A Space For Us All

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We often say that Town Hall is more than just a venue, and this is true in many ways. But our organization wouldn’t be the same without our historic home. For twenty years, our institution’s values have been reinforced by the features of our landmark building. Simultaneously austere and welcoming, the marriage of civic-inspired architecture and community-focused construction combine to create an inviting space where our city comes together. The pillars along the building’s face lend the structure a political severity reminiscent of a government building (no wonder we’re so often confused with City Hall!), while the radiant terra cotta façade seems to manifest the warmth inside this bustling gathering space. There’s nowhere else quite like Town Hall, and we certainly wouldn’t be the same without this building. Anyone who’s been to an event inside our venue can attest—our home helps make us who we are.

Preserving the qualities that define each of our performances spaces is a critical goal of our renovation. It’s a delicate balance to achieve as we outfit the building with upgrades that will allow us to continue hosting our city’s inspired conversations. We’re upgrading the Great Hall, overhauling our Downstairs, and adding a new space on the lobby level, the Reading Room. Between these three performance venues we can accommodate events of every size—from a crowd of nearly a thousand seated shoulder-to-shoulder in the pews, to a cozy circle of a dozen chairs. We’re excited to re-introduce you to these spaces, at once familiar and transformed, when we re-open in February of 2019. But until then, come with us for a look behind the cloak of scaffolding at the three performance spaces coming to life inside Town Hall!

The Great Hall’s character is striking from the moment you enter. The curved oak pews radiate out from an unassuming stage, and on a full night you’ll see nearly 900 people packed into those benches. The voices of every discussion carry all the way up to the vaulted ceilings to mingle around the iconic stained-glass oculus. We’re keen to preserve these elements of the space that are so core to the identity of the Great Hall as a place where communities can gather to speak and be heard. That’s why the first item on our list for the Great Hall is a suite of acoustic upgrades. Our architects at BuildingWorks are working in tandem with master acousticians from Jaffe Holden to create a state-of-the-art acoustic program. A custom-designed acoustic reflector will hang above the stage, tuned specifically to the contours of the room to evenly distribute sounds from the stage to every seat in the house—with or without a microphone. We’re also permanently installing our Hearing Loop system to benefit audience members with T-coil hearing aids, as well as special sound damping materials between the floors of the building to prevent the uproar from a lively “kindie-rock” concert from interrupting a measured science panel just down the stairs. Combine all this with a face-lift of restored crown molding and the addition of cushions to our 98-year-old antique pews and the Great Hall promises to perform well, look sharp and feel comfortable every night—whether it features an international virtuoso, a civic leader, or the screening of a classic film.

While the Great Hall is holding tightly to the qualities that lend the space its characteristic warmth, the Downstairs space is transforming dramatically—so much that you might not recognize the room from one night to the next! Downstairs is becoming the Forum, a completely modular 300-seat space designed to keep up with Town Hall’s fluid calendar. One night the room might be configured as a three-quarter thrust stage for a civic lecture, the next it may become a runway for a queer fashion show, or a corner-round platform for a series of Bushwick jazz performers inspired by a heady science-fiction novel. The beauty of the space’s design is its ability to become the best possible version of itself, re-forming to fit the needs of each event and completely transfiguring the energy each night. Add to that a library and bar flanking the space’s ample 5,000-square feet, and the Forum is tailored to invite the community at large to make this space their own—an ideal complement to the aplomb and applause of the Great Hall.

The newcomer to Town Hall’s performance spaces—the Reading Room—resides between the two on our lobby level. This flexible 90 seat space provides the perfect accompaniment to the thunderous applause of the Great Hall and the mid-sized adaptability of the Forum. Ideal for intimate poetry readings, local policy discussions, and events by grassroots community organizations, the Reading Room embodies the promise that this is your Town Hall: a place where you can stand eye-to-eye with an icon one night, and mobilize your neighbors the next. We encountered this kind of energy on numerous nights during our 2017-18 Inside/Out season, when our calendar included more locally rooted events than ever before. The Reading Room is our way of creating a dedicated home for these discussions in our building—a close-knit environment where curious minds can engage directly with impassioned activists, inspired artists, and groundbreaking scholars from our region and beyond.

