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Stir Crazy Coffee Shop 

North Side, 4014 MacArthur Ave.

Sitting outside, the proprietors of the local yoga studio talk about one thing or another. In the open gallery space behind the door, a cluster of seminary students study religion while, at a nearby table, Kelly McCants and her kids study lemurs.

McCants home-schools Maddie, 7, and Aidan, 5, and says they come here about once a week, sometimes to meet other home-schoolers or co-ops for geography lessons. There's a woman in the neighborhood who teaches Spanish to them, too. And Stir Crazy has become the unofficial congregation point for studying and schoolwork in the neighborhood.

"Because we're home-schooling, we can really say that we're here to stay," says McCants, who resisted the exodus to points west for better schools. "We lost a bunch of friends after first grade," she says, laughing. She says she likes the familiarity of the coffee shop, the little community that comes together in some form every morning, trickling in from alleys and side streets.

The looseness of the arrangement works for them, she says. It's the result of what she calls "a massive revolt against structure. By, actually, all three of us."

They finish learning about lemurs, gather hats and get ready to leave. Maddie goes up to pay. "I like the fact they can grow up and go, 'Well, at my coffee shop…' I just think that's kind of neat," she says. — Brandon Reynolds



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