Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet, Sept. 27, 2013, 7:30PM Housatonic Valley Regional High School
Event Date : 06/08/2013
Richard Blanco, the country’s fifth inaugural poet, playfully says he was Made in Cuba, assembled in Spain and imported to the United States. He means that his mother was seven months pregnant when the family left Cuba as exiles. He was born in Madrid. Forty Five days later the family emigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Miami.

The Salisbury Forum has received a grant of $4,000 from Connecticut Humanities to bring this informative and interesting program to our communities.

His poetry brings together a wide range of experiences not the least of which is his Hispanic heritage and the conflicts he felt as a gay Latino man. “My grandmother was as xenophobic as she was homophobic, so I remember growing up so that anything that seemed culturally odd or weird or strange was also sort of tagged as ‘queer,” he says.

According to family lore, his staunchly anti-Casto father named him after Richard Nixon. When it was time for him to go to college he was told to choose between law, medicine and engineering. “I was a whiz at Math,” he says. So he chose civil engineering and studied at Florida International University. He spent some 25 years working on roads and bridges.

He talks about how he composed the inaugural poem and what it felt like to stand on that podium with the president and vice-president to deliver it. Here is how he described it for National Public Radio: “All along, through different stages of my relationship with America … I’ve always been sort of wondering: Where’s home? Is home America? That ideal doesn’t really exist, does it? Where’s all those sort of principals that I grew up with? And when I was up on that platform — for those two hours or so that we were up there — it was like all those ideals came to life in ways that I had never imagined.. … I really embraced America up there like I never had before, and I think I finally felt like I was home in some way. … And I turned to my mother at one moment and I told her, ‘Well, I think we’re finally American.”

Hate and Extremism In The United States, Friday, April 19, 2013, 7:30PM, The Hotchkiss School
Event Date : 04/08/2013
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak to the Salisbury Forum on the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. It was the worst act of terrorism carried out by hate group fanatics in The United States until the Twin Towers attacks in 2001. The group monitors hate and extremist groups and warns that the problem is growing worse at an alarming rate. They count more than a thousand such groups from Klansmen, White Nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black nationalists to border vigilantes and others. The SPLC says the  number of hate groups  has grown by 69 per cent since the year 2000.The SPLC says,”This growth in extremism has been aided by mainstream media figures and politicians who have used their platforms to legitimize false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities and spread the kind of paranoid conspiracy theories on which militia groups thrive.”The group pioneered the strategy of using the courts to battle organized, violent hate groups. Since then, it has won numerous large damage awards on behalf of victims of hate group violence. These cases are funded entirely by its supporters; it accepts no legal fees from the clients it represents.Richard Cohen is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Virginia Law School. He started at the SPLC in 1986 as its legal director after practicing law in Washington D.C. for seven years. Under his guidance, the SPLC has won a series of landmark lawsuits against some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist organizations. He became president of the SPLC in 2003.

"Last Call At The Oasis," Sunday, January 27, 2013, 11:30AM, The Moviehouse, Millerton, NY
Event Date : 12/08/2012
Like its predecessors, An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc. and Waiting For Superman, Last Call At The Oasis is an emotionally involving portrait of the looming crisis surrounding water. Our supplies of water are dwindling as contamination and overuse rises. Based on the book The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud’homme, the documentary by Jessica Yu is an impassioned call to arms. Beginning in Nevada Last Call At The Oasis says that if Las Vegas continues to use the amount of water required for its dancing fountains and thousands of tourists nearby Lake Mead will be so depleted the Hoover Dam will be unable to generate electricity in four years. In California fishermen and farmers are in a heated debate over using the precious resources of water to irrigate the produce fields of the Central Valley or maintain fragile marine ecosystems. From polluted wells in Texas to enormous cattle feeding lots in Michigan to the Jordan River the film documents the complicated scientific, environmental and geopolitical issues facing our diminishing water supplies. Following the screening of the documentary Alex Prud’homme will discuss the issues raised by his book and the film.

"The Future of Food" Mark Bittman, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 8:00PM The Salisbury School
Event Date : 11/02/2012
Mark Bittman, whose “Minimalist” column ran in the Dining section of the New York Times for more than 13 years, is an Opinion columnist as well as the lead food writer for The Magazine.Bittman has been urging Americans to change the way we eat for 30 years. In 2009 he published the groundbreaking Food Matters, which explored the crucial connections among food, health, and the environment, and provided tangible guidance for Americans rethinking their diets.  In 2010 he wrote The Food Matters Cookbook. His How to Cook Everything is widely considered the new bible of American cooking. It demonstrates his unique combination of common sense and non-fussy, unprecious authority. In 2007, Mr. Bittman published How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, now the best-selling book on contemporary vegetarian cooking. He speaks about food and its role in American culture and health. Bittman translates the critical issues of our day into an argument for better, saner, enjoyable eating.