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The Grace of Strong Women: Alison Wells in New Bedford

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over the next month, we’ll be reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. Today, meet Alison Wells who creates inspiring works which celebrate a wide variety of compelling narratives (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

Painter Alison Wells, a native of Trinidad, never imagined she’d end up in southern Massachusetts—or that she’d make her living as an artist. “Every time I made very certain decisions not to get into the arts, my life and universe just brought me back,” she says.

She studied architecture before a scholarship at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica allowed her to do what she loves. She taught art for several years in Trinidad before venturing to New Bedford for graduate school.

Wells’s paintings and collages explore urban landscapes, local history, femininity, and more. Her works appear in public, private and family collections around the world.

In her “Underground Railroad” series, which plays out on canvas and paper, she recreated New Bedford’s history as a destination for escaped slaves, and Frederick Douglas’s pivotal role in bringing them to freedom. Her mixed media collages incorporate painting, photomontage and drawing techniques. Layered into the piece is text from original sources, such as clippings about a man who shipped himself in a box to escape servitude.

Photo by Elin BodinWells’s “Totem Women” series features Caribbean- inspired abstracted female forms that often morph into column-life structures. Traditional Trinidadian head ties adorn their heads. “I’m from a family of independent women. I have four sisters, and I’m very close to my mother. The women [in the series] are strong, protective and stand their ground,” she says.


“Every time I made very certain decisions not to get into the arts, my life and universe just brought me back,” she says.


The production time of her art varies, she says. “It’s all is in how it’s flowing. It’s in how the painting talks to you. If everything is aligning at the same time, and things are working out, not conflicting, it can move faster.”

Photo by Elin BodinSixteen years since moving to the region, Wells has settled into her downtown New Bedford studio. In addition, she volunteers at community organizations that promote historical preservation, and has taught painting to both teens and veterans. “The energy for the arts is growing in New Bedford,” she says.

Keep up with our series of artist profiles by signing up here for updates as they are released.

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8 Great Things! March on the South Coast

March is an intriguing month. Is it winter or spring? We’re never sure. But we are sure about these 8 great things to do on the South Coast that we pulled together for you. Enjoy this fickle month!

Things to do1. Unusual Catches Day

Ever met a fisherman who’s caught a kitchen sink? Alan Cass, a volunteer at the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, has! Join the Center for their Unusual Catches Day when fishermen will be bringing their strangest caught objects, from fossils to a kitchen sink. Maritime archeologists will be on hand to examine the artifacts. Come with an object you want to be examined or just come to experience all the unusual catches from fishermen on the South Coast. March 3, 1 to 4 pm, free. New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, 38 Bethel Street, New Bedford.

2. Sugar, Sugar

March in New England means it’s maple season! Learn all about the history and process of maple tapping while talking a lovely walk around LaPalme Farmas, as part of the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Wednesday Walkabout series. Then, go home, make some pancakes for lunch and drench with maple syrup (one of the 4 major food groups per Buddy the Elf — see that here). March 7, 10 to 11:30 am, LaPalme Farm, Blain Street, Acushnet. Free but you have to register. Find out more here.

3. The Manjiro Story

The New Bedford Youth Ballet performs this true story in which a young Japanese boy is shipwrecked and then rescued by a Fairhaven whaling captain. He returns to Fairhaven, one of the first Japanese people to visit America, where he stays for several years and attends school. Set to traditional Japanese music, one of the performances will take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (what better place to watch the story of a shipwreck and a whaling captain!?) during AHA! The weekend performances are a fundraiser with ticket sales benefiting New Bedford Ballet’s scholarship programs. March 8, 7 pm, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford (free and open to the public). There are 2 additional performances on March 11 at 2343 Purchase Street, New Bedford, 1:30 or 3:00, with tickets from $7 to $15. See the New Bedford Ballet website here for more information. 

4. Fairhaven’s Pilgrim

The Fairhaven Historical Society is treating us to our favorite tour guide, Chris Richard who fills us in on the last surviving Mayflower passenger, John Cooke. Cooke settled in Fairhaven, the only pilgrim to move to the Old Dartmouth territory. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.  March 16, 7 pm, Fairhaven Town Hall Auditorium, 40 Center Street, Fairhaven. The event is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

5. Yes, and…

We’ve been intrigued by the popularity of improv ever since reading this New Yorker piece where we learned that ‘yes, and,” is an improv technique used to help prevent your scenes from stalling out. While we’re not ready to fork over hundreds to take an improv class, we’re certainly ready to catch a show! The Rotary Club of Fall River is hosting The Bit Players, an award winning live comedy group from Newport, for a night of improv comedy which supports Rotary Club charities and scholarships. March 16, Bristol Community College. For more about The Bit Players, see here. For more about the March 16 event, see here.

6. Seal the Deal

Buzzards Bay is a big stopover point for seals as they migrate, and March is the perfect time to spot them. The Lloyd Center is sponsoring a cruise to take you to “Gull Island” a small sandbar situated along the Elizabeth Island chain between Cuttyhunk and Penikese. You’ll be accompanied by a naturalist from the Llloyd Center and the day includes a lunch stop on Cuttyhunk where passengers are encouraged to explore the town and the lookout. The ticket price includes lunch and background materials. March 10 and 24, 10 – 2:30, Leaving from Cuttyhunk Ferry, at State Pier, New Bedford. Advance registration required and ticket prices are $20 for children, $43 for Lloyd Center members and $53 for non-members. See more here.