This building makes us who we are. Each room in our venue has witnessed decades of community congregation around the inspired ideas that infuse our region, ideas that are the pillars of our institution. We haven’t seen these new spaces yet; they’re still taking shape in a whirlwind of concrete and plaster. But when the tarp drops and the scaffold comes down, we hope you’ll be there with us to bring these new performance spaces to life—to fill them with our collective energy and shape them with the values of our community.

Doing It Right

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Our 2017–18 Inside/Out season has been a grand experiment. Last summer we handed the building keys to Rafn Construction, packed up our whole operation, and set out for an all-hands-on-deck exploration of the fundamental questions about how and why we do what we do. We set goals to meet new audiences and institutional partners, to listen and collaborate more closely with our community, and to develop a more welcoming culture for Town Hall.

We made big discoveries and fast friends—and our 44 (and counting!) neighborhood venues have shown us extraordinary hospitality. (No way to thank everyone, but this year would have been inconceivable without our partnership with Seattle University.) We learned that while a lot of our old friends miss our home as much as we do, it’s also been kind of fun to try something new and meet people in their own neighborhoods. Well, that’s a good thing, since we’ll continue Inside/Out in the fall before we come home in early 2019 to a revitalized Town Hall.

This season has been uncharted waters for us, so there’ve been a lot of ways to “get it right.” With the time we have left Inside/Out, you’ll know you’re doing it right if…

…it’s a sunny Tuesday and still you say: “what the heck? I wonder what’s on at Town Hall?”
…you attended a program because it was just down the street.
…you attended a program because you “always wanted to know what that place was like on the inside.”
…you wanted to know more so you bought the book.
…you stopped by a table afterwards to learn how to get involved.
…you introduced a friend to Town Hall.
…you introduced yourself to the person next to you.
…you stepped up to a Q&A mic and asked a question in the form of a question. (No, really: THANK YOU. That guy at Freeman Dyson’s recent talk (he knows who he is) could learn a thing or two from you…)
…you showed up with an open heart and a curious mind—or vice versa—and used Town Hall to expand your horizons, not just to ratify your beliefs.

Think about this over the summer—what did you discover about Town Hall this year? What have you always hoped we could do, or would be? What have you missed this year, and what have we gained? Please respond to the post-show survey or write me with your thoughts at info@townhallseattle.org.

Thanks for staying with us this season—we are truly grateful. We’ll see you again in September after our last (ever) summer break! (Air conditioning—now that’s a change we’ll all welcome…)

 

 – Wier Harman, Executive Director

Stay in the Loop; Hear it All

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As part of the acoustic upgrades taking place during Town Hall’s renovation, we’re permanently installing the Hearing Loop system in all three of our performance spaces. To give us a better idea of how a Hearing Loop works—as well as how this critical system supports members of our community who experience hearing loss—we turn to Mike James, who serves on Town Hall’s Board of Directors. Mike spoke with Town Hall’s Alexander Eby about his history with hearing loss, and shared all the reasons why he passionately supports the Hearing Loop’s installation.

Town Hall’s platform is built on the idea that everyone deserves to be heard—and for audience members like Mike James, this philosophy has never been more literal. Mike has lived with hearing loss since his late 30’s. Though his hearing aids are sufficient for smaller events, he’s encountered difficulty fully engaging with the lectures and performances he loves when they’re held in larger halls. But Mike is still a frequent visitor to Town Hall’s events, and he’s been able to fully experience our programming thanks to our Hearing Loop system.

“I’m fortunate enough to live right across the street from Town Hall,” Mike explains. He regularly attends Town Hall’s programs, and the Hearing Loop has enabled him to participate on any given night in impassioned community conversations, civic discussions, and science lectures. “The beauty of the Hearing Loop system is that it just…happens. You can sit down in the audience along with everyone else, and the sound from the event is transmitted directly to your hearing aids.”

