigration and the war in Gaza. Still, the longtime Worcester Democrat emphasized these...


Earth Matters: Why opposites attract: The magnetism between two things isn’t always fully explicable; sometimes it just feels right
04-05-2024 2:01 PM

By RACHEL QUIMBY

One of my favorite books from childhood is P.D. Eastman’s “Big Dog, Little Dog,” the story of two bi-pedal pooches who are best friends. But Fred is tall, and Ted is short; Fred drives slowly and Ted drives fast; Ted plays the tuba, and Fred plays the...


The Beat Goes On: Cloudbelly celebrates a new album in Northampton, Brazilian sounds come to Amherst, and more
04-04-2024 3:32 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Just days after former folk and Americana performer turned indie-pop singer Caroline Rose played in Florence, Cloudbelly, the Valley indie folk band led by singer-songwriter Corey Laitman, is set to showcase songs from a new album that has a...


Valley arts organizations win Mass Cultural funding: Awards are designed to mitigate casinos’ entertainment clout
04-04-2024 12:46 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

As part of a funding program for municipal and nonprofit performing arts centers, the Massachusetts Cultural Council is awarding over $150,000 to 10 arts organizations and centers in the Valley.The awards — part of $3.66 million in funding the MCC is...


Latest plan for Whately Center School opts to retain town ownership
03-30-2024 11:42 AM

By CHRIS LARABEE

WHATELY — With the rejection of two reuse proposals that involved selling the building, the future of the Whately Center School is now back in the hands of the town, as the Select Board opted last week to let the school’s Visioning Committee flesh out...


UMass hockey: Minutemen limit high-powered Denver attack in NCAA Tournament opening round loss
03-28-2024 7:23 PM

By GARRETT COTE

SPRINGFIELD — Entering Thursday afternoon’s NCAA tournament regional game, the UMass hockey team was well aware of the task at hand battling the No. 3 team in the country, Denver, and its No. 1 ranked scoring offense in the nation.The Minutemen held...


Art is a vehicle for change: Power of Truths Festival returns to Florence to illuminate history of injustice, April 5-6
03-28-2024 3:43 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Can the arts help us reexamine our past and come to terms with injustice? Can music, film and other mediums become instruments for social change by helping us look differently at our history and our beliefs?Those are questions the Power of Truths Arts...


Karuna Center adds peacebuilding experts to team
03-22-2024 4:57 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

With two new members on its board of directors, the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding is looking to continue its international work, while also expanding on its mission here in the valley.In recent weeks, the international and domestic peace-building...


The Beat Goes On: A post-Mardi Gras show in Florence, a popular area band celebrates its newest album in Amherst, and more
03-21-2024 2:10 PM

By STEVE PFARRER

Mardi Gras took place last month, but you can catch some of its flavor at the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity on March 24 at 4 p.m. when Jon Cleary & The Monster Gentlemen come to the Florence venue — with the Soggy Po Boys opening the show.Cleary has...


Amid lukewarm response to sale proposals, Whately committee seeks leeway on plan for historic school
03-17-2024 10:01 AM

By CHRIS LARABEE

WHATELY — Having received two responses to a request for proposals for the sale of the Whately Center School, members of the Center School Visioning Committee are asking for more time to come up with an idea to retain the historic building.Jenny...


Earth Matters: Living in a recycled material world: Hitchcock Center inspires a fossil free future
03-14-2024 10:22 AM

By MARGAUX PAINE

As the world grapples with environmental challenges, the Fossil Free Zones initiative, championed by Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO), takes inspiration from the transformative work at The Hitchcock Center for the Environment. The Center...


A dream fulfilled: Aaron Lansky, whose Yiddish Book Center helped reclaim a culture, stepping aside
03-10-2024 11:46 AM

By STEVE PFARRER

AMHERST — Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, began his 2004 memoir about his work, “Outwitting History,” with a memorable anecdote: how he’d taken a dead-of-night train from the Valley to Manhattan in 1980 and, with the...


Earth Matters: In awe of the evolution of seeds: Seeds have lives and ecosystem roles far beyond their use to humans
03-07-2024 1:10 PM

By LAWRENCE WINSHIP

February in New England brings longer days, uncertain weather … and seed catalogs! We gardeners pour over highly anticipated pages of glossy photos offering the promise of gorgeous fruits and flowers, all for the small price of a seed packet.Seed...

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