What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Neil and Fox Beauty Parlor is offering permanent and Marcel waving” and, “Mrs. Lawrence Bogle was hostess at a luncheon on Wednesday at the Golf Club.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“In August time,” the Frederick & Nelson ad reads in the August 16 issue of the Town Crier, “the highways, trails and placid waters of the Puget Sound region provide matchless settings for the Kodak enthusiast.”

Seattle Met recently asked, “Which Washington State Park Should You Visit?” Their thoughts.

Seattle Magazine recently noted “The Seattle Outdoor Activities Everyone Must Do.” Their thoughts.

Into Instagram? Big 7 Travel recently gave readers “The Most Instagrammable Spots in Washington.” Their thoughts.

These days most people are taking to the highways, trails and placid waters with their smart phones rather than with Kodak cameras. Kodak was a giant in the photo industry. Then they went bankrupt. What happened? This.

Talking about giants that are now history: Frederick & Nelson. Founded in 1891 as a furniture store, it expanded to sell all sorts of wares. The 1919 ad continued, “Frederick & Nelson provides the Kodaks, the films and a competent finishing service – to say nothing of the bonbons, cushions, cool wearables and other aids to a thoroughly enjoyable vacation.” The store continued to expand in the area, up to 10 stores in two states. The company went out of business in 1992.

Enjoy the rest of summer, friends. Take some photos. Eat some bonbons. Enjoy our region’s matchless settings.

What’s Your Curiosity Craving?

At Town Hall, we often invite folks to feed their curiosities, and for Homecoming Festival, we’re asking: what is your curiosity craving? In this series, Town Hall staffers will turn their own curiosity cravings into custom festival itineraries. Interested in sharing your own craving and the Homecoming lineup that satisfies it? Write us at communications@townhallseattle.org for the chance to be featured here. If selected, we’ll give you free tickets to your custom itinerary!

Donna Bellew, a Town Hall board member, shares her itinerary:

My curiosity craving is to explore Aristotle’s four cardinal virtues as a way of understanding what is important to being a just society and a just individual.  I know it sounds big and heavy but also super interesting and it turns out Town Hall has A LOT of programming that covers Aristotle’s four virtues: prudence, temperance, courage and justice.

Prudence

Prudence is not a word thrown used much lately.  Maybe it’s too formal or just old fashioned but it’s hard to not argue for the need for some common sense, wisdom and good judgment. On Tuesday, September 17, Marie Forleo takes Town Hall’s stage to delve into her book Everything is Figureoutable, exploring the idea that if you’re having trouble solving a problem or making a dream happen, the problem isn’t you. According to Marie, it’s not that you’re not hardworking, intelligent, or deserving, but that you haven’t yet installed the one key belief that will change everything—everything is figureoutable.

Temperance

Temperance is a word used even less frequently.  In our extreme culture moderation does not get a lot of playing time.   That’s why I’m looking forward to hearing, on September 13, Marilynne Robinson train her incisive mind on our modern political climate and the mysteries of faith. With perspectives from her new essay collection What Are We Doing Here? she investigates how the work of great thinkers about America like Emerson and Tocqueville inform our political consciousness, and discusses the way that beauty informs and disciplines daily life.

Justice  

Luckily justice is a word we hear a lot, mostly in the context of all the extreme injustices that are present in our lives and in the world. Seattle is very lucky that many of Town Hall’s civic programs take a close look at issues involving justice.  One of the many that I’m excited to see in September is Ibram X. Kendi’s talk on the concept of antiracism and how to reenergize and reshape the conversation about racial justice in America. It takes place on September 14.

