#parent | #kids | It’s Not Too Late To Find A New Hobby For The Post-Pandemic You – Indianapolis Monthly


Creative | Practical | Active | Cerebral

Mural Painting

While the Indianapolis Art Center offers dozens of great classes year-round, we’re particularly jazzed about Megan Jefferson’s mural-painting course this summer. Jefferson’s panoramas can be found all over SoBro, but her most recognizable work is the angel wings series along the Monon Trail that invites passers-by to pose for a photo between them (a 2018 IM Best of Indy winner). Over the course of five days, a small group of her students will each paint a shipping container that will live for a time on the Art Center’s campus. Jefferson will guide the novices from sketch to surface preparation to stenciling to finished product. If you have some painting experience and have been dreaming of the next big thing, murals are about as big as it gets.

Cost: $400 Dates: June 14–18, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Where: 820 E. 67th St., 317-255-2464, indplsartcenter.org

Pottery

It’s OK to throw things at the Fountain Square Clay Center. Well, it’s OK to throw clay on the wheel, anyway. Beginner pottery classes start the week of March 14 and go for eight weeks. You’ll learn how to create basic pots, including spring planters. There’s an introductory pottery course every day of the week, as well as the occasional “Little Potters” class. (For $35, children can throw a pot and pick it up two weeks later, after it’s fired.)  If you’re already somewhat familiar with the wheel, sign up for the intermediate class that meets on Monday nights. (You get to make bonsai pots in that one.) And with open studio time, there are opportunities for everyone to learn in a relaxed, zen-like environment.

Cost: $265 for beginner class

Dates: Classes held daily

Where: 950 Hosbrook St., 317-985-1212, fountainsquareclaycenter.com  

Acting

Acting class at the Phoenix Theatre isn’t for dilettantes. It’s a serious, two-year commitment. According to Bill Simmons, the Phoenix’s artistic director, the Meisner technique classes “train actors through a series of exercises to deeply connect to scripts and create performances that are richly nuanced.” Students, he added, “learn through constant repetition the specific Meisner tools necessary to achieve emotional truth in their work that feels powerful, alive, and in the moment.” The next auditions (yes, an audition is required) will be in June with the weekly classes beginning in September. Want something lighter? Monthly Lunch Club classes, each taught by a different guest artist, are held the second Tuesday of every month.
Cost: $25 per session for Meisner acting class

Dates: Mondays beginning in September

Where: 705 N. Illinois St., 317-635-7529, phoenixtheatre.org

Guitar

Arthur’s Music has been offering instrument lessons since 1952, so the Fountain Square shop has seen pandemics come and go. When COVID hit last March, most of their robust staff of instructors began teaching virtually, and you can still learn everything from accordion to ukulele that way. But after installing an ultraviolet air filter in the beautifully time-worn studios this past fall, owner Linda Osborne decided it felt safe to bring back instructor Luke Stanley for in-person guitar lessons. Stanley has played in classical trios, ’80s metal groups, and classic rock bands, so he can teach beginners and intermediate players a broad spectrum of six-string technique. In the largest studio, it’s easy to maintain six feet of spacing, and the instructor always wears a mask. The biggest danger is the temptation to drop $2,000 on one of the sparkly Gretsch guitars on your way out.

Cost: $25 per half hour

Dates: Available immediately on Saturdays

Where: 931 Shelby St., 317-638-3524, arthursmusic.com 

Screen Printing

If you’re champing at the bit to put your store logo or personal philosophy on a T-shirt, then Cat Head Press—a near-eastside fine art printmaking studio—has you covered. Its Introduction to Screen Printing workshop, offered by artist Sydney Craig, acquaints novices with screen printing basics and includes the production of a custom-printed design. You’re welcome to bring a shirt to try it out on, though honestly, you’re probably not quite ready to make the custom “T” of your dreams. This extremely elemental program only has time to cover the intricacies of printing a single color. No previous experience is needed, but be prepared to get a lot of ink on your hands—and your clothes. During the pandemic, workshops were conducted one-on-one with Craig, but larger classroom sessions will likely resume this spring.