Hearing Loop systems wirelessly transmit sound through microphones on the stage, transforming hearing aids fitted with telecoil receivers—like the ones Mike wears—into in-the-ear loudspeakers. “It’s the quality of the sound that’s the most significant thing. You’re hearing the program with your hearing aids, so it’s adjusted specifically for your own levels of hearing loss. You can clearly hear what’s going on onstage, and at the same time you can be a part of the discussions going on around you.”

From his position on Town Hall’s Board of Directors, Mike has enthusiastically supported the permanent installation of the Hearing Loop system in Town Hall’s performance spaces. For other audience members experiencing hearing loss, this could make all the difference in the world. “A lot of people like me gave up on going to the theater or attending lectures because of the difficulty of hearing. That’s really overcome with the loop.”

To support audience members like Mike, we’re permanently outfitting our Great Hall, Downstairs, and the new West Room with their own Hearing Loop systems as part of Town Hall’s historic renovation. Accessibility is core to Town Hall’s design, and the Hearing Loop is a critical part of ensuring that members of our community who experience hearing loss will remain a part of the discussion.

“I was born in England, and I have relatives there. We’ve traveled together throughout Europe, and found that Hearing Loop systems over there are common. At museums, box offices—you name it, all of that is looped.” Town Hall is inspired by this broad accessibility, and we’re excited to be among the first organizations in our region to offer this technology to our community. “The great thing about Town Hall is that they’re one of the first institutions in Seattle to really pioneer this. It’s a tremendously positive change, and a real asset to Town Hall.”


Please consider making a donation to the project here.

13 Un-Bee-Lievable Facts About Pollinators

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Town Hall is excited to be teaming with The Common Acre to present the Seattle Pollinator Week Symposium at the Rainier Arts Center on June 19. The symposium takes place during National Pollinator Week—approved by the U.S. Senate 11 years ago—as a time to address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Wild bees and other pollinators contribute to billions of dollars a year in global pollination service, yet relatively little is known about them. Why are they important? Let us tell you, by the numbers:

75%: Percentage of all flowering plant species that need pollinator for fertilization.

$20 billion: The worth of products produced in the United States, due to pollination.

200,000: Approximate amount of insect species that are pollinators, including bees, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, and moths.

1,000: Approximate amount of vertebrate species that are pollinators, including birds and bats.

1,050: Approximate amount of crop plants grown, including coffee, almonds, and chocolate that wouldn’t grow without pollinators.

1/3: Fraction of all foods and beverages made possible by pollinators.

300: The number of fruits, including mangoes and bananas, pollinated by bats.

0.85 ounces: Approximate weight of a Mexican long-nosed bat—the pollinator of the blue agave plant that gives us tequila.

1,000: The amount of pollen grains required to be deposited on a watermelon flower within only a few hours to get marketable fruit.

1723: The year the word ‘pollen’ was first used. (It’s from Latin, literally ‘fine powder.’)

20,000: Approximate amount of bee species.

50%: The percentage loss of managed honey bee colonies in the United States since 1945.

$14.6 billion: The annual benefit of managed honey bees to agriculture.

Join us at the symposium to learn more about the ways our communities can help preserve our precious pollinators. Bee there!

Pluto – A Planetary Timeline

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Planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern and astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon will be at the Museum of Flight on May 17 to discuss the New Horizons mission. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, launched in 2006, became the first spacecraft to pass by Pluto. During its flyby, New Horizons made detailed measurements and observations of Pluto and its five moons. This coming New Year’s Eve, New Horizons will offer up images of the most distant body ever explored, provisionally named Ultima Thule. It is an object in the Kuiper Belt, an enormous asteroid belt that extends from the orbit of Neptune to approximately 50 AU from the sun (50 AU = very far away).

Before an astronomically interesting evening with Stern and Grinspoon, here’s a brief timeline exploring the history of our solar system’s controversial “ninth planet.”

4.5 Billion Years Ago: Pluto was formed at the same time as the rest of the planets around the sun during the formation of our solar system. (The oldest mineral dated on earth is a zircon with an age of 4.4 billion years).