7. Polar Plunge

Ready to brave the waters in a community polar plunge? Well, there’s good news/bad news. The good news: the air is warmer than those New Year’s Day plunges you considered. The bad news: the water temperature is colder. But the 2nd annual New Bedford Polar Plunge is quickly approaching, and you don’t want to be left out. The plunge supports Special Olympics Massachusetts to continue its great work offering free programing to roughly 12,000 athletes a year. The event is open to the public, so even if you won’t be jumping in, you’re encouraged to come out, join the fun and make a donation to a great cause — (in fact, we’d encourage the organizers to require a big donation for NOT jumping in!) March 24, 11 am, East Beach, 1014 E. Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford. See more here

8. Movie Night Pops

There’s really nothing like hearing your favorite soundtrack performed live by dozens of professional musicians. The New Bedford Symphony Orchestra will be performing all your favorite movie hits in their Movie Night Pops Concert. The night will feature new and old hits from classics (think James Bond, Star Wars, Lala Land, Beauty & the Beast, The Godfather, Superman and more!) all performed live by the orchestra. March 31, 7:30. The Zeiterion, 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford. Tickets range from $30-65, and are $10 for students under 22. See here for ordering tickets. 

P.S. The Onset Bonfire, featured previously in our January 8 Great and which was postponed due to weather, has been rescheduled to take place on March 10!! Be sure to check it out here.

P.P.S. Do you want to keep up with everything local and wonderful? Yes?! Sign up for periodic updates here.

 

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Swinging from the Stars: Teresa Kochis

South Coast artists
South Coast Artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over the next month, we’ll be reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. First up, meet Teresa Kochis, our resident aerial artist (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

Mastering aerial arts requires a combination of technical precision, strength, flexibility and grace. Teresa Kochis makes it look effortless.

Kochis, a New Bedford-based aerial artist, performs her high flying acrobatic feats on 19-ft.-long silks that dangle from the ceiling of her home at the Ropeworks loft space for artists. She climbs, twists, spins, drops and contorts herself with the poise of a dancer.


“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested.”


South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

“When I perform, I am very focused on executing the skills well and safely. After that, I let the spirit of the piece take over, whether that means deep diving into serious emotion, moving with abandon, or allowing my inner clown to take to the stage,” she says.

Kochis is owner of Overhead Arts, which provides circus arts training right in the heart of New Bedford. She first started offering a few classes for adults in January 2010, and soon extended lessons to youth.

As a child, Kochis immersed herself in drawing and painting. At age 17, she encountered aerial arts when her sister began training at the Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta.

“I remember seeing her perform and knowing I wanted to do be able to do that, too,” says Kochis, who went on to receive training and education from the Arts Institute, the New England Center for Circus Arts and New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. She also served as a coach coordinator and social circus instructor for the outreach program of Cirque du Soleil.

Kochis and her partner, Andy Anello, eventually moved from New York City to New Bedford with a little guidance from the Internet.

“I googled, ‘Massachusetts loft,’ and our building The Ropeworks Artist Condominium came up in my search. It just happened to be the week before New Bedford Open Studios, so it was easy to come down and take a look at the space. The rest is history,” she says.

In addition to classes at her loft, Kochis brings aerial arts to area youth through New Bedford Cultural Council-sponsored programs at the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford and AHA! (Art • History • Architecture).


“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.


Over the years, she has watched her students reach new heights (both literally and figuratively) in confidence and ability.

“I have adult students who have gone on to acquire teacher- training certificates and now teach at Overhead Arts. I have advanced youth students who are seeking out educational and performance opportunities in circus arts. I have students that come back year after year to take part in Overhead Arts’ outreach programs. I’m so proud of all of them,” Kochis says.

South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

In 2016, Kochis opened an additional space at 88 Hatch Street, not far from the Ropeworks. “The building is a great fit for Overhead Arts since it’s intended for artists, has industrial beams perfect for rigging aerial equipment, and lots of open floor space for classes.”

Kochis credits her success with the supportive atmosphere of New Bedford, which offers affordable living and studio spaces, an array of arts organizations, proximity to larger cities like Boston and Providence, and a rich culture and history.

“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested,” she says.

In the meantime, Kochis hopes to grow the student base by attracting more talented and passionate coaches and launching out-of-school camps, and potentially, a scholarship program.

“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.

To keep up with your cool and interesting neighbors and what’s happening on the South Coast, sign up for our free updates right here. To learn more about Overhead Arts, check out its Facebook page.

Laura Pedulli is a Marion-based writer who has covered art, government, healthcare, business, education and cultural affairs for various publications – including The New Bedford Standard-Times, Sippican Week and The Wanderer. She currently seves as associate director for communications at a local college. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she has traded mountains for the ocean and hasn’t looked back. 

Photographer Elin Bodin has spent most of her life outside her beloved Iceland, in Norway, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and finally the United States. Elín moved to New England in 1998 and shortly thereafter fulfilled her life-long dream and established elín photography (www.elinphotography.com), working in both magazine and wedding photography.

 

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8 Great Things! February on the South Coast

Things to do

Put January behind you! We’re chugging toward spring and we’ve got 8 Great Things to keep you busy in February. March will be here before you know it!

Nature Valentines

February on the South CoastThe perfect way to get the whole family into the Valentine’s Day spirit! The Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Saturday at the Sawmill series is hosting a Nature Valentine making program, including a short walk around the Sawmill to find natural materials to create the valentines. The program is free, bring your little ones and learn about wildlife around the Sawmill while getting an early start on your valentines! The Sawmill, 32 Mill Road, Acushnet. February 3, starting at 11 am (the Hawes Family Learning center is open 10am-1pm). Learn more here.

