On Town Hall’s Architect George Foote Dunham

Nearly $30 million dollars in renovations later, Town Hall’s building is in its homestretch of reopening, even with some unforeseen delays. It’ll be as bright, shiny, and beautiful as it was when it first opened, but now with all the 21st century amenities. (We’re in the final push of the campaign to fund our historic renovation. Help us raise $200,000 in new gifts before March 1 and an anonymous donor will match your gifts, dollar-for-dollar! Learn more, here.)

The building was originally built as Seattle’s Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist. Construction began in 1916. It was designed by Portland architect George Foote Dunham (1876-1949). Built in the Roman Revival style, he wanted it to resemble, in updated terms, Rome’s Pantheon. The church owned the building from 1916 until 1998, when the congregation sold it to Town Hall LLC.

The Christian Science Movement was founded in Boston in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) who taught spiritual and physical healing through devotion to Christian principles. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in Boston, Massachusetts and opened in 1894. Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States, reaching nearly 270,000 members at its peak in 1936. The Manual of the Mother Church prohibits the church from publishing membership figures. However, it does provide names of Christian Science practitioners (members trained to offer Christian Science prayer on behalf of others). In 1941 there were 11,200 practitioners in the United States. In 2015, there were 965.

Seattle’s fourth Christian Science group formed in Seattle in 1909 with 41 members, meeting in rented spaces at Seattle’s Arcade Hall and the Hippodrome Theatre before Dunham began design and construction. Their new building was erected in two phases, first from 1916 through 1917 and later between 1922 and 1923. The main auditorium, named “Great Hall,” had curved pews that could seat 825 people. We will still have those pews in our newly renovated building. During its service as a church, the Great Hall housed weekly readings of the Bible and Eddy’s Science and Health With Keys to the Scriptures, as well as musical performances. The church installed a theatre organ in 1923. Because acoustics were important to churchgoers, Dunham carefully calibrated the sound projection within the Great Hall. Its shallow dome and thick walls provided good sound. (Town Hall’s new acoustic reflector will offer great sound, by the way. Also, we’ve permanently installed a Hearing Loop system in all our performance spaces.) There are no religious symbols adorning the church, nor most any Christian Science church.

Dunham himself was born September 17, 1876 in Burlington, Iowa. He attended the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, graduating in 1900, and was soon employed as a draftsman with the late Solon Spencer Beman, who designed Milwaukee’s first skyscraper, the Pabst Building. Dunham worked at Beman’s architectural firm from 1900-1906 until moving to Portland, Oregon where he stayed for 23 years, starting his own firm in 1910. He joined the Portland Architectural Club in 1913 and was treasurer of the American Institute of Architects, Oregon Chapter in 1925.

Most known for his residential work in Portland, Dunham also designed several other Christian Science Churches. He built First Church of Christ, Scientist in Portland with Beman; First Church of Christ, Scientist in Victoria, British Columbia; Spokane’s Second Church of Christ, Scientist; as well as other edifices in St. Louis and Orlando, Florida where he relocated to in 1929 until his death in 1949.

Sidebar: here’s a fun story about Dunham’s wife driving across the country from Portland to Orlando in a car she called “Old Faithful.”

Do you want to help build upon this history? Give a new gift of $500 or more to have your name inscribed on a custom-crafted plaque on the Great Hall stage—a reminder every time we come together that Town Hall truly belongs to all of us. Learn more, here.

An Important Update About Our Renovation

Dear friends,

Although our calendar has been a little quieter over these last weeks the work behind the scenes at Town Hall has never been more intense. Our staff is excitedly planning for the opportunities of a transformed building as both our renovation and the capital campaign approach their finale. However, amid all our energy and optimism, I’m writing with disappointing news regarding construction setbacks.

Our general contractor, Rafn, has encountered new and significant issues with plaster in the Great Hall and on the second floor that will affect the timeline of our reopening. Complications like these are unusual so close to completion, and we’re working with Rafn to understand the problem and its implications for our schedule. While they have yet to propose a new timeline, as of today they’re anticipating a 60-day delay. This team was selected especially for its experience with historic renovations, so we’re relying on their expertise to choose doing the work “right” over doing it “fast.”

