Speakers Forum | KUOW News and Information

Speakers Forum

Thursday, 11:00 p.m. - midnight on KUOW

Sarah Vowell, Gloria Steinem, Michael Pollan: you can't make it to every lecture in town but you can hear plenty here. We record talks all over the Puget Sound region, from uber–famous intellectuals to lesser–knowns. From soldiers to urban farmers to humorists; we tape it, then air it on Speakers Forum.

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Courtesy of Scott Baerst

In a recent double bill, journalist Matt Taibbi joined author and anti-poverty advocate Joel Berg to discuss what happened in our recent presidential election and what’s next. Their talks and conversation cover ample ground, from the realities of the campaign trail and our political system, to our tendency to blame politicians instead of taking personal responsibility.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

There are many things to know about Roxane Gay. She grew up in Nebraska. Her family is of Haitian descent. She came to critical attention in 2014 for her best-selling collection of essays “Bad Feminist.” She teaches creative writing at Purdue University. She is the first black woman hired to write a Marvel Comics series, “Wakanda.” She kind of owns Twitter. But perhaps the most crucial thing you need to know about Roxane Gay is that she is awed by and in love with her craft, fiction writing especially, in difficult and delightful ways.

microphone podium
Flickr Photo/Tom Woodward (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6LG5Lf

The term "gaslighting" comes from the 1944 film "Gaslight," about an abusive husband who secretly manipulates the lighting in his house in order to drive his wife mad. It has been used more recently to refer to a political phenomenon involving the dissemination of untruths to an extent that causes the public to doubt truth from falsehood.

Courtesy of Lynette Hoy

Author Lori Tsugawa Whaley grew up in a rural, mostly white community disconnected from her Japanese heritage. She didn’t even realize there was something different about her until she faced teasing and prejudice in grade school. 

Courtesy of Chris Bennion

The Sandbox Radio troupe brings radio theatre to life with their always original, often surprising work. Our presentation of their “New And Improved?” episode features the following performances:

Courtesy of Angela Carlye

In 1963, John Lewis was 23 years old when he addressed a crowd of over 200,000 people at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Lewis was already a veteran of the civil rights movement. He had been a devoted anti-segregation and voting rights activist in college and was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who dared to ride integrated buses into the segregated South. He had become the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Hundreds of transgender people, their families and allies gathered at the University of Washington Tacoma Saturday Feb. 25.

The occasion was a rally against Washington State Initiative 1552. The measure would “override state and local prohibitions against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities, require that public schools restrict access to some facilities based on sex at birth, and allow related lawsuits against schools.”

Professor Joy Williamson-Lott
Courtesy of The University of Washington

“Are you ready to go back in history?” Professor Joy Williamson-Lott asks that question early on in this talk. She’s encouraging the audience, exciting us, but also challenging us.

The history of public education in the United States, her area of focus, is rife with deeply troubling inequality and injustice.

Neon Sugar
FLICKR PHOTO/Adam Engelhart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fqv6q

A friend might try to talk you out of smoking cigarettes or your alcohol consumption, but would they criticize your sugar habit? What if they knew that not long ago scientists were paid to proclaim the dangers of fat when the facts pointed to sugar and carbohydrates?

Author Helen Macdonald at Benaroya Hall
Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

In her acclaimed memoir "H Is for Hawk," author Helen Macdonald reflects on the shock and depression she experienced at the unexpected death of her father. The two had a close bond, marked by their mutual fascination with nature.

Thrown by her loss and struggling with depression Macdonald, an experienced falconer, chose to train a notoriously difficult-to-handle raptor, a Northern Goshawk. She called her Mabel.

Photo courtesy of Greg Olsen

If you’ve been looking for a new Schoolhouse Rock episode on modern presidential power, without the musical and cartoon characteristics, look no further. The early days of the Trump administration are ripe with questions of the reach and limitations of the powers granted to the President of the United States.

This panel discussion among professors at the University of Washington School of Law clarifies many of those questions. 

Photo courtesy of Writers Resist

Authors around the country led a series of events recently called “Writers Resist: A Celebration of Free Speech.” Participants read from their own work or historic writings concerned with freedom, free speech and equality. There were nine such events in Washington State. In Seattle, the participants in order of appearance were:

KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Ten days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration a group of Seattle-area artists and arts supporters came together to share experiences and build community. KUOW set aside a space for them to record personal messages. Their reflections express the conflict of the moment, marked by fear and hope, uncertainty and renewed determination.

Professor Pedro Noguera at the University of Washington.
Courtesy of Emile Pitre

Every three years the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), made up of the world’s richest countries, publishes an international student assessment. They test 15-year-olds for comprehension in reading, math and science.

One goal is to understand which countries have the most successful education programs and why. In 2015 the United States ranked 25 out of 72 countries. 

FLICKR PHOTO/Penn State (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/jbLpvD

Tim Wise is known for his commitment to exposing and countering racism. He grew up in Tennessee and went to college in New Orleans, where he became involved in efforts to oppose Ku Klux Clansman David Duke’s political aspirations. Dr. Cornel West referred to Wise as “a vanilla brother in the tradition of John Brown.”

