#EducationSoWhite
The Impact of Culture Gaps in our Schools

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We’re excited to welcome dynamic and diverse education leaders for one of the most anticipated diversity and education events of our season!

First, TED-Ed Innovative Educators and #EducationSoWhite panelists Kristin Leong and Marcos Silva lead Classrooms in Color (3/14), an interactive workshop about identity and our schools drawing from their own experiences in Washington and Texas public school districts. Leong and Silva share the surprising commonalities between these classroom environments and invite us to explore actionable strategies for equitable restorative justice practices in education—as well as lending us a behind-the-scenes look into how they brought their groundbreaking TED-Ed Innovation Projects to life.

Then the #EducationSoWhite (3/15) panel brings together dedicated and diverse experts from all fields of education and activism to tackle a pervasive issue: 90% of teachers in Washington State are white, even though almost half of our students are kids of color.  We’ll hear perspectives from teachers and students alike, as well as TED-Ed Innovative Educators and founders of student/teacher activist groups and youth anti-racism coalitions. These panelists will share their own experiences and explore strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers of color, as well as ways to foster inclusion (not just tolerance) for LGBTQ/QPOC teachers and students. They’ll lead the discussion of potential ways we can change educational institutions and systems for the better to make them more welcoming to teachers and students from LGBTQ and POC communities.

Join these diverse speakers for an education-insider examination of the impact of culture gaps in our schools separating students and teachers.

Explore Your Brain, Expand Your Mind

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There’s no question that Town Hall programming appeals to a thoughtful audience and encourages critical and divergent ways of thinking. But rarely do we produce two events so close together that so fully encompass Town Hall’s penchant for cerebral topics!

Theoretical Physicist Leonard Mlodinow (3/20) joins us with an exploration of “elastic” thinking, a cognitive style which he asserts arose in our ancient ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago and is still at work today. Mlodinow cites the rapid expansion of technology and shifting landscapes of data that confront us with new challenges daily—drawing on breakthroughs in neuroscience and psychology that indicate all the ways in which the human brain is uniquely engineered to adapt to new situations. He reframes our human capacity for comprehension as a gestalt confluence of imagination, idea generation, pattern recognition, mental fluency, divergent thinking, and more—and shares secrets for building models of elastic thinking in our own lives, and the ways we can apply these techniques to succeed both personally and professionally.

Then Michael Gazzaniga (4/3), director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, is joined by KUOW host Bill Radke for an in-depth examination of consciousness and grey matter. They approach the timeless puzzle (one which challenged the ancient Greeks) of how the “stuff” of our brains—the atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells—interact to create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads. Gazzaniga and Radke present scientific revelations about consciousness and dispute the centuries-old idea that the brain can be reduced to a machine, sharing new research that suggests the brain is actually a confederation of independent modules working together.

Enter the discussion on consciousness, comprehension, and the brain vs. the mind with these two illuminating events exploring the nature—and the stuff—of our thoughts.

Jazz on the Mountaintop—Summit in Seattle

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On March 2, four jazz powerhouses gather for the Summit in Seattle—a first-ever performance together in this configuration, with no rehearsal or setlist! They come together, warm up, and then dive into an evening of collective improvisation, collaboration, and musical risk-taking. The event is the brainchild of Global Rhythms 2017-18 Co-Curator Daniel Atkinson, and represents a form of jazz he seldom sees represented in today’s musical landscape. Atkinson sat down for an interview with Town Hall’s copywriter, Alexander Eby, to discuss his vision.


AE: The Summit in Seattle is a pretty unusual event. What makes it so unique?

DA: The fact that it’s unusual is precisely why I put this event together. I envisioned the Summit as a way to get back to the true roots of jazz. The format goes back 100 years—a group of musicians at the top of their game with no setlist, listening to each other’s language and finding their own way to speak and respond to one another. It’s an arrangement that harkens back to the ritualistic traditions that define jazz as an art form.

AE: Can you tell me more about that?

DA: At its core, jazz is about musical risk-taking. Success is defined not by playing what’s written, but by taking those risks—by almost failing and then not. An artist becomes a conduit for the culture rather than a destination. They push themselves and their instrumental skills by understanding their relationship to the other artists. That’s why there’s no setlist. Jazz lives in the moment. Mistakes become opportunities to work out potentially new ideas. I want to give these guys a chance to express themselves and navigate that process together and ultimately have fun!

AE: Why put on a performance like this in Seattle?