Frederick Douglass Read-a-thon

Frederick Douglass Read-A-ThonYou know how much we love a good community read-a-thon (see our January pick for the Moby Dick Read-a-thon). If you missed January’s event, you’ve got a second chance! 2018 is the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’ birth, and the New Bedford Historical Society is celebrating with its 18th Annual Frederick Douglass Community Read-a-thon. Celebrate Douglass’ life (and his connections to New Bedford!) by reading along to excerpts from his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Sunday, February 11, 2-6pm at the First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street, New Bedford. See here for more information. If you’re interested in being a reader, contact the New Bedford Historical Society by emailing [email protected]

Snowshoe the Shoreline!

February on the South CoastBYOSS (bring your own snow shoes or rent them here)!! Hike along the beach loop trail of Allens Pond Sanctuary with Mass Audubon. The walk is approximately 2 miles long and promises views of winter wildlife and the channel that feeds Allens Pond. Along the way, you’ll look for migrating snowy owls and waterfowl and track the signs of animal activity. The walk will continue even without snow, in that case, just bring hiking boots! February 11, 10 am – 2 pm. Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, 1280 Horseneck Road, Westport ($10 for members, $12 for non-members). Learn more here.

It’s Fat Tuesday!

Brass Bands and jambalaya buffets and auctions, oh my! Come out and celebrate Mardi Gras in style with the South Coast Brass Band at the Greasy Luck Brewery.  The event benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford and has a jambalaya buffet and dancing, as well as an auction to benefit the club.  So get moving for a good cause! Tickets range from $50-$60 and can be purchased here. February 13, 7-11pm, Greasy Luck Brewpub, 791 Purchase Street, New Bedford.

February on the South CoastCatch Some Magic!

As winter trudges on, we all need a little extra magic. Join the Masters of Illusion (the nation’s number one touring magic show!) to get your fill and experience a modern twist on the traditional magic show. Check out this video below for a sneak peek of what to expect! February 15, 8 pm. The Zeiteron, 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford. For more information and to buy tickets, go here.

February on the South CoastGet Cookin’!

We love Farm & Coast Market, and we love that they strive to be the front porch, kitchen, and family room of Padanaram. This month, you can get cooking with them and learn how to whip up a French Bistro style menu (including a roast chicken!). The timing of the class is perfect for a late Valentine’s Day date — and we’re sure you’ll continue impressing your friends and family with all your new skills. February 15, 6:30 -8:30pm. Reservations are required, call or email Farm & Coast to make yours (774-992-7092 or [email protected]). 7 Bridge Street, Dartmouth.

24 Hour Theater Project

Scripts written, scenes rehearsed, lines learned, shows performed; all in 24 hours!

The Collective New Bedford is hosting their 2018 Kickoff, featuring original 10 minute plays and performances that are completely created and performed in just 24 hours. You don’t have to be an actor (or a writer, or a director) to get in on the fun (although check out their Facebook page if you want to audition. Auditions are coming up this week!) The day’s creations will be performed twice, admission is $10 and you can reserve seats by emailing [email protected]. February 17, performances at 7 and 9 pm at Gallery X, 169 Williams Street, New Bedford.

A Little Fiddlin’

February on the South CoastEvery fourth Saturday, fiddlers gather on the South Coast for food, dancing, and jamming. There’s good music, great pizza, and it’s open to all. If you’re a musician, bring your instrument (it doesn’t have to be a fiddle! Guitars, banjos, cellos, and all other string instruments are welcome). Otherwise, come prepared to listen and dance. Check out this video of December’s session (and keep your eyes peeled for the cutest young fiddler jamming along, around 30 seconds in!). This month’s session is February 24 at 4:30 pm at Brick, 213 Huttleston Avenue, Fairhaven. See the their Facebook page for more information on Old Time Fiddle Session.

That’s all — enjoy this short month!

Do you want to keep up with everything local and wonderful — from nature walks to food to people to shopping to events? Sign up for periodic updates here.

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I Want a Firkin Beer! Fridays at Moby Dick Brewing

It was the name that got me.

I was looking at the Moby Dick Brewing Co. website to check out the lunch menu and there was an intriguing phrase highlighted: Firkin Fridays. What did it mean?

Turns out it’s kind of British and kind of old school. If you’ve been binging The Crown and you’re thirsty, you might want to check it out. If you could care less about The Crown, you should still check it out.

Every Friday, Brewmaster Scott Brunelle makes a limited quality of a specialty cask-conditioned ale, called firkin beer. He draws off some ale from one of their larger stainless steel tanks, puts it into a small cask and adds some flavor (the week we were there, he threw in lemon peel; another week, he may throw in toasted coconut) and malt extract. Over the next week in the cask, the beer is brought up to room temperature. As it warms, the yeast in the beer wakes up and starts eating the sugar, creating a natural carbon dioxide in the cask.

The result is a small batch of flavorful beer.

The following Friday, Scott will tap the keg at the end of the bar in a tap designed especially for this unique cask. Because there is no carbon dioxide pushing the beer out of the tap, the cask is placed horizontally with the back slightly higher than the front for a gravity assist. A hand pump, called the beer engine, pushes the beer out. It’s the way people have been drinking beer in Britain for centuries.


