Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
An exploration into how our commutes and other daily decisions contribute to prejudice and marginalization of Black people throughout the St. Louis region.
Tabari A. Coleman, MPA is a training consultant and social justice advocate known for his thoughtful but direct approach in facilitating dialogue sessions that focus on building empathy. With more than 19 years of experience in diversity and inclusion training and social justice work, he brings a wealth of knowledge, passion and expertise to his work. He worked for the Anti-Defamation League for 13 years as the education director and national director of Professional Development. He left in 2021 to start his own consulting company, The Coleman Group, LLC. He travels nationally and internationally delivering training programs, workshops and giving presentations. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-St Louis where he is applying his practical knowledge and experiences in the Social Justice in Education, Ed.D program.
Local author Sarah Kendzior, the author of “Hiding in Plain Sight” and “The View from Flyover Country,” will explore the rise of autocracy, paying particular attention to Missouri as the bellwether of American decline.
Her talk will examine the causes of rising autocracy – decades-long institutional rot, entrenched corruption, elite criminal impunity, digital media silos full of propaganda, and the embrace of groupthink and cults that tends to thrive in unstable times – and offer potential solutions to our ongoing crises.
“Sarah Kendzior is a modern-day prophet,” said Ethical Society of St. Louis Leader James Croft. “Her writing on American politics and culture is searingly honest, deeply thoughtful, and profoundly wise. At a time when truly dangerous forces are twisting American politics, we need voices like Kendzior’s to wake us up and get us to act.”
Kendzior will illustrate how Missouri has served as a petri dish for the end of the American experiment, a place where dirty dark money operatives test out their worst ideas on an innocent populace. But because Missouri has borne the brunt of these tactics early, she believes it may be better prepared to fight for the American future.
“While some might be put off by her diagnoses, we need to be honest about the challenges we face as a nation if we are to overcome them,” Croft said. “That honesty is what Sarah Kendzior offers, and that is why we are so delighted to have her join us for the Ethical Society of St. Louis’ annual Pacino Lecture. The Pacino Lecture is offered in memory of Nick Pacino, a member of the Ethical Society who was passionate about thought-provoking and timely ideas, and Kendzior is a perfect speaker to honor his memory.”
Casey is an entrepreneur, community builder focusing on spirituality for the secular world. He is the creator of Open Div Summit a 4-day “pod-conference” around spirituality, meaning, and connection in the secular world and previously ran one of the first travel communities for digital nomads. In addition to his own projects, he coaches entrepreneurs and leaders on how to create cultures of engagement and meaning..
Teka Childress will share an overview of the particular situation of homelessness in St Louis and the great opportunities there are to address it.
Teka Childress was part of the St Louis Catholic Worker community for 35 years and helped operate a house of hospitality and shelter. She also has worked as an outreach worker among unhoused persons for twenty years and has advocated for the rights of unhoused persons.
In a typical year, this would be the announcement and reminder of the Pledge Luncheon, where we would gather for community and for the future of the Society. We had hoped to have a smaller version of that this year, but the Omicron spike is an unprecedented challenge that made doing so impossible. But despite these challenges, we as a Society have built new flexibility, enabling us to switch from in-person to hybrid to fully virtual on very short notice. It hasn’t been ideal, but we have kept our congregation going, have kept our relationships alive, and have grown an audience outside of St. Louis.
Whatever happens with the pandemic, our staff and our new technology have opened these opportunities that we didn’t have before. We can emerge from the pandemic with a strong local congregation and a larger network and influence throughout the Humanist movement. Capitalizing on those opportunities takes creativity, time, staff effort, and… capital. Existing members, please review the pledge packet you received and give as you can to help us build in the future. Non-members, please consider joining us, to become a part of our community.
The Ethical Society has been supporting Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST) and providing scholarships to female high school students for the past decade. The schools and their surrounding communities have struggled mightily due to the COVID pandemic and the government-ordered school shut-downs; with significantly decreased tuition revenue but increased costs, the schools and the students relied heavily on funding provided by UHST.
The Ethical Society community will have the opportunity to hear more specifics about this year’s experiences — both positive and negative — during a Platform in January, and we hope you will choose to donate funds to benefit UHST and the great work Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed Schools are doing in Uganda.
ESSL Office Administrator Nancy Jelinek will collect all donations and wire the funds in late January, so please communicate with her and share how you will make your donation (ACH, check to Ethical Society with UHST in memo line, charitable trust, etc.). She will assist you in the details. Please contact Nancy at 314.991.0955 x214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Renowned author Kurt Vonnegut once said, “I am a Humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishment after I am dead.” This quote is only one example of how the late Vonnegut was an ambassador for Humanism. He was also an honorary president of the American Humanist Association and honored as Humanist of the Year by the organization in 1992.
As a teenager, Leader-in-Training Louise Jett learned about Humanism via Vonnegut and his work, which reinforced values she held and introduced her to new perspectives.
During this Platform, Louise will explore the relationship Vonnegut had with Humanism while illustrating the role the celebrated author has played in her life and personal beliefs.
The Zoo is at a turning point in its 112-year history. It is preparing to embark on its biggest fundraising effort ever. The Zoo is in the midst of creating a whole institution in WildCare Park and for the first time in 20 years, the Zoo will have a new president. Finally, we know that we have much to do if we are to maintain the high standard of our Forest Park campus. This presentation will focus on this inflection point and will speculate on the Zoo’s future.
Jeffrey Bonner has led the Zoo for 20 years as the Dana Brown President and CEO. Prior to that he led the Indianapolis Zoo and prior to that he was part of the team that created the new St. Louis Science Center. He is a Burgess Fellow, a Traveling Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, and the recipient of the National Research Service Award. He is a graduate of Fort Zumwalt High School in O’Fallon, Missouri, the University of Missouri, and Columbia University in the City of New York. He is the author of a book on zoos entitled Sailing With Noah.
Katherine Mathews will tell the story behind the creation of the Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics at Saint Louis University. She will then discuss the Center’s innovative curriculum for training medical students to be positive change agents and leaders within the complex US healthcare industry. Through this curriculum, students learn about financial drivers within healthcare where every dollar spent is someone else’s dollar of revenue or profit. Students also work in teams and use cases to practice foundational skills for professional development and ethical leadership.
With a background in public health, research, healthcare administration, and direct patient care, Katherine Jahnige Mathews, M.D., MPH, MBA, is a Saint Louis University School of Medicine professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health. She also serves as director of education for the Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics. In 2020 she launched an innovative required curriculum for first- and second-year medical students called Leadership and the Business of Medicine. This curriculum has been developed with and for students and is grounded in explicit reflection about the values that inform our actions and sense of right and wrong.
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