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The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.
 
The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.
 
The Arts & Culture series enriches our community with imagination and creativity. Whether reinventing the classics for a new audience or presenting an innovative new art form, these events are aimed at expanding horizons. From poetry to music to storytelling, this series leaves our audiences inspired, encouraged, and seeing the world with new eyes.
 
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How old were you when you got your first cell phone? Did “going online” ever involve listening to a series of pained squeaks and static, willing the family PC to connect to…whatever it is it connected to? Today, children are presented with a sparkling array of digital tools that many of us could barely fathom as kids. How are parents and caregivers…
 
It took no time at all. In the beginning, we looked at computers and the internet with wide eyes and open arms. It was a technology of liberating potential for us all. Now, it is arguably a dystopia: a dark monolith of algorithms, surveillance, criminality, and job-displacing robots. Three Stanford professors with long careers in the tech industry,…
 
Quarantining during COVID certainly wasn’t the first time we’ve had to restrict our movements to prevent the spread of disease. Far from it. Take, for instance, that time in the 14th century when the Black Death decimated populations (killing off, some suggest, 60% of the entire European population). And take some other alarming maladies like yello…
 
It’s been a watershed year. Social justice, and all that it means to us, is both in our grasp and slipping through our fingers. Seattle journalist Marcus Harrison Green, a dear friend and frequent collaborator with Town Hall Seattle, knows this well. Growing up black in South Seattle, Green has seen both the sharp rise of the Black Lives Matter mov…
 
We are all connected. We are all far apart. This is our American reality as we all become more and more polarized. Inequities of wealth, class, and culture are pulling us further away as we struggle to define what America is, was, and should be. In Wildland, Evan Osnos focuses on three places he’s lived in the United States: Greenwich, Connecticut,…
 
We’re not to blame for climate change. It’s a part of the natural cycle. The earth is flat. The round Earth conspiracy is orchestrated by NASA and other government agencies. No one should get the coronavirus vaccine. Bill Gates wants to use it to implant microchips in people. This is, of course, all bunk. But how can we change the minds of people w…
 
Phyllis Wheatley, the first African-American author of a published book of poetry, wrote, “Imagination! Who can sing thy force?/Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?”. Wheatley could very well have been calling to the Black creatives, writers, orators, and leaders who would follow her. The imaginative force of Malcolm X and Toni Morrison, Ja…
 
Fair housing has never been that fair. In fact, in California at one point, realtors successfully campaigned for a California constitutional amendment that would permanently prohibit fair housing. In the process, they created the script of color-blind freedom that polarizes America on issue after issue today. Realtors helped invent “the American Dr…
 
There aren’t many in this world who can be called a real-life Lorax. In fact, there’s just one: Dr. Meg Lowman. Lowman was nicknamed that by National Geographic for her enthusiasm and knowledge of all things trees. A true tree hugger, Lowman, executive director of the TREE Foundation, has been up in the branches and crowns for decades, learning and…
 
In Hungary, one summer’s night in 1969, Judy Temes’ family packed the car for, what was supposed to be, a vacation to Vienna. Judy’s parents took her 12-year-old brother and left her behind. She was five-years-old and was given to her grandmother. Her family wasn’t taking a vacation. They were escaping Hungary’s totalitarian regime. Her father, a d…
 
India’s border meanders over 9,000 miles from Pakistan to Myanmar, crossing desert, fertile plains, rivers, and snow-capped mountains. India’s border is also the site of a massive crisis of statelessness, with hundreds of thousands of people stripped of their citizenship and entangled in the region’s ever-shifting— and often arbitrary— boundaries. …
 
Why do Black people have a higher death rate than white people from COVID-19? Why do the working class have higher instances of respiratory diseases? If someone is saddled with debt, what does that do to their bodies? Inflamed illuminates the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the injustices of our political, social, and econom…
 
In the beginning there was a bit. And then the pixel: a particular packaging of those bits. With the coming of the pixel, the organizing principle of most all modern media. Nearly every picture in the world is now composed of pixels: cell phone photos and Mars Rover transmissions, book illustrations and video games. Pixels and digital images are no…
 
Arguably the single most essential aspect of a good education is literacy. “To learn to read is to light a fire,” Victor Hugo wrote. By becoming literate, one develops a whole host of skills that allows one to develop potential and success in society; skills including critical thinking, self-discipline, curiosity, empathy, motivation, and leadershi…
 
“If there is magic on this planet,” anthropologist Loren Eiseley said, “it is contained in water.” Humans have been trying to contain that magic for millennia. Giulio Boccaletti knows this more than most anyone. With Water: A Biography, Boccaletti showcased the revealing history of how the distribution of water has shaped human civilization. We all…
 
