The Amos Fortune Forum
2016 - Our 70th Season

The Amos Fortune Forum lectures are held in the Meetinghouse located in Historic Jaffrey Center, 2 miles west of downtown Jaffrey, NH. (directions from Google Maps)

Lectures are held on Fridays and begin promptly at 8:00 P.M.

There is no charge for admission.

July 8
“Honoring Amos Fortune’s Life and Legacy: On Witness, Justice, and Respect”

On the 70th Anniversary of the Forum, we will open the season by honoring Amos Fortune’s extraordinary life and celebrating his legacy; a legacy that continues to challenge and inspire us generations later. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot will explore the concept of RESPECT—a beautiful quality embodied and enacted by Amos Fortune even as he broke out of the chains of enslavement and bought his freedom. She will challenge traditional conceptions of respect that emphasize deference to status and hierarchy and see it as driven by duty, honor, and a desire to avoid punishment, shame, or embarrassment. Instead, she will present a new view; one that focuses on the ways in which respect creates empathy, connection, and symmetry in all kinds of relationships even those—such as parent and child, teacher and student, and doctor and patient—commonly seen as unequal. Exploring the essential dimensions of respect, and offering poignant stories and powerful lessons, Lawrence-Lightfoot will inspire us to think deeply and act courageously as we seek to create just and compassionate communities and institutions with respectful relationships at their very center; and as we heed the ancient echoes of Amos Fortune’s legacy of dignity and liberation.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University where she has been on the faculty since 1972. She is the author of ten books including The Third Chapter, The Essential Conversation, I’ve Known Rivers, Balm in Gilead, and Respect, that will be the focus of her Forum presentation. She is the recipient of thirty honorary degrees and is the first African American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor. She finds beauty and peace at her home on Gilmore Pond in Jaffrey where she spends as much time as possible.

July 15
“Why whales?”

Dive into the world of whales with Dr. Iain Kerr. Just back from a SnotBot expedition to the Sea of Cortez, Iain will talk about his 30 + years in the field of marine mammal science, developing benign research tools and what it is like to work with the largest animals that have ever lived on this blue planet. Found in all oceans of the world, feeding at the top of ocean food chains, whales are humanity’s proverbial canary in the coal mine, according to Dr. Kerr.

Dr. Kerr is the CEO of the Ocean Alliance, an organization recognized as an international leader in whale research and ocean conservation since its founding by renowned scientist Dr. Roger Payne in 1970. Ocean Alliance programs include the Voyages of the Odyssey and the Patagonia Right Whale Program, the longest continuous study of any great whale species.

According to the Huffinton Post, the SnotBot is the latest tool to help in whale research. It is a drone that actually flies over the whale to collect, DNA, viruses and hormones from what the whale exhales from its blow hole, thus keeping the whale untouched and safe.

July 22
"Baseball, Bunkhouses, and Burlesque: Travels Across America.”

A conversation with Dan Barry, who writes the “This Land” column for The New York Times, a feature that he inaugurated in 2007 and has since brought him to all 50 states. In exploring both “obscure and well known corners” of America, Barry has—among other eye-opening experiences—met the coroner from The Wizard of Oz, learned the bump-and-grind from a mostly retired burlesque queen, and been hit in the chest by an Asian carp leaping out of the Illinois River. Outside of “This Land,” he has also reported on topics ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the New York Mets.

Author Colum McCann has said that “Dan Barry gives dignity even to the darkest corners of the American experience. He is the closest thing we have to a contemporary Steinbeck.” This is evidenced in his latest book, Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland, about a group of men with intellectual disabilities who worked in servitude for decades at a mid- western meat packing plant. Barry’s three other books illustrate his extraordinary diversity as a writer and include stories about New York City, a baseball game that lasted 33 innings and a generational memoir.

July 29
"The German refugee crisis, a threat or an opportunity? Reflections from an engaged volunteer"

Susanne Wentzler speaks about her personal experiences when 180 refugees arrived in her small Bavarian village just before Christmas in 2015. She discusses the refugees’ daily struggles to cope with everyday life and the many prejudices they face. She also looks at the larger picture as Germany welcomes the influx of people from different cultures under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of “We will manage.”

For Merkel, Germany has a moral, legal, and humanitarian duty to help provide shelter and security to those seeking asylum. They took in over a million refugees in 2015 alone. The small towns of Bavaria have each received an influx, causing a strain on local resources and a tremendous backlash from conservative politicians and many citizens, including people within her own party. For their part, the refugees are trying to fit in: the children are in school and the parents are trying to learn German and to find work. It is volunteer organizations such as the one Wentzler works for, that are shouldering the burden of helping these refugees find their feet.