Cost: $150 per person. Registration closes 48 hours before workshop date

Dates: Email [email protected] for dates this spring

Where: 2834 E. Washington St., catheadpress.com

Woodworking

Whether you’re looking to turn out a serviceable wooden salad bowl or an entire dining room set, the Marc Adams School of Woodworking has the program for you. They’re barreling into the warmer months with all pistons firing, offering a long slate of classes that includes everything from Basic Woodworking (taught by the school’s founder and namesake, Marc Adams) to Creative Woodturning. The school also offers some decidedly nonwood programs, including glass blowing and, of all things, chocolate making. The lineup is truly breathtaking, but popular wood shop classes fill up quickly.

Cost: Varies from class to class, with Basic Woodworking priced at $965

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 5504 E. 500 N., Franklin, 317-535-1713, marcadams.com

Wine and Art

  • Mimosa and a Masterpiece transitioned from its Mass Ave studio to virtual classes this winter due to the pandemic. But owner Tajuana Hill still delivers everything customers need: a 16-by-20-inch canvas, paint, brushes, and a palette.
    • Cost: $50 for the basic kit, $75 for a Masterpiece kit that includes a glass champagne flute and a wooden display easel
    • Where: 317-413-8490, mimosa-masterpiece.com
  • Going beyond bowls and vases, Pottery by You guests can create their own glass sculptures or pour candles in more than 80 scents. Wine and beer are available for purchase on site. Schedule a class with your besties, or feel free to just walk in.
    • Cost: $20 to $55, depending on the project
    • Where: 2280 W. 86th St., 317-337-1263, potterybyyou.com
  • There’s no pressure to perform at Painting with a Twist. Operating at reduced capacity to ensure safety, the studio stresses fun art, not fine art, with paint-and-sip sessions that feature themed trivia and diva-night drink specials.
    • Cost: $37 to $50, depending on the size of the project
    • Where: 8804 N. Michigan Rd., 317-228-4300, paintingwithatwist.com
  • Pick a project, any project. Board and Brush Creative Studio provides wood signs, doormats, pillows, planters, glassware, totes, and other items artists can customize for DIY home decor with farmhouse-chic flair. The business offers workshops, home kits, virtual offerings, and private parties.

Photography

If you’d like to upgrade your snapshot game, Roberts Camera, a retail fixture on the local photography scene for decades, has just the thing. Its four-week, four-session Fundamentals of Photography course runs year-round, and covers such 101-level issues as shutter speed and aperture, so that you can confidently switch your camera off of “Auto” and select your own exposure times. Other offerings include a course on how to use your flash properly and how to sell your images on the stock-photo market for cash. Classes are strictly BYOC (bring your own camera). And by “camera,” we mean electronic—not the ones that use old-fashioned film.

Cost: Varies from class to class, with the Fundamentals course priced at $125 

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: Roberts’ six Indy-area locations, 317-636-5544, robertscamera.com/education

Pottery 

Advertising agency creative director Joey Ponce took a potting class on a whim and became one of the studio’s popular teachers. 

We moved into our house five years ago, and it happened to be across the street from the Fountain Square Clay Center (p. 54). I had only taken one ceramics class in college, and I was terrible at it, but I remembered enjoying it. I thought it would be fun to support the neighborhood, so I signed up for a class. 

I was sort of terrified that I was going to be as bad as I was in college. And it was intimidating, because the other people in my class all knew each other from previous sessions. At the start of the first class, Chris DePrez, the owner, said, “All right guys, we’re going to start making a teapot.” Which seemed a little advanced. I didn’t know how to make a bowl, let alone a teapot. So I just kind of willed myself to do it. 

I did a lot of self-initiative learning and, after a few more classes, Chris asked if I would be interested in helping with a one-night class. That went well, and he ended up asking me if I would teach the eight-week one. 