All of which means we won’t be able to move back in time for our planned Homecoming festival. So much heart and hustle has gone into booking an outstanding lineup of Town Hall and partner-produced programs—it isn’t possible to simply slide the whole thing over by a month or two. So we’ve decided to move the festival to September, in order to present a lineup that’s as exciting and vibrant as the one we had planned. 

But don’t worry—we won’t be “dark” this whole time. In March we’ll return to hosting events in venues throughout the city. And the project truly is in its homestretch, as any tour of the building will attest. We will reopen in just a few months—we just don’t have an exact date yet—and we’ll start producing programs back home as soon as we have our certificate of occupancy (likely well before the official festival). We’ll ask for your goodwill as we start living into our building’s new spaces, systems, and capacities as we discover the place all over again together. And we’ll ask for your honest feedback to help us fine-tune the new (and familiar) Town Hall experience.

Over nearly 20 years Town Hall has come to mean so many things to this city—to some it’s a nonstop calendar of ideas, creativity, and activism; to others it’s a tool of expression and organization, or even a “feeling” of community, or a link to “old Seattle.” And to our staff, board, and volunteers, it’s an act of hospitality—an invitation to a more informed, engaged and connected life in this city. The building is a monument to (and an instrument of) all this, and more.

Together we’re not just restoring a landmark building—we’re securing Town Hall’s unique role as a people’s hall, for our generation and those to follow. It is only possible with you and through you. It really is your Town Hall—stay close now and you’ll feel it as we all come home together.

– Wier

P.S. As always, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to Missy Miller (Communications Director) if you have any questions or concerns.

Toasting Mozart

Mozart has been the toast of Seattle for quite some time. The old Town Crier (that ran locally from 1910 to 1938) has a plethora of references of concerts done by symphonies and choral groups; chamber music orchestras and soloists playing the renowned work of one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

For instance, a review of Fritz Kreisler playing Mozart’s “Concerto in G-major” can be found in the January 21st, 1933 edition of the Crier. “Mozart was flawlessly played,” the review enthuses. “The infinite unwearying grace of this music is perfectly suited to Mr. Kreisler’s minutely shaded manner. So many varieties of tone color from one instrument, such sweeping flights of spicatto and simplicity of the adagio flowingly phrased.”

The reviewer got very excited. “Writing with this music still in my ears there is a temptation to simply set down a restrained row of exclamation points so !!!!!!!! and have done with the search for mere inexpressive and over-worked words.”

Mozart’s birthday was only six days after that glowing Crier review of Mozart and Kreisler.

 

Byron Schenkman

For Town Hall’s ninth annual toast to Mozart’s birthday, host and curator Byron Schenkman will take their place on the piano for an evening performance of classical favorites. They are joined by Lee Peterson on piano, Nathan Whittaker on cello, and Rachell Ellen Wong on violin. After the concert there will be a reception and birthday toast in celebration of the legendary composer.

The concert repertoire will feature: Sonata in C Major, K. 19 d, for piano, four hands; Sonata in F Major, K. 376, for violin and piano; Variations on theme of Salieri, for piano; and Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502, for violin, cello, and piano.

This is very exciting!!!!!!!!

Buy your tickets now!!!!!!!!

Exclamation points!!!!!!!!

Fare Thee Well, Viaduct

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed forever tonight. Viadoom, we’re calling the traffic problems we’ll now have for a few weeks and months now that it is no more. Viaductpocalypse, we’re calling it. Here’s the Seattle TimesSurvival Guide for it.

The October 4, 1924 issue of the Town Crier was crying about traffic problems in a piece entitled, appropriately, “Traffic Problems.” “The rapid increase in numbers of the automobile has created a nation-wide traffic congestion,” it laments. “The pressure is growing constantly greater. Take a look at the Bothell Highway or the Seattle-Tacoma road on a Sunday afternoon for a hint at what the future is likely to bring.”