Moby Dick Brewing Co. likes to say, “Each Friday, we get to drink beer the way Herman Melville would have.”


Firkin beerBut why is it called firkin beer? It’s the cask itself that’s called a firkin and it’s based on a unit of measurement. A standard firkin is ¼ of a British standard 36 Imperial gallon barrel (the equivalent of 10.8 US gallons).  Scott uses a version that is half that size – or just 5.4 gallons. I tell you that because you have to get there soon after he taps it to be able to try it because when they say it’s small batch, they mean it. It’s a small quantity. Show up on Sunday afternoon and you’ll surely be out of luck.

And you’ll want to try it. It tastes more flavorful for a couple of reasons. First, there’s no carbon dioxide crowding out the beer flavor. Also, it’s served at cellar temperature rather than the 36 degrees of most of the other beers. The temperature allows you to taste flavor elements that are normally masked by the cold factor.


It’s a treat to hear him talk about his craft. Even if you’re not thirsty, even if you’re not binging The Crown, even if you don’t like beer, go down and meet Scott.


There’s a lot more to the science of firkin beer. Scott told us all about what makes it work. He’s been brewing beer since 1996 after attending Boston University and majoring in political science (New Bedford’s own Sam Adams?). If he sees folks looking in from the viewing room window onto the floor, he’ll generally invite them in and give them what he calls “the 10 cent tour.” It’s a treat to hear him talk about his craft. Even if you’re not thirsty, even if you’re not binging The Crown, even if you don’t like beer, go down and meet Scott. And remember, each week’s batch of firkin beer is only good until it’s gone. Moby Dick Brewing, 16 S. Water Street, New Bedford, 774.202. 6961.

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8 Great Things: January on the South Coast

The goal for our 8 Great Things list this month is simple: create community and warmth to get us through the long, cold month ahead.

8 Great Things“Call Me, Ishmael”

There are very few cities in the world that gather annually to read a piece of literature they’re proud to lay claim to. New Bedford is one of those special cities. The Whaling Museum puts together a wonderful party celebrating Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, always held on the first weekend of January when community members, Melville afficionados and people who are simply intrigued show up to read the book, straight through for 25 hours (though there’s no shame in sticking around for 10 minutes if that’s more your thing). Click here for the full line-up of events and activities. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford. 508.997.0046.

8 Great ThingsSnap, Crackle & Pop

The Onset Bay Association is holding a good, old community bonfire at Shell Point. Warmth, light, hot chocolate, old friends and new friends.What can be better? Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food for Damien’s Food Pantry. Saturday, January 6, 5-7 p.m. at Shell Point, Onset. Rain date is January 7. For more information, contact the Onset Bay Association at 508-295-7072. UPDATE: The bonfire is being postponed because of expected blustery weather and low temperatures. Stay tuned to the Onset Bay Association facebook page for updates.

Singin’ the Blues

January seems a pretty good time for the blues and the Narrows Center in Fall River is indulging us with a two night winter blues festival. Check out some of the performers’ music beforehand to get yourself excited: Carolyn Wonderland and Anthony Gomes are here, the Delta Generators are here, Scott Sharrard (of the Gregg Allman band) is here, Black Cadillac Trio is here, Damon Fowler is here, Lois Greco is here, the Neal McCarthy band is here.

You can get tickets for either night but you get a generous discount if you buy both nights. See here for more information about pricing and buying tickets. Doors open at 5:00 on January 12 and 13th. Shows start at 6 p.m. Narrows Center for the Performing Arts, 16 Anawan St #1, Fall River. 508.324.1926

Scales & Tales

8 Great ThingsThroughout 2017, Eating with the Ecosystem presented a series of educational dining experiences at local restaurants to promote its mission of creating a place based approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood. Their first event of 2018 will be at Padanaram’s Little Moss Restaurant. Guests enjoy a multi-course experience, focusing on seasonal and abundant local seafood produced by our marine ecosystems (the “scales” part of the evening), paired with drinks. The “tales” portion is an educational component, with fishermen and scientists sharing stories and digging deeper into Eating with the Ecosystem’s mission with a focus on what’s being served. Each dinner is $90 per guest, all inclusive, and begins at 6pm with a welcome cocktail reception, followed by a seated dinner with drinks. A portion ($30) of each ticket is fully tax deductible and supports the nonprofit Eating with the Ecosystem’s work to promote a place-based approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood. Click here for tickets. January 24 at 6 p.m. (snow date is January 25). Little Moss Restaurant, 6 Bridge Street, Dartmouth.

Shoot for the Moon

We love how the Buzzards Bay Coalition always gets us to more fully appreciate our beautiful surroundings. Even when it’s cold and wintry. This month, the Coalition is leading a full moon hike in partnership with the Trustees of Reservations at Wareham’s Lyman Preserve. Join them to pay homage to the moon and it’s steady progress and presence in our lives. Make wishes on the full moon. Make new resolutions on it. Make instagram posts with it.  January 31 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The hike is free and open to the public but you must register for it. Click here to register. 

All Month Long —

8 Great ThingsWhy Knot?

If you haven’t seen the knot exhibit at the Whaling Museum, put it on your list this month. It’s an impressive array of knots that are mind-blowing in their intricacy and artistry. We wouldn’t have thought an exhibit on knots would be a Must See activity, but the Whaling Museum makes it so. See more about the exhibit here. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford. 508.997.0046.