Something you learn quickly about ceramic is that it’s just mud. When you’re painstakingly working on a piece, it’s just a sneeze or a bump away from being ruined. So it really does teach you how to love and let go. In the early stages of learning the thickness of pot bases, sometimes you bust through the bottom and are like, “Well, I guess I made another planter!” You use it as a learning opportunity. 

I remember making this giant bowl I was so proud of. It was the first time I had worked with a larger ball of clay, and I had a ton of surface decoration on it. Chris came in and I said, “I need to show you this bowl!” I grabbed it by the lip and it just comically crumbled into a bunch of pieces. That was a lesson in pride. Now I know never to pick up a bowl that way. 

Flower Arranging

After hosting a wreath-making workshop this past holiday season, The Flower Boys are prepping for spring-related arrangements. They typically host 12-person classes in March or April, and teach people how to make their own Easter basket or springtime assortment. (Think tulips, ranunculus, and lisianthus.) Added bonus: The Flower Boys often partner with 8th Day Distillery, Brew Dog, and Metazoa Brewing Company for their events. Which means the cost of a class includes not only the materials (flowers, a vase, a wreath, etc.), but also a beer or cocktail.

Cost: $40 to $60

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 222 E. Market St., 317-734-9356 

Coding

Have you heard about this thing called the internet that’s taking over the world? Now might be a good time to learn how it works. Eleven Fifty Academy, founded by Indy’s serial inventor Scott Jones, offers free three-hour virtual classes in coding, web development, and cybersecurity. If it seems like it’s something that might be for you, you can enroll in a 12-week class at either its downtown Indianapolis or Fishers location. Many instructors there are Eleven Fifty graduates themselves, and their fellow alumni have gone on to work at Amazon, Google, and Salesforce. A word of warning: While coding is one of the most in-demand skills in the world right now, it’s intimidating. Even in the introductory course, you will feel lost at times. Be brave. Whether your goal is to jump into a lucrative career or just add a new skill at your current job, computer languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and Python are the secret code.

Cost: Free introduction; $13,500 for a 12-week course

Dates: Introductory classes on March 10, 20, and 31

Where: 151 W. Ohio St., 855-925-1150, elevenfifty.org

Sewing 

Ever since high schools discarded home economics like an empty spool of thread, most of us have no idea how to sew something as simple as a napkin. Crimson Tate owner Heather Givans is here to fix that. She has been teaching for 10 years, but one of her favorite classes is Sewing 101. The six-week course includes “one-night” projects like towels, stockings, and tote bags. Since the shop is small, Givans has been offering free virtual classes that teach sewing basics as well. There’s also a 10-month program called the Sew-Along, where, each month, you work on a different aspect of a larger pattern. Though Sew-Along started in January, Givans says it’s OK to jump in now. She’ll help you catch up.

Cost: $300 for Sew-Along

Dates: Call for Sewing 101 and virtual class enrollment dates

Where:  845 Massachusetts Ave., 317-426-3300, crimsontate.com 

Upholstery 

When Shelly Miller teaches Upholstery Bootcamp at her SoBro shop HomeRoom, she often encounters students who have never worked with their hands. The textiles pro has seen women shed layers of fear while they take apart and rebuild pieces of furniture themselves. “This has been a lab for watching people walk in stressed, burned out, or nervous,” she says. “They walk away transformed.” In addition to that course, Miller has a library of online classes that are available for purchase with lifetime access. (A power tools introduction and one on how to launch your own furniture-flipping business are two of the most popular.) Many of those are in-person workshops when public safety protocols allow.

Cost: Starting at $49

Dates: Check website for updated spring schedule

Where: 1101 E. 54th St., thehomeroomshop.com

Porch Parties

A porch party is a convivial way to get reacquainted with friends and neighbors (remember those?) once COVID has passed, but throwing a great one requires more know-how than simply opening a few bottles of beer and passing around a bowl of chips. The Harrison Center offers a primer on hosting outdoor shindigs with Porching 101, in which you learn the best day and time of the week to have people over, who and how many to invite, conversation starters, playlist suggestions, and what to serve. Classes include snacks, a beverage, a party favor, and a Guide to Porching. Basically, the tutorials are parties themselves.

