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Conference Calls: Gen Xpo wants to help

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Cindy Boomgarden thinks her generation has been unfairly cast as know-nothing "slackers," so she's dedicated the last six months to pursuing her singular vision: Generation Xpo, a curious combination of motivational workshops and marketing stunts. Boomgarden believes the three-day "multimedia" event--which promises continuous live music, a fashion show, a singles party, "hip exhibits," and a job fair--can "help create a positive definition of Generation X."

Boomgarden, a 34-year-old project manager for the Chicago Sun-Times, has recruited various companies that, she says, "care about reaching this audience" and has given them the opportunity to promote themselves to the underemployed masses (one booth, for example, will host a credit card sign-up). Alongside the consumer spectacle will be seminars and panel discussions on a variety of subjects dear to Xers' hearts, like financial planning. Representatives from Greenpeace will lend the festivities a well-intentioned air of political correctness, while a "meet-and-greet" with folks from the Social Security Administration will attempt to reassure twentysomethings of the government's commitment to their golden years.

The job fair has brought out 20 local businesses hoping to recruit stray Xers, including at least two temp agencies and the Checkers fast-food chain. Boomgarden says the job fair embodies her grand scheme. "I was driven to create something that has meaning," she says. "The heart of it is to let Generation X know that we care."

For their part, Xers apparently couldn't care less. Generation Xpo has had a site on the World Wide Web (http://webmart.org/genx/index.html) for the past few weeks, but as of last Friday its bulletin board contained only one civilian posting. Author "oj backlash" posited that festival organizers "are simply trying to latch onto something that they read about in the Wall Street Journal in order to sell you T-shirts and Gatorade."

Generation Xpo will take place this weekend at Navy Pier's Festival Hall B, 600 E. Grand. Hours are noon to 10 Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 Sunday. Admission is $6, $12 for three days. For more information, call 321-2211, ext. 3976.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nathan Mandell.

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