The Virtual Valley
Keep Your Mind Active While Staying Safe at Home.
Some of us are a bit less mobile than we used to be. So, as many businesses and organizations remain shuttered through the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there might be an inclination to set aside the traditional comforts of autumn in New England for other, more subdued, activities.
But giving up certain comforts doesn’t have to mean disengaging from your community entirely. Staying active and engaged with local organizations is as important as ever, and we are fortunate to live in an area that offers an abundance of digital resources to keep its residents mentally active, healthy and energized — all while safely distancing.
Here are some great virtual resources to check out this fall:
Merrimack Valley: Place and Meaning 2020
This summer, a range of local organizations collaborated on the development of the Merrimack Valley: Place and Meaning 2020 project, a searchable online database that highlights the expansive variety of activities, cultural touchstones, and spaces that are available in the region. All listings came from local residents who were asked to send in their thoughts on the landmarks and activities that mattered most to them. The result is a rich archive made by and for the people of this diverse region. The Merrimack Valley: Place and Meaning 2020 project is a partnership of the Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Creative Community Builders, and Elevated Thought, an arts and social justice nonprofit. Learn more about this project at PlaceAndMeaning.mvpc.org.
Virtual Museums: Tour History Through a New Lens
Don’t let closures get in the way of your local tourism plans this fall. In order to mitigate the challenges of operating during this difficult time, several Merrimack Valley museums have turned some of their attention to the internet, developing free online galleries and talks that allow visitors to enjoy history from the comforts of home. Explore the Addison Gallery of American Art’s guided exhibition tours via Zoom or dive into the Andover organization’s collection of nearly 22,000 items through its abundant digital archive. Later, click over to Haverhill’s Buttonwoods Museum, which offers a range of resources to help you take on your own historic walking tour or video mini tour. Looking for more? Contact your favorite Merrimack Valley museums to find out what educational opportunities are available remotely.
Affordable Noncredit Courses Close to Home
Want to learn a new skill, advance your career, or broaden your knowledge of a particular subject? Your local community college is a great place to start. Northern Essex Community College and Middlesex Community College both offer a range of affordable noncredit options year-round, all of which are available to adults of any age and education level. Most are remote through the spring and cover a wide variety of topics, including computer literacy, accounting, podcasting, and more. Visit the schools’ websites for up-to-date offerings available this coming winter and spring.
Virtual Events from Your Local Library
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has organized a collection of virtual event calendars, separated by region, to keep you informed on all the latest lectures, readings, workshops, and club gatherings. Visit Libraries.state.ma.us to check out and sign up for virtual events near you — and get involved with your local library in the process!