Journal of the
              Lecture Series

 Volume 3, Issue 5
In This Issue
Because of my work schedule, I was unable to attend most of the lectures between March 21 and May 15. Having the chance to read the recaps for that time period was wonderful and serves as a pointed reminder why WMG has made speaker recaps a vital component of its archival material. Not only are members given the opportunity to 'catch-up' on missed speakers, but our recappers make it possible to get a broader picture of the content of any given year; the archive could even be used to help the program committee as they craft invigorating programs for the members. 

We're not sure it is possible to say 'thank you' enough to all of the folks who sign up to write recaps throughout the year...but thank you! Not only are you prepared to split your focus during the lecture, but you also share wonderful insights along the way. We have a number of volunteers, and each brings their unique writing style to the process; that is what makes the recaps so interesting to read! We try to maintain a light editorial touch, respecting the individual voice of the recap writer, and enjoy the moments of personal connection that are ofttimes revealed.

We have our usual breadth of fascinating speakers covered in this issue - lucky us! We hope that you find the contributions of your WMG friends as satisfying and engaging as we have.  Enjoy!

Adrienne Athanas
Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind
Jamie Lowe--March 27, 2019

Jamie Lowe
Photo courtesy of MacMillan
After 20-plus years on lithium for treatment of bipolar disorder, Jaime Lowe found herself experiencing seriously high blood pressure and significant damage to her kidneys because of the medication. She could either continue the drug that had stabilized her and likely undergo a kidney transplant, or she could try to find another medication that might work for her. Though she chose the latter, she was terrified at the prospect that another medication might not be effective. The process wasn't easy. Though she adjusted over time to another drug, Depacote, she still struggles with its side effects.
Jaime shared this very personal story with us. She candidly talked about her early manic episodes when she was hallucinating and delusional, and her eventual hospitalization and bipolar diagnosis at age 16. Kept in seclusion during her hospital stay, she thought her restraints were proof of her super-hero abilities and importance. After diagnosis, she stabilized on lithium, successfully completed college, worked as a writer, and did well until age 25, when she tried to taper off medication. A manic episode and set-back followed. She later resumed taking lithium and relied on it until she learned it was a risk to her kidneys and her life. 
Jamie Lowe's memoir,  Mental, focuses on the use of lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder.
Jaime also talked about the hard road to escape the grip of her bipolar disorder, and shared some of the insights gained on the journey. She talked about how hard it was to accept her diagnosis, and then to have the discipline and self-awareness required to keep taking medication, especially in view of side effects. Now in her early 40s, Jaime has not had a manic episode since the one at age 25. Asked what advice she would give her younger self, she simply said "trust the people around you who love you."  She didn't always do so. 

Though initially reluctant to write about herself, Jaime recounts her struggles with bipolar disorder in her memoir, Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind. She explained the book was a product of her introspection when she discontinued lithium and searched for another effective medication. Writing also as an investigative journalist, her book presents the history, uses, and controversies around lithium, a critical medication for millions.  In her memoir and in other writing, Jaime applies her own life experience in addition to focusing on telling authentic stories that aren't typically heard. When, in her role as a writer, she asks people their stories, she views what they share as a gift.
Recap by  Mara Primosch
Jaime commented she was lucky medication worked to help her be functional. To  say she is "functional" is a gross understatement. She is a respected author and  journalist, frequent  contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and her work has appeared in New York magazine, EsquireSports Illustrated, Maxim, GawkerThe  Village VoiceLA Weekly, and on Her first book, Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB, is a biography of Ol' Dirty  Bastard, a New York rap star. Her article, The Incarcerated Women Who Fight  California's Wildfires, was optioned for a film she will produce. She also is working on a nonfiction book, Breathing Fire: On the Front Line with California's Female Inmate Firefighters, and a This American Life episode on trauma therapy.

Invited by Jill Gendelman
Fact or Fiction? Journalists Help Students Learn to Tell the Difference
Alan Miller--April 3, 2019