Courage

Courage is a big, intoxicating word and one that I’m always curious to learn more about which is why I can’t wait to hear author Isabella Tree speak at Town Hall on September 26.  I’m looking forward to hearing the story of how when Tree and her husband (environmentalist Charlie Burrell) found themselves struggling to make a profit from the heavy clay soils of their West Sussex farm, they decided to try something new. They let it go wild. To enlighten us on the trials and outcomes of this bold plan, Tree joins us on Town Hall’s stage with excerpts from her new book Wilding – The Return of Nature to an English Farm. Tree recounts the questions she faced in the process of letting nature reclaim her 3,500 acre, centuries-tilled farmland. What form did the land have before human beings claimed it? What kinds of animals had been crucial to its ecology, and how could they be reintroduced? What would the neighbors think? Join Tree for a discussion of the challenges and successes of this bold mission to revive land and wildlife by letting nature take its course, reversing the cataclysmic declines in biodiversity that challenge Britain and the world.

Want to find more? Check out our full Homecoming Festival lineup!

What’s Your Curiosity Craving?

At Town Hall, we often invite folks to feed their curiosities, and for Homecoming Festival, we’re asking: what is your curiosity craving? In this series, Town Hall staffers will turn their own curiosity cravings into custom festival itineraries. Interested in sharing your own craving and the Homecoming lineup that satisfies it? Write us at communications@townhallseattle.org for the chance to be featured here. If selected, we’ll give you free tickets to your custom itinerary!

Missy Miller, Town Hall’s Communications Director, shares her itinerary: 

My curiosity is craving an exploration of our changing understanding of a changing world. With this itinerary, we’ll gain new ways to think about topics from death, to digital existences, to our relationship with dogs. If you’re interested in diving into the origins of our mathematical understanding of nature, the “art of logic” in an illogical age, and want to hear first-hand experiences of how the self is impacted by factors outside of our control—these events are for you. Join prominent scientists like Gina Rippon and Alexandra Horowitz as well as some of today’s best science writers, including Caitlin Doughty and Jonathan Safran Foer. 

9/11 Math night double-header! The Art of Logic in an Illogical World and How the World Became Geometrical. 

Eugenia Chang balances the values and limitations of logical thinking alongside vital “alogic” approaches like emotion. Amir Alexander tracks the philosophical, political, and social uses of geometry throughout history.

9/16 Caitlin Doughty: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? And Other Questions About Death

Mortician Caitlin Doughty answers questions about keepsake skulls, Viking funerals, mummified dogs, and what will happen (to our bodies) after we die.

9/18 The Body Lives its Undoing

Researchers, patients, and caregivers share unique artistic perspectives about the experiences of people living with autoimmune diseases.

9/20 Gina Ripon: The Myth of the Gendered Brain

Gina Rippon debunks the concept of the “gendered brain,” drawing on research at the intersection of science, society, and gender identity.

9/20 Brad Smith: Promise and Peril in the Digital Age

Microsoft President Brad Smith confronts cybercrime, privacy problems, and big tech’s relationship to inequity.

9/22 Clyde W. Ford: Think Black

Clyde W. Ford, son of IBM’s first black software engineer, presents a heartbreakingly honest story of the parallels between his father’s and his own experiences as black engineers at IBM.

9/25 Jonathan Safran Foer: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

Author Jonathan Safran Foer offers us a new approach to saving the planet from climate change: breakfast.

9/26 Isabella Tree: A Farm’s Return to the Wild

Travel writer Isabella Tree recounts the unique and wild process of reviving her 3,500 acre farm by letting it return to nature.

9/28 Alexandra Horowitz: Our Dogs, Ourselves

Author Alexandra Horowitz explores our perplexing, contradictory, and delightful relationships with dogs.

Want to find more? Check out our full Homecoming Festival lineup!

Town Hall Teen Nights!

Town Hall’s 22 & Under program makes all of our self-produced events free for youth, but all throughout our Homecoming Festival we’re going even further. We’re partnering with TeenTix to host pre-event celebrations for youth only—Town Hall Teen Nights. Teens, drop in at these pre- and post-event gatherings for snacks, talkbacks, and the big ideas you crave.

9/5 Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor – 6:30PM-7:30PM 

Join us for pizza and cupcakes at this pre-show meetup in the Otto (in the Forum).

