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Ethics and architecture: Gentrification – The good, the bad and the ugly; Jim Thomas

June 17, 2007

The last 50 years have been tough for US cities, St. Louis more so than some others. Struggling to survive, cities have worked hard to stabilize and revitalize their neighborhoods. Yet such efforts are often flashpoints for conflict, with overtones of racial and class antagonism and accusations of “gentrification.” Can the generic good of neighborhood improvement actually be bad, even ugly? Can we revitalize neighborhoods in ways that are fair and inclusive? How have public policies and opinion about neighborhoods, low income housing, historic preservation and, in the future, green building shaped the debate?

Jim Thomas came to his interest in neighborhoods and architecture growing up in a restored 1830s home in a historic district of Alton, Illinois. His parents restored the home in the 1950s before historic preservation became trendy. He has been committed to living in mixed income, racially integrated neighborhoods since he moved to St. Louis after graduating from college. For almost 20 years (1981-2000), he was editor and publisher of a newspaper for the Gay and Lesbian community, a community noted for its involvement in neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation. He was executive director of University City Residential Service from 2002 to 2005. He currently does freelance consulting work on communications strategy and organizational development.

Ethics and architecture: The impact of sustainability; Thomas A. Taylor

June 3, 2007

Sustainability can be defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable or “green” buildings are high-performance buildings that through their orientation, design, construction and operation are highly efficient, achieve lower operating cost, are better for the environment and promote occupant health.

We have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment through the way we build, maintain, and occupy buildings. We are at a point in time where global events and climatic conditions have forced society to look at the way in which we proceed into the future. We have now educated ourselves to the point where we can challenge the status quo and as consumers, demand a more thoughtful way of meeting our needs without compromising future generations.

Thomas Taylor is a fourth generation construction professional turned sustainability consultant and has served at Alberici Corporation for over 20 years. He brings experience and passion to the leadership of Alberici’s new sustainable consulting service, Vertegy, and represented both owner and construction manager on Alberici’s dual-certified Four Green Globes and LEED Platinum Certified Headquarters. He holds a B.S. in Business Management from Southern Illinois University with a minor in Construction Management. Over the years, Taylor has served and chaired various committees on both the local St. Louis and National Associated General Contractors of America. He is a member of the St. Louis Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, chairman of the sustainable construction task force of the National Associated General Contractors, and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Signs of hope; Kate Lovelady, Leader

May 20, 2007

This is going to be an anti-“Yes; but” morning-I hope. It may take quite an act of will on all our parts to resist the impulse, after I mention that situation X is getting better, to immediately say in our minds “Yes, but Y is getting worse!” Still, let’s try. For today, let’s just be happy with what’s going well, with what’s improving in the world. I think we can do this without deluding ourselves that we live in a paradise or that progress is so inevitable we can just kick back and wait for it to come without any work on our part. I think we should do this, because taking time to note the signs of hope in the world can reenergize us in our ethical quest.

Links from this platform: The Banality of Heroism by Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo, from Greater Good Magazine. and Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence by Peter Unger.

Democracy and war; Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 29, 2007

In 1902, Felix Adler asked “Two Ethical Questions” about the Philippine War: “Is it treason to condemn a war waged by our country while the war is still in progress?” and “Are civilized nations justified in adopting uncivilized methods of warfare?” Throughout our history, Ethical Culture has struggled with vital questions for a democracy at war, and the words of past Ethical Leaders (who have run the gamut from interventionist to pacifist) clearly are still relevant today.

This Sunday we’ll hear modern “translations” of Ethical Culture thoughts on war, from Adler’s day to the 2003 and 2006 resolutions against the Iraq War passed by the National Leaders Council and the American Ethical Union, and we’ll explore the decisions we need to make as ethical citizens today.

2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company

April 15, 2007

Today we honor Joan Lipkin as the 2007 Ethical Humanist of the Year. A playwright, director, teacher, activist and social critic, Lipkin has established several theater groups, including That Uppity Theatre Company and the DisAbility Project. Her work is devoted to creatively portraying the life dimensions of everyday people, including the lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, gay and questioning (LBTGQ) population, cancer survivors, those with disabilities, the indigent and racial or cultural minorities.

Lipkin puts the principles of cultural diversity and social justice into innovative theatrical practice as she collaborates with many underrepresented populations. Her works include “After Rodney,” which followed news coverage of the mid-1990s beating of Rodney King, “Some of My Best Friends Are…” the first gay and lesbian review produced in St. Louis, and many others. Her plays have been performed in several U.S. cities as well as in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. Lipkin is a mentor for those in arts administration, marketing, grant writing, playwriting, directing, and promoting social justice. She is passionate about involving others in the arts and has introduced many to acting and theater.