It’s Not Exercise, It’s Fun & Games

8 Great ThingsRemember how dodge ball never felt like exercise? It was just a game you played with a bunch of other kids, perhaps under the guidance of a gym teacher. Rowing classes at New Bedford’s Track + Channel feels a little like that so we’re adding this to this month’s mix (the running classes may also feel that way, we just haven’t tried them yet). It doesn’t matter if you’ve never rowed before, you’ll quickly get the hang of it at one of the many beginner classes held each week. Then, when you graduate to the next level, you may find yourself on a team competing against another team. On my second class, I found myself cheering on my teammates who had been strangers before the class. It was fun AND I was able to enjoy a guilt-free pear and ginger scone from the New Bedford Baker the next morning. Check out more about Track + Channel here and their schedule here. 12 North 6th Street, New Bedford. 774.202.6936.

Support Our Artists

You’ve got a trio of wonderful galleries right next to one another in New Bedford so you barely have to brave the cold to get from one to the other. Check them out in the dark days of January when art is especially important in transporting us to other worlds. The New Bedford Art Museum is featuring its annual juried members’ exhibition. Around the corner, Alison Wells (featured in our May 2017 issue) and Ryan McFee have gallery shops featuring their talent. Their galleries also  double as studio space for them so you may be lucky enough to see them working. New Bedford Art Museum, 608 Pleasant Street, New Bedford, 508.961.3072. The Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. Alison Wells Fine Art Studio & Gallery, 106 William Street, New Bedford, 774.526.6550. Paradise McFee Studio, 104 William Street, New Bedford.

That’s it – our 8 Great Things for the month.  Good luck keeping warm & connected this month!

Do you want to keep up with everything local and wonderful — from nature walks to food to people to shopping to events? Yes?! Sign up for periodic updates here.

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10 Things Amazon Won’t Do For You

Shop Small

Yes, it may sometimes seem easier to shop online. You can shop in your pajamas. You can do it at 3 in the morning if you’re having insomnia. You don’t have to wait in line.

But consider a world where there are no cute little local shops to wander and browse in, to chat with the folks inside, to sponsor little league teams and offer you cookies and cider while you shop.

It’d be dreadful.

Plenty of folks have offered reasons why you should shop small (see Forbes’ 43 Reasons You Should Support Small and Independent Businesses). This is our own take on it. Shop small, y’all. Because there are lots of things Amazon won’t do for you that our South Coast independent businesses will.

10 Things Amazon (and its CEO, Jeff Bezos) Won’t Do For You:

  1. Sit down with you and figure out what to get those “tough-to-buy-for” folks on your list. Madeleine Whitley at Beautiful Things in Westport does this. Customers come to her year after year with the toughest folks on their list (think co-workers and most men) and she sits down with them to figure it all out. No extra charge. 772 Main Road, Westport, 508.636.3300.
  2. Read thousands of greeting cards to present you with only the best of the best. Shelley Cardoos at Hippo in downtown New Bedford reads and agonizes over which cards to pick from literally thousands of greeting cards. And you know what? When I need a greeting card, I’ll drive out of my way to go there. Because I know it’ll be worth it. There’ll be 100 carefully selected cards for me to choose from. I’ll find a winner easily. 741 Purchase Street, New Bedford, 774.202.1347.
  3. Wear an elf costume for you.  At TL6 the Gallery, Arianna and New Bedford Shop & StrollJen will jump into the holiday season with cheer and goodwill. They’ll wear elf costumes, offer samples of jam, teas and hot cocoas while you’re shopping and sponsor live demonstrations of artisans (check that out December 16th) to make your holiday shopping more fun. 100 William Street, 508.992.8100.  
  4.  Custom wrap your presents at no extra charge. They’ll do that at most of our local shops. At Flora-Style, they’ll even make sure to coordinate the wrapping with things you buy at their other stores (Flora-Home & Flora-Etc.) down the street. 324 and 368 Elm Street and 9 Bridge Street, S. Dartmouth.
  5. Buy unique clothing made by small manufacturers that you won’t find everywhere. Frank Fletcher at the Marion Sports Shop says simply “you’re not going to find our stuff on Amazon. We are like a personal shopper. We pick the best of the best.” Working with artisans and tiny manufacturers geared to small stores, Marion Sport Shop carries things you’ll find in New England only in a handful of other shops. 290 Front Street, Marion, 508.748.1318.
  6. Pick out the perfect accessory. Last year, Jeffrey at Calico suggested my daughter try a choker to go with a great jumpsuit she was wearing to a holiday party. We were both quietly thinking, “naahh, that won’t work” because we didn’t like chokers. But she politely tried it on. It MADE the outfit. I guess we do like chokers. And we’re grateful Jeffrey was there to suggest it. 173 Union Street, New Bedford, 508.999.4147.
  7. Convert their living space into storage to make sure they have enough overstock so they don’t run out of what you might need. Chris and Vince at Town Wharf General Store happily do this. (Jeff Bezos has five homes but I’m pretty sure he’s not storing anything for you there. If you’re interested, see his five giant homes here.) 10 Water Street, Mattapoisett, 508.758.4615.
  8. Give you a heads up about what someone on your list has been secretly eyeing. The other day, I ran into Lisa of West End General Store in Buzzards Bay and she mentioned that my mother really liked the Fraser Fir candle in her shop. I went in and bought it that very day. (Thanks, Lisa.) 25 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, 508.759.7040.
  9. Run down the street to make sure your toddler gets his teddy bear back. Cecily Balboni at Serendipity by the Sea will. She laughs and says there are a hundred things she’ll do for her customers that Amazon won’t. “I know all my customers,” she says. “I can run up the street if they forgot their bag. I can return their kids’ favorite teddy bears if they left them behind by mistake. Older people who can’t get out? I can deliver their stuff to them.”  Amazon might be able to deliver but really, it’s not the same. You’d rather have Cecily’s friendly visit than a box left at your door. 160 Front Street, Marion, 508.748.1800.
  10. Our local shop owners are on the front line of giving back to their local communities. Ben Rogers at Mattapoisett’s Surroundings says an important part of their business is supporting non-profits that service the local community, like Child & Family Services and Nativity Prep (both in New Bedford). Country Woolens in Westport regularly gives to the Westport Land Conservation Trust, as well as to the town’s school, fire, and police departments. Word on the street is that Amazon is a little stingy in the hometown philanthropy department (see this and this).  Surroundings is at 81 1/2 Fairhaven Road, Mattapoisett, 508.758.9933. Country Woolens is at 842 Main Road, Westport, 508.636.5661.

