Speakers Forum

By John O'Brien

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You can’t make it to every lecture in town, but you can hear plenty here. From KUOW, Seattle’s public radio station, comes a collection of talks recorded all over the Puget Sound region.

Episode Date
A novel idea from an environmental activist: Secession
Northwesterners and people around the world have been inspired by Bill McKibben’s prolific environmental activism. McKibben took some time off from his global warming work recently to write his first novel, “Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance.” He admits he was inspired by one of his heroes, Edward Abbey — so you know things will get weird.
Aug 12, 2018
Bees: The 'hippie wasps' we all need
It seems there’s a "how things work" theme on Speakers Forum recently. Last week it was tides , this week, bees. Our guide is Thor Hanson, an uber-biologist who seems to really love what he does. He’s also a fine and animated storyteller. His new book is “Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees.”
Aug 05, 2018
A sailor's poetic primer on the science of tides
Before you listen to this talk by Jonathan White , you might want to be somewhere by the sea as the moon rises or sets. That would be ideal. If not that, be somewhere where you can search maps of all the far-flung places he’ll talk about. You’ll likely have that urge.
Jul 29, 2018
It took a village, and a pediatrician, to expose the Flint water crisis
The city of Flint, Michigan represents the height of American ingenuity, productivity and economic progress — and also the mirror opposite.
Jul 22, 2018
Robin DiAngelo: 'I think you’re racist. I think I am, too.'
The term “white fragility” was coined by the Seattle-based educator and author Robin DiAngelo. She defines it as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”
Jul 15, 2018
‘We caught this kind of lightning in a bottle’: An Obama White House memoir
Ben Rhodes was a 24-year-old aspiring writer living in New York on 9/11. What happened that day made him want to be part of the response. As you’ll hear in this talk, when his visit to an Army recruiter didn’t pan out, he looked for a way to get involved politically.
Jul 09, 2018
Seahawks' Michael Bennett: 'I'll be black forever'
Michael Bennett is a man who needs little introduction. He is famous as a professional football player, a philanthropist and an activist. Now, add author to the list. Bennett’s first book, written with journalist Dave Zirin, is ‘Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.’
Jul 05, 2018
Roxane Gay: Men need to read these dispatches from rape culture
Recent polling shows that almost half of American women say they’ve been sexually assaulted. With that startling statistic in mind, KUOW presents this talk with author Roxane Gay, who compiled a collection of personal essays called, “Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture.” It addresses a misogynistic culture in which victims of violence are often discredited, mocked or shamed for their assault.
Jun 28, 2018
3 fascinating orca facts we didn't know before
In honor of Orca Awareness Month in Washington state, here are three facts about orcas we didn't know before, courtesy of a talk by Prof. Jason Colby of the University of Victoria.
Jun 21, 2018
The rise and fall of a Seattle megachurch through the eyes of an anthropologist
What happened during the creation and growth of Mars Hill Church made waves in Seattle and beyond. A charismatic minister, Mark Driscoll, preached in a daring, new way. He sought to make his ministry “culturally relevant,” bringing a hipster attitude to conservative theology. His methods drew people to the church in growing numbers.
Jun 14, 2018
Take psychedelics (not too many), change your mind
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the author of “The Botany of Desire” chose to experiment with and write about psychedelic drugs. They are edible after all. Still, like many people, Michael Pollan wasn’t exactly keen to fool around with mind-altering experiences.
Jun 07, 2018
From pooing in public to the Seattle Superman: Ignite Seattle aims to surprise
Ignite Seattle is an unusual event. The organizers like to surprise the audience when they can — like that time a couple got married on stage. Thrills like that aside, there’s something thoughtful and genuine in every talk. More often than not, we learn something new.
Jun 01, 2018
From refugee to celebrated storyteller: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s American journey
Viet Thanh Nguyen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He was awarded that honor in 2016 for his debut novel “The Sympathizer.” Then he received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2017.
May 24, 2018
Author Leslie Jamison distills recovery from ‘the whiskey-and-ink mythology’
On her website, Leslie Jamison writes: “I've worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. Every one of these was a world; they're still in me.” On her way through those worlds, Jamison dealt with alcohol addiction. She tracked that experience — from inception to recovery — in her new memoir “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath.”
May 22, 2018
Nomi Prins condemns government, banks in 'Collusion'
Author Nomi Prins used to be a Wall Street banker. Now she writes with a critical eye about how banks and economies work. One example: how in 2017, U.S. banks used 99 percent of their earnings to buy their own stocks and pay out dividends to their shareholders.
May 18, 2018
Barbara Ehrenreich explores modern mortality, what we get wrong about living well
It sometimes seems as if author Barbara Ehrenreich has seen it all and done it all. From “Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” to “Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything,” the scope of her writing has been vast.
May 10, 2018
Sen. Patty Murray and Gary Locke break down current politics
The Civic Cocktail series brings political, business and community leaders to Seattle for a drink and a line of questioning from reporters and attendees. The most recent session featured Senator Patty Murray and former Washington Governor and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
May 09, 2018
Madeleine Albright sounds the alarm on fascism in new book
The work of diplomacy is subtle, but the actions of world leaders are sometimes the opposite. Famed American diplomat Madeleine Albright confronts the dangers of undiplomatic and undemocratic political trends in her new book “Fascism: A Warning.”
May 03, 2018
Washington state schools grapple with #EducationSoWhite
Last year, a hashtag became an event in Seattle: #EducationSoWhite 2017 gave voice to and started a conversation about the lack of diversity among teachers in our schools. Ninety percent of Washington state teachers are white, while nearly half of the students are people of color.
Apr 26, 2018
Alexander Chee’s guide to writing, becoming, love and loss
There’s a thing at talks around Seattle. Often enough, you can feel it when the crowd gets restless if the event goes to a certain length. You can see the people looking for a chance to exit. One bolts, and others rush to follow. There was no restlessness at author Alexander Chee’s reading on Monday night. Even though the room was a tad warm, no one left. They hardly stirred. Here, Chee discusses his life and work with Seattle-based writer Matillda Bernstein Sycamore. And he reads two pieces from his new book of essays “ How to Write an Autobiographical Novel .” The book is part memoir, part writing guide. His readings are personal, revealing and poignant; a sort of aural time capsule of cherished, remarkable lives: “Why am I telling this story? I am, as I have said, a minor character, out of place in this narrative. But the major characters of all these stories from the first ten years of this epidemic have left. The men I wanted to follow into the future are dead. Finding them had
Apr 25, 2018