Cost: $20

Dates: May 6, May 7, June 3, June 4

Where: 1505 N. Delaware St., 317-396-3886, harrisoncenter.org

Interpersonal Communication

Between the stress of quarantining, politics, and other turmoil in the last year, we’ve all said something we regretted at some point recently, creating strain in even the most solid relationships. The Peace Learning Center at Eagle Creek aims to help folks reset with its Restorative Practices workshops. By going through virtual lessons and some role-playing scenarios, participants pick up the tools they need to communicate more effectively and get back on the same page with colleagues and loved ones. The six-hour sessions can be tackled in a single day, and your friends will thank you.

Cost: $50

Dates: March 26 and April 19, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: 6040 Delong Rd., 317-327-7144, peacelearningcenter.org

Entrepreneurship

If 2021 is your year to start your own coffee shop/widget maker/delivery service, the Butler University–affiliated Central Indiana Small Business Development Center wants to help. Currently available online but scheduled to return to in-person sessions soon, its Launch Your Own Business Workshop covers everything from how to register your new enterprise to assembling a staff. The class is taught by a professional business coach and includes the chance to network with other entrepreneurs. Dan Drexler, the regional director of the center who worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce, says the pandemic has sparked a huge run on the program, with more than 75 would-be business owners signing up for each session.

Cost: Free

Dates: March 10 and 24

Where: 625 Butler Way, 317-940-3919, isbdc.org

Mixology

In addition to being one of the city’s best spirits makers, Hotel Tango also knows how to shake up creative cocktails. Now they’re sharing the know-how of their mixologists through their online Tango University. Participants arrange a time, then get two cocktail kits and a detailed recipe card for such complex elixirs as the distillery’s signature Gin Bravo with basil, blackberries, and a green tea simple syrup. Then a Hotel Tango staff bartender walks drink-slingers through the making of a cocktail and answers any questions online, making for a fun learning and drinking experience.

Cost: $60 for 60-minute sessions

Dates: Email [email protected] for spring enrollment dates

Where: 702 Virginia Ave., 317-653-1806, hoteltangodistillery.com

Sommelier Training

Jan Bugher became a breakout star at Bluebeard during quarantine with her weekly Just a Click Away Sommelier series on Facebook, demonstrating a gift for making wine more fun and less intimidating. In 2021, Bluebeard launched Road to Somm, a six-month virtual class that prepares participants to take the Level 1 Sommelier exam (or just impress friends at parties with their barrels of wine knowledge). Bugher will teach the course on Zoom, hosting two live classes every month, each focusing on a specific wine region. The price includes two bottles of wine and access to exclusive bottles and events.

Cost: $410

Dates: Visit website for spring enrollment dates

Where: 653 Virginia Ave., bluebeardindy.com

Sushi 

When Mori Lemau Willhite, who grew up tinkering in the kitchen of her Japanese mother, moved to Indy and wasn’t satisfied with the Japanese cuisine here, she decided to teach locals how to make it themselves. For the past few years, she has operated Katsumi’s Teaching Kitchen, a fun, hands-on Japanese culinary school. Last month, she moved into a more spacious location in Beech Grove, where up to five couples can now remain socially distanced while perfecting the art of sushi rice, cutting fish, and rolling maki, as well as preparing pot stickers, miso soup, and Asian street food staples.

Cost: $75 per person on location; $24.95 per person for Zoom classes

Dates: Zoom classes available Wednesdays; in-person classes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Where: 222 Main St., Beech Grove, 317-426-9605, katsumisteachingkitchen.com 

Pasta Making

When longtime Cerulean chef Alan Sternberg had more time in the kitchen with wife Audra this past spring, the couple rolled up their sleeves and started rolling out their favorite food: pasta. The result was I Heart Pasta, a delivery service that brought such rarefied noodles as lorighittas and mafaldine to local foodies. Now, they’re focusing their energies on their classes, whether they come to your home in person or via Zoom to teach the art of dough making, shaping, and saucing. In-home classes include a three-course dinner.

