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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Ways to Connect

Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter.
Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter worked long hours for the U.S. Department of State. After leaving Washington, she wrote an essay for The Atlantic titled, "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All."

Travel expert Rick Steves speaks at Seattle Central College.
Courtesy of AARP/Bruce Carlson

Rick Steves is known for his guidebooks and radio and television shows, but travel is more than a business to him. He calls it “a political act.”

As an example, Steves tells about the time he changed vacation plans to go to El Salvador on the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. "No more expensive, no more risky than going down to Mazatlan, but a life-changing experience," he said.

Steves spoke Dec. 10 at the Seattle Central College Broadway Performance Hall as part of AARP’s Life Reimagined Speaker Series. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded the event.

Kevin Powell at The Seattle Public Library.
Courtesy of Naomi Ishisaka

Seattle Poet Nikitta Oliver – who moved from a mostly black community in Indianapolis 12 years ago – said Seattle was a culture shock.

“I had dealt with white supremacy before, but never like this – never in a covert way where people could use the same progressive language I could use and at the same time make me feel like I didn’t belong here,” Oliver told an audience at Seattle Public Library’s main branch downtown.

Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard tell stories of Christmas at Seattle's Town Hall.
Courtesy of Jean Sherrard

For the last 10 years, a troop of Seattle actors have gathered to tell holiday stories. Although sometimes Grinchy, these stories have always been festive and delightful.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, left, UW Professor Megan Ming Francis and Seattle Police Assistant Chief Robert Merner at Humanities Washington's Think & Drink.
Courtesy of Mike Hippel

There’s been a spotlight on race and policing – but that isn’t because the situation gotten worse.

“Why a lot of black people have a deep suspicion, distrust, of police is not something that just happens because we see Michael Brown or we see Freddie Gray,” said Megan Ming Francis, a political science professor at the University of Washington.

“It’s a really, really long history that has placed us where we are right now.” 

Clay Jenkinson as John Wesley Powell
Photo Courtesy of Katrina Shelby Photography

Scholar and author Clay Jenkinson is known to many listeners as the co-host of The Thomas Jefferson Hour. You may also know that every year he visits Seattle to perform one of his historical interpretations. He calls it the highlight of his year.

This was the second Storywallahs event; the theme was Coming Home.
KUOW Photos/Bond Huberman

The 24-year-old man didn’t have a home.

So he came up with a bold plan: Go to the nicest neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, knock on the doors of 10 mansions and ask if he could move in.

Pacific Ocean from across the straights.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

In 1520, explorer Ferdinand Magellan called it “peaceful.” At more than 60 million square miles, the Pacific Ocean covers 30 percent of the earth’s surface -- an area larger than the landmass of all the continents combined. It is our planet’s largest and deepest ocean basin, and it has stories to tell. So, where to begin?

Author Simon Winchester sees many good starting points. His new book is “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers.”

Writer Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy in high school in the 1970s.
John Carswell/Courtesy of the author

When writer Sonya Lea’s husband underwent a radical surgery, he lost three pitchers of blood.

That severe blood loss deprived his brain of oxygen, causing permanent damage. When he emerged from the operating room, his eyes were shocked open, and his personality had changed.

Professor Robert Reich at Town Hall Seattle on Oct. 19, 2015.
Flickr Photo/Al Garman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1TeSMCu

Robert Reich says he’s often stopped by strangers at airports. People walk right up to him, forego any niceties, and get straight to the question: “What are we going to do?”

Reich says that makes him optimistic, because it’s not just liberals asking.

Gloria Steinem and Cheryl Strayed at Benaroya Hall on Nov. 8.
Courtesy of Bre LeBeuf

Gloria Steinem doesn’t like being called an icon. She sees herself as one in a tide of women who made and make change, so she doesn’t want to be put up on a pedestal.

But she is called an icon, and has come to represent the modern struggle for women’s rights and equality.

Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon, 1784, by Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Louis Rémy Mignot.
Public Domain

In 1777 Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette was a French aristocrat looking for military glory. Since the French weren’t at war, the 19-year-old crossed the Atlantic to join George Washington and other American revolutionaries in their fight with the British.

That’s where Sarah Vowell comes in.

Courtesy of Dean Forbes, Seattle University

Legendary science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin visited Seattle University recently to meet with students and read from her novel "The Lathe of Heaven." The work was chosen as the common text reading for SU freshman and transfer students this year.

Prison jail bars
Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (CC BY NC 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1MLz2Y5

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. But that’s a relatively recent development. Over the last three decades rates of incarceration in the U.S. have increased five-fold.

Currently there are about 2.2 million U.S. citizens behind bars. Race and class are major factors in who goes to prison. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 young black men will spend time behind bars. The projected rate for young white men is 1 in 22.

Courtesy of Sandbox Radio/Truman Buffett and Joe Iano
Courtesy of Sandbox Radio/Truman Buffett and Joe Iano

This week on Speakers Forum we’re presenting a chill-worthy (and very funny) episode from Sandbox Radio. It’s a first for us, and just in time for Halloween.

The Stranger calls their work “fresh, joyful and awesome.” But given the season, they’ve added a touch of “creepy” to the mix.

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