DA: People in the Seattle jazz community want to promote equity. The Summit is my way of doing exactly that. I wanted to give these four master musicians of color a chance to collaborate with no restrictions and celebrate an art form with roots in West African and Afro-American music traditions.

AE: Is that what makes this concert a great fit for the Global Rhythms series?

DA: Exactly. The musical forms that define jazz, like syncopation and the blues scale, were introduced and popularized by Black artists in the early 1900’s. The context of jazz has changed over time to become more convenient for conspicuous consumption, but jazz began as a space for Black musical expression. It’s a style that (for a very short time) created spaces where a Black performer could be respected for the merit of their musical skill, not judged for their skin color.

AE: Could you give me an example of one of these spaces?

DA: Jam sessions are a prime example. In 1930’s New York, the jam session was an environment that tested a musician’s mettle. A Black musician could demonstrate his/her prowess, and if a White musician couldn’t answer the call, they would have to sit down and make way for someone who possibly could. Value was placed on the merit of musicianship—and bred a learning process. If you couldn’t match or surpass another musician’s skill one night, you went to the woodshed and came back when you felt ready to try again.

AE: And with four masters onstage at the Summit, improvising and adapting to one another is the name of the game.

DA: That’s right. There are two MacArthur Fellows in this group; they’re at the top of their game.

AE: These musicians come from a variety of backgrounds: jazz, hip-hop, R&B, soul. Do you think they’ll have trouble adapting to each other’s styles?

DA: You know, a lot of people have forgotten that those genres actually take their roots from the same place. Back in the early Jim Crow era, what we know as jazz was called “race music.” Eventually it was changed to “rhythm and blues” to make the music easier for White audiences to conspicuously consume, and finally became known as “rock and roll” when White artists took it over completely.

Jazz, gospel, blues, R&B, and hip-hop, are genres that retained certain elements of that progenitor—of “race music”—which were not transposed to rock and roll. The syncopation, the improvisation, the focus on self-expression and adapting to your fellow musicians instead of cutting and pasting ideas together in the spirit of improvisation to an audience that remains benevolently ignorant. This style has gone through so many identity changes that it’s no longer a Black art form, but ultimately the masters playing at the Summit do share a musical lineage—which begins first as a recognition of where it comes from and its uniquely Afro-American, cultural cache. That’s why it’s so important to me that Black musicians be given a space to express their mastery in an art form that is, at its roots, Black.

AE: Do you have any thoughts to prepare audiences for this show?

DA: This performance will be what it will be. Improvisation, risk—this is jazz at its core. As an audience member, you’re witnessing a space for four masters to collaborate and negotiate their process together in real time. It’s probably one of the only times you’re going to see anything like this—it’s an arrangement that just doesn’t happen very often anymore, as much as I wish it did. But I couldn’t bring the mountain down, so to speak, so I put together the Summit to bring the audience to the mountaintop.


Join us March 2 for this exciting collaboration!

Jonathan Talks to Jonathan

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Jonathan Kauffman, a James Beard Award-winning writer, is returning to Seattle. The former restaurant critic at Seattle Weekly, he will be at West Seattle’s Westside School to discuss his new book, Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat on Tuesday, February 27th at 7:30 pm.

Jonathan recently sat down with Jonathan Shipley, Town Hall’s Marketing Manager, to discuss lentil casseroles, vegetarian cults, and the horror of carob.


JS: You lived in Seattle and now live in San Francisco. What’s different between each city’s food cultures?

JK: They’re really similar. There’s more money in San Francisco and so there are more high-end restaurants. The Chinese population is greater here, so there are better and more Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. Seattle’s got better seafood and, since it’s not as expensive as San Francisco, there’s more willingness to experiment in Seattle. They can try new things.

JS: What do you miss about Seattle?

JK: My family and my friends.

JS: What don’t you miss about Seattle?

JK: I like sunlight. I like that I don’t have to take Vitamin D supplements anymore.

JS: What inspired this new book of yours?

JK: I was having a meal in Seattle at The Sunlight Café on Roosevelt. I was being served steamed vegetable with tahini dressing, and whole wheat pastries, and veggie burgers and I was hit with a sudden sense of nostalgia. I grew up in the middle of Indiana. How did I grow up eating this food? How did lentil casseroles and stir fried vegetables with tofu and South African stews get there?

JS: What hippie food is your favorite?

JK: My reset meal is a big wok full of stir fried vegetables and tofu over brown rice.

JS: What hippie food do you detest?

JK: Carob is horrifying.