1840s: Urbain Le Verrier predicted the not-yet-discovered planet Neptune was beyond Uranus, based on perturbations in Uranus’s orbit. Observations of Neptune—discovered in 1846—made it clear there was ANOTHER planet besides Neptune disturbing Uranus’s orbit. (Spoiler alert: it was Pluto!)

1894: Astronomer and mathematician Percival Lowell founds the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and is integral in the early efforts to find Pluto. (Unfortunately Lowell died in 1916, a full 14 years before the discovery of Pluto).

1905: While observing the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, Lowell believes that they are being displaced from their predicted positions by the gravity of another body. He posits the existence of a possible ninth planet, and begins his search for the elusive ‘Planet X.’

1930: After a week of intense comparison of photographs of the night sky at the Lowell Observatory, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announces his discovery of a ninth planet.

1930: In a stroke of inspiration, eleven-year-old Venetia Burney living in Oxford, England gives Pluto its name just one day after the announcement of Tombaugh’s discovery. Venetia suggests that, due to its nature as a dark and remote planet far from the warmth of the sun, the planet should be called ‘Pluto’ after the Greek God of the Underworld. Venetia’s grandfather relays the suggestion to his friend Herbert Hall Turner, professor of astronomy at the University of Oxford. The name is a hit, and the newly-discovered celestial body is quickly christened ‘Pluto.’ (The name was beloved not only for being fitting from a mythological standpoint, but also because the first two letters ‘PL’ served as homage to Percival Lowell, who made its discovery possible.)

1978: U.S. Naval Observatory astronomers James Christy and Robert Harrington notice that images taken of Pluto show a bump on its surface—and that the bump is moving. Pluto has a moon. Named Charon (the ferryman of the Underworld’s river of the dead in Greek mythology), it is approximately half the size of Pluto. (Four additional moons have since been discovered: Hydra, Nix, Kerberos, and Styx).

2006: NASA launches New Horizons, the fastest spacecraft in history, travelling at 36,000 mph. The Principle Investigator is Dr. Alan Stern, making New Horizons the 29th NASA space mission that’s seen his participation.

2006: Pluto is demoted to a dwarf planet. Celestial bodies are discovered on the edge of the solar system in the Kuiper Belt, and one of them—Eris—is found to be larger than Pluto. This sparks a heated discussion: should the solar system have more planets, or should ‘planet’ be redefined altogether? After much debate, the International Astronomical Union decides that Pluto, Eris, and Ceres (the largest asteroid that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter) would be designated as dwarf planets.

2015: After 9 ½ years New Horizons reaches its destination, flying within 7,750 miles of Pluto.

2017: Planetary scientists gather at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. One presentation, ‘A Geophysical Planet Definition,’ stated, “In keeping with both sound scientific classification and peoples’ intuition, we propose a geophysically-based definition of ‘planet’ that importantly emphasizes a body’s intrinsic physical properties over its extrinsic orbital properties.” The presentation continues with the assertion: “A simple paraphrase of our planet definition – especially suitable for elementary school students – could be, ‘round objects in space that are smaller than stars.” Given that definition, Pluto is a planet.

2018: Dr. Alan Stern and Dr. David Grinspoon discuss Pluto as part of Town Hall’s Inside/Out season. Get your tickets here.

Story written by Jonathan Shipley.

The High Cost of Living With Conviction

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Town Hall presents Living With Conviction—Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State on Tuesday, March 27th.

Keshena is $50,000 in debt; she’s filed for bankruptcy. Her husband and step-father are serving time in prison, leaving her to care for her two young boys. She has served time herself, and has found it immensely difficult to raise a family and readjust to everyday life on top of paying Washington’s Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs). Michael is a disabled veteran. He served a five-year sentence in prison and was ordered to pay $11,000 in LFOs. Despite the $75 a month he’s paid for the last five years, he now owes $17,000 due to interest. Sue suffered from poverty and abuse in her early life, and soon found herself the victim of domestic violence and drug addiction. She served 15 months in prison over a decade ago, and is still paying off legal fees to the state of Washington—most of which are accrued interest.