The future brought it. “Money, study and cooperation are necessary to the solution of the problem,” the writer says. “Money is required to build new roads, more roads, better roads, and wider roads.” The writer continues, “City planners and road-builders with foresight and the necessary money a century or more ago would have solved our problem before it arose. It is doubtful whether we will have the foresight and money to solve the traffic problem in the future.”

When the first phase of the Alaskan Way Viaduct opened in 1953 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, “The viaduct looms like a royal necklace across the bosom of the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.”

The Alaskan Way Viaduct in 1956. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives, item No. 53373

The viaduct was completed in full in 1959—a triumph of engineering and civic team spirit to solve Seattle’s traffic woes.

By the 1970s the viaduct was considered an eyesore. By the 1990s it was considered a safety threat. An earthquake at a magnitude 7.5 or greater would undoubtedly bring the whole thing down. It was also overworked. The structure was designed expecting to carry 65,000 vehicles a day, but by the 1990s its load was averaging 110,000 vehicles a day.  

What will happen once the tunnel that replaces the viaduct opens? We’ll find out soon enough. “Cooperation,” the Crier noted, “is most essential in the untangling of our transportation jam. Those that must cooperate are the motorists, the pedestrians and the street car systems.”

We hear you, Crier. Let us all do our best to untangle.

(In remembrance of the viaduct, Town Hall’s own Jonathan Shipley has been documenting his travels across it on Instagram)

Jazz Maniacs

There was much concern in the February 25, 1922 edition of the Town Crier. The writers were worried about this thing called jazz music. They questioned, “Will the willingness of some musicians yield abjectly to the existing ‘jazz-craze’ even though momentarily financially remunerative, not eventually prove socially demeaning?” They thought most certainly it would prove socially demeaning.

“Musically speaking,” the story continued, “these are the impressions: The fiddle whines and wails, reminding one of Mr. Thomas Cat on a moonlight night, inviting bootjack bouquets from back windows.” The saxophone was no better. It “bawls periodically like a lonesome cow.”

Don’t get the writer started on trombones. It “heaves up spasmodically like the fellow who has imbibed too freely of boot-legging moisture.” The cornet is a “cackling hen,” and the poor piano is “pulverized with arpeggios and chromatics until you can think of nothing else than a clumsy waiter with a tin tray full of china and cutlery taking a ‘header’ down a flight of concrete steps.”

So much for musical effect. The writer doesn’t care much for the music…nor the musicians. “A bunch of intoxicated clowns,” the Crier cries, “indulging in all sorts of physical gyrations.”

Gadzooks! What a mess Seattle’s music scene was in 1922. The writer all but knew the jazz craze would die down but the musicians would forever be marked as clowns. “In the interest of conserving the dignity of the musical profession I would ask contractors to minimize what I believe will be a detriment to all of us.”

Jazz did not die down—not in Seattle, not anywhere. It was just heating up. Just as the writers were beginning to lament Seattle’s jazz scene, four women were bringing jazz further into the fore. From 1918 to 1924, pianist Gertrude Harvey Wright was one of four women in Seattle’s first black musicians’ union, the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 458.

Gertrude Harvey Wright, Virginia Hughes, Edythe Turnham, and a Mrs. Austin, all worked with their male counterparts at union headquarters and on the bandstand. Morphing to the AFM 493, the union, along with Local 76, co-existed for the next forty years, becoming the pillar of Seattle’s jazz scene.

The 493 Union represented such jazz greats as Ray Charles, Phil Moore, and Quincy Jones.

Edythe Turnham and Band

Some of those early women musicians who made their mark include Ann Coy who played piano and headed The Black Aces with her husband. The aforementioned Edythe Turnham headed her own big band, The Knights of Syncopation. Evelyn Bundy was a member of the Garfield Ramblers and, later, led the Garfield High School band.

Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. Photo by Jim Levitt.

Today, there are plenty of local jazz women. In fact, there are entire organizations. Seattle Women in Jazz is the first organization of its kind locally to specifically highlight some of Seattle’s best jazz artists and bands, led by and/or comprised of women. One of those bands is the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. Seattle JazzED has its own Girls Ellington Project Ensemble for 9th to 12-graders.  

