Monday, November 18, 2013

Preparing for Hanukkah Through Yoga

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
November 18, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 19, 2013, in the Peabody Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

PEABODY—Forty-eight Jewish women have found a new way to prepare for Hanukkah this year: meditative yoga.

The Lappin Foundation of Salem offers programs it hopes will promote Jewish identity across generations while also fostering community. This year, it is debuting a class called, “Movement for Your Jewish Soul,” a yoga session held four times a year, one for each of the major Jewish holidays: The High Holidays, Hanukkah, Passover and Shavuot. The Hanukkah session will be held Monday, Nov. 18. 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Aviv Centers for Living in Peabody.

The goal, according to the foundation’s executive director Debbie Coltin, is to engage participants in a multi-sensory experience that will help immerse them in the essence of Jewish holidays and strengthen their physical and spiritual links to them.

“I believe the mind-body connection fuels our faith and our faith feeds that mind-body connection,” said Coltin, 56, of Peabody. “I thought of how much richer our holiday celebrations could be by strengthening these connections.”

The idea for the yoga program originated as an extension of another program called “Breakfast for Your Jewish Soul,” which focuses on the same mind-body concept using food.  

Though the first session for the High Holidays has already passed, people can still enroll for the three remaining sessions. The classes are free and open to all, including men and teens. Coltin said she hopes to launch a yoga program specifically for teens next year.

Local Food Pantries Brace for SNAP Cuts During Holiday Season

Alyse Barbash at Haven from Hunger
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Nov. 18, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 18, 2013, in the Peabody Your Town site as well as the Beverly, Danvers and Salem sites of the Boston Globe.)

BEVERLY & PEABODY—Thanksgiving is a busy time of year for food pantries, but this one will be especially so. Due to the recent Nov. 1 nationwide cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, food pantries like Beverly Bootstraps and Haven from Hunger in Peabody are trying to gauge how much more they’ll need once the decrease goes into effect.

“We’re beginning to track our client’s response to this cut,” said Gus McDonald, food assistance supervisor at Beverly Bootstraps. “In the month of September we already had 18 new families, and in the month of October we had 36.”

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that Congress passed in 2009, funding for the SNAP program and others was terminated, according to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). States are unable to change the law, and 497,000 Massachusetts SNAP households will see a decrease in their food stamp benefits, says the DTA. Each reduction varies according to the number of people per household. A six-person household, for instance, will notice a cut of $53 per month, while a one person home will notice an $11 dollar decrease in their monthly benefits.

“We exist because food stamps exist,” said Alyse Barbash, executive director at Haven from Hunger. “If all of these food stamps are taken away over the next few years, then on a normal day, where I have 120 people lined up outside, I won’t be able to fill the need and my doors will close. Barbash said they need the food stamps, because her organization is just a supplement. “I can’t give enough food to a family of four or five for two weeks.”

Organic Café Offers Pay-it-Forward Thanksgiving Meal

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
November 14, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 18, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Salem News, Nov. 18, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times, and Nov. 14, 2013, in the Beverly Your Town site of the Boston Globe as well as the Globe North print edition.)

Beverly—What’s a Thanksgiving without the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes? For some, it’s an all-natural, vegan meal at the Organic Garden Café in Beverly. The café will be hosting its third annual pay-it-forward Thanksgiving dinner, asking customers to pay what they can for a meal. Those who want to give back can pay more than the suggested price of $18.95 so that any additional amount goes towards a meal for someone who can’t afford it.

“I love the idea of anybody being able to walk in the door and get this incredible meal, even if they don’t have any money,” said the café’s owner Rawbert Reid, 49, of Arlington. “It’s a great day to reach out to the community and people in need.”

The meal includes a “turkey-free” loaf—which is a dehydrated specialty made with sunflower seeds, walnuts, celery, onion, and carrot— in addition to cranberry relish, pecan mushroom gravy and a choice of two sides. Diners can order the meal anytime during Thanksgiving week to prepare at home, or they can eat in house on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m-3 p.m. There will also be a “community table” for those who want to connect with others or make new friends.

Monday, November 4, 2013

MASCO High Film Festival Draws Self-Taught, Multi Talented Students

Dan Proctor, second from left, with friends and
teacher (right) Gregory West.
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 30, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 31, 2013, in the Danvers Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

TOPSFIELD—From screen writing, casting, production, and directing to the occasional cameo and then hours of editing, the students at Masconomet (MASCO) High School have been busy this fall preparing for their bi-annual film festival. Though the school provides some resources, the student-directors are mostly self-taught and use their own equipment while collaborating with student actors and crewmembers to create original films.

“When we first started doing the festival, I knew more about video than anybody else, and now I know nothing compared to these students,” said Gregory West, health education teacher at MASCO since 1988, theatre instructor since 1993, and advisor to the festival since it began. “They’re growing up making videos with their own equipment. They are brilliant with their films; they are creative with it, and their tools are amazing.”

The festival runs from Friday, Nov. 15 to Saturday, Nov. 16 at MASCO High School’s auditorium at 7 p.m. both nights and is open to the public. This is the fifth festival in the course of ten years, and this year features six short films, each around fifteen minutes long. Admission is $10, and proceeds will go to the drama department to help fund costumes, sets, copyright for the shows, staff, etc.

With no official drama club, MASCO high school produces a musical every year, with either the film festival or a play the other years. Students pay a $200 fee at the beginning of each school year in order to participate in the drama productions.

Senior Dan Proctor, 17, directed a film two years ago and is back again with the longest film in the festival at 20 minutes titled Midsummer High.

“It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Proctor. “It takes place in a modern high school show the parallels between a Shakespearean play and high school personal life.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Crane Estate Art Show Features Local and Student Artists

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
Nov. 1, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 4, 2013, on the Beverly,Danvers and Newburyport Your Town sites of the Boston Globe.)

IPSWICH—When Montserrat College of Art junior Evan Sullivan began creating his series of art prints about re-urbanization, he was doing it for a class assignment, not an art show. Now, at the suggestion of his printmaking professor Len Thomas-Vickory, Sullivan will have one of his silk screen prints from the series on display at the tenth annual Crane Estate Art Show and Sale Nov. 9 and 10 in Ipswich.

“The assignment was to make a poster that promotes something,’” said Sullivan. His series of posters contains several variations of a four-color traffic jam with suburban homes and a city center with walking pedestrians.

“We created the suburbs with the best intentions but we are actually destroying the nature around us to build them,” he said. “Reurbanization is about bringing people back to the cities, but also to change the cities, make them more walkable and eco-friendly to preserve the natural landscape around us.”

Sullivan’s pieces reflect the greater theme of this year’s show, hosted by the Trustees of Reservations, “Shifting Perspectives.” All of the art highlights some aspect of North Shore landmarks and landscapes, and sales will benefit both the Trustees and the artists.  The show is free to attend and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.