9/9 Deep End Friends Podcast – 6:30PM-7:30PM

Young Women Empowered hosts a pre-show meet-and-greet in the Otto for youth to mix, mingle, and meet activist and author Virgie Tovar of the Deep End Friends podcast.

9/11 Math Night Pre-Event Game Night – 6PM-7PM

Join us before the show for snacks and games with Zeno Math in the Otto (in the Forum).

9/11 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – 6:30PM-7:30PM

Join us for pizza and cupcakes at this pre-show meetup in the Otto (in the Forum).

9/14 Hydrant Showcase – 6:30PM-8PM

Stop by the Forum and join Hydrant for an all-city young musicians’ mixer and jam co-hosted by alumni of The Residency, Rhapsody Project/Unbroken Circle, Próxima Generación, and Beats to the Rhymes. 

9/14 Ibram X. Kendi Post-Event Conversation Circle – 9PM-10PM

Sit in with facilitator ChrisTiana ObeySumner in the Reading Room as they lead a post-event conversation circle exploring Kendi’s discussions of antiracism.

9/25 Jonathan Safran Foer – 6:30PM-7:30PM

Join us for pizza and cupcakes at this pre-show meetup in the Otto (in the Forum).

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Maurice Brown gave a delightful talk on ‘Poets and Poetry’ on Tuesday” and, “Miss Ellen Messer was the proud winner of the blue ribbon in the ladies saddle class last Sunday at Camp Lewis.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There was high praise in the August 2nd, 1919 edition of the Town Crier for the Theo Karle Club concert that was held at the Armory in honor of the Eastern Star delegates. “The Moszkowksi Dance and ‘The Americans Come’ proved the favorite choral numbers. The unaccompanied numbers demonstrated the high grade of work done by this club.” The story singled some singers out. “The soloists were Miss Evelyn Dale, who sang Cadman’s ‘Thrush’ in a charming manner, and responded to an encore with ‘Old Virginny,’ accompanied by the club.” The Theo Karle Club, it was noted, was going to play at an Alki beach picnic the following weekend, joined by the Seattle Clef Club.

Theo Karle

This begs the question: Who was Theo Karle? Born in Iowa in 1893, Karle came went and lived most of his life in Olympia, Washington. It was there that he gained notoriety for his tenor vocal skills. He performed on various radio stations and made his way to New York City, where he made his first appearance with the Rubenstein Club in 1916. He toured with the New York Philharmonic for a time. He had some recordings made for Victor and Brunswick Records in the 1910s and 1920s. In the 1920s he toured Europe, singing with the Opera-Comique in Paris and the Opera of Monte Carlo. He worked for CBS in the 1930s and retired to Seattle in 1941 and taught voice lessons. He died in 1972.

His music lives on, however. You can listen to him sing here, here, and here.

Talent Show: The Tender Gritty Music of Amanda Winterhalter

On August 10, Town Hall’s stage will be graced by musician Amanda Winterhalter for a single release concert. Tickets are on sale now! Get to know her a bit more:

There was a record player in her house growing up in the rural hills of Stanwood, Washington. There were records, too. A Bread album. Cream. The Rolling Stones. Anne Murray. “My mom really enjoyed Anne Murray.” Amanda Winterhalter suddenly breaks into song as we talk. Tender, with a little grit beneath. There was a record player at her house but the needle broke and no one bothered to fix it. It sat, getting dusty.

The Winterhalter house wasn’t a musical house. There weren’t tunes playing in the living room. The radio was rarely on. In the car they played oldies and gospel (Amanda’s mom sang in the church choir, after all). There was contemporary sacred music that piped through the car’s dinky speakers. “Amy Grant was very influential to me.” Amanda breaks into song again—a short refrain.

The house she found music in was a house of worship, a church the Winterhalter family attended frequently. “I wanted to do musical things,” and so she joined the choir. Her mom was a soloist from time to time. Amanda thought that was pretty cool. Sometimes, they sang mother-daughter duets together. Amanda started soloing at church when she was around 10 years old. She picked up a guitar as a tween and started learning chords and learned how to pluck the strings. As a teenager she joined a church band. “The youth worship team played the cool Christian music—drums, electric guitar, and shit.” She laughs a warm bright brassy laugh. “I lead the youth band and it’s where I learned a lot of my foundational band skills. I was quite ambitious. I loved music.”