JS: Who was the most interesting interview subject in your book?

JK: Former members of the Source Family. They were members of a vegetarian cult in the 1960s and 70s under Father Yod. They dressed in white, lived in a mansion, were in a rock band (Ya Ho Wha 13), and earned their money off an organic vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles. They are pretty lovely people and are very positive about their time.

JS: What fact did you uncover in the book that most delights you?

JK: Tempeh [an Indonesian dish made by deep-frying fermented soybeans] was introduced by The Farm, at one time the biggest commune in America. The Farm, still in operation in Tennessee, have made three lasting contributions to the world: tempeh, home births, and radiation detection. I totally love them.


Whether you’re into granola or sprouts, co-ops or quinoa, Town Hall looks forward to hosting Kauffman at the Westside School. Join us!

What is your personal platform?

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Claim this coming Inauguration Day as your own. What is your personal platform? What fundamental values support it? What is the most pressing challenge facing your family, or your neighborhood, or city, or state, or planet, over the next four years? What will you advocate, and what will you defend? And most important, what are you going to do?

On Friday Jan. 20, Town Hall will open its doors at 8 a.m. to witness the induction of a new U.S. President. Then, in partnership with The Stranger, from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. a selected group of citizens from across our region will be invited to declare their own platforms in a two-minute (350 word) inaugural address from the Great Hall stage, captured on video.

We will record your address in a simple, one-take video to be published to both the Town Hall and The Stranger websites. To submit your platform for consideration, send an email to info@townhallseattle.org with the subject line “Inauguration.” Include your name, phone number, one to three issues you will address in your platform. Please disclose professional or volunteer affiliations in the areas you plan to address. (This will not disqualify you. We just want to be aware.)

If you are selected, we will be in touch with more details. Your inauguration platform submission is due Tuesday Jan. 17, 9 a.m.

A platform is not a lament for things in the past, it’s the act of declaring a vision of the future. Begin by asking yourself: What are the greatest challenges we will face over the next four years? What are my personal and civic priorities? What, specifically, am I going to do?

Town Hall does not endorse any political position or cause—we endorse people finding their power through information and community. We are a place to deepen your knowledge, or to learn something new. To explore your passions, and to find new things to be passionate about. To connect to existing activism, and to organize new efforts. To press your case, and to respectfully consider someone else’s.

We are here to help you ask and answer the question “What am I going to do?”

Town Hall Past and Future

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We’re just six months away from the beginning of Town Hall’s highly-anticipated renovation. As we prepare to revitalize our 100-year-old building, we are inviting our members to join us on February 26 at 2 p.m. for a celebration of this beautiful, unique space and its role in Seattle’s history. David Brewster (Town Hall’s founder), will be joined by Lawrence Kreisman (Historic Seattle), and Clint Pehrson (Town Hall Board of Directors), to tell the story of this place—formerly Seattle Fourth Church of Christian Science—and its transformation from an expression of 20th century religious community into a 21st century home for civic, intellectual, and cultural life.

David Brewster founded Town Hall Seattle, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com, and Folio: The Seattle Antheneaum. He will share the story of how this building became Town Hall’s home and the need he saw for a mid-sized, multi-disciplinary arts and civic center in Seattle.

Lawrence Kreisman has spoken eloquently about Town Hall’s Greek Revival building with its fluted column entrance and terra-cotta sheathing, and he has a particular interest in the showpiece of the sanctuary: the stained and leaded glass windows and dome, created by the Povery Brothers of Portland, Oregon. He will discuss these signature features and place the Povery Brothers’ work in context.

Clint Pehrson has practiced architecture in Seattle since 1980, specializing in facilities for cultural institutions—libraries, churches, civic, and arts organizations. In addition to being a current Town Hall Board member, he was one of the original investors who made it possible to purchase the building and create the Town Hall Seattle we know today.

After the program, you are invited for a behind-the-scenes tour of Town Hall.* In a century-old building, there are many interesting places to explore that you don’t normally see—from the organ loft, to backstage green rooms, and so much more. It is wonderful way to imagine what the renovation will mean for the future of the space and your future experience at Town Hall.

[button link=”https://townhallseattle.org/event/town-hall-past-and-future/” bg_color=”#ff0808″]RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY[/button]

*Tours on February 26th will be limited. After you reserve your ticket, look for your invitation (sent via email) two weeks before the event to secure your building tour space. We will be pleased to help you RSVP for one of our twice-monthly building tours if space does not allow you to participate in this one.

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