“Joan Lipkin was chosen for this award from a field of 10 exceptional nominees. All aspects of her art are imbued with humanist values and devoted to promoting social justice,” said Kayla Vaughan, chair of the Ethical Humanist of the Year Committee. “She is a performance/theater artist whose creative work helps these important messages become part of our public discourse.”

The James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In action)Award was established in 1976 to honor individuals or organizations for outstanding work in improving the human condition.

What’s so funny? Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 1, 2007

There once was an Ethical Society
Whose platforms were models of propriety
But one April Fools’
They tried a new way
That made visitors doubt their sobriety.

Join us for a (mostly) light-hearted look at the serious subject of humor, one of the human animal’s most unique traits. Humor helps us cope with life’s troubles and lowers our psychological defenses. Learning to laugh at our own foibles is an essential part of wisdom.

Health care weekend – Patriotism, public health and health care; Fred Rottnek, MD

March 25, 2007

Dr. Fred Rottnek, chief physician in corrections medicine for St. Louis County and physician to many of the area’s poor and indigent, has worked on the frontline of the nation’s growing health care crisis. He sees the toll exacted by the state of Missouri on its most helpless citizens. In 2006, Missouri cut almost 100,000 people from Medicaid, the first state to do so. Without this safety net, many don’t have access to the most basic health care. Nearly 50 million Americans and a million Missourians are unable to afford health insurance. Dr. Rottnek questions a brand of patriotism consisting of weaponry and war while ignoring the health of its citizenry. Believing the country and state can do a better job of maintaining the common good, he makes a case for adequate health care for everyone.

In addition to his post with St. Louis County, Dr. Rottnek is the director of Community Services at the Institute for Research and Education in Family Medicine and the assistant director of the Master of Arts in Health Care Ministry program at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis.

Dr. Rottnek was awarded the James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In Action) Award in 2006 for his advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and underserved in the St. Louis area.

Ethical Sex; Kate Lovelady, Leader

March 18, 2007

America has a difficult relationship with sex. On the one hand, sexualized images are everywhere and are an important fuel for our desire-based economy; more conservative countries complain that our images and attitudes are corrupting their cultures. On the other hand, many politicians, preachers, and educators build careers on trying to convince Americans–particularly American youth–to re-embrace our Puritan past; more liberal countries find our sexual attitudes and policies to be unscientific and even dangerous.

Personally and as citizens, we all make decisions about sex: who should have it, when, how, with whom, under what circumstances. Ethical decisions need to be conscious and informed; therefore we need to start with some fundamental questions: What is sex for? What is “good” and “bad” sex in an ethical sense? Where do people’s assumptions about sex come from? To what extent is the issue of sex in America not really about sex at all, but about other things: power; idealizations of childhood; assumptions about women’s and men’s roles, about sexuality and orientation, about families? What are the hidden beliefs and agendas behind much of today’s “sexuality police”?

“When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.” – Matt Groening

All in the same room: Creating a center for ethics; Ira Kodner MD and Stuart Yoak, PhD

March 11, 2007

Founded in 2003, the Center for the Study of Human Values and Ethics at Washington University is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program with a mission to advance the understanding of the most complex and troubling ethical issues facing society. The Center works with students, faculty, and community leaders in all professions providing education, research, community outreach, and service in ethics and human values.

Dr. Ira J. Kodner is Director of the Center and the Solon and Bettie Gershman Professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Washington University. After 20 years of teaching medical students ethical and compassionate care of their patients, he became a consultant and author for the American College of Surgeons curriculum for teaching ethics to surgery residents. Dr. Kodner has published more than 100 scientific articles relating to colorectal diseases. The recipient of many honors for accomplishments in medicine and teaching, he also serves as a Chief Medical Consultant for KMOV-TV and serves as attending in the Surgery Clinic at St. Louis Connect Care.

Dr. Stuart Yoak is the Executive Officer for the Center and Lecturer in Professional Ethics at Washington University. In addition to his work at the Center, Professor Yoak teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in ethics at Washington University. He chairs the Biomedical Ethics Committee at Christian Hospital in St. Louis and is actively involved in patient-physician case consultations and education for the hospital. He consults regularly with corporate leaders and gives presentations to professional meetings on ethical decision making.

Media matters: How the media affect kids and what parents can do about it; Ken Haller, MD

February 25, 2007

Ken Haller, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Haller worked in community health centers in East St. Louis, IL, for 10 years before moving to Saint Louis University. He was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1990 and 1998 for his work in underserved areas and is the recipient of the 1990 Illinois State Medical Society Public Service Award as well as the 2006 Excellence in Pediatrics Award from the Saint Louis Pediatric Society. Dr. Haller has been a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Matters Task Force since 2001 and speaks frequently to professional and community groups about the effects of media on kids.

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.” – Garrison Keillor

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