Music was sacred to her, and still is. But secular tunes began to catch her attention. She listened ardently to the first ladies of jazz, the honeyed voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the blackberry vines of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington. Also, Lauryn Hill. “It was the Video Music Awards, or something, and Lauryn Hill began singing ‘To Zion’ and it blew my freaking mind.”

Shy by nature, Amanda didn’t join many music groups in high school and when she went to college (Northwest University in Kirkland) she majored in English, though her desire to pursue her art grew and then grew more.

“My senior year was an inflection point. It was my time to rediscover music.” She took voice classes, ear training. She was a member of the chamber choir (“It melted me away”). She took music theory classes. She was becoming versed in verses.

She decided, shyness be damned, to enter the school talent show. She sang and played the guitar. She wore all black and was decked out in leather boots. She played Mindy Smith’s ‘Come to Jesus.’ And what happened? “I fucking won that show head over heels.”

She discovered that she could call herself an artist. She started writing her own songs in earnest. She was working in Olympia as a teacher when she joined a band in Shelton, Lower Lights Burning. She sang backup vocals, played piano, banjo, accordion, mandolin, pump organ.

From there she started making connections with local and regional musicians. She wanted to become enmeshed in the music scene and she felt Shelton couldn’t hold her. She moved to Seattle and soon ran into Geoff Larson, a jazz bassist who ran, and continues to run, The Bushwick Book Club Seattle, a nonprofit where local artists write and perform original songs inspired by books. She started singing songs at Bushwick events. She opened for Elizabeth Gilbert and Geraldine Brooks before their readings that were put on by Seattle Arts and Lectures.

Winterhalter and Larson became friends and developed an artistic partnership. Through working with him she began finding her form, the shape of her style, and her voice. “He helped me find the sound that felt true to me.”

He also helped her record her first album, Olea (2016). She’s got a full band now with Larson on upright bass, Rick Weber on drums, Nick Drozdowicz on electric guitar, and Ed Brooks on pedal steel. Winterhalter says, “With our diverse backgrounds and our diverse influences, we’re really starting to swing.”

On August 10 at Town Hall Seattle they release in concert the title track of her forthcoming album, What’s This Death (2019). They’ll be joined by The Drifter Luke and Old Coast. The album has all the parts that have helped make Winterhalter feel whole—cathartic lyrics, warm tones, deep wails, and wrenching growls. “It’s my way to have a voice in this world.” She suddenly starts singing again and a record player, gathering dust in someone’s house, is aching to be played. Winterhalter’s album comes out  early October 2019.

Below is a recent song she wrote about the Mount Saint Helens explosion:

Town Hall Seattle Reads the Mueller Report

Mere days before Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding his special council report, Town Hall hosted more than 100 local actors, journalists, and community activists for a 24-hour marathon reading of the 448-page report in its entirety, including redactions and footnotes. 

It was Town Hall at its best—a community-driven, highly collaborative program, an act of citizen self-education, and an immediate response to what’s happening in the world around us. It was also a wildly ambitious testament to the flexibility of both our new Forum space (formerly known as Downstairs) and our staff. Several hundred audience members joined us throughout the reading, with folks wandering in during the wee hours of the morning and 1,400 more joining throughout the livestream (even a few media outlets stopped by, including The Guardian).  

We’re so grateful to the event organizers (Brian Faker, Sarah Harlett, and Carl Sander), the 100 plus readers who volunteered their time, and to everyone who participated throughout the marathon event. 

You can still experience Town Hall reading the Mueller report for a non-dramatized and non-partisan presentation of this critical document. Watch the full event below (broken into Parts 1 and 2) or listen to the audio, released as a special In the Moment podcast miniseries

Do you want to support timely civics programs like this one? Support Town Hall by becoming a member today.

