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The Portable Humanist
41 minutes | May 12, 2021
Kesha Ram and Delma Jackson: What Does Race Have to Do With It?
"I don't want it to take a predator in the White House and a Black man having to die on national television for nine minutes and 28 seconds for us to get to this point," says Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram. The day after the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was announced, the Center for Whole Communities in Burlington hosted a discussion between Senator Ram and Delma Jackson, the co-host of the Dive-In-Justice podcast. In this episode, they read Langston Hughes, ponder the Floyd murder trial, talk about the work of W.E.B. DuBois, consider the Kake Walk tradition at UVM, and discuss the work to be done to remove barriers for BIPOC Vermonters. Photo of Kesha Ram by Ben DeFlorio
53 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Meg Mott on “The Glorious Occupation” of Citizenship
We speak with Meg Mott—political theory professor, constitutional scholar, and the moderator at Putney’s town meeting—about the ongoing threats to Vermont's town meeting tradition. We featured a much shorter interview with Meg in the "A Town Solves a Problem" episode of Before Your Time, our podcast with the Vermont Historical Society. Since we could only use a few minutes of our conversation in that piece, we’d like to share more of our discussion here.
53 minutes | Feb 10, 2021
Let’s Talk Antiracism
Dr. Laura Jiménez joins Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton to examine ways to lead effective discussions centered on diversity and antiracism. Jiménez and Broughton use our Vermont Reads 2020 choice, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, as a catalyst for the conversation. The free event was co-sponsored by the Vermont Library Association. Dr. Laura Jiménez is Department Chair for Language & Literacy Education at Boston University. She studies literature and literacy through a social justice lens, and focuses on the ways teachers understand the systems of inequity and privilege at play in education, and their own roles within those systems.
50 minutes | Jan 22, 2021
Author Tim Wise on “Our Nation’s Blinkered History of Itself”
Tim Wise, one of the leading anti-racist writers and educators in the country, gave a stirring keynote presentation at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Burlington for a ceremony remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Wise is the author of books such as White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son and Dear White America, Letter to a New Minority. The event was sponsored by the Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center and was supported by Vermont Humanities as part of the Vermont Civics Collaborative.
35 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
Pulitzer Winner David Moats on Marriage Equality and Reporting in Vermont
Author and longtime Vermont journalist Yvonne Daley interviews David Moats, her former colleague from the Rutland Herald, about Moats’ series of Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials on the divisive issues arising from civil unions for same-sex couples, and about the importance of research and depth in journalism. Their conversation is part of our Democracy 20/20 Fall Conference. View all of the recorded conference sessions for free at www.vermonthumanities.org/democracy.
41 minutes | Sep 30, 2020
A Conversation with Katherine Paterson about “My Brigadista Year”
Katherine Paterson, the author of Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins and other beloved books, joins Vermont Humanities Executive Director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup to talk about her trips to Cuba and her 2017 Young Adult novel, My Brigadista Year. This talk is part of our Fall Conference: Democracy 20/20. View the list of free upcoming conference sessions.
37 minutes | Aug 19, 2020
Meg Mott on the 19th Amendment
To kick off our Fall Conference 2020, professor Meg Mott considers two visions for the women’s suffrage movement, and describes the path to the 19th Amendment. The suffrage movement operated under two very different principles. Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw women’s suffrage as a right that had been unfairly denied to women, while Frederick Douglass saw women’s suffrage as a means to save the country’s soul. This talk is part of our Fall Conference: Democracy 20/20. View the list of free upcoming conference sessions.
11 minutes | Jul 29, 2020
Words in the Woods with James Crews
Poet James Crews reads and discusses his poetry at Jamaica State Park for our Words in the Woods series. A companion video includes visuals taken at the park. Here James discusses the origins of his poems, and offers several writing prompts for those inspired by his work. James Crews’ poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic. His most recent collection of poems is titled Bluebird.
27 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
Tips for Making Friends as an Adult
Ryan Kriger, author of How to Make Friends as an Adult, describes the approach he used to develop a group of friends after moving to Montpelier from New York City. He also shares advice for maintaining friendships, even during a pandemic.
19 minutes | Jul 1, 2020
Words in the Woods with Geof Hewitt
We recently joined poet Geof Hewitt at Elmore State Park for our first “Words in the Woods” event. The series allows Vermonters and visitors to enjoy our state’s natural beauty while listening to and reading literature in the outdoors. Geof Hewitt is Vermont’s reigning poetry slam champion, and regularly hosts slams throughout the state. He is the author of four books of poems and three books for teachers. Due to Covid-19, we decided to record Geof solo, and offer the event as a video, and as this podcast episode. If you’d like to watch the video – which includes a short writing workshop segment – you can find it at vermonthumanities.org/digital.
