Learnapalooza starts Saturday, expands to Logan Square later this year

June 14, 2013|By Jack M Silverstein, @readjack | For RedEye

Saturday kicks off Year 4 of Learnapalooza, Chicago’s free learning event, and for the second straight year, the program is expanding to a new neighborhood. Founded in 2010 by Maggie Schutz and Sarah Press, the event was conceived as a free day of learning in Wicker Park in which community members sign up to instruct classes on any skill they possess, while other community members sign up to take those classes.

After two years in Wicker Park, the Learnapalooza team added Lakeview in 2012. This year, that schedule balloons once more to Logan Square. The Wicker Park event is Saturday, Lakeview will be Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, Sept. 22, Learnapalooza moves to its third neighborhood, Logan Square.

To Learnapalooza co-chair Brian Bullington, it’s no surprise Chicago has embraced the event.

“Chicago is becoming something of a city of ideas,” said Bullington in an email to RedEye. “TEDx lets the elite learn from the elite. Chicago Ideas Week lets the elite speak with the public. But Learnapalooza really lets the public share from the public.”

That public sharing of skills and ideas is, perhaps, Learnapalooza’s fundamental appeal. But another element is the sense of community. In Wicker Park, for instance, Learnapalooza is not happening at one location at one time, but at 12 locations throughout the day. That means if you’re walking around the North/Damen/Milwaukee area Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., you may see people in blue Learnapalooza shirts directing learners to their classes or event-goers wandering about with a map and a schedule, looking for additional classes to take on the fly.

The classes range from the practical and basic (Kitchen Hints, already sold out) to the practical and specialized (Basic Bookbinding, space still available); from the physically active (East Coast Swing Dance, space still available) to the creatively unusual (Yo-Yo Academy, already sold out).

Among the 40 classes offered at the Wicker Park Learnapalooza, some still available are:
>> Thai Yoga Massage
>> Blues Dance
>> The Author’s Boot Camp
>> Improv Comedy & Theatre Basics
>> Small Business E-Commerce and Blogging Self-Help Jump-Starter
>> Co-op Advantage: DIY Cooperatives, Housing, Food, Worker Owned Business

The Lakeview schedule is still rounding into shape, while the Logan Square schedule is, as of now, completely empty. Anyone interested in getting involved has three opportunities: you can offer your business as a host space, offer your skills as a teacher, or, of course, you can simply go out and learn something.

“[Learnapalooza] is all part of this larger movement toward turning Chicago into a city of ideas,” said Bullington, who also credits Press’ CommuniTeach and Victor Saad’s Leap Year Project among Learnapalooza’s inspirations, “a city where learning is celebrated for its own sake and where exploring new ideas is just as exciting as exploring new places. Learnapalooza lets you do both at the same time.”

To see the schedule of classes and learn how you can get involved as a space host, a course instructor, or a student, go to www.learnapaloozachi.com.

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