What’s Your Curiosity Craving?

At Town Hall, we often invite folks to feed their curiosities, and for our Homecoming Festival, we’re asking: what is your curiosity craving? In this series, Town Hall staffers will turn their own curiosity cravings into custom festival itineraries. Interested in sharing your own craving and the Homecoming lineup that satisfies it? Write us at communications@townhallseattle.org for the chance to be featured here. If selected, we’ll give you free tickets to your custom itinerary!

Alexander Eby, Town Hall’s staff writer, shares his itinerary:

My curiosity is craving unexpected perspectives. If you’re looking for lateral thinkers who upend established systems, check out these experts who bring us subversive strategies for bettering society and ourselves. Whether it’s rebuking propaganda in widespread media, reviving a farm by letting it go wild and overgrown, or remodeling healthcare and housing around the American tradition of the public option, these big thinkers present new takes on the way we do things. Listen in as renowned speakers like Chase Jarvis, Naomi Klein, and Jonathan Safran Foer bring us surprising and urgent ways we can change for the better—and why it’s vital that we should.

-9/2 Alex Gallo Brown: Variations of Labor

Alex Gallo-Brown shares poetry and real human stories to illustrate and combat the grind of labor in modern-day America.

-9/6 Ganesh Sitaraman: Public Options for Creating Freedom, Opportunity, and Equality

Ganesh Sitaraman explores how public options—libraries, post offices, parks, and more—can transform American civic life.

-9/10 Peter Pomerantsev: This Is Not Propaganda

Peter Pomerantsev alerts us to trends of modern propaganda, disinformation, and information warfare.

-9/23 Chase Jarvis: Following Your Creative Calling 

Local luminary Chase Jarvis shows us ways we can cultivate habits of creativity to transform our lives and deliver vitality to everything we do. 

-9/24 Naomi Klein: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal

Naomi Klein investigates the discussion of our modern climate crisis and presents her urgent case for a Green New Deal.

-9/25 Jonathan Safran Foer: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

Author Jonathan Safran Foer offers us a new approach to saving the planet from climate change, starting with what we eat for breakfast.

-9/25 Timothy Faust: Single Payer Healthcare and What Comes Next

Timothy Faust advocates for the simple but practical concept of single payer healthcare—and outlines what our nation must do to get there.

-9/26 Isabella Tree: A Farm’s Return to the Wild

Travel writer Isabella Tree recounts the unique and wild process of reviving her 3,500 acre farm by letting it return to nature.

These events, and plenty more, are a part of Town Hall’s exciting Homecoming Festival happening throughout the month of September.

Tickets are on sale now!

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Mrs. Francis Guy Frink was the hostess of a delightful picnic luncheon” and, “Miss Evelyn Colvin launched the ship Chalise on Tuesday.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Town Crier writer Adele M. Ballard wrote in the July 26, 1919 edition, “And now the residents are seriously considering the exquisite propriety of changing the name of the one-time fashionable First Hill to Hospital Hill. Others are strongly in favor of ironically dubbing it Last Hill. Why? Oh, well, you know, it’s bound to be increasingly that for many of its temporary dwellers.”

Such doom and gloom, Adele! She lightens up…some. “While it may not be the most cheerful proposition in the world, in a way, for the owners of homes, yet even in this most healthful city extant it seems that such hostelries are a growing necessity. Unfortunately they are bound to give the First Hillers a rather gloomy outlook on life with

“Hospitals to the right of them,
Hospitals to the left of them,
Groaning like thunder:
Theirs not to question why,
Theirs but to do or die,
Pack household gods and fly –
Get out from under!”


Adele, a poetess, to boot.

Town Hall Seattle is a proud resident of First Hill. Our building has stood on it since 1916. Do you know about the First Hill Improvement Association? The organization champions a dynamic and safe First Hill through advocacy on key issues affecting the neighborhood; providing a forum for discussion; programming community events; tracking changes that impact the community; and connecting people to create the best neighborhood possible.