47 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
The Surprising History of Common Garden Vegetables
Science and history writer Rebecca Rupp discusses the stories behind many of our favorite garden vegetables, including Vermont’s own Gilfeather turnip and Early Rose potato. Find out how George Washington was nearly assassinated with a plate of poisoned peas, and what Benjamin Franklin thought of asparagus. Audio of Rebecca’s talk is courtesy of Mt. Mansfield Community TV.
51 minutes | May 27, 2020
How to Boost Your Psychological Resilience in a Crisis
Amherst College psychology professor Catherine Sanderson examines what research in psychology tells us about how adverse events – such as a global pandemic – can lead to some positive outcomes. Sanderson is the author of The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity. She has spoken several times about the science of happiness and positive thinking for our First Wednesdays series of public lectures.
19 minutes | May 20, 2020
Politics and Proverbs from “Mud Season”
We’d like to share this Mud Season episode about politics and proverbs, which features Wolfgang Mieder, a professor of German and folklore at the University of Vermont. Wolfgang is the author of several books about proverbs, including one on Vermont proverbs in particular: Talk Less and Say More. Mud Season produced by the Center for Research on Vermont. The episodes are created by students at the University of Vermont, or by recent graduates.
62 minutes | May 6, 2020
Writing the Life of Frederick Douglass
David Blight is one of the foremost authorities on the Civil War and its legacy. In 2019, he won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.” Here he discusses Douglass’s life and explains why he calls him “The prose poet of American democracy.”
15 minutes | Apr 30, 2020
Katherine Paterson on “Bridge to Terabithia”
Katherine Paterson is the author of more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for Bridge to Terabithia in 1978 and for Jacob Have I Loved in 1981. In 2000 she was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. In this episode, she discusses and reads from Bridge to Terabithia. Her talk was recorded at our Fall Conference in 2015. The theme of the conference was “Why Do Stories Matter?”
37 minutes | Apr 15, 2020
“We Are All Fast Food Workers Now”
A conversation with labor historian and Dartmouth professor Annelise Orleck, the author of We Are All Fast Food Workers Now, a book that provides a close look at globalization and its costs. She interviewed berry pickers, fast food servers, garment workers, hotel housekeepers and others who are fighting for respect, safety, and a living wage.
37 minutes | Mar 26, 2020
Daybreak Express: Reuben Jackson on Duke Ellington
Many Vermonters know Reuben Jackson as the host of Vermont Public Radio’s Friday Night Jazz. He hosted that program from 2013 until 2018. Before that, Jackson served as archivist and curator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection. In this talk, Jackson shares some evocative Duke Ellington recordings, and discusses Ellington’s love for trains. He also describes the Ellington orchestra’s work in the segregated United States. This talk was recorded at the Rutland Free Library on February 5, 2020, for our First Wednesdays series of free lectures.
48 minutes | Mar 5, 2020
How the Great Migration Changed American History
In the early 20th century, black southerners fled racial violence and sharecropping for steady work in northern cities like New York and Chicago. But these migrants still faced challenges once they arrived. In this episode, Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield explores the Great Migration and its great influence on American history. The talk was recorded at the University of Vermont on November 16, 2019 for our Fall Conference 2019.
42 minutes | Feb 11, 2020
Making Rumble Strip in My Closet
Erica Heilman’s podcast Rumble Strip covers a range of Vermont-related topics, from mental health, hunger, and homelessness to deer hunting, cheerleading, and donut shops. In this talk, Heilman discusses the interview process and shares stories from her podcast, which she describes as “extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. Or that’s the goal.”
45 minutes | Jan 10, 2020
A Love Story from the Opioid Epidemic
What if instead of stigmatizing and judging people with addiction, we loved and supported them, even if they’re not sober or trying to get sober? In October 2018, a young mom named Madelyn Linsenmeir died after a long struggle with addiction. Her obituary was read online by millions of people. Madelyn’s sister, Kate O’Neill, wrote that obituary. In this episode, Kate shares her family’s experience loving and losing Maddie, the stories of other Vermonters impacted by this disease, and potential solutions to the opioid crisis. The talk was recorded at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro on November 6, 2019 for our First Wednesdays program.
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