Steel City Folk School to offer free classes in bread baking, Buddhist teachings and more

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Chef Trevett Hooper of Legume Bistro.

Want to learn how to make bread from one of the best bread bakers in town or learn to can food from a top Pittsburgh chef? Here’s your chance.

The Steel City Folk School for adult education is holding a pop-up day of learning on June 20. Steeped in the folk tradition of focusing on craft and social awareness, the new school will offer 11 courses taught by experts in their field.

“A number of years ago I got together with a group of people to explore a community of learning where people could share things they were passionate about,” says Randy Bartlett, project leader of the school and curriculum director at Propel School.

With a $1,000 seed grant from The Sprout Fund and donated space from the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh, he set his plan in motion to recruit instructors.

The classes range from topics such as bread making, taught by renowned Five Points Artisan Bakeshop owner Geof Comings, to tile installation tips from artist Julie Stunden. Except for minimal materials fees in some classes, all classes are free.

“The event serves as a way to explore the interest of the larger community,” says Bartlett. His goal for the school is to eventually offer six- to eight-week courses.

Legume Bistro co-owner and chef Trevett Hooper is teaching a three-hour course on easy food preservation, exploring age-old methods such as fermentation, canning and drying. He hopes that his class will show that crafts like cooking and sewing are a different kind of leisure, not drudgery.

“We’re really such a hyper-consuming society, purchasing services that we used to do ourselves. We’re almost outsourcing our own brains in a way,” Hooper says.

In her class, “Keep Pittsburgh Dirty,” Molly Mehling, assistant professor at Chatham University, will raise awareness of soil ecology in urban Pittsburgh. She’ll focus on urban gardening, the continuous urbanization of the area and storm water issues.

“I like the philosophy of the school itself and the dialogue. It’s not lecturing, it’s an engaged process versus a very sterile lecture,” she says.

Other classes include Drawing the Urbanist Landscape, Buddhist Teachings and Spoken Word Poetry, among others.

Bartlett says class size will range from 10 to 12 participants. “To bring together all these skills is a thrilling thing about this city,” he adds.