The First Hill event calendar can be found here. Town Hall’s event calendar can be found here.

Come join us in our neighborhood!

The Media is Actually Dying

Town Hall and Fuse Washington collaborated for a Media is Dying panel discussion on July 11. Anya Shukla, a rising 11th grader at Lakeside School and a TeenTix Press Corps editor, was in attendance:

I didn’t know that the media was deteriorating. According to Bloomberg, journalism is decaying all around the country, at organizations such as Buzzfeed, Vice Media, and CNN. Even in Seattle, what many would consider an artsy, media-oriented city, the number of journalistic opportunities have dropped by 40%. These are the kinds of cold, hard, scary facts that I learned last week at Town Hall’s The Media is Dying panel, featuring Adrienne Russell, Clifford Cawthon, and Peter Jackson.

I could tell that I was out of my depth as soon as I walked into the event space, which was filled with local political chatter and orange YES t-shirts. I’m not exactly cut off from politics–I keep up with the New York Times–but compared to my fellow audience members, I knew nothing. I don’t pay attention to the goings-on in Seattle; I don’t know who our senators or representatives are. Further proof of my ignorance: I thought journalism was a viable career

According to Jackson, the media’s slow and violent death is not because of a lack of interest–schools are overflowing with story-hunting, news-sniffing students. It’s not due to a lack of opportunity: the internet, with its ability to democratize the news system, has made it far easier for grassroots media organizations to thrive. So what’s the problem?

Unfortunately, the web is a double edged sword: although the internet opens doorways for smaller journalistic organizations, it is also responsible for many of the media’s current struggles. As a former newspaper editor in the audience told us, 65% of a newspaper’s revenue comes from advertisements, but only 15% of the paper’s income goes to the reporters. A decline in advertisers–perhaps because companies can now promote their content by paying Google or using strong search engine optimization–means a reduction in staff pay. As well, the internet makes it far easier for readers to stop subscribing to news: if you can find information anywhere, for free, why should you have to pay the Washington Post or the New York Times? Of course, less subscribers means less money for journalists. The world wide web, a once-brilliant beacon of hope and prosperity for newspapers, is now media’s downfall. 

Money can also affect papers in ways one wouldn’t expect. Jackson let us in on a sobering truth: the best health information comes from a website associated with Kaiser Permanente. Some of the greatest photojournalists in Seattle work for the Starbucks Newsroom. Journalists have to go where the money is, and often, that money is in the hands of corporations focused on promoting their brand. Especially when your article might hurt the billion-dollar company that owns your paper, it can be hard to tackle hard-hitting stories. Reporters can’t bite the hand that feeds them, even though that goes against the necessity of telling the truth in journalism, of not sitting on important information, of being objective. 

So the media is dying. But what can we do to slow its demise? Russell thought that, like in several Nordic countries, government should be required to pay for journalism. Newspapers are a public utility, after all. Jackson believed that we should foster a love for the news at an early age by having children share articles in school. This will pay off down the road, when those kids grow into adults with the power to subscribe–i.e. give their money–to whichever newspaper they choose. I think we need to get young people involved with their cities. Part of the reason I felt out of place at the panel was because I don’t keep up with local politics; I don’t know what I’m saying YES to. I don’t subscribe to the Seattle Times because I don’t think the goings-on of my town are as important as what’s happening in New York or Washington D.C.. If I felt that there was something Seattle could give me, something I could fight for or against, something I would want to read about in the paper, I’d be paying $3.99 a week for the rest of my life. Somehow, I need to become invested in Seattle at a local level, so that I can support our local newspapers. But hey–I’m young. I can change my mindset. I can still learn more about citywide politics, either in the classroom or through my own research. And I’m a quick learner: I now know that journalism is practically over; the presses have stopped. But, hopefully, one day, thanks to a shift in how we think about our towns and an increase in funding and subscribers, I’ll find out that they’ve started rolling again. 

 

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