Jazz maniacs, all. The echoes of Gertrude Harvey Wright’s piano can still be heard. The bawling saxophone of Turnham’s big band is still bawling.

We’re all the better for it.

Listening Guide: In the Moment Episode 28

In this 2018 recap episode, host Jini Palmer speaks with Megan Castillo, Town Hall’s Community Engagement Manager, about our community’s responses on social media about favorite Town Hall moments (2:15) and then Jini and Steve highlight a selection of interviews which didn’t make it into previous episodes. Speakers include: Blair Imani with Monica Guzman (31:25); Arnie Duncan with Steve Scher (33:28); Denise Hearn with Alex Gallo-Brown (37:58); Rob Reich with Steve Scher (40:10); Randy Shaw with Tammy Morales (44:44); David Reich with Steve Scher (47:19); David Hu with Grace Hamilton (51:41); and Michael Hebb with Lesley Hazleton (53:27). Get an insider’s look and stay in the know about what’s going on in this moment at Town Hall.

A Symphony of Women

The March 12, 1921 edition of the Town Crier had on its cover Madame Mary Davenport Engberg. She was a violin virtuoso and became director of the Seattle Civic Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra’s first concert was April 24, 1921, and they held their last concert on May 4, 1924. The Town Crier reviewed that first concert, writing, in part, “It was a novelty to see a smartly gowned woman on the conductor’s platform wielding the baton, which she did with emphatic manner.” By leading the orchestra she was thought to be the only female conductor in the world.

Alas, not much has changed. In 2016 the League of American Orchestras reported the gender distribution of music directors was 91% male and 9% female. Of the 22 highest budget US orchestras, there is just one female conductor, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Marin Alsop. In the same survey it was noted that male and female musicians in orchestras have almost equal representation—and yet only 20% of conductors in America, as a whole, are women.

Luckily, Seattle is bucking that trend. Here is a brief list (not comprehensive) of local conductors you should take note of!

Mika ArmalySeattle Youth Symphony Orchestra

Mika Armaly received her Bachelors of Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University and had the pleasure of joining Seattle Public Schools as the director of orchestras at Hamilton International Middle School in 2010. She was invited to lead a new string ensemble within the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra organization in 2016. In 2018, Mika moved further north to the beautiful Skagit Valley where she is currently completing a Masters of Music in conducting at Western Washington University, while continuing her work with SYSO.

Anna EdwardsUniversity of Washington School of Music, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra

Anna Edwards is Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Interim Music Advisor. Dr. Edwards has made a significant impact to the Seattle music scene as a performing artist, music instructor, and orchestra conductor. After performing as a professional violinist and music educator for over 25 years, Edwards shifted her focus from instrumentalist to conductor. After training with Michael Jinbo at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for three seasons, she received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington. She is also the conductor, founder, and music director of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra (SCO) and leads the Saratoga Orchestra as Music Director. The SCO and Edwards both won first prize in the 2017-2018 community division of the American Prize, a national competition. As a freelance violinist, she has performed with such groups as the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Northwest Sinfonietta, Auburn Symphony, Silsbee Piano Trio, and she taught at Roosevelt High School where she built the orchestra program into a nationally award-winning program.

Kate LabiakSeattle Youth Symphony Orchestra

Kate Labiak has a long-standing history with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras — she has served as the Symphonette Orchestra Conductor since 2003, as a clarinet/woodwind coach since 1996, and also as an alum (1990-92).

Ms. Labiak currently teaches instrumental music at College Place Middle School in the Edmonds School District. As the 2014 recipient of the Washington Music Educators Association’s award for Middle School Teacher of the Year, Ms. Labiak has a diverse background of teaching experience including directing bands and orchestras from the elementary through high school levels, middle school general music (steel drums), and serving as adjunct faculty for Central Washington University. Most recently, she founded the Edmonds School District’s Middle School Girls’ Jazz Program, which provides extracurricular jazz experience to middle school aged girls.

She earned degrees from the University of Washington (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music in Music Education, 1997) and Central Washington University (Master of Music in Conducting, 2002).