Jeff Bezos and Amazon don’t really care about you or me. The people down the street, the ones who chose our community to open a business, those people do care about us and the community. In this last stretch of holiday shopping, show them you appreciate them too!

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8 Great Things: December on the South Coast

We’re back with another of our  8 Great Lists. Here, we bring you 8 special South Coast happenings in December. There’s SO much going on this month that it was very hard to keep it to eight (but we did, because we’re creatures of habit and because 55 doesn’t rhyme with “great”).

1. We Love a Parade

South Coast happeningsFall River knows how to throw a great holiday parade: giant parade balloons; Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving by helicopter; Clydesdale Horses; 30 parade floats; 29 marching groups; 17 bands; children participating from every school in the city; and more!

The 33rd annual event is on Saturday, December 2. Santa arrives at 12:45. Parade begins at 1:00 from Kennedy Park down South Main Street, ending at the corner of Central and Bedford Streets. See here for more information.

2. Be Starry-Eyed

South Coast happenings“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” Stephen Hawking

UMass Dartmouth, in collaboration with the Astronomical Society of Southern New England (ASSNE), makes it easier for us to follow Stephen Hawking’s advice this weekend. On Saturday, the UMass Dartmouth Observatory throws its doors open to the general public for a FREE night-sky viewing session. The event depends on a clear sky. Check here for more information, including how to find out if there is a weather cancellation. Saturday, December 2 at 7 p.m. The Observatory is located in the field to the right of the main campus entrance off Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth.

3. It’s a Wonderful Movie

South Coast happeningsAfter the City of New Bedford tree lighting ceremony, Mayor Mitchell is inviting folks back to the Zeiterion Theater for a FREE showing of the holiday classic. If you haven’t seen it, you must. If you’ve seen it 99 times already, you should see it again. Zeiterion Theater, 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford. No tickets or reservations needed. More info here.

 

 

4. Make Room for Cookies

Photo courtesy of Medi ThomasThere’s a lot of things to do in December. But you know what’s most important? Completing a 5K in a Santa suit! Because you’ll be surrounded by a lot of fun people who don’t take running entirely seriously. And because you’ll burn some calories for a season of eggnog, hot chocolate and cookies.  “But I don’t have a Santa suit,” some of you are saying right now. No worries (and no excuses) — the suit is included with registration!  Participants are encouraged to bring a wrapped toy for those in need. Saturday, December 9, 2017.With a 1:00 p.m. start time (12:30 for those under 14 years old).Corner of MacArthur Drive and Union Street in New Bedford. Click here for more information and to register.

5. Snooping in Other People’s Houses

South Coast happeningsThe only thing better than snooping around other people’s houses is doing it when the houses are decorated to the nines. You can do this in Fairhaven, Marion, and New Bedford on the weekend of December 9-10. Enjoy the architecture, the interiors, the festive airs and the community spirit (the New Bedford and Fairhaven tours support historic preservation; the Marion tours support community scholarships).

The New Bedford House Preservation Society hosts the New Bedford tours. Candlelight tours (from 4 to 8 pm) are on December 9 and an afternoon tour (from 1 to 5 pm) is on December 10. More info here. 

The Sippican Woman’s Club hosts the Marion tour on Saturday, December 9 from 10 am to 4 pm. Start from Handy’s Tavern, 152 Front Street, Marion and end with Tea at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church from 2 to 4 pm. More info here.

The Fairhaven Historical Society hosts the Fairhaven tour on Sunday, December 10 from 1 to 4 pm. Start from Fairhaven Academy, 141 Main Street, Fairhaven. More info here.

6. It’s for the Birds

South Coast happenings

Photo courtesy of Nasketucket Bird Club

The National Audubon Society organizes the nation’s longest-running citizen science bird project. You can be part of its annual Christmas bird count this year with the Nasketucket Bird Club. The club hosts the count, followed by a potluck. Contact Justin at [email protected] or 774-207-8515 for more information. December 16. Meet at Park & Ride, 87 North Street, Mattapoisett at around 8 am (call or email Justin for an exact time). See more about Nasketucket Bird Club here.

7. Make Hay While the Sun Shines

South Coast happenings

Photo courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

We have less than 9 hours and 10 minutes of daylight here on the South Coast on the winter solstice. Make the most of that daylight by joining the Buzzards Bay Coalition to enjoy a spectacular sunrise walk on West Island. 613 Fir Street, Fairhaven. Thursday, December 21, 2017 from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.  For more information and to register, click here.