Photo courtesy of Jose Guadalupe Martinez

The largest march in Seattle history took place on Saturday, January 21. Listen here to the speeches you may have missed at the Seattle Womxn’s March, because over 100,000 demonstrators can’t fit in Judkins Park.

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Some people say that sports and politics don’t mix. Sports and politics writer Dave Zirin and Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett got together recently to test that theory. Mix it up they did. The two had a lot to talk about, and not just concerning sports.

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Dr. Sylvia Tara has struggled with weight issues for much of her life. After gaining a substantial amount of weight following the birth of her children, she committed herself to finding a way to lose the pounds and keep them off. That decision led her to an exploration of what exactly fat is, how it may harm us and how it actually helps us survive. 

Larry Hubbel, Joni Balter, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee at Seattle University
Courtesy of Sophie Egan

Back in 2005 Seattle announced a 10-year plan to end homelessness. That plan failed.

The One Night Count of unsheltered homeless people in King County made in 2006 totaled 1,946. That total increased to 4,505 in 2016.

What to do? Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray and San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee grapple with that question on a daily basis. Both are keenly aware of the reality of homelessness, and serious about finding solutions. 

Benjamin Hunter at Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Courtesy of Seattle Colleges

For his 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time.”

Jessica Bennett at Town Hall Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Author Jessica Bennett and a group of fellow female professionals were facing man’s world issues, like male colleagues taking credit for their ideas and work. The women started a monthly meeting to share stories and look for solutions. Their gatherings explored workplace discrimination and social research on how to combat it. 

White House 2014 World AIDS Day
Flickr Photo/Ted Eytan (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/2hT2Rem

Author David France faced the fear and reality of AIDS first hand as a gay man, an investigative reporter and a New Yorker. He was there when word of the illness spread through the gay community and was largely ignored by politicians, religious figures and the press.

He writes about that dark history and how a small group of activists forged a way out in “How To Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS.”

KUOW Photo: Lisa Wang

Last year KUOW teamed up with Seattle Asian Art Museum, Pratidhwani, South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) and Tasveer to launch the Storywallahs series. Theses events provide a stage for storytelling on a theme.

This time around the stories concern first days: What was it like to arrive in the United States for the first time? This gathering of reflections will surprise and inspire you.

Flickr Photo: Marilylle Soveran

The writer Henry Fielding defined a rogue as a rich man without charity. Merriam-Webster describes a dishonest, worthless or mischievous person. This year, Seattle stage rogues Jean Sherrard, Paul Dorpat, Khanh Doan and Kurt Beattie shared their talents for the annual “Short Stories Live: A Rogue’s Christmas.”

Richard Ziman, Pilar O’Connell and Bhama Roget in Wayne Rawley’s “Christmastown”
Courtesy of Chris Bennion

When it comes to favorite things, Sandbox Radio should be high on any radio theatre lover’s list. The troupe brings talent and infectious enthusiasm to their one-night-only shows. This winter holiday episode, with musical help from the Cascadia Big Band, features the following performances:

  • "Christmastown” adapted from the stage play by Wayne Rawley
  • "Festival Of Lights - A Presentation" by Juliet Waller Pruzan
  • "King John's Christmas" by A. A. Milne, adapted by Richard Ziman

Senator Bernie Sanders at University Temple United Methodist Church
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

It may come as no surprise to you to hear that Bernie Sanders is not done. He was on the post-campaign trail last week, with a stop in Seattle to promote his new book, “Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In.”

Even after a bruising election season and outcome, Sanders says the majority of Americans agree with his vision of progress. He challenges us to “think big” about progressive change.

Marcie Sillman and Virginia Wright at SAM on Dec. 1, 2016.
KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Seattle’s reputation as a vibrant, progressive, culturally relevant city is the product of decades of vision and growth. Many Seattleites participated in building that progress, but no one has done more to develop the arts culture of this city than Virginia Wright. Over the last 60 years of her adult life, Wright has helped transform what was once a cultural outlier into a world-class art destination.

Phillip Deng at Ignite Seattle 31
Photo courtesy of Randy Stewart

The Ignite series brings locals together to share ideas, inspirations and understanding in a rapid-fire, accessible format. The program was invented here, and you’re invited.

Ignite Seattle 31 took place on November 17 at Town Hall Seattle. Sonya Harris recorded the talks. Scott Berkun was the emcee. 

Poet Rachel Zucker
Courtesy of Rachel Zucker

Several years ago, poet Rachel Zucker was asked to write a lecture about poetry. That process led her, in part, to question what it is that poets do — and why.

She recently presented that lecture, “The Poetics of Wrongness,” as part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series.

Photo of Melissa Ponder

Ampersand Magazine is a production of Forterra, a Seattle-based conservation and community-building organization. Ampersand Live is a gathering of poets, artists and storytellers keen on preserving and celebrating the fragile bond between society and nature in the Pacific Northwest. 

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