Cost: $250 per two people for in-home classes

Dates: Sundays and Mondays

General Cooking

The cozy kitchen of the Chatham Arch bed and breakfast Nestle Inn is the perfect setting for upping your home-cooking game. Courses there are limited to 10 students at distanced prep tables. Local chef Clint Smith and pastry specialist Lauren Saffel lead participants through the techniques of international cuisines such as Thai and Italian, as well as baking essentials. Classes also cover holiday and date-night dishes, as well as creating your own high tea at home and cooking with beer.

Cost: $80 to $90 per person

Dates: Available immediately on select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays

Where: 637 N. East St., 317-610-5200, nestleindy.com

Cheese Making

Tulip Tree Creamery founder Fons Smits has consulted with such illustrious cheese makers as California’s Cowgirl Creamery. So he and his crew are extremely knowledgeable about all things dairy. In their sparkling showroom, cheese lovers can start with simple mozzarella classes and work up to gouda. Participants should bring their own drinks, but Tulip Tree provides tasty samples, and many classes let students take home what they make.

Cost: Starting at $50

Dates: Available immediately on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays

Where: 6330 Corporate Dr., 317-331-5469, tuliptreecreamery.com/classes

Aerial Circus Arts

When human resources professional Keri Jeter Lewis needed a pick-me-up, she found it in an acrobatics class. 

I was in a rut, so I was trying to branch out and learn new things. I came across Cirque Indy (617 N. Fulton St., 317-758-7455, cirqueindy.com) online, and thought, If I’m going to try this, I better do it with some friends because I’m going to look foolish. So my girlfriends and I organized a private class. 

Because I was there with my friends, I didn’t feel nervous. Normally, I would have been in a class with a bunch of people I didn’t know. My thought was, If I fall on my ass in front of these people, it’s not going to be a big deal.

I didn’t fall, but we were pretty close to the ground for safety’s sake. We worked strictly with the silks, and the instructor walked us through the basics of getting up and into it and how to move from position to position. I do a fair amount of yoga, so I felt like it wasn’t going to be a difficult thing for me to do. But you definitely use all of your body and keep your core engaged. It looks like you’re lying around in the silks and not expending a lot of energy, but you are. You’re activating all your muscles, just like yoga. It was far more difficult than I expected it to be, but it was a ton of fun. 

For the most part, my friends I were laughing and trying not to take ourselves seriously. When people got into upside-down poses at the end, there were moments of pure hilarity. As adults, we don’t normally head to playgrounds and hang upside down. We don’t often feel that sense of excitement and adventure. When I was upside-down, I grabbed my foot from underneath, and I remember it made me feel really graceful. I think that’s the experience my friends and I were looking for. 

Rock Climbing

You can’t learn to climb a cliff face via Zoom, so things were pretty quiet at Carmel-based Hoosier Heights during the pandemic. But the cavernous facility maintained a limited in-person program that is expanding this spring and summer. Guests can try out more than 100 climbing routes, some as tall as 40 feet. Classes include beginning programs for adults, plus slightly (OK, markedly) more difficult regimens covering things like “lead climbing,” which teaches you how to position safety ropes during a solo ascent. General manager Winter Caldwell is particularly excited about a new “grip-strengthening class” that mostly consists of hanging from tiny ledges until your fingers can’t take it anymore.

Cost: $75 for the lead climbing class. Prices vary for other activities.

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 9850 Mayflower Park Dr., Carmel, 317-802-9302, hoosierheightsindianapolis.com

Bollywood Dance

A showy style of movement made famous by the Indian film industry, Bollywood dancing fuses the elegance of retro musicals with the energy of contemporary hip-hop. Instructor Usha Sirimalle, who has studied the technique since she was a child in India, teaches students the basic steps set to Bollywood music. Like hula, each motion has a meaning that, when combined with costumes and facial expressions, tells a story. Classes are held at the Garfield Park Arts Center, where everyone feels as awkward as you do the first time.