“For-profit health insurance is the largest con job ever perpetrated on the American people—one that has cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives since the 1940s,” says popular progressive radio host Thom Hartmann. The New York Times bestselling author returned to Town Hall with the latest installment of his “hidden history” series, The Hidd…
 
There are bird nests that you can eat. Some birds go “anting,” a behavior in which they rub ants all over their feathers and skin. A mockingbird can emit up to 200 distinct noises. These facts, and many more, are encapsulated in Christopher Leahy’s new book, Birdpedia: A Brief Compendium of Avian Lore. Leahy highlights his A to Z treasury of bird f…
 
Have you ever visited the defunct coal chutes on Capitol Hill? Do you know where you can find a 100-year-old sidewalk or the nearest pocket park? Susanna Ryan, local cartoonist and creator of Seattle Walk Report, was joined by Crosscut’s Knute “Mossback” Berger for a fresh look at Seattle’s hidden historical gems. Ryan gave us a preview of her new …
 
At first sight of Frida Kahlo’s painting The Two Fridas, author Emily Rapp Black felt an instant connection with the artist. An amputee from childhood, Rapp Black grew up with a succession of prosthetic limbs, and learned she had to hide her disability from the world. Kahlo sustained lifelong injuries after a horrific bus crash and her own right le…
 
In the last two decades, many nations have adopted “gay reparations,” or policies intended to make amends for a history of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The United States, however, has been reluctant to embrace any form of gay reparations, making the country something of an outl…
 
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, making same-sex unions legal across the United States. But the road to that momentous decision was much longer than many know. Author Sasha Issenberg introduced a definitive account in this presentation that discussed his book The Engagement: America…
 
Protecting wild animals and preserving the environment are two ideals so seemingly compatible as to be almost inseparable. But in reality, between animal welfare and conservation science there exists a space of underexamined and unresolved tension: wildness itself. When is it right to capture or feed wild animals for the good of their species? How …
 
In postwar America, there was arguably no newspaper comic strip more recognizable than Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. It was everywhere, not just in thousands of daily newspapers. For nearly fifty years, Peanuts was a mainstay of American popular culture in television, movies, and merchandising, from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the White House…
 
From Homer to Helen Keller, from Dune to Stevie Wonder, from the invention of Braille to the science of echolocation. What is the common thread between them? In this stunningly personal and informative presentation, writer and educator M. Leona Godin explored the fascinating history of blindness, interweaving it with her own story of gradually losi…
 
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, the end of legalized slavery in the state was announced. Since then, a certain narrative and lore has emerged about Texas. But as Juneteenth verges on being recognized as a national holiday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people—reworks t…
 
In Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories, author Donna Miscolta traced the social education that a Mexican American girl receives as she experiences and responds to microaggressions and systemic racism in and out of school. Unfortunately, though Living Color is fiction, many of the incidents depicted in Angie Rubio’s life are inspired or derived from M…
 
Somewhere, between character and caricature, there exists an authentic and unique urban place, believes urbanism consultant and author Charles R. Wolfe. One that blends global and local, old and new. Yet, in a dramatically changing world dominated by crises of climate change, maintaining public health, and social justice, finding such places—and ex…
 
To hyphenate or not to hyphenate, that is the question. It has been a central point of controversy since before the imprinting of the first Gutenberg Bible. And yet, the hyphen has persisted, bringing and bridging new words and concepts. In conversation with Rich Smith, Associate Editor of The Stranger, academic and anthropologist Pardis Mahdavi sh…
 
India is in a crisis. In September 2020, the Indian government passed three new agricultural bills that deregulate and privatize India’s agricultural industry. Since then, farmers and farmworkers across India have taken to the country’s capital, staging the largest protest in human history. By prioritizing corporations over people and the planet, m…
 
Throughout history, humans have been driven by the quest for two cherished ideals: community and freedom. The two don’t coexist easily. We value individuality and self-reliance, yet are utterly dependent on community for our most basic needs, a fact which has never been more clear than over the last year. Bestselling author Sebastian Junger created…
 
The guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd, was celebrated as a victory for racial equity progress in our country. As our nation continues to wrestle with racial equity, what local progress has been made? What have our leaders learned from the protests and calls for reform over the past several years? Are…
 
“Chickens are a lot more mainstream than veganism and a little bit like kombucha: super weird twenty years ago, now somewhat more popular and made even more so by logos, brands, and hashtags.” So begins Gina Warren’s book Hatched: Dispatches from the Backyard Chicken Movement. In this presentation that is part memoir, part food and sustainability d…
 
