Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses

Is Diet CULTure a cult?; Katie Thompson

June 2, 2024

Is Diet Culture actually a cult? And are most Americans signing on for an accidental membership in the cult? Is it possible that the majority of us have been indoctrinated with the powerful propaganda of this 90 billion dollar a year industry and we have little awareness that the same tactics used by high-control religious organizations and cults are employed in the ways that we engage with food and our bodies? In this conversation, we will examine the classic components of cults and how these same methodologies are used to keep the American populace engaged in Diet Culture.


Unedited Video

We Are the Leaders We Have Been Waiting For; Marvin Steele

May 19, 2024
Marvin Steel
Marvin Steel

This presentation is driven by the necessity to seize the moment. The formula for flight is speed + thrust + lift – drag = Flight! Our region will never reach its full capacity unless we can mitigate the economic drag that plagues our Black and brown communities. That economic drag was caused by generations of (conscious and unconscious) disinvestment in these communities. In order to grow this region robustly and equitably, we must reinvest in those communities.

Marvin Steele was born in Detroit, Michigan, but his family moved to St. Louis when he was an infant. He attended Soldan High School in St. Louis and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He returned to St. Louis in the late 1970s and became deputy director of the St. Louis Deployment Authority under Mayor Vince Schoemehl. Mr. Steele later started a construction company that had the distinction of installing the 70,000 seats in the football dome; he was also the associate construction manager on the hockey arena, the Jazz Bistro in Grand Center and many other iconic buildings in St. Louis. Currently, Marvin serves as the president and CEO of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce.


Unedited Video

Special “Mothering Day” Platform

May 16, 2024
Mother and her children

Interim Director Amy L. Miller presents a special Platform honoring the values of unconditional positive regard, nurturing, love, and protection that are associated with the “mother,” (while leaving space for those who have complicated feelings about Mother’s Day).


Unedited Video

Climate Change – Culture Change; Jean Ponzi

April 24, 2024

Facts, myths, and opportunities related to Earth’s climate and our species include key concepts of weather and climate, greenhouse gases, carbon footprints and policy options. St. Louis enviro-educator Green Jean Ponzi weaves these threads with perspective on human patterns and impacts toward finding paths to just, responsible action. Local examples offer courage to engage and persist in change-making.

Head shot of Jean Ponzi

Jean Ponzi serves as green resources manager at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. A 29-year veteran of the Garden’s EarthWays Center team, Green Jean currently applies her sustainability expertise as manager of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, operator of the Garden’s Green Resources Info Service, and on the leadership team for the regional initiative BiodiverseCity St. Louis. Her enviro-interview show Earthworms has logged over 33 years of conversations through KDHX St. Louis Community Media, as her volunteer community service. Jean is in demand as a speaker, writer, and media spokesperson, offering her audiences both practical options and ecological inspiration.


Unedited Video

In the Shadow of Empire: 100 Years of Settler Colonialism in Palestine; Sami Tayeb

April 18, 2024
Sami Tayeb

Contrary to common belief, the conflict in Palestine is not ancient nor is it religious. Rather, it’s the result of Western empires intervening to facilitate a settler colonial project in the Holy Land over the last 100 years. This talk will discuss the history of settler colonialism, what it looks like, and why it’s relevant when discussing Palestine today.

Sami Tayeb is currently a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis in the American Culture Studies program. He earned his master’s in Middle East Studies from the American University of Beirut. His research and teaching interests focus on political economy and the built environment in the Middle East, as well as Western knowledge production and the architecture of empire. He has lived and worked in several Arab countries, including Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Before moving to St. Louis, he was the director of Middle East Books and More, a non-profit bookstore in Washington, DC. He has been published in Middle East Report and Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and is currently teaching a new course titled Arabs in America: Transcending the Colonial Imaginary.


Unedited Video

Psychedelics – Hope or hype?; Joshua Siegel, MD

April 12, 2024
Head shot of Josh Siegel, MD

An overview of psychedelic pharmacology and then a look into the clinical and neuroscientific data that have led to growing interest in psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted therapy.” Dr. Siegel will present the risks and challenges of psychedelics for treatment in mood and addiction disorders, and consider what impacts these treatments may have on the mental health system.

Dr. Siegel received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, neuroscience and psychology from Washington University, completed a master’s degree and doctorate in systems neuroscience in WUSM’s Physician Scientist Training Program, and completed residency in psychiatry.


Unedited Video

The Sound of Silence; Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Director

April 6, 2024
Young boy with his mouth covered with duct tape.
Photo by Jackson Simmer

Exploring the ways in which silence – conversationally, relationally, and culturally- can both help and hurt us.


