Listen to writers and experts from all over tell us about their latest work on 2nd Fridays (8:00 pm, monthly September to May) held at the Rappahannock Library or at one of two theaters in the town of Washington, dc.
We need your help to find new 2nd Friday speakers. Many of our best speakers have come from your suggestions. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas. Speakers need not have a Rappahannock connection, although that is a bonus. All topics of general interest will be eagerly considered.
Upcoming RAAC Library Talks
February, 2020, Jim Reston
Jim Reston talked about his new book, The Impeachment Diary: Eyewitness to the Removal of a President, his first-hand account of the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Reston discussed the Nixon impeachment and the Trump impeachment, and what lessons we can draw from those two sagas.
Richard Nixon was perhaps “the most fascinating politician of the twentieth century,” in Reston’s judgment, and he watched his career in close-up. His account of the Nixon impeachment is “impossible to put down,” in the words of the constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, and the Christian Science Monitor called Reston’s book “an edge-of-your-seat account.”
Reston, who has deep local roots, is one of America’s most versatile and most acclaimed writers. He is a novelist, a historian, and a playwright; his Galileo’s Torch and Sherman The Peacemaker were both performed in Rappahannock with a cast that included several Rappahannock notables.
January, 2020, Michael Shea
Michael Shea, a therapist in Washington, DC, talked about Art, Consciousness, Ethics, and Social Media
Shea described art as a vehicle of self-expression. Mental health uses art as a tool to understand symbols, dreams, express feelings, and increase awareness. Technology and the expansion of art in digital platforms and social media has re-surfaced a need to discuss boundaries, consciousness, and ethics of self-expression with civility. Michael’s remarks offered thoughts for consideration and discussion based on his experience as an Integrative Psychotherapist, a performing artist, and as a “seeker” of knowledge and wisdom.
December, 2020, Randy Rieland
Journalist Randy Rieland told us about what he has learned in his close-up examinations of Rappahannock County. He called his talk “Simple Beauty, Complex Place.”
For the past three years, Rieland has written about some of the bigger challenges facing the county — from spotty cell and broadband service to the aging volunteer fire and rescue squads to limited health care options. Through the many interviews for those stories in the Rappahannock News, he has come to better appreciate how, for all its seeming simplicity, this is one complicated community.
Rieland has been a newspaper and magazine editor and writer for more than 25 years. He has written for the Washingtonian, Johns Hopkins Magazine, and Smithsonian. He also worked in digital media for 17 years, including as the head of digital media for the Discovery Channel. He and his wife Carol Ryder live in DC and in Rappahannock.
November 2019, Dana Hand Evans
November’s 2nd Friday Talk featured Dana Hand Evans, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA. The MSV is on a 450-acre site, which is complete with three historic houses, twelve buildings, seven acres of public gardens, 200 acres of working farm and a 50,000 square-foot Museum gallery and administration building.
The museum’s website can be found here:
October 2019, Al Regnery
Al Regnery talked about his new book Unlikely Pilgrim: A Journey Into History and Faith. Over the course of twenty years and eleven trips, Regnery and a close friend hiked, biked, and hitchhiked their way to sites that played an important role in the history of Christianity and Islam. They visited monasteries and churches in Greece, Turkey, and Syria, among other sites, focusing on the role of religion and faith in the lives of those they met, and in their own lives as well.
September 2019, John Bourgeois
For many years Colonel John Bourgeois was director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. He called his talk, which looked back at his long and celebrated career, “Sins of My Youth.” Bourgeois’s career spanned nine presidential administrations, from Eisenhower to Clinton. Along the way he collected too many honors to list and rose to become, in the words of the Secretary of the Navy, “a national treasure.” We have a video of his talk (made by Ray Boc) here.
May 2019, Brian Noyes
April 2019, Katie Arnold
Katie Arnold spoke about her book Running Home. Katie, who has deep roots in Rappahannock, was a journalist at Outside magazine. She covered extreme athletes and was an ultramarathoner herself. (She ran her first marathon by accident, in the course of interviewing someone else.) Then her father died. Arnold found herself paralyzed with fear, terrified that she, too, would die suddenly. Her book is about how she managed — eventually — to recover.
March, 2019, Joan Vernikos
NASA scientist Joan Vernikos discussed her new book Stress Beyond Fifty: Tools & Wisdom for a Healthier, Longer Life. One enthusiastic reviewer suggested that Vernikos’s book could have been called “The Handbook for Managing All of the Stresses Which Life May Bring After Fifty” and praised Vernikos’s insights into “when to retire, relaxation, loss and grieving, fear of losing control” and a host of other challenges.
