Thursday, August 27, 2009

Schedule Posted: Faith Learning Initiative

Christian Theological Seminary has posted the fall calendar for its Faith Learning Initiative, which offers a variety of classes on (not necessarily Christian) spirituality.

A sampling of the season:
  • How Men Pray
  • A Taste of Islam
  • Meditation Practices in Modern Life
  • Exploring the Gospel of Luke
In conjunction with the International Interfaith Initiative, CTS is also offering tours of Indiana's sacred places. Stops include Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Masjid Al-Fajr, and the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington. Central Indiana is home to a diverse community of faiths, and this is your chance to explore that rich culture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Schedule Posted: Indy Parks & Rec

Indy Parks and Recreation has released its Fall Fun Guide, and it's a doozy: 55 pages of art classes, fitness activities, family events and more.

This season, class offerings are listed by park rather than topic, so it's easy to find a class close to home. At Broad Ripple Park, for example, you can learn ballroom dancing, make a basket or pottery piece, or explore fitness activities like fencing and belly-dancing.

Unfortunately, the new listing format has its downside. If you want to take a drawing class, for example, you have to read through every single park listing until you find the park where drawing is offered (the Garfield Park Arts Center). And, you have to comb the list carefully to find the quirky stuff, like the knot-tying workshop at Holliday Park in December.

Another quirky tidbit: You'll also find information about the Indiana Master Naturalist program, which focuses on the state's natural resources and trains adults to volunteer at parks, conservation districts and similar organizations. Upon successful completion of the course, you'll receive a Master Naturalist pin and a one-year subscription to the Indiana Master Naturalist newsletter. Who knew?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Upcoming Classes: Boca Loca Beads

Boca Loca Beads -- one of my favorite spots for jewelry-making classes -- is celebrating its 20th anniversary in September. In honor of the occasion, the store is holding an open house and party on Saturday, Sept. 12. It's not on the store's calendar, but I've been instructed to watch my e-mail inbox for details, and I'll pass them along.

Meanwhile, take a minute to peruse the store's upcoming classes in glass, metal and silver. I took the beginning bead-stringing class back in April, and I actually wear the bracelets we made. Next up for me: creating my own glass beads in an introductory lamp-working class.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Out of Business: Lawrence Township Community Ed

For months now, I've been worried about Lawrence Township Community Education. First came the spring calendar earlier this year: Instead of the usual mix of interesting local classes, LTCE offered only online options -- the same ones you'll find through any continuing-education program.

Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that the organization's Web site was down, at the very time when it should be posting its fall schedule.

So, I wasn't surprised today to hear that LTCE has closed its doors. It's unfortunate, because I've taken some really wonderful LTCE classes: biscuit making, cobbler making, tarot-card reading and more. I hope those instructors find homes with other programs, like MSD of Washington Township's community-ed classes at the J. Everett Light Career Center.

Kimberly Olive, the former LTCE director, attributes the closure to budget cuts in the Lawrence Township school district. This seems like only half an explanation, since a good community-education program can certainly manage to be self-supporting. Yes, people are cutting back on their discretionary spending, so it's harder for educational venues to survive. But I think LTCE was doomed when it released that online-only spring catalog. When you offer classes people don't want to take, you can't be surprised when nobody takes them.

New York Times Knowledge Network

Sunday morning is my favorite time of the week. I stay in bed, and my wonderful husband delivers breakfast and a pile of newspapers. So there I was yesterday morning, minding my own business, when I came across an insert about the New York Times Knowledge Network.

As it turns out, the nation's premiere newspaper offers a host of online classes in business, the arts, politics, religion, writing, film studies, law and much more. Some are taught by New York Times staffers, and others are taught in conjunction with university professors.

I am, needless to say, a bit gaga about the whole thing. Shall I take "How the Brain Works" or perhaps "Travel Writing 101"?

The Knowledge Network has something for every interest -- and every budget. While some classes are more than $500, others are free. Now, please excuse me while I go drool on the catalog again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Butler Releases Fall Cultural Calendar

A lot is happening at Butler University this fall: a performance of The Merchant of Venice, a tribute to composer Gustav Mahler (who turns 150 this year) and a host of other dance and musical performances.

On the lecture circuit, the university is offering two lectures about Jerusalem. One, on Sept. 15, explores the history of the nation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Another, on Oct. 20, focuses on Israeli culture, with an emphasis on its poetry.

The visiting writers this year include Andrew Levy (Sept. 9), Walter Mosley (Sept. 15), Jorie Graham (Sept. 23), C.J. Hribal (Oct. 6), Katie Ford (Oct. 19), Michelle Huneven (Oct. 28) and Nick Flynn (Nov. 11). I have to admit, I'm not wild about this list: It includes a lot of talented writers whose work I haven't actually read.

Finally, there's the J. James Wood Lectures in the Sciences and Mathematics, which always offer something interesting and unexpected. First up this year is Alison Gopnik (Oct. 5), who will discuss "The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life."

The next offering is Doug Tallamy (Nov. 3), who will focus on the importance of home gardening. Finally, we have Sandra Steingraber (Nov. 16), whose lecture is titled "Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment."

Butler certainly offers a rich, diverse cultural calendar -- and almost every event on the schedule is free of charge. That's priceless.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kiss Z Cook: New Foundations 2 Series

Are you looking to put your culinary skills to the test? If so, Kiss Z Cook has a class for you. Starting Sept. 5, the Carmel cooking school will offer Foundations 2, a continuation of its popular Foundations 1 course. The school promises longer classes, tougher recipes, and a stronger focus on plating and presentation.

Now, at $480, the Foundations 2 series is a pretty big investment in your culinary skills. So, I checked in with manager Jay Rivett to get more information about the series.

How many people have been through the Foundations 1 program? Do most people do the whole series, or do they tend to pick and choose the sessions they want?

Over the last year and a half, we have had 30+ people complete our Foundations 1 series! We typically have more people signed up for the first class (knife skills).

You say that Foundations 2 will "put your skills to the test." What types of techniques will people be learning?

Foundations Series 2 will focus more on presentation and plating, as well as more in-depth recipes. The classes will be two hours longer than the Foundations 1 classes to ensure plenty of time for the students to hone their skills on the techniques our chef will be showing them. Some of the techniques will include how to butcher your own meats and seafoods, pastry and bread making, and tourines and pates.

Can you give us a hint about what some of the recipes might be?

Unfortunately, I don't have any idea what the recipes will be. Our chef likes to wait until the last minute to include me in that information!

Aside from the Foundations series, which of your recent classes have been the most popular?

Our most popular classes have been our Date Night classes. We travel all over the world for those, so there is a different style of cuisine each time. That makes it fun for people to keep coming back to learn more about fun foods, as well as enjoy a great night out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Conner Prairie: Crafts and Trades Weekend

Mark your calendar for Conner Prairie's Crafts and Trades Weekend, which takes place Sept. 5-7. Interpreters at the open-air museum will be demonstrating old-fashioned techniques for making pottery, working wood, weaving cloth and crafting leather. You can even try your hand at making a pottery piece to take home.

The event is free with general admission, and it's a good overview of the classes the museum offers. On the schedule for this fall are introductory classes in pottery, spinning, blacksmithing and weaving. I took the weaving class about two years ago, and I have a beautiful scarf to show for it.