FREE SPEECH ZONE | Chautauqua coming to St. Paul


Come August, the human brain starts drifting off course – it needs some exercise, some fun, some attention!  Give your frazzled mind a break by letting it dip into the deep well of learning opportunities that will burst forth during the ten days of the Summer Chautauqua on the lush green campus of St. Catherine University.

Thoughts of the Chautauqua conjure images of sunshine, leisurely learning for the sake of learning itself, and spending time with others who share the delight of soaking in new ideas.

The SCU Chautauqua series begins with a grand kick-off on Wednesday, August 3, 7:00-9:00 at Coeur de Catherine, aka the student union.  All are welcome (adults $10, children $5) for a gala celebration of summer and learning.  Musicians of the Irish ensemble Barra with dance caller Ann Wiberg will host a ceili, a traditional Irish gathering focused on fun (see, you’ve already learned a new word….)

Let the learning begin!  Need some techno update?  There’s a class on working magic with your digital camera, or another on staying sane with social media or a session on the future of the book (which no doubt includes a touch of technology…)  Or is Poetry in the Parlor more your style?  Acquaint – or reacquaint — yourself with the work of Mary Virginia Micka or Cass Dalglish.  If you are the writer, Elaine Weimar Wagner and Mary Desjarlais will explore their experiences in a session called I Got My Book Published, You Can Too.

Are your social concerns in need of an informed airing?  Try Racism in Minnesota or a session on youth bullying or “genocide and our response” or a session on Pakistan offered by Nancy Parlin.  Explore the resources of the CSU campus (Ade Bethune: Beyond the Catholic Worker or a session on the Artwork of SCU) or of the area (An Insider’s Look into the St. Paul Union Depot Restoration Project.)  There are sessions on health and nutrition, golf and Zumba fitness, a short golf game clinic and a Latino spin with sessions on the Argentine tango and salsa (the dance, not the sauce.)  Joan Mitchell will talk about Women of the Bible and Vera Chester will explore the topic of Asian Wisdom for Aging Minnesotans.

Some sessions, including a series of podcasts and the Poetry in the Parlor readings) are free.  Others are low-cost ($20 for a single class down to $12 for 8+ classes.)

All of the details about the Chautauqua series – schedule, registration form (pre-reg required), parking, map and more) are available on the web , call 651 690 6666 or email

So, give your mind a chance to flex its considerable muscles with a fresh take on a new topic or a chance to polish the sheen on some of those stray thoughts that flit past on a summer day!  You’ll find ideas, fresh air, flowers and friends waiting for you on the CSU campus in early August.