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Hear that? Because so many local organizations and institutions go all out planning them for this slow time of year, winter is a great time to attend lectures. There's politics, science, art, community relations, and cooking. Get a ticket and go learn something.

The RochesterRegionalCommunityDesignCenter will this year hold its first lecture series, titled "Reshaping Rochester!Planning for the Public Realm." All the lectures explore urban renewal --- with a focus on city and town centers --- and bring experts from across the country to speak. The lectures take place in venues throughout the city, January 11, February 1, March 8, March 22, April 11, and May 17. 271-0520; www.rrcdc.org.

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library's Thursday Thinkers series will be held Thursday evenings January 12 to March 2. The theme is Rochester 2006: Challenges and Opportunities and will bring local politicians, administrators, and community leaders together to talk about the future of the city. Central Library, 115 South Avenue, 428-8350

The Famous Cookbook Author of 2006 is Andrea Immer, author of Everyday Dining with Wine and host of Simply Wine with Andrea Immer. She will speak on January 15 at the NazarethCollegeArtsCenter. 389-2170, www.wilsoncommencementpark.org

On January 18, the RochesterMuseum and ScienceCenter will bring lion researcher Meggan Craft for its Distinguished Scholars Lecture series. Craft will talk about her work monitoring lions from Serengeti prides. www.rmsc.org

A new speaking series organized by Rochester Against the War, called The Reality of War, is where you can hear from people directly affected by the war in Iraq. The series begins on January 19 with Brian Conley, a journalist who has reported from Iraq and Jordan. For information, email march12RAWC@yahoo.com or call 442-3383

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, UR has invited Martin Luther King III to speak on January 27. King has continued his father's work in civil rights and is president of the KingCenter in Atlanta. 275-0651

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, who won this year's Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize at the University of Rochester, will read from her winning --- and first --- book, Madeleine Is Sleeping on February 2. www.rochester.edu/college/wst/, 275-8318.

Tavis Smiley will make a Western New York stop for the University at Buffalo's Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on February 3. Smiley is a political commentator, activist for black Americans, and host of the first nationally broadcast talk show on black issues. www.ubcfa.org

There are two lecture series at local arts centers. Steve Carpenter Gallery and Art Studio has the Monday Evening Creative Arts Lecture Series with musician Dennis Monroe on February 6, RCB's Jamie Leverett on March 6, naturalist author Mark W. Holdren on April 3, and winemaker MortenHalgren on May 1. 758-1410, www.stevecarpenterstudio.com. The Community Darkroom at the GeneseeCenter for the Arts & Education continues its Meet the Photographer series Monday evenings, January 23 and 30, February 6, 13, and 20. 271-5920, www.geneseearts.org.

The Susan B. Anthony House has a birthday lunch each year in honor of the suffragist pioneer. This year Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will be the keynote speaker. The luncheon is February 14. 279-7490

Rochester Arts and Lectures series is sold out, but you may be able to get standing-room tickets to hear Audrey Niffenegger --- author of the strange and pleasing The Time Traveler's Wife --- on March 16 or Aaron Lansky --- preserver of Yiddish books --- on April 6. Both lectures are at DowntownUnitedChurch. 546-8658, www.artsandlectures.org

Writers and Books announced its selection for If All of Rochester Read the Same Book.... It's Name all the Animals by local native --- and Mercy girl --- Alison Smith, who you'll have a chance to see when she comes back to town March 29 to April 1 for her residency. www.wab.org

In This Guide...

    Winter Guide 2006

    City Newspaper breaks it down for you
    In this year's guide to the winter season, we've focused on things to do. Much like the government's odd, grammatical anti-obesity campaign ("VERB: It's what you do"), City wants you to get out and get moving.

    Hear

    Yup, it's DVD, CD, and fireplace weather for the next few months. But if you live alone, you might get a little lonely.

    Celebrate

    The heartiest and most enterprising souls among us realize winter can be not only a time of fun, but a time of tourism! Why not get the people out of their huts and into the open, they reason, if only for a brief while?

    Look

    After some brief holiday downtime, local galleries and museums are back in full force. So you have an array of culture to choose from, if you're into that kind of thing.

    Play

    Spanking new year, same old story: we all peer outside from the warmth of our homes for a couple weeks and then, realizing that winter ain't going anywhere anytime soon, concede that if we want to stave off cabin fever, we're going to have to make with the bulky coats and really unattractive boots. So when you finally achieve acceptance (the final stage of grief), there are a number of activities you can participate in to make the cold-weather months tolerable, and possibly even enjoyable.

    Applaud

    Here's an outline to plan your ticket-foraging with. Scatter a few of these evenings through the season like little culture outposts and absorb some of the talent --- both local and bussed in --- at hand this season.

    Shelter from the storm

    Winter skills
    If you've lived in Rochester for any length of time, you've probably muttered nasty words under your breath about the weather. And during the five months we call "winter," one of those words was probably "arctic."

    City's winter choices

    City's winter choice: dancing There are plenty of ways to raise your body temperature this winter and have some fun doing it (i.e. you don't have to use words like "cardio," "reps," or "ow") That's right, you should be dancing. Many local groups and venues offer dance nights in their genre of choice, often at low cost and with some sort of basic instruction.

    Frozen in pictures

    Winter Guide photo contest
    Our inaugural Winter Guide photo contest has been a success. We had great response to our call for photos of winter in the Rochester area.

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