Learning Curve | Education Supplement | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:56 pm

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No Shushing Allowed
There’s more to your local library than free Internet access and the classic novels you swore you’d read. Each Mid Hudson Library is a gem of incredibly interesting and unique opportunities to broaden your horizons. Rebekka Smith Aldrich, the organization’s Coordinator of Member Information, tells me about her letterboxing class at the smaller branch of Livingston. (Do you even know what letterboxing is?) Aldrich explains: “Ten letterboxes are hidden around Livingston to help teach you the history of the area, similar to a scavenger hunt, except that you’re looking for the letterbox.” She happened to find one of them near a favorite dessert spot in town. At other branches, you’ll find activities like chess games, Knit and Noshes, hiking and culinary tours, fashion and home how-tos, along with a host of other impressive offerings.

Head of the Class
Did you know that you can learn to sail at your local college? You can also take a course that will teach you to manage your finances and take control of debt—but that sounds much less sexy. SUNY Ulster and SUNY Dutchess offer an extensive amount of interesting options for their Adult Continuing Education classes. Learn French or how to write a children’s book (or how to write a children’s book in French). Whether you’re exploring new career options or just want to take up a new hobby, the classes at SUNY are an affordable and educational way to expand your knowledge beyond the books.
www.sunydutchess.edu; www.sunyulster.edu

Like a Bee to Honey
There’s been a resurgence for the desire to learn the craft of beekeeping. Whether it’s the recent focus on eating locally—where honey bees are essential—or the interest in preserving the fragile bee population, this hobby is creating a buzz. HoneybeeLives offers in-depth workshops taught by Grai Rice, an organic bee keeper, and Chris Harp, an organic bee keeper and bee doctor, whose “goals are focused on the well-being of the colonies that he nurtures; and through teaching others he raises the awareness and caring of these amazing creatures.” Weekend workshops are taught by the pair for both beginners as well as established beekeepers. Grai says, “Classes range from 12-year-olds to former beekeepers, all of whom complete the workshop enamored with honeybees and with their sense of nature completely changed.”
An introductory lecture will be offered in November and weekend workshops start in January. www.honeybeelives.org

De-education in Woodstock
Mirabai of Woodstock stands like any beautiful Victorian house in the area, but the inside serves as a sanctuary and spiritual home to those of Woodstock. People come from many miles to seek knowledge and experience the classes, workshops, and products that are offered in the store by owners Jeff Cuiule and Audrey Cusson, the husband-and-wife team who left corporate America for the opportunity to take over the bookstore. They’ve since hosted hundreds of workshops that range from channeling (which Cuiule tells me is in high demand) to yogi gurus, shamans, psychics, and reiki circles, to give you an idea of what you might find on the monthly calendar. Cuiule says, “It’s all about getting out of your brain and into your heart.” Mirabai is also host to many guests at Above the Books, the beautifully renovated, two-bedroom apartment with a rain shower and meditation room for those traveling to the Woodstock area. It’s directly upstairs from the shop and perfect if you’re visiting for a workshop. And if you’re a skeptic when it comes to tarot cards or channeling a long-lost loved one, or are just not in touch with your spiritual side, you could ask Cuiule about how he lived and all that he’s seen since he’s opened his eyes a bit wider.

Step Out of the Box

Exercise is difficult enough to stay committed to and a boring exercise routine is why many of us fall off the workout wagon. Through belly dancing, you will broaden your horizons and possibly even step out of your comfort zone by taking a class that goes beyond the monotony of lunges and leg lifts. The Hudson Valley is fortunate enough to have more than one possibility in the area to learn this exotic form of Middle Eastern dance. You’ll start with a few isolated moves that give your abs a great workout and work your way up to complex combinations with finger symbols that give you less high-impact and more bragging rights. Despite the sensuality that’s associated with the dance, all ages find the class to be interesting and Sarah Bell’s studio often hosts mother-daughter classes.
www.bellydancewillow.com; www.dancingwithsarah.com

Chris Harp of HoneybeeLives teaches a variety of classes on beekeeping.
  • Chris Harp of HoneybeeLives teaches a variety of classes on beekeeping.
Michael Mazzeo demonstrates the wet plate collodion process at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
  • Michael Mazzeo demonstrates the wet plate collodion process at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.

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