February 2019, Sally Mott Freeman
Award-winning writer Sally Mott Freeman told us about The Jersey Brothers, a true, heroic story of three brothers in the Navy in World War II. The youngest was captured by the Japanese. This was a family saga as well as a work of history, for the missing brother was Sally’s uncle. The Jersey Brothers tells the dramatic, harrowing story of the search to find him. “Her book is liable to break the hearts of Unbroken fans,” the New York Times raved, “and it’s all true.”
January 2019, Joyce Harman
Rappahannock’s own Joyce Harman discussed the beauty of the night sky and talked about her efforts to preserve glorious vistas like the Milky Way. Harman has organized a program she calls the Dark Skies Initiative, in the hope that Rappahannock can fend off light pollution. Harman is an award-winning photographer. She showed her photographs and discussed all aspects of the night sky – why it matters, and how Rappahannock compares with other places, and how things are changing, and what steps local residents can take on their own.
December 2018, Cliff Mumm
Cliff Mumm, one of the world’s leading experts on rebuilding after disasters, spoke in December. Mumm was in charge of cleaning up the World Trade Center after 9/11, and trying to rebuild Iraq after the Gulf War, and coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These were immense and dangerous undertakings. In Iraq, after the overthrow of Saddam, fifty-two people working for Mumm were killed. Mumm told inside stories about such mega-projects as building the subway in London (with the Olympic games looming) and the Channel Tunnel linking England and France.
November 2018, George Pettie
Rappahannock novelist and historian George Pettie discussed his trilogy of novels set in Rappahannock. He also leads groups of readers on Rappahannock tours that he calls Walks Back in Time.
October 2018, Marion Winik
Marion Winik, acclaimed essayist (and Joyce Abell’s daughter-in-law), discussed her brand-new book. The Baltimore Book of the Dead is a series of mini-portraits of people, now dead, who played key roles in Winik’s life. The book is a follow-up to the much admired Glen Rock Book of the Dead. Winik teaches memoir writing at the University of Baltimore and is a long-time contributor to All Things Considered.
September 2018, Jack Ford
Jack Ford, a CBS and PBS news veteran, kicked off the new Second Friday season with a talk about a new novel set in Rappahannock. Chariot on the Mountain is based on a true courtroom case from the 1840s, about a young slave named Kitty who won her freedom fourteen years before the Civil War. Ford is an award-winning journalist and a former trial attorney with a particular interest in court cases where slaves argued that they had a legal right to freedom.
May 2018, Al Regnery and Stephen Brooks – a conversation from the left and right
JAl Regnery and Stephen Brooks had a stimulating conversation on many of the significant issue facing us today. Al and Stephen have built quite a following to their point-counterpoint classes at RappU. Al, the conservative, and Stephen, the liberal, dove into issues from their distinct perspectives and then entertained questions from the audience.
April 2018, Wil Sands
March 2018, Richard Chefetz
We heard from Richard Chefetz, an internationally known psychiatrist whose specialty is the treatment of trauma. He is renowned for his talent at describing to laymen what goes on behind therapists’ closed doors. Chefetz works daily with adults who endured childhood abuse or neglect or who survived battlefield or wartime hardships or violent attacks at work or at home. He was president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and has recently published a book on his therapeutic techniques.
Chefetz worked in Madison County as a family physician for a decade, from 1979 to 1989, and founded the Madison Family Practice Center. He is now based in Washington D.C., though he teaches and gives talks on his work around the world.
February 2018, John Beardsley
In honor of Black History Month, John Beardsley, an acclaimed art historian and a Rappahannock resident, discussed Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980, Then and Now. Beardsley’s talk had a double focus – he looked back at a stunningly successful exhibit he curated with Jane Livingston in 1982, and he discussed at the ongoing impact of that exhibition today.
January 2018, Norm Ornstein
Norm Ornstein, perhaps the most-honored political writer in America, spoke at the Little Washington Theatre (not at the library). Ornstein discussed his latest book, a runaway best-seller called One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet- Deported. A packed house (even the balcony was full) listened to Ornstein make a two-part argument: the Trump presidency was dangerous, but it had roused such opposition that it might lead to “an era of democratic renewal.” He won a standing ovation. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He had delivered a Second Friday talk, once before, exactly four years ago. His talk then revolved around an earlier book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. We’ll be posting videos of our talks whenever possible. Here’s the to Ornstein’s talk.
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