Cost: $15 per single class, $50 for a five-week session

Dates: Thursdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: 2432 Conservatory Dr., 317-327-7135, gpacarts.org

Modern Dance

Dance Kaleidoscope may be best known for its performances at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, but the troupe has also taught their craft since 1972. Rooted in classical ballet and movement originated by modern dance choreographer Martha Graham, the classes tend to be tailored to students with some experience. The two-hour sessions led by Dance Kaleidoscope’s rehearsal director Liberty Harris include floorwork and exercises that emphasize strength and emotional communication as live percussion keeps the beat in the Circle City Industrial Complex studio.

Cost: $30 per class

Dates: Sundays through May 23

Where: 1125 E. Brookside Ave., 317-940-6555, dancekal.org

Tennis 

One winner of the pandemic? Tennis. Participation increased nearly 50 percent last year thanks to its built-in social distancing. If you’re going to stick with it, you need lessons. Luckily, the pandemic also brought with it a brand-new indoor tennis club in Pendleton that offers a phenomenal deal on beginner clinics that are open to nonmembers. Drop into any Adult 101 group class at Community Sport and Wellness for just $8. Thanks to the facility’s first-in-town video system, which lets the instructor review your form on an iPad with you, you’ll become an ace pretty fast.

Cost: $8 per class

Dates: Call for open spots weekly

Where: 395 S. Heritage Way, Pendleton, 765-744-1606, communitysw.com

Capoeira

Of all the martial arts, capoeira may be the most beautiful. The practice originated in Brazil, taking shape as a means of self-defense with components of dance. After a warm-up, instructor Ethan Oberauer leads practitioners through acrobatic exercises and dynamic drills that improve balance, strength, and coordination. It’s recommended to wear loose clothing to accommodate those smooth moves at the Garfield Park Arts Center.

Cost: $15 per class

Dates: Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: 2432 Conservatory Dr., 317-327-7135, gpacarts.org

Yoga

For those who aren’t quite ready to venture back into a fitness center, Invoke Studio has invested in a user-friendly interface for virtual yoga classes. With two dozen beginner-level sessions in its catalog, Invoke continues to add basic vinyasa, prenatal, and kids’ yoga classes to its docket of more than 100, some shot on location at places such as Newfields and the Indiana War Memorial. In addition to the on-demand options, the downtown studio has been hosting 34 livestream classes each week. These have the advantages of live interaction with the teacher and a community feel when we could all use that kind of thing.

Cost: $19.99 per month

Dates: Available immediately online

Where: 970 Fort Wayne Ave., 317-631-9642, invokestudio.com

Pole Dancing

Yes, pole dancing is sometimes associated with strippers. But as you may have noticed, strippers are often in great shape. Chrome Fitness owner Marcy Kerr-Lemus insists it’s one of the best workouts available. Intro classes teach you spins, transitions, and inverts—all of which can be modified to meet a person’s abilities. “Your body is stronger than you think, and you can do really cool things with it,” says Kerr-Lemus. Pro tip: Wear shorts and a tank top to class—you’ll stick to the pole better with a little skin contact.

Cost: $99 for a three-week beginner class

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 890 E. 116th St., 317-581-1563, mychromefitness.com

Lightsaber Training

Indy Lightsaber Academy hosts both virtual classes and sporadic in-person sessions at the YMCA at CityWay, where young padawans learn to wield their lightsabers with an expertise that would make Luke Skywalker proud. Academy headmaster Michael Tucker is a certified stage combat instructor (a person who teaches actors how to do sword fights for movies and plays). He and the other trainers mix real-life fighting techniques with theatrical flourishes to create a legit-looking fencing style.