Kim RoySeattle Rock Orchestra

Kim Roy, versatile conductor and violist, is a native of Western Washington. Kim is the Music Director of Seattle Rock Orchestra, Snohomish County Music Project, and is the Associate Conductor for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. As an enthusiastic educator, Kim has directed orchestra programs at Renton High School and Dimmitt Middle School and currently is the Director of Orchestras at Garfield High School. Kim earned her Bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from Central Washington University in 2007 and her Masters in Orchestral Conducting from Central in 2009. Through inspired classical performances and the fusion of the rock and classical genres, Kim brings a high level of energy and excitement to the orchestral music scene.

Julia Tai Philharmonia Northwest, Seattle Modern Orchestra

Julia Tai has established herself as one of the most dynamic young conductors on the international stage. She is currently the Music Director of Philharmonia Northwest, and the founder and co-artistic director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with orchestras around the world, including the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Estonian National Youth Symphony (Estonia), New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Carlos Chávez (Mexico), and the Seattle Symphony. She has participated in the renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at the New England Conservatory, and worked with legendary composers, performers and ensembles such as Jonathan Harvey, Tristan Murail, Graeme Jennings, Garth Knox and Ensemble Modern.

Anna WittstruckUniversity of Puget Sound School of Music

Anna Wittstruck joined the University of Puget Sound School of Music faculty in fall of 2017 as Assistant
Professor, Director of Orchestra. She previously spent two years as Acting Assistant Professor in Music at Stanford University, where she served as Interim Music Director and Conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia. She also taught music history and conducting courses in the Department of Music.

Dr. Wittstruck has conducted concerts across the United States, Latin America, Europe, and in Asia, including with the Harbin Symphony in China. She recently conducted sold-out concerts at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and Teatro Nacional de Cuba in Havana, where she performed with Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba and the Chamber Orchestra of Havana. In December 2013 she conducted the first-ever symphonic concert on Catalina Island (“Sounds of America,” featuring Copland’s Appalachian Spring) and returned with her touring ensemble the following three seasons. She has conducted concerts at the Rudolfinum in Prague and the Musikzentrum Augarten (home of the Vienna Boys’ Choir) in Vienna, as well as concerts in Berlin, Bad Elster, and Teplice as part of the 2013 Stanford Symphony Orchestra tour of Central Europe.

Support them. Go to a concert. Watch them work.

Our 2018 Inside/Out Season in Brief Review

Our 2018 Inside/Out season has come to a close, folks. We’ve had a wonderful time out in the community these past months offering up civic, arts, and educational programs that have reflected and inspired our region’s best impulses: creativity, empathy, and the belief that we all deserve a voice. We’re thrilled to continue bringing compelling programming to your community in the new year and to finally be able to enter our newly renovated building in a few months (learn more about that here).

Here are a few highlights of our season that took us from Phinney Ridge to Columbia City; the Central District to the University District; West Seattle to Capitol Hill; and plenty of spaces in between.

SEPTEMBER 2017

LISTEN: Sam Kean: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us. On September 6 our Inside/Out season started in earnest at the Bathhouse Theatre. Author Sam Kean discussed the very air we breathe.

WATCH: Dar Williams: A Thousand Small Towns. The award-winning singer graced the Rainier Arts Center stage for a discussion of America’s small towns—and sang a few tunes, too.

OCTOBER 2017

LISTEN: Masha Gessen: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Vladimir Putin’s biographer revealed how, in the space of a generation, how Russia surrendered to a more virulent and seemingly invincible new strain of autocracy.

WATCH: Juan Gonzalez: How NYC’s New Mayor Inspired America’s ‘Resistance’ Cities. The legendary journalist sat down to discuss Bill de Blasio’s election and what Seattle’s place is as a ‘resistance city.’

NOVEMBER 2017

WATCH: Lawrence O’Donnell: Playing with Fire. The MSNBC host presented a keen examination of the 1968 presidential election at Seattle University.

WATCH: Martha Nussbaum: The Philosophy of Thoughtful Aging. One of the world’s greatest living philosophers offered her perspectives on the aging process.