8. All Month Long

South Coast happenings

Photo courtesy of Fall River Historical Society

The annual open house at the Fall River Historical Society features spectacular holiday trees in each of the historic Victorian mansion’s rooms. The trees are decorated with different themes and in unexpected ways and have been featured in Victorian Homes magazine, the Boston Globe and WCVB’s Chronicle.  Follow the visit with high tea at the Historical Society’s Easton Tea Room. The open house runs from November 18 to December 30 and admission is free. (holiday hours: weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; weekends 1 to 4:30 p.m.). For information about the tea room, read more here.

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Over the River & Through the Woods: Post-Thanksgiving Walks

You may be prepping for Thanksgiving right now, knee deep in peeling apples or wrestling the bird into some sort of brine-y package. Take a break for a moment and look at our 6 suggestions for post-Thanksgiving walks. Think of it as our holiday gift to you. It’s a reminder to all of us that (i) we live in a beautiful area and (ii) we should probably walk off some of that pecan pie.  Perhaps most importantly, it encourages us to hop into sweatpants (elastic waistbands, folks!) as soon as possible after that big meal (yes, you’re welcome).

We actually reached out to get suggestions from the experts, the staff and volunteers of our active land conservation organizations. Some of these organizations have even gone to the trouble of helping us off the couch by organizing walks that we can join. Showing your gratitude for these wonderful organizations and folks is as simple as just showing up!

Pick a place (or 2, or 3 – it’s a long weekend!) and get outside.

Carleen Loper, Wareham Land Trust Volunteer

Post Thanksgiving walks

Westgate Preserve. Photo courtesy of Wareham Land Trust.

Carleen suggests the town’s Westgate Preserve because it’s “an excellent choice for Thanksgiving weekend because it’s literally over the river and through the woods!” Featuring a retired cranberry bog and the Weweantic River, Westgate Preserve exudes holiday spirit. Leashed dogs are allowed there as well. More here.

Jim Bride, Sippican Lands Trust

Sippican Lands Trust Post-Thanksgiving Dog Walk

Jim tells us that Sippican Lands Trust is hosting its fifth annual Post-Thanksgiving Dog Walk at White Eagle Parcel in Marion at 10 a.m. on Sunday, November 26th. Just take a look at that picture — how great does that look? Find out more here.

Deb Hood, Events Manager, Buzzards Bay Coalition

Deb says, “for my walk, I’d have to go with The Sawmill, the Buzzards Bay Coalition-owned public park on the edge of Acushnet and New Bedford’s North End.” She says the trails at the front of the park are wide, flat and accessible so the whole family – from strollers to wheelchairs (and everyone in between) – can journey to several scenic river overlooks at the former home of the Acushnet Saw Mill Company. See details here.

Kendra Murray, Development & Outreach Specialist, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust

Ridge Hill Rainbow. Photo courtesy of DNRT.

Kendra says, “Ridge Hill Reserve is a great place for post Turkey Day walk! This 175 acre property abuts the Southeastern MA Bioreserve. There are several trails, whether you’d like to take a quick 1 mile stroll along the blue trail, or a longer hike on the red and green trails. The Green Trail runs to the top of Ridge Hill, one of the highest points in Dartmouth. There are several beech groves along this trail, and as of last weekend, the foliage was a beautiful rich orange. The red trail is a bit flatter and easier. On the western most portion of that trail you can get a  great view of the Copicut Reservoir. We just put in a new set of stairs on a fairly eroded portion of the blue trail, as well.”  See more about Ridge Hill Reserve here.

Kendra also mentioned that DNRT is hosting a guided walk on Saturday, the 25th at 9 am at the Destruction Brook Woods (see more about that here).

Jennifer Escher, Board member, Tiverton Land Trust

Pardon Gray Reserve. Photo courtesy of Tiverton Land Trust.

Jennifer suggests joining the Tiverton Land Trust at one of its post-Thanksgiving group hikes at the Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area or Pardon Gray Preserve.  For more ambitious hikers, Garry Plunkett will lead hikers on some moderate slopes at the Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area.  The newly opened trails will allow those in good physical to experience an amazing forest ecosystem. For the less ruggedly inclined and for families with young children, Wayne Browning will lead a 45 minute trail loop at Pardon Gray Preserve.

Both hikes take place on Saturday, November 25 (Pocasset Ridge starts at 1, Radon Gray Preserve starts at 2). Sturdy shoes, fluorescent orange vest/hats are recommended (orange vests will be provided on-site).  See here for more details.

Brendan Buckless, Outreach & Stewardship Coordinator, Westport Land Conservation Trust

Herb Hadfield Conservation Area. Photo by Greg Stone.

Brendan suggests the Herb Hadfield Conservation Area one of the Westport Land Conservation Trust’s most visited spots. With 158 acres and 2.5 miles of hiking trails, the property features the pristine Angeline Brook, one of Westport’s finest coldwater streams.  Trailheads are located at 364 Adamsville Road or 255 Cornell Road. See directions and more here. 

Make your nature plans and mark the calendars now before your mind is foggy with tryptophan!

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8 Great Things: November on the South Coast

bike on the beach

We’re back with another of our monthly 8 Great Lists. Here, we bring you 8 special South Coast happenings in November. Put that Halloween candy down and check out our top picks for the month right now.

