Speakers Forum

By John O'Brien

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

Episode Date
3 fascinating orca facts we didn't know before
In honor of Orca Awareness Month in Washington state, here are three facts about orcas we didn't know before, courtesy of a talk by Prof. Jason Colby of the University of Victoria.
Jun 21, 2018
The rise and fall of a Seattle megachurch through the eyes of an anthropologist
What happened during the creation and growth of Mars Hill Church made waves in Seattle and beyond. A charismatic minister, Mark Driscoll, preached in a daring, new way. He sought to make his ministry “culturally relevant,” bringing a hipster attitude to conservative theology. His methods drew people to the church in growing numbers.
Jun 14, 2018
Take psychedelics (not too many), change your mind
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the author of “The Botany of Desire” chose to experiment with and write about psychedelic drugs. They are edible after all. Still, like many people, Michael Pollan wasn’t exactly keen to fool around with mind-altering experiences.
Jun 07, 2018
From pooing in public to the Seattle Superman: Ignite Seattle aims to surprise
Ignite Seattle is an unusual event. The organizers like to surprise the audience when they can — like that time a couple got married on stage. Thrills like that aside, there’s something thoughtful and genuine in every talk. More often than not, we learn something new.
Jun 01, 2018
From refugee to celebrated storyteller: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s American journey
Viet Thanh Nguyen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He was awarded that honor in 2016 for his debut novel “The Sympathizer.” Then he received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2017.
May 24, 2018
Author Leslie Jamison distills recovery from ‘the whiskey-and-ink mythology’
On her website, Leslie Jamison writes: “I've worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. Every one of these was a world; they're still in me.” On her way through those worlds, Jamison dealt with alcohol addiction. She tracked that experience — from inception to recovery — in her new memoir “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath.”
May 22, 2018
Nomi Prins condemns government, banks in 'Collusion'
Author Nomi Prins used to be a Wall Street banker. Now she writes with a critical eye about how banks and economies work. One example: how in 2017, U.S. banks used 99 percent of their earnings to buy their own stocks and pay out dividends to their shareholders.
May 18, 2018
Barbara Ehrenreich explores modern mortality, what we get wrong about living well
It sometimes seems as if author Barbara Ehrenreich has seen it all and done it all. From “Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” to “Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything,” the scope of her writing has been vast.
May 10, 2018
Sen. Patty Murray and Gary Locke break down current politics
The Civic Cocktail series brings political, business and community leaders to Seattle for a drink and a line of questioning from reporters and attendees. The most recent session featured Senator Patty Murray and former Washington Governor and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
May 09, 2018
Madeleine Albright sounds the alarm on fascism in new book
The work of diplomacy is subtle, but the actions of world leaders are sometimes the opposite. Famed American diplomat Madeleine Albright confronts the dangers of undiplomatic and undemocratic political trends in her new book “Fascism: A Warning.”
May 03, 2018
Washington state schools grapple with #EducationSoWhite
Last year, a hashtag became an event in Seattle: #EducationSoWhite 2017 gave voice to and started a conversation about the lack of diversity among teachers in our schools. Ninety percent of Washington state teachers are white, while nearly half of the students are people of color.
Apr 26, 2018
Alexander Chee’s guide to writing, becoming, love and loss
There’s a thing at talks around Seattle. Often enough, you can feel it when the crowd gets restless if the event goes to a certain length. You can see the people looking for a chance to exit. One bolts, and others rush to follow. There was no restlessness at author Alexander Chee’s reading on Monday night. Even though the room was a tad warm, no one left. They hardly stirred. Here, Chee discusses his life and work with Seattle-based writer Matillda Bernstein Sycamore. And he reads two pieces from his new book of essays “ How to Write an Autobiographical Novel .” The book is part memoir, part writing guide. His readings are personal, revealing and poignant; a sort of aural time capsule of cherished, remarkable lives: “Why am I telling this story? I am, as I have said, a minor character, out of place in this narrative. But the major characters of all these stories from the first ten years of this epidemic have left. The men I wanted to follow into the future are dead. Finding them had
Apr 25, 2018
A professor talks about public education in the Trump-DeVos era
If Diane Ravitch were running for office, her opponent might attack her for being "for Common Core before she was against it." Ravitch served as an assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, and was originally a proponent of standardized testing, school choice, common core standards and the No Child Left Behind Act.
Apr 19, 2018
Listen to the keynote speeches from this year's March for Science
Last year thousands of people hit the streets of Seattle and the nation to march for all things scientific: respect for the scientific method, evidence-based government policies, public funding for research and increased support for STEM education.
Apr 16, 2018
‘Once in one’s lifetime.’ How a beloved novel came to print and screen
You hear of situations where a book comes to a writer in a torrent. In this talk, writer André Aciman tells such a story about his well-loved novel, “Call Me By Your Name,” published in 2007. Aciman’s book came to renewed acclaim, and some controversy, when the film adaptation became a phenomenon last year. The acclaim: The movie was nominated for multiple awards and won an Academy Award for screenwriter James Ivory. The controversy: Some raised age-of-consent issues about the relationship between 17 year-old Elio and his lover, 24-year-old Oliver.
Apr 14, 2018
Remembering comedian Peggy Platt, a Seattle original
Over the last few years Speakers Forum has featured broadcasts of the Seattle theatre troupe Sandbox Radio . In that time we came to love the work of actor and comedian Peggy Platt. She wrote and performed skits full of sharp humor and the ironies of life.
Apr 12, 2018
Unwinding the shadowy backstory of the war in Afghanistan
Steve Coll is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His new book, a sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winner “Ghost Wars,” is “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016.”
Apr 05, 2018
Why this psychologist is bullish on human progress
As crazy as the world seems sometimes, author Steven Pinker argues our ancestors would most certainly envy us. From life expectancy and standards of health to general prosperity, peace and happiness, he argues we’re better off than they were — and don’t get him started on anesthesia.
Mar 29, 2018
Catch up on the action from Seattle's March for our Lives
This past weekend, students in hundreds of cities and towns around the country joined in March For Our Lives "sibling marches." Before the March For Our Lives Seattle event, students and supporters gathered to hear speeches.
Mar 27, 2018
Stage fright, be damned at Ignite Seattle 35
Ignite Seattle needs to be on your Seattle bucket list. But until you can make it out to one of their events, listen in to your fellow citizens’ brave and inspiring efforts to share their ideas with hundreds of friendly strangers.
Mar 22, 2018