DIY or die

    DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ventures are everywhere these days. In big cities and small towns, DIY has become a symbol for youth innovation and creativity. In Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, DIY is thriving — if you know where to look. DIY efforts promote community, open-mindedness and diversity through creativity and education in a number of outlets. From cheap hipster to urban classy, here are a few different DIY collectives and supporters to check out in Chicago. 

    Photo by Becca Oken / North by Northwestern


    1854 W. North Ave.,

    Located in the heart of Wicker Park, one can only imagine the treasures housed in this quirky bookworm’s paradise. The independently owned store and its patrons “favor the unusual, the aberrant, the saucy and the lowbrow,” according to its website. The store sells zines (independently published periodicals), books, comics and other related items, many of which cover obscure subjects. Quimby’s also sells some of its inventory on consignment. It’s like Ramona of children’s chapter book fame grew up, opened her own bookstore and named it after herself. 


    River East Art Center, 435 E. Illinois St.,

    Photo courtesy of Alia Wilhelm / North by Northwestern

    This monthly upscale version of a flea market brings vendors, called Dosers, from all over the city together under one roof. The marketplace distinguishes itself from other DIY spaces by its sophistication. One Sunday per month, visitors can pay $8 in advance or $10 at the door to experience “Chicago’s most dynamic gathering of innovativefashion, artisan food and high design,” according to the market’s website. The Dosers sell products ranging from Honor + Folly handmade aprons to Mana Food Bar vegetarian sliders. The market’s selection varies each month and is assembled by the Dosettes, the market’s curators. Very glamorous indeed.

    Photo by Becca Oken / North by Northwestern


    3413 W. North Ave.,

    A supporter of all aspiring artists, Rumble Arts Center is a nonprofit community organization located in Humboldt Park. Its mission is to promote the education and spread of all types of art, from dance to literary to visual. The center hosts events for all ages and all cultures, a quality on which it prides itself. Diverse activities pervade the Rumble Arts Center. “Teaching artists,” as the center’s site pegs its instructors, may propose class ideas like African Drumming, Introduction to Painting and Filipino-Indonesian Martial Arts. Prices range from a $5 to $10 suggested donation per class, and after you’ve paid that, you’re a sponge in a sea of cultural enrichment.


    7628 N. Paulina St.,

    Photo by Becca Oken / North by Northwestern

    One of a few bike co-ops in the area, this place does just what its name suggests: restores donated and downtrodden bikes. The main goal of the Recyclery’s services iscommunity- building by encouraging patrons to learn about DIY bike repair. Regular programs like Saturday bike sales, youth classes and tune-up classes all reinforce the collective’s purpose. DIY bike repair has gained popularity lately as urbanites, college kids and environmentalists alike rely on more sustainable and affordable forms of transportation. So if you left your bike outside all winter, it’s worth the time to ride down to the Recyclery and learn for yourself. Your quads will thank you.



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