 

DECEMBER 2017

WATCH: Dr. Beverly Tatum: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Town Hall was thrilled to bring Tatum to both the Rainier Arts Center and the Westside School for a forthright conversation about racial identities in our school system.

LISTEN: Neil Patrick Harris: The Magic Misfits. The award-winning actor came to Temple de Hirsch Sinai to discuss his new children’s book and perform a magic trick or two.

JANUARY 2018

LISTEN: Denise Fairchild: Equity in Clean Energy Solutions. The activist discussed the global fight to conserve our natural resources, and the magnified impact of this battle on low income communities and communities of color.

WATCH: Charles Waters: Can I Touch Your Hair? The poet spoke at the Northwest African American Museum with Reagan Jackson about race, mistakes, and friendship.

FEBRUARY 2018

WATCH: Nadine Burke-Harris: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. The renowned pediatrician discussed early childhood trauma.

INTERVIEW: Jonathan Kauffman: How Hippie Foods Changed the Way We Eat. The award-winning food writer talked about co-ops, tofu, and more. 


MARCH 2018

WATCH: Robert Reich: The Common Good. The famed professor and author discussed the fundamental purpose of society and the common good that defines it.

LISTEN: Kory Stamper: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. The lexicographer cracked open the complex world of words.

APRIL 2018

INTERVIEW: Richard Powers: Overstory. The award-winning novelist discussed his luminous 12th novel, Overstory. The novel was about trees, but much more than trees –  it was about the regenerating possibility of reconciliation, and of homecoming.

WATCH: Samantha Irby: Meaty. Irby chatted with Lindy West in a hilarious evening exploring Meaty—Irby’s widely beloved collection of smart, edgy, and unabashedly raunchy personal essays.

MAY 2018

LISTEN: Barbara Ehrenreich: Natural Causes. The bestselling author talked about the aging process and extolled the value of living well while accepting our mortality.

INTERVIEW: Town Music: JACK Quartet. The JACK Quartet joined with Joshua Roman for an unforgettable performance that included a Roman’s composition entitled ‘Tornado.’

JUNE 2018

WATCH: Michael Bennett: Things That Make White People Uncomfortable. The football champion discussed the role of race in sports in this gripping conversation.

WATCH: Angela Garbes: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy. The food and culture writer discussed pregnancy with Lindy West. Thoughtfulness and Hilarity ensued. Watch the night’s event here.

SEPTEMBER 2018

WATCH: Teaching for Black Lives. A summit of activists and educators assembled for a treatise on how we can end institutional racism in our classrooms.

WATCH: Jose Antonio Vargas: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. The Pulitzer Prize winner discussed his experiences as an undocumented immigrant in America with Ijeoma Oluo.

OCTOBER 2018

PROFILE: Vishavjit Singh: Sikh Captain America. The cartoonist and activist took the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute stage for a conversation about the importance of confronting our own stereotypes.

INTERVIEW: Michael Hebb: Let’s Talk about Death (Over Dinner). The end-of-life advocate invited us to a conversation we’re not having often enough—how we want to die.


NOVEMBER 2018

POETRY: Blair Imani: Modern HERstory. The activist told powerful stories about women and nonbinary people rewriting history and an audience member wrote a beautiful poem about the experience.

WATCH: Francis Fukuyama: Identity, Dignity, and the Politics of Resentment. The famed political author asserted that the demand for recognition of one’s identity is a fundamental human instinct—and a major contributor to populism and polarization in America.

DECEMBER 2018

INTERVIEW: Adrienne Mayor: Gods and Robots. The folklorist and historian of science takes us back in time to the mythology of robots, automata, AI, and humanity’s timeless impulse to create artificial life.

LISTEN: Randy Shaw: A Generation Priced Out of New Urban America. The housing activist sat down with Mónica Guzmán of the Evergrey, exposing how millennial home-buyers are having their access to housing in big cities restricted, exacerbating trends of racial and economic inequality.

