Springfield OLLI announces winter 2020 semester programs

Dr. Robert Hamill recently spoke at an OLLI program
Dr. Robert Hamill recently spoke at an OLLI program. Photo provided

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute winter-spring 2020 semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. at the Nolin Murray Center on Pleasant Street in Springfield, Vt. Over the past 16 years, this local educational group’s membership has steadily increased as people have become familiar with the engaging style of the speakers and the topics offered. Members have commented that “the excellent programs get better and better!”

Many of the speakers graciously allow their programs to be filmed and shared. You can check out this engaging style of programs at SAPA TV on Comcast and VTel cable services or through www.sapatv.org. Click on Video On Demand and then search for OLLI.

Sponsored by the University of Vermont, OLLI is run by local volunteer members and is geared mainly towards seniors who are 50 years of age and over who enjoy learning for the fun of it. Anyone who would be interested in this type of program, regardless of their age, is welcome.

There are many interesting programs planned by the local committee to inform and interest participants such as local and Vermont history, nature, health, science, literature, art, music, and world and current events. The programs are held Tuesday afternoons at 2 p.m. and last about an hour and a half.

Memberships each semester include entrance to all nine programs as well as admittance to the seven other OLLI programs throughout Vermont, such as in Brattleboro, Rutland, and St. Johnsbury. Non-members are welcome and encouraged to attend individual programs for a single program fee.

To facilitate registration, please send memberships to UVM OLLI Registration Office, 460 South Prospect St., Burlington, VT 05401. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address. Checks should be made payable to “The University of Vermont.” Indicate that it is for the “Springfield OLLI.” Memberships and day fees may also be paid at the program.

The latest brochures have been printed and distributed throughout the area at public locations such as local libraries, town halls, community and senior centers, and Chamber of Commerce offices. Requests for a brochure can be made by calling 802-885-3094. The program listing can be viewed at www.learn.uvm.edu/olli. Choose statewide sites and then choose Springfield.

For weather-related changes to the schedule you may check the above mentioned website or SAPA TV, 802-885-6248, or call 802-885-3094.

Thanks go out to our local benefactor Barbara Sanderson, and also to the Springfield Garden Club and the Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society who are co-sponsoring programs.

  Following is the Winter-Spring 2020 semester programs:

Jan. 28: “The Family Farm in the Connecticut Valley: More Decline or a Turning Point?” with Steve Taylor, farmer, writer, lifelong scholar of rural New England culture. Family farms in the Connecticut Valley have been under extreme stress for generations. They have an array of challenges today, leading many observers to hold little hope for their future. But others see signs of reversal of fortunes and cite forces that can lead to a brighter prospect for family farmers.

Feb. 11: “Everything You Need to Know About the Birds and the Bees: Good Plants to Support Them” with Henry Homeyer, garden writer. Join the “Gardening Guy,” author of “The Vermont Gardener’s Companion” and three other books, for a slideshow and talk about good plants for supporting birds and pollinators. Hear tips on how to successfully grow attractive flowers that please not only our wildlife but look good in your garden. This program is co-sponsored by Springfield Garden Club.

Feb. 25: “Vermont’s Year With No Summer – 1816” with Howard Coffin, author and historian. Coffin has researched the history of 1816, a year in Vermont very much without a summer. Listen to anecdotes from the 12 months known as “1800 and froze to death.” Vermont, indeed much of the northern hemisphere, struggled against the cold as a volcanic eruption in the Pacific darkened the world. Not knowing the cause, fears of the vengeance of a higher power were rampant.

March 10: “Our Best Endeavors: Temperance and Prohibition in the Champlain Valley” with Susan Evans McClure, executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. When you think about Prohibition, most people imagine gangsters and bootleggers with tommy guns and fancy cars in the 1920s. To truly understand federal Prohibition in the Champlain Valley, you have to start earlier than the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1919. Vermont actually had statewide prohibition from 1853-1904! Join us to examine how the Champlain Valley went from being a major producer and consumer of alcohol in the early 1800s to a hotbed of temperance sentiment by the mid-19th century.

  March 24: “North Chester: It’s More Than Just the “Stone Village” with Hugh Henry, architectural historian. Discover North Chester, an exemplary stage coach-era village with a split personality. Its early development with wood-framed buildings from the 1780s onward was eclipsed during the later 1830-1840s by a partial renewal with the distinctive stone buildings that now define its public identity. Learn about the three Clark brothers who were the primary masons – and later the subject of mythical treatment in the popular literature. Despite its valley location, discover how North Chester shared the fate of numerous hill villages in Vermont, and abruptly ceased to expand after being bypassed by the railroad in 1849.

  April 7: “Gershwin, By George!” with Robert Wyatt, concert pianist and music historian. Although Gershwin’s career covered less than two decades and ended with his tragic death in 1937, his music endures. Join pianist and Gershwin-authority, Robert Wyatt, co-editor of Oxford University Press’ The George Gershwin Reader, in this lively lecture exploring Gershwin’s life and legacy. Learn about the chronology of the composer’s meteoric life. Hear his 1924 recording of the “Rhapsody in Blue” and other samples of early and unpublished music. View footage from the Gershwin brothers’ four Hollywood films.

April 21: “Bessie’s Story: Watching the Lights Go Out” with Tom Farmen, retired educator, author, outdoor enthusiast, and dog lover. Hear the inspiring story about a charming, brave, unpretentious chocolate lab who gradually loses her eyesight. The author chronologically leads the reader from the original diagnosis of terminal blindness for his beloved 4-year-old pet through the two-and-a-half year transition to sightlessness. Witness how Bessie unwittingly becomes an expert mentor and teacher for the high-wire act of growing older with grace and optimism. This program is co-sponsored by the Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society.

April 28: “Why Vermont Is What America Wants to Be?” with Chris Graff, Vermont historian, journalist, and analyst. Why is it that Vermont leaders touch a nerve with America? Jim Jeffords’ declaration of independence and the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders show that Vermont leaders have an outsized appeal in the country. Hear Chris Graff explain why Vermont is what America wants to be.

May 5: “The History and Art of Vintage Buttons” with Martha Welch, retired educator, historian, button collector, and jewelry artist. Learn about vintage buttons and button materials through photographs and actual examples from our speaker’s collection. Hear personal stories describing the historical significance of the uses and fashions of buttons. Audience members are encouraged to bring some of their own special vintage buttons for her to examine and discuss.

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