Deborah Espinosa knows Keshena, Michael, Sue, and many others in our state saddled by crippling debt due to fines, fees, and victim restitution costs. Espinosa’s research on debtors’ prisons in Africa (and in the US) has made her eager to humanize these legal issues—eager to put a face to the problem. That’s why Espinosa founded the visual storytelling project “Living With Conviction”, composed of her photos of individuals suffering from the seemingly inescapable financial burden of Washington’s legal system. “It’s a visual storytelling project about how the State of Washington sentences people to not just prison, but to a lifetime of debt.”

Sabrina: “$39,000 in fines doesn’t affect somebody who doesn’t care. It doesn’t affect a junkie in a basement shooting up. . . . But for somebody like me, doing everything they are supposed to be doing, . . . People should care. They could arrest me. I live in fear of it. But I just don’t have the money.” * Sabrina and her husband have six children and one baby girl on the way. As a child and into her teens, she was emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. She started using methamphetamines at 17 to to connect with her mother. * This project, “Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State” is on the impacts of court-imposed legal financial obligations (LFOs) on formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in Washington State. LFOs accrue interest at an interest rate of 12%. Failure to make one payment can result in arrest. * Right now, the State Legislature is considering House Bill 1783 to reform LFOs. * “It’s an act of love and an act of faith to allow yourself to feel the pain of another.” * ~ Isabel Wilkerson * #Livingwithconviction #Massincarceration #LFODebtforLife #VisualizeJustice #cjreform

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“My intent with this project is to amplify the voices of formerly incarcerated individuals who are struggling to survive, and thereby bring an end to the imposition of such costs on the poor and marginalized.” She believes the purpose of law is to serve communities and level the playing field, creating a more just society. And according to her, Washington’s LFO policies do the opposite. She sees the LFO policy as designed to fund the criminal justice system on the backs of the poor and racial minorities, perpetuating cycles of incarceration and poverty. On her website, Espinosa decries this cycle as fundamentally unjust and asserts that Washington’s LFO system “represents institutional discrimination and structural racism at their finest.”

“Living With Conviction” is Espinosa’s way of introducing us to the people in Washington who are suffering from LFOs—showing us their faces and enshrining moments from their lives in photography. “It is about formerly incarcerated individuals as they struggle to re-enter their communities following prison, burdened with substantial debt, as well as obstacles to finding housing and jobs.” Espinosa’s work has appeared in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Foreign Affairs, O Magazine, and the Harvard International Review, among other publications. Her work is currently in a 10-year exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

“Visual storytelling makes us all realize that we are talking about real people,” says Espinosa. She uses the hashtag #VisualizeJustice to catalog her work, and to illustrate the inequality issues of LFOs not as abstract legal concepts but in terms of the people they affect. “As an attorney, an officer of the court, I feel a sense of responsibility to correct legal and structural wrongs.”

“A goal of mine is for people to open their hearts to this population.” This population includes Keshena, Michael, Sue, and all those Deborah Espinosa has photographed—and all those still faceless in the state’s criminal justice system.

“Whether we are incarcerated or not, we still are living marginalized lives. . . . You are taking away access to the American dream. Everybody should be entitled to that – to be able to work hard and see the benefits of their hard work. And not to be penalized for things that maybe happened years ago. Things that happened as a result of a disease. Addiction, alcoholism, or mental health.” ~ Carmen . . . This project, “Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State” is on the impacts of court-imposed legal financial obligations (LFOs) on formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in Washington State. LFOs accrue interest at an interest rate of 12% from the day of sentencing. Failure to make one payment can result in arrest. . . . Right now, the State Legislature is considering House Bill 1783 to reform LFOs. . . . @acluwa @marshallproj #Livingwithconviction #Massincarceration #LFODebtforLife #cjreform #documentaryphotography #VisualizeJustice

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Deborah Espinosa will be joining Peter DiCampo—Town Hall’s Inside/Out Neighborhood Resident for the U District and Ravenna—to discuss Living With Conviction and the power of documentary photography as a tool to oppose poverty and inequity. Join us on March 27 at University Lutheran Church and explore Espinosa’s photographic struggle against injustice.