How healthy is journalism in the United States today? Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff of Project Censored joined us for a conversation on this topic, espousing their view of corporate media biases, censorship, and the importance of independent journalism, and the state of the free press. Project Censored was founded in 1976 by Dr. Carl Jensen at Sono…
 
One thing that seems to be true in all generations of American life is that it can be challenging to summon the courage to follow your dreams in a material world. In this conversation with writers Eric M. Johnson and Thomas McGuane, they considered this difficulty paralleled with their own work and lives. Through the lens of Johnson’s debut novel—a…
 
In 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump declared: “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.” This led many after his victory to blame “identity politics” for his win. When Trump was banned from Twitter, he claimed it was an assault on free speech. Columnist Nesrine Malik contended that both of these things we…
 
The United States is the only country in the world that sentences thirteen and fourteen-year old offenders, mostly youth of color, to life in prison without parole, regardless of the scientifically proven singularities of the developing adolescent brain. In 1991, Ian Manuel, then fourteen, was sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide cri…
 
Paul Shoemaker believes America is approaching a looming inflection point. The author and social impact leader says that the massive upheavals over the last year is emblematic of how the social, economic, and health challenges facing us in the 2020s are radically different from those we faced even one generation ago. But far from feeling downtrodde…
 
Jeff Bezos’ empire, once housed in a garage, now spans the globe. Between services like Whole Foods, Prime Video, and Amazon’s cloud computing unit AWS, plus Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post, it’s nearly impossible to go a day without encountering its impact. Many argue we live in a world run, supplied, and controlled by Amazon and its found…
 
“By turns raw and mystical, steeped in loss but also reconciliation, it is a book that challenges our preconceptions, in regard to content and form.” So says author David L. Ulin about The Spring, the debut book from author Annie Connole. Connole joined writer Frances McCue in a virtual conversation about the book-length lyric essay. Together, they…
 
What’s the state of downtown Seattle? How are businesses and other sectors navigating the ongoing impact of the pandemic, recent protests, lack of affordable housing, and other social and economic factors? Hear perspectives from leaders including Bob Donegan, President of Ivar’s, and Brian Surratt, Vice President of Real Estate Development and Comm…
 
Anna Sale wants you to have that conversation. You know the one. The one that you’ve been avoiding or putting off, maybe for years. The one that you’ve thought “they’ll never understand” or “do I really want to bring that up?” or “it’s not going to go well, so why even try?” The founder and host of WNYC’s popular podcast Death, Sex & Money presente…
 
Although over half the people incarcerated in America today have committed violent offenses, the focus of reformers has been almost entirely on nonviolent and drug offenses. Danielle Sered takes aim at issues of mass incarceration, insisting that we cannot just critique violence and mass incarceration, but must build practical, moral solutions to d…
 
American cities are currently faced with a two-pronged challenge: dealing with our climate crisis, and managing the lack of housing that is affordable and healthy. Our housing is not only unhealthy for the planet, green affordable housing expert Dana Bourland believes, but is also putting the physical and financial health of residents at risk, with…
 
Ronit Plank was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a cult guru at the center of Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country and whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on US soil. This was the beginning of a very long road to Plank grappling with the toll…
 
It has become impossible to deny that the planet is warming, and that governments must act. But some believe that a new denialism is taking root in the halls of power, shaped by decades of neoliberal policies and centuries of anti-democratic thinking. One such is journalist Kate Aronoff, who has written about the climate change fight in her book Ov…
 
In the hundreds of walks that you’ve taken this past year, to get out of the house and flee from screens, have you noticed things around you that you have questions about but don’t have the tools to answer? Maybe you’ve wondered how exactly that mushroom got there or thought again about the mysterious migratory patterns of birds. Join New York Time…
 
“The finest rock songwriter after Dylan.” “The best electric guitarist since Hendrix.” Who is this man? A man who packed more than a lifetime of experiences into his late teens and twenties? None other than international and longtime beloved music legend Richard Thompson. The master of British folk music joined us with an intimate look at the early…
 
Xenophobia and bigotry against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are on the rise in cities throughout the country, including Seattle. With nearly 4,000 hate crimes reported in the last 12 months, this trajectory became impossible to ignore when six Asian women were killed in a shooting in Atlanta. Why did this happen? What we…
 
As the world’s scientists declare a “climate emergency,” the fight to protect our planet’s ecological resources and the people that depend on them is more urgent than ever, argues journalist Audrea Lim. But she believes that the real battles for our future are taking place far from the headlines and international conferences, in mostly forgotten Am…
 
In publishing today, some of the most expressive, form-breaking, innovative writing seems to come from Native authors. While the written tradition often overlooks Indigenous authors, in recent years we have seen a small increase in Native people telling their own stories in their own ways. In a conversation facilitated by author Kristen Millares Yo…
 
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