There’s more yet to come, friends! In fact, we’ve got Jonathan Weisman and a Mozart birthday bash coming in January. Check our calendar for details and find most all our past Inside/Out events in our media library.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Listening Guide: In the Moment Episode 27

In episode #27 of In The Moment, our correspondent Tammy Morales interviews Randy Shaw (2:17) about the rising price of housing. Shaw cites a 50-year-old federal law which states that the government would be responsible for providing citizens with houses. But that law has been ignored, and widespread access to homes has been left to the whim of the free market. They explore the factors which have led to the commodification of housing. Shaw and Morales discuss potential strategies for rescuing the housing market from rising prices and the grip of scarcity—strategies like up-zoning, rent control, investment in low-income communities, public housing, and mobilizing communities to vote for changes to local land-use policies.

Chief Correspondent Steve Scher talks with Octavio Solis (13:12) about the dreams of Solis’ past. Solis relates his impetus to record his own history in the manner of retablos—a form of Mexican folk art—and how if he doesn’t write them down they will remain dreams. He explores the ways which he becomes a character in his own stories, a fresh-faced figure who is naive and learns a lot by falling on his face. Solis also talks about how the Chicanos changed the culture of lowrider cars—a metaphor for how two cultures can change and merge to form an entirely new one.

And host Jini Palmer conducted a backstage interview with Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie (22:25)—the creators of the hit podcast Limetown—along with Cote Smith, the author of the series’ prequel novel. They discuss Akers’ and Bronkie’s journey in making Limetown, outlining their favorite parts of the process. They explore the reasons they chose the avenue of audio instead of film or book, and reveal the auditory science behind their approach. They also discuss Smith’s new novel and all the ways that the Limetown world is expanding into different mediums. Akers and Bronkie reflect on the life they’ve made out of the initial idea they had nearly 5 years ago.

Still Curious?
-Read about the latest real estate trends and the future of Seattle housing with these articles from The Seattle Times.
-PBS offers us a video interview with Octavio Solis, highlighting his experiences growing up as a “skinny brown kid” in El Paso.
-Learn more about the history and culture of retablo paintings.
-Season 2 of Limetown is now available—check out their website to listen!

Listening Guide: In the Moment Episode 26


In episode #26, correspondent Alex Gallo-Brown speaks with Denise Hearn (1:55) about her book The Myth of Capitalism. They explore the notion that our apparently open capitalist society is being undermined by a few goliath corporations who are stifling the competitive market. They discuss workers’ rights, de-unionization, racial inequity, non-compete clauses, mandatory arbitration (which prevents workers from filing class action lawsuits), consumer activism (how we vote with our dollars), and much more.

Chief Correspondent Steve Scher interviews Alex Rosenblat (14:23) about her research on Uber—and the ways consumers and workers are at risk of manipulation by the company’s algorithms. Rosenblat contests Uber’s claim to be a middleman, revealing how the company has quietly separated what passengers pay and what drivers pay in order to charge passengers more without giving drivers their fair share. She outlines the difficulties employees face when unionizing or pursuing legal action, and the precarious situation of having an algorithm for a boss.

Steve also shares a short interview with political scientist Rob Reich (26:57). They discuss the problematic effects of philanthropy on democratic society, and Reich advocates for a shift in the public perception from one of gratitude to criticism. Reich asserts that the very-wealthy are leveraging private resources to influence public policy, which in turn is undermining the idea of democracy.

The feature this episode highlights our program on November 7 with L.A. Kauffman (29:25). She makes the case that grassroots organizing—not the democratic party—was the hero of our last midterm election. Kauffman shares the startling revelation that more people have protested since Trump took office than ever in history, and encourages us all to continue to stand strongly for the values that we hold dear.

Still Curious?

-Writer and former labor organizer Alex Gallo-Brown interviewed Annelise Orleck about the worldwide laborers’ movement of the 21st century. You can explore Alex’s work here, and listen to their conversation here.

-Denise Hearn curates her own blog—take a read!

-The Seattle Times posted an article earlier this month which puts a local spin on the ongoing conversation about Uber’s practices surrounding transparency of information and fair treatment of workers.

-Columnist Anand Giridharadas spoke on Town Hall’s stage in September earlier this year about the problematic aspects of philanthropy in America. The discussion resonates with Rob Reich’s own ideas—check out our recording of Anand’s event.

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