Unedited Video

Missourians for Constitutional Freedom; Kennedy Moore

March 30, 2024

This presentation will give a brief overview of the Missourians for Constitutional Freedom campaign. This campaign is to push a constitutional amendment that will end the cruel Missouri ban on abortion. Presentation attendees will hear more about the campaign, have an opportunity to sign the petition, and learn ways that they are able to plug in and be part of the campaign going forward!

Manager of Digital and Youth Organizing at Abortion Action Missouri, Kennedy Moore started her organizing career in 2015 on the University of Missouri – Columbia campus where she graduated with degrees in communications and Black studies in 2018. Additionally, Kennedy has a master’s of public policy administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. They were a Black Organizing Summer School (BOSS) fellow with Action St. Louis in 2020, and has worked to push for surveillance oversight, paid family leave and other policy aligned with reproductive access in the St. Louis region. Her passions for data and digital organizing are integral in helping rebuild abortion access in Missouri. In addition to her role at Abortion Action Missouri, Kennedy is helping lead the Missourians for Constitutional Freedom campaign as the Field Manager for statewide signature collection. In her spare time, you can find Kennedy biking, checking out new tech gadgets, DJing or looking for the next gig to share her contralto singing voice.


Unedited Video

Pain, Power, Purpose: The Story of Us; Briana Morales

March 17, 2024

Sixteen years ago, she was just a kid that didn’t want to live. Six years ago, she wasn’t sure if teaching was for her. 2023 Illinois Teacher of the Year Briana Morales shares candid moments from both personal life and a career dedicated to working with youth furthest from justice in an alternative setting to illustrate how the love and compassion of educators can break many chains and heal unspoken wounds for our young people. Morales’ journey is living testimony of the philosophy that she seeks to impress upon her students and those who seek to know and understand them better: we can turn our pain into power and that can reveal our purpose.

Photo of Briana Morale 2023 IL teacher of the year.
Briana Morales

Briana Morales is a proud Latina and freedom fighter for students in alternative education, where she has spent her career loving and learning alongside students furthest from justice in East St. Louis, IL. She focuses on empowering her students with personalized, competency-based education where their cultural funds of knowledge are honored and students work at their own pace to master content rather than traditional learning that focuses on seat time and completion of work. Morales was honored as a 2021 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Early Career Educator of Color and has shared the journey her students have embarked on to turn pain into power through poetry both locally and nationally. Her commitment as a school board member for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, School District #428 has allowed her to elevate the voices of justice-impacted youth. Morales has been active at the state level in education policy work around diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Most recently, she was a champion of $300K in state funding to provide professional development to in-service educators around cultural responsiveness. She is deeply passionate about creating healing-centered spaces where Black and brown students can feel seen, heard, and, one day, be free to be their authentic selves. Her love offering toward this future is her nonprofit, (Sister)Hood of Hope, Inc., dedicated to honoring brighter futures for girls of color everywhere by empowering them through the community of sisterhood. Morales believes in education as a tool that equips young people to become change agents in their community and have a fighting chance at the life they deserve. She is currently a doctoral candidate in diversity and equity in education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Briana is the 2023 Illinois Teacher of the Year.


Unedited Video

Rev. Blackmon v. Missouri; Denise Lieberman

March 12, 2024

The legal battle over abortion rights in Missouri underscores a fundamental clash between religious beliefs and constitutional principles. Laws such as H.B. 126, passed in 2019, impose severe restrictions on abortion access under the guise of religious conviction, disregarding the diverse religious perspectives within the state. This legislation, triggered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, immediately banned most abortions in Missouri. Such laws, supported by legislators who justify them on religious grounds, blatantly disregard the principle of separation of church and state.
Missouri’s abortion restrictions, dating back to 1986 and exacerbated by subsequent bills in 2014 and 2017, significantly impede access to abortion services, imposing burdensome requirements such as mandatory waiting periods and physician-specific counseling. Despite objections from clergy members representing various Christian denominations, Judaism, and Unitarian Universalism, the legislature persists in enacting laws that reflect a singular religious viewpoint.

In response to these restrictions, a coalition led by Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri’s abortion laws. Their argument is based on the violation of Missouri’s constitutional provisions safeguarding the separation of church and state. The litigation, supported by clergy plaintiffs like Rev. Traci Blackmon and Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, aims to overturn these laws and restore reproductive autonomy.

The legal proceedings commenced with a hearing on June 13, 2023, where the plaintiffs argued against a motion to dismiss the case, which was largely rejected by the court on June 30, 2023. Subsequent motions and arguments have been filed, with the defendants contending that they should prevail without further proceedings. The litigation represents a critical effort to defend individual liberties and uphold the principle that laws should not be based on religious doctrine, but rather on constitutional rights and freedoms.


Unedited Video

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