Cost: Online classes start at $5

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 430 S. Alabama St., 317-448-3484, facebook.com/indylightsaberacademy

Motorcycle Riding

In an introductory course on how to handle a bike, local freelance writer Dawn Olsen turned out to be a queasy rider.

I’m not a morning person. Like a vampire, I tend to hiss at first light. So how did I find myself in a parking lot pre-sunrise, dressed head-to-toe in motorcycle gear? 

I blame Eric. My partner is an avid motorcyclist who has been riding for nearly 20 years. We talked about me getting my motorcycle endorsement so I could ride, too. Eventually, I signed up for a two-day course through American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (abateonline.org). Which is how I and 19 others ended up in that parking lot for a class.   

We began by simply starting our bikes. We walked them around. We slowly drove around in first gear. When we started shifting from first gear to second, and second to third, I struggled. I was supposed to be riding around in circle, but I was doing a poor job at it. The instructors were curt—not my style—and soon the roar of self-doubt was louder than the engine. I felt like I might drop the thing on a turn at any moment.  

In the end, I didn’t drop the bike, but I did abandon the class. The course just wasn’t for me. Motorcycle riding, however, still is. I may not get my endorsement for a while, but that’s OK. Sharing a seat with Eric, with arms wrapped around him and the wind in my face—that’s enough. 

Meditation

After the year we’ve just lived through, who couldn’t use a little more inner peace? With direction from resident teacher and Buddhist monk Gen Kelsang Wangden, the Kadampa Meditation Center in Castleton offers a variety of Zen-centric programming such as online workshops, chanted group pujas (prayers), and weekly livestreamed meditation classes to help calm the mind. Each session incorporates a short talk and a guided meditation to improve awareness and release tension, sending participants back out into the world recharged.

Cost: $6 for 30 minutes, $12 for 60 minutes

Dates: Mondays and Fridays

Where: 8407 Castleton Corner Dr., 317-827-6114, meditation-indianapolis.org

Mah Jongg 

No, this isn’t that similarly named solitaire app. Mah Jongg is a fun tile-laying tabletop game that Fishers Mah Jongg Center owner Ellen Sharp has been playing for more than three decades. Five years ago, she founded a permanent location for her hobby. “The camaraderie we’ve developed keeps us coming back to play,” she says, looking forward to restarting classes when it’s safe to do so. She recommends three lessons to learn the ins and outs of bamboos, dots, and cracks before playing without a teacher.

Cost: $10 per lesson

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 9006 Technology Ln., Fishers, fishersmahjongg.com 

Genealogy 

Whether you’re trying to figure out which side your great-great grandpa fought for during the Civil War or just want to know which county in Ireland your ancestors hail from, the Indiana Historical Society can set you on the right path with its Genealogy 101 class. Curt Witcher, a guest host from Fort Wayne’s nationally renowned Genealogy Center, will explain how to sift through the Society’s resources to help dig up your heritage.

Cost: $5 for IHS members, $10 for nonmembers

Dates: April 24

Where: 450 W. Ohio St., 317-232-1882, indianahistory.org

Foreign Languages

Italian

  • Parla Italiano? You will after these classes taught by Indy Italian. Cristiana Thielmann leads private lessons with an emphasis on pronunciation.

German

  • Proprietor of the German Language Institute, Renate Heider-Singh draws on 25 years of experience to teach virtual lessons in Deutsch, as well as an advanced conversation class on Saturday mornings.
    • Cost: $45 for a 45-minute class
    • Dates: Year-round
    • Where: 317-554-9145

French

  • You have to be a member to sign up for French classes through the Alliance Francaise d’Indianapolis, but once you’re in, sessions are available to accommodate all skill levels.