August 5
“Renewing Energy: a Clear and New Vision”

Our energy choices have broad impacts on our economy, our environment and our national security. Advances in technology, policy and financing have led to market changes that make renewable energy within reach of individuals, institutions and governments; why then is there so much debate and so much resistance to implementing a clean energy economy?

Clay will share his experience and research into the opportunities and challenges related to a transition to clean energy. Wading through the complex mix of messages and myths associated with energy, Clay will provide insight into why innovation may not be the most-welcome concept for champions of the status quo. Finally, looking forward, a vision for a newly conceived energy system that is democratic and responsive to our goals will be provided for your consideration.

Clay Mitchell is on the faculty at the University of New Hampshire where he teaches sustainable energy and environmental policy and an adjunct Professor at Vermont Law School. Dr. Mitchell is a graduate of VLS where he earned his JD and MSEL in the class of ’96. His Doctorate in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies is from the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Mitchell has worked with local governments in New Hampshire in the land use planning and energy fields. He has served as a land use planner and attorney throughout the state. Dr. Mitchell has participated at the local and state level in developing projects and policies that contribute to economic sustainability and secure energy resources for clients in the public and private sectors. Dr. Mitchell has served as the Policy Director at the NH Sustainable Energy Association as well as past President of the Board. He sat on the Energy and Environment Advisory Team for NH Gov. Hassan and is the past Chair of the Northeast Combined Heat and Power Initiative Board of Directors.

Clay is Arizona desert-raised and loves hot summer nights.

August 12
"Iqra: Reading the Qur’an"

Peterborough’s Jamie L. Hamilton explores the overarching themes of the Qur’an. See if you come to agree with her that America could easily be referred to as a Judeo-­Christian-­Islamic nation, so close we are in our shared values that support dignity, equality, equanimity, peace, community and justice.

Ignorance of the Qur’an, the Holy Scripture for Muslims, diminishes us all. On one hand it’s only a book, so why does it matter whether we understand the Qur’an or not? On the other hand, it’s the Standing Miracle for one fifth of the world’s population and guides their living. Today, too many non­Muslims accept the jihadist rhetoric that the heinous and murderous acts committed by the terrorists are sanctioned by the Qur’an.

The Rev. Hamilton knows they’re wrong, and she believes that if we’re going to make any progress in our relationships with Muslim ­majority countries, as well as with the Muslim minority in America, we need a fluency in the major themes of the Qur’an. Such an understanding will give us best access in understanding the world view of Muslims. For twenty years, Jamie taught courses in religion, ethics and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy, and was the dean in charge of student health and welfare. She was also a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, working with a project regarding "Religious Life in Nonsectarian, Multi­Religious Educational Settings.”

Ordained in the Episcopal Church since 1991, Jamie was the Priest-­in-­Charge of the summer chapel, Emmanuel, in Dublin, New Hampshire from 1996-­2011. Currently, Jamie is the Rector of All Saints’ Parish in Peterborough, NH, and has a summer home, just around the corner in Jaffrey Center!

August 19
"Futurism, puppets and me. A personal look at the Italian Futurists."

One of the first 20th Century art movements (1909) the Italian Futurists had no less an ambition than to “Reconstruct the Universe.” Characters like F.T. Marinetti, (often called “the Caffeine of Europe”) and painters like Fortunato Depero brought their early machine age sensibility to everything – architecture, painting, poetry, music, cuisine, performance and even puppetry. This talk is a look at the process of researching their work, making a terrific find, and then transforming historical concerns into contemporary art.

Dan Hurlin currently teaches performance art, dance, and puppetry at Sarah Lawrence College, where he also serves as the director of the graduate program in theater. Twice a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, he is the recipient of a 2002 fellowship in choreography from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, a 2004 Alpert Award in the Arts for theater, the 2008 United States Artists Prudential Fellowship in theater, and the 2013/14 Jesse Howard Junior Rome Prize Fellowship in visual art at the American Academy in Rome. Hurlin’s theater and puppetry work has received the OBIE Award, the New York Dance and Performance Award (also known as a “Bessie”), and the UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette) Citation of Excellence. Dan is best known locally for his creative work as a teaching artist with Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton where he began Andy’s tradition of innovative theater performed by children.