1. Full Moon Owl Prowl

Did you know a full moon is 250,000 times brighter than the brightest star in the sky (we just learned that from the Farmer’s Almanac)? This Saturday, you’ll get a chance to ponder that while enjoying November’s full moon. While you’re at it, Mass Audubon is hosting an owl prowl at its Stone Barn Farm property as the full moon rises, to explore and identify noctural wildlife as it awakens! Enjoy a guided walk and listen to calls of multiple species of owls.

Where & When: November 4, 6 – 8 pm. Stone Barn Farm, 786 Horseneck Road, Dartmouth. $10 members/$12 non-members. Advance registration is required. Register online or call 508-636-2437.

2. Run, Walk, Eat Pizza, Drink Beer

DNRT Trail RaceThere’s something for everyone at the third annual Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust trail run. Come out and support the DNRT’s 35+ mile trail network and 5,000+ acrecs of protected open space! The 3.3. mile running course and 2.4 mile walking course wind through fields and forests at Destruction Brook Woods. What’s the carrot? Your entry fee supports the important work of the DNRT. Also, post-race music, pizza and beer.

When & Where: Saturday, November 4, starting at 11 am. Slade’s Corner Road, Dartmouth. More details here.

3. Cycling & Wine Tasting

We order the Backroads catalogue just to stare longingly at the itineraries of France and Italy biking trips. If you do the same, here’s a wonderful alternative. Spend the day biking through Westport and Tiverton (a 25-30 mile trip, averaging between 12-15 mph) and end up with a private wine tasting at Westport Rivers Winery. It’s just $10 (which covers the wine tasting) and is sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Club.

When & Where: You have to reserve a space with the trip leader — click here to get the information.  Saturday, November 11, 10 am to 5 pm.

4. Go Whole Hog

Marc Swierkowski of Ella’s Wood Burning Oven Restaurant in Wareham is collaborating with Brandon and Laura Higgins-Baltzley, the chefs from the pop-up restaurant Buffalo Jump, along with other well known chefs Dan Amighi and Claudette Zepeda Wilkins (who will be featured on America’s Top Chef next month). The group will cook a variety of pork-focused canapes, side dishes like clam jagacida, and a very large, whole roasted pig (or two). All proceeds go to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund because Laura Higgins-Baltzley went to culinary school there.

When & Where: It’s a little off the South Coast but we’d follow Chef Marc Swierkowski anywhere, especially when it’s for a good cause. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling (508)361-2361. $45.00 per person (BYOB). November 11 at 2 p.m. until the sun sets at Coonamessett Farm, 277 Hatchville Road, East Falmouth.

5. Document History

Waterfront Strike of 1985-86. Courtesy of Spinner Publications.

Every month, the Fishing Heritage Center sponsors a monthly Dock-U-Mentary focusing on the commercial fishing industry (Dock-U-Mentary! we love that!). This month, they’re serving it up with a twist. As part of its effort to document the history of organized labor in the Fairhaven and New Bedford waterfront, the Center presents “Remembering the Strike of 1985-86.” They will create a sensory experience through images and sounds with clips of television coverage of the strike, slides of archival images and even audio clips from a riot outside the auction house. Following the presentation, they’ll invite community members to add their own memories and create a community conversation about the strike from the not-too-distant past. How many times do we get to see history documented before our very eyes?

When & Where: November 17, 7 pm. Corson Maritime Learning Center, 33 William Street, New Bedford, 508-993-8894. Presented with the New Bedford Whaling National Park. More information here.

6. Ignore Etiquette

Frozen SingalongWe all know it’s considered bad form to go to the theater and sing along with the show (see 13 Rules For Going to the Theater). But sometimes, don’t you just want to belt it out? The Zeiterion is giving us this chance by presenting the sing along version of Disney’s Frozen where the audience is actually encouraged, with subtitles, to get in on the action. So, let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore!

When & Where: Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, 684 Purchase Street, November 19 at 2 pm. Tickets are going fast, order them here or call the box office at 508-994-2900.

7. Meet Some Texas Gentlemen

Texas GentlemenThe Texas Gentlemen don’t take themselves too seriously (watch the armadillo races in one song’s video here) but they do take their music seriously. They released their first album, TX Jelly, in September and they’re bringing it to us at the Narrows Center. Moving between “contemplative and raucous,…the music touches on blues, soul, folk, country, rock and gospel.” We want to have as much fun as they seem to be having.

When & Where: November 20, Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan Street, Fall River, 508-324-1926. Doors, 7 pm, Show, 8 pm. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door. Order here.

8. Rock Meets Classical

Lauri PorraWe love the New Bedford Symphony even when – no, especially when — they go outside the box to reach ALL music fans, not just classical music fans. This month, they’re bringing in Lauri Porra, the great grandson of famed Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He’ll dazzle in the U.S. premiere of his own Concerto for Electric Bass and Orchestra, combining rock and classical music. The New Bedford Symphony will follow with the First Symphony of Porra’s great-grandfather, written when he was just 33 years old.

Yes, that’s right — they’ll be marrying rock and classical right before us. We can’t wait!!

Even better news — we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this season’s symphony and you can use them for this concert (or any other one). Enter here to win.

When & Where: November 26 at 3 pm. The Zeiterion, 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford. Call the Z’s box office at 508-994-2900 or buy them online here.


We’re lucky to live in such a vibrant place! Get out there and love where you live. 

And if you want to stay in the know about other cool things to do, as well as stories about the people, places, food and other things that make the South Coast special, sign up for our free emails right here.

Maybe you have other suggestions for the month…feel free to add them in the comment section.

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