In-Residence Kicks Off!

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Every year, Town Hall selects exceptional local artists and scholars for paid residencies where they engage with Town Hall programs and collaborate with our programming team to develop original events for the community.
In a typical season, we hand our residents the literal keys to Town Hall. Because our building is closed for renovations this year, we’re especially grateful to The Cloud Room for offering our Residents keys to their beautiful co-working space on Capitol Hill as we all turn Inside/Out together.  We’re asking this season’s Residents to revel in their curiosity—to engage in their host community, in Town Hall’s programming, in their art and thinking—and to funnel their findings into experiences that we can share together.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, each of our four Inside/Out communities has their own Neighborhood Resident. Within each of their neighborhoods, our Residents will be co-curating a series of hyper-local Town Hall events in close collaboration with their Neighborhood Steering Committee. Our Resident events will take place March through June 2018, and all of the programs will be free to the public to attend.
Our remarkably competitive search was guided by our goal of supporting innovators who may not often see themselves reflected in the arts community, such as people of color and LGBTQ folks.
We’re thrilled to announce feature their first events, happening this month!

Shin Yu Pai, Phinney/Greenwood Resident

Peter Levitt with Shin Yu Pai: Sacred in the Everyday (3/22)

Zen teacher Peter Levitt is known for the warmth, humor, clarity, and depth of his teachings—as well as his many books of prose and poetry. He takes the stage with poet and Resident Shin Yu Pai for a complex and intimate discussion on the intricacies of human relationships and the notion of coming home to ourselves—to who and what we naturally and truly are. Peter shares readings from his most recent poetry, exploring our connection to the natural world and singing the sacred in the everyday.

Erik Molano, Capitol Hill/Central District Resident

Evolving Masculinity: A #MeToo Era Conversation and Workshop (3/23)

Explore revolutions in the culture of masculinity in the #MeToo era—rejecting patterns of dominance, violence, and power and building a clear understanding and respect of boundaries and consent. First, hear from Jordan Giarratano, founder of feminist martial arts dojo Fighting Chance Seattle, who discusses strategies to evolve a masculinity that is empowering, balanced, and founded in integrity. Then relationship coach and facilitator Galen Erickson leads groups of audience members through interactive sharing sessions on the effects of gendered expectations on our personal lives and collective social understanding of what it means to be a man.

Peter DiCampo, U District/Ravenna Resident

Living With Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in WA (3/27)

The purpose of law is to serve our communities by level the playing field and creating a more just society. Documentary photographer Deborah Espinosa believes that the only way to know if a law is serving us is to listen to those most impacted. Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State is a multi-media and civic engagement project about how the State of Washington sentences people not just to prison, but to a lifetime of debt.

Failure to make monthly payments for “legal financial obligations” that are due in the wake of prison time can result in arrest, and the loss of housing, jobs, and children. Espinosa and a panel of individuals featured in Living in Conviction join us to share their stories of trying to survive and thrive under court-imposed costs, fees, fines, and victim restitution.

Jordan Alam, Columbia & Hillman City Resident

Neve Mazique, Nic Masangkay, and Jordan Alam: How the Body Holds Its Stories (3/31)

How do our bodies retain memory of the events we experience? How can we connect with the emotions and life-altering changes recorded within our physical selves? Local artists Neve Mazique and Nic Masangkay take the stage with Inside/Out Neighborhood Resident Jordan Alam to share original works of prose, movement, and music expressing how personal experiences are held within the body. They present their narratives of life-altering and intensely physical moments—from birth to violence—exploring how these events have impacted these artists physically, and how their bodies still carry changes that impact every encounter with the world. Then on April 2, learn to use your own body’s experiences as creative inspiration in a workshop with Jordan, Neve, and Nic: Telling the Stories of the Body (4/2).

#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.

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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