Greenfield Notebook: Feb. 24, 2023

Published: 02-23-2023 2:28 PM

No Somos Máquinas exhibit heading to
LAVA Center

GREENFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Workers Center and The LAVA Center have partnered to curate the “No Somos Máquinas (We Are Not Machines): Farmworker Resistance in the Connecticut River Valley” exhibit for a spring showcase.

The exhibit will be on display at The LAVA Center, 324 Main St., in March and April. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, March 4, from noon to 3 p.m. The exhibit’s photographer, Alfonso Neal, will speak about the images and reflect on the themes the exhibit highlights.

Through the words and portraits of farm staff in western Massachusetts, the “No Somos Máquinas” exhibit explores the broken immigration system, the exclusion of farm employees from basic labor protections and the conditions that have compelled them to rise up. This fully bilingual exhibit consists of portraits, interpretive panels, a timeline of worker organizing and audio of oral history excerpts.

“Photography can show the monumentality of a moment in an instant, and nothing is more monumental and impactful than the faces and voices of farm workers organizing in the fields and their communities,” Neal said in a statement. “Behind their eyes is a fierce determination to leave the world in better shape than how it’s found. It was a privilege to photograph these farm workers and to highlight their historic struggle for dignity and respect.”

According to The LAVA Center, it is collaborating on the exhibit as part of its project IndiVISIBLE, part of Mass Humanities’ Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative. IndiVISIBLE, guided by Lindy Whiton and Alfonso Neal, will document the lives of indispensable, yet often invisible, agricultural workers. The project is funded by Mass Humanities, the Markam-Nathan Fund for Social Justice and Greening Greenfield.

This is the second iteration of “No Somos Máquinas,” according to The LAVA Center. The first exhibit, held in 2016 at the APE Gallery in Northampton, featured oral histories and portraits of restaurant workers.

The LAVA Center requires masks for all guests and always has some on hand. For more information, visit

Silent film screening set for March 6

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GREENFIELD — “Wings,” a 1927 drama about U.S. pilots in the skies over Europe during World War I, will be shown Monday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas.

The screening will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.

Admission is $10.50 for adults, and $8.50 for children, seniors and veterans. Tickets are available online at or at the door.

Culinary Institute welcomes new roster of students

GREENFIELD — A new roster of eight students began a three-month culinary arts education at the Stone Soup Culinary Institute last week.

“As an organization, we are constantly learning for our community,” Whitney Robbins, Stone Soup’s board president, said in a statement. “We are excited to leave an impression on our students, and for our students to also leave an impression on the café.”

Last year’s inaugural cohort shaped the course. The program will continue to teach safe handling of food and beverages, culinary math and measurements, knife skills and precision cutting, as well as offer practice in the fundamentals of cooking. New additions to the curriculum include fermentation, palette building, butchering and creating a “zero-waste kitchen.”

The Culinary Institute is tuition-free, “and we have added student stipends to help remove barriers for those seeking job skills and new careers,” Kirsten Levitt, co-executive director, said in a statement. Funding comes from a Massachusetts Urban Agenda grant, in partnership with the city of Greenfield and community support.

Chef Brandon Shantie will be joined by co-teacher, Chef Aimee Francaes, who brings extensive experience and industry insight from her own career as a restaurateur in Northampton. She’s the former owner of Belly of the Beast, an eatery that featured whole-animal, in-house butchery with ingredients sourced from local farms.

Dan Butler, one of the new students at the Culinary Institute, said he is especially excited about batch cooking.

“It’s where you take a small recipe and expand it to 600-plus meals,” he said.

Currently an artist, Butler is looking for a career transition. While he has worked in food service previously, he is hoping this culinary arts education will lead him to a more creative culinary future.

For more information about the Culinary Institute, visit

GCVS students meet up at Museum of Science

GREENFIELD — Students, staff and families with the Greater Commonwealth Virtual School (GCVS) gathered at the Museum of Science in Boston for a family engagement day last month.

Approximately 125 students and 175 family members and staff attended, engaging with each other and with the museum’s science exhibits.

“Opportunities like this are important to foster the ongoing social-emotional development of students at all ages, and allow students to be curious and confident to explore academic topics to gain a deeper understanding,” Family Engagement Coordinator Susan Powers said in a statement. “When students feel like they belong and when they feel safe, they are ready, open and eager to learn.”

Each grade level met initially at a specific exhibit in the museum and worked on age-appropriate activities tied to the exhibits. Middle school students, for instance, met at the climate stories exhibit and learned about how animals are affected by their habitat and how climate change affects those habitats in a variety of geographical areas. High school students joined teacher Mary Beth Berrien at the museum’s Physics in the Park exhibit, and recognized things like pendulums that they learned about in earlier physics courses at GCVS.