Spanish

  • On the northeast side, Indianapolis Spanish Place offers immersion training both in person and virtually.
    • Cost: $275 for a nine-week session
    • Dates: The spring session starts March 22.
    • Where: 6302 Rucker Rd., 317-737-7772, indianapolisspanishplace.com

Indiana Avenue History

In its heyday, Indiana Avenue was the Beale Street of Indianapolis, flush with Black-owned jazz clubs and cabarets. These days, local storyteller (and former Indiana State University football standout) Sampson Levingston gives tours of “the Avenue” and literally walks people through its history. The two-hour “Walk and Talk” tour starts and ends at the Indianapolis Urban League, following a figure-8 path past the Madam Walker Legacy Center, Crispus Attucks, Ransom Place, and part of the Canal Walk. Levingston encourages open conversation, so everyone—kids and adults alike—can ask questions at any time. “This isn’t about spitting information,” he says. “It’s about getting appreciation for you something you may drive past all the time and have never given another thought to.”

Cost: $25, kids 12 and under are free

Dates: Wednesdays and Saturdays

Where: 777 Indiana Ave., through2eyes.com 

Terrarium Building

Terrariums are hot right now in gardening circles, and because they’re small and self-contained, they’re easy to maintain. Allisonville Home & Garden by Sullivan hosts three-hour workshops that walk participants through the process of choosing a glass vessel, building up the base, laying down the soil, and nesting in a mix of ferns, cacti, and succulents. You’ll leave with an indoor mini-garden to feng shui your home or office.

Cost: $10

Dates: Call for summer enrollment dates

Where: 11405 Allisonville Rd., Fishers, 317-849-4490, allisonvillegarden.com 

Stand-Up Comedy

Let’s say you want to learn how to set up and deliver a joke. Or maybe you just want to master standing in front of a crowd without wilting. Stand-up comedy classes are great for that, and Helium Comedy Club offers an approachable one online. Working comedians teach the five- to seven-week course, which covers timing, joke structure, and dealing with heckling. It’s interactive, with a combo lecture-workshop setup. Access to immediate feedback saves you from having to learn everything at open mics. Or, as Reven MacQueen, the senior manager of development and operations at Helium, says, “It saves you two to three years of making mistakes in front of strangers.”

Cost: $250

Dates: Call for spring enrollment dates

Where: 10 W. Georgia St., 317-349-4800, heliumcomedy.com 

Torah Study 

Those first five books of the Bible are packed with stories that Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation clergy is happy to guide in unpacking. “I have always found that by learning about the faith tradition of others, I learn more about my own,” says IHC Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro. “Engaging in the study of other religions does not lead to a weakening connection to one’s faith, but a strengthening of it.” Wednesday morning sessions are more informal, while meetings on Saturday mornings take a more systematic approach, with each week’s Torah portion considered line by line. Shapiro encourages contacting IHC first to discuss the format and sources used. She also suggests looking into the Introduction to Judaism class beginning in March.

Cost: Some free, others $36 for nonmembers

Dates: Wednesday and Saturday mornings

Where: 6501 N. Meridian St., 317-255-6647, ihcindy.org/adult-education

Our Jazz District 

On her walking tour of Indiana Avenue, community affairs professional Jenny Cash saw and heard things that stopped her in her tracks.

We took Sampson Levingston’s tour of Indiana Avenue on a Saturday. I had never met him, so I didn’t know what I was getting into. But he has great energy, 

and from the beginning, he kept it conversational. Sampson started by taking us to a couple of places on the Avenue and showing us photos from when it was thriving. The difference was eerie. I thought, Man, how can we get back to that?

When we got to the Black Lives Matter mural, we were discussing how city development affected that area. Sampson pointed out a name on the mural: Michael 

Taylor. He told us Taylor was a 16-year-old Black kid who was killed in the ’80s while in police custody. And he said, “Remember this name.” About an hour later, we ended up in the front yard of a house. A woman came out and talked to us about growing up there. She said that, generally, everyone in the

area was very poor. But she said they never felt poor because “everyone was your mom, everyone was your sibling,” that it was a close-knit neighborhood full of love and joy. After the conversation wrapped up, it hit me: That was Michael Taylor’s mother. Here was a woman whose son had been killed, but who still had a positive outlook. It was humbling. 



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