Alan Miller
Photo from The News Literacy Project
Children are often what propel our efforts to make the world a better place, and this was the case for Alan Miller, who spoke to us about his work to improve news literacy among middle and high school students. In 2006, Miller, then a DC-based reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was already concerned about how his sixth-grade daughter evaluated the deluge of news coming at her from diverse sources, when the opportunity arose to speak to her class about his profession. He jumped at the chance, and sometime after his presentation, he was confronted with another type of deluge: 175 thank you notes sent to him by his daughter's classmates. The wide array of thoughtful responses prompted him to think about the impact that journalists could have if they shared their expertise more broadly with students across the nation. Two years later, Miller launched The News Literacy Project (NLP) with a small grant from the Knight Foundation.
Information is the basis for decision making, said Miller. For this reason, it's especially important for young people, who are planning their futures and learning to become good citizens, to know how to separate fact from fiction. NLP began in a few pilot schools, including Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, by developing lesson plans for teachers and bringing journalists into the classroom to hold workshops. While the pilots were promising, Miller soon realized that the approach wasn't scalable. 
To expand the program's reach, Miller decided -- a bit ironically -- to turn to the power of the internet, and launched Checkology, a virtual classroom that consists of a set of 13 interactive lessons run by journalists and other experts. The lessons teach basic journalistic terms and concepts, such as the First Amendment, evidence, news, opinion, and propaganda. The students then use the concepts to analyze information drawn from diverse sources, such as raw footage, social media posts, and articles with contradictory claims. Thanks to these kinds of exercises, students learn what information they can trust, share, and act upon.
Recap by Kirstie Saltsman
Judging from the numbers, the Checkology program has had significant impact: 88% of students who have used it say they are more confident in spotting misinformation, 80% say they are more likely to vote when they're old enough, and 76% say they're more confident in explaining the role of the First Amendment in American democracy. Use of Checkology has become widespread, with 17,900 educators now using the platform.
NLP also holds 11-12 camps per year for teachers, several in the D.C. area, and in spring 2019 it plans to come full circle by launching an initiative to bring journalists into classrooms in person or through video chat applications.

To learn more about NLP visit their Website or subscribe to their newsletter.

Invited by Terri Silver
Seeing Green
Anca Novacovici--April 10, 2019

Anca Novacovici
Photo from A. Novacovici
April is Earth Month, and guest speaker Anca Novacovici shared how she took her passion for the environment to power a professional journey that eventually led to her founding her own firm 13 years ago: Eco-Coach Inc. Anca is married, and when she became a mother she re-charted her professional journey to enable her to continue pursuing her passions while also giving her time to focus on her young family. Anca works with clients, has written two publications on green careers and business sustainability, is a Huffington Post blogger, and professional speaker.

Anca explained that making a dent in the climate change challenge requires more than individual and government action. Businesses need to lead the way too, and as consumers we can patronize organizations that implement sustainable practices and have corporate values that include a commitment to making a positive social impact. We can also encourage businesses we frequent to up their game on sustainability.
Recap by Vera Ashworth

Anca shared with WMG the pending launch of her latest Eco-Coach project -- The Sustainability Accelerator program. This program enables small- and medium-sized businesses to identify, plan, implement, track, and communicate a sustainability project at their own pace without an on-site consultant or sustainability specialist. 

To learn more about Anca and her work, including downloadable sheets to help businesses make the office greener, how restaurants can reduce waste, and how firms can save energy and money at the office, visit her website.

Go-go Green!

Invited by Vera Ashworth
Cooking Gave Her Back Her Roots 
Pati Jinich--April 24, 2019

Pati Jinich
Photo from P. Jinich
Pati Jinich started cooking out of homesickness for her native Mexico. She grew up in a close-knit Jewish family in Mexico City, where food -- such as chopped liver with guacamole -- was a big part of family life. She had always been enthusiastic about eating, but instead pursued a career in public policy, focusing on Latin American politics and history. 

After many years away from Mexico, she began to feel rootless, with no solid ground to stand on. She started "stalking" shoppers in the market who she saw buying cactus paddles or jalapenos and asked them how they used their ingredients and how they prepared their tamales and salsa. People willingly shared their recipes and stories with her, and Pati says she "started to eat her way back to Mexico."
While working as a policy analyst at a prestigious Washington, DC think tank, she
found herself reading the food section of the newspaper more than the policy news. With her husband Dany's encouragement, she summoned the courage to quit her  job and to take a nighttime course at L'Academie de Cuisine. She soon developed her own innovative style  of cooking Mexican food by learning to play wit h ingredients, such as mac 'n cheese with poblanos, bacon, corn, and zucchini; and brisket with tomatillos and pasilla chiles, dark brown sugar, and onions. ("Just cook it until it falls apart," Pati says.)
Pati Jinich's book, Mexican Today, provides recipes for everyday meals.

Her first foray behind the camera was as Resident Chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC, where she did cooking demonstrations, held tasting dinners, did fundraising, and built a curriculum from scratch. After seeing her on camera, The Food Network offered her a cooking show IF she would be willing to color her hair darker, get a dog, cook "Pan Latin food" instead of "ethnic" Mexican food, and, most notably, "fix her accent." She says having no accent and no roots was not a worthy prize, even if it meant giving up the chance to have a show on a major food network.

Luckily for us, WETA/PBS said "yes" without those conditions, and Pati's Mexican Table was born. Now in its eighth season and broadcast to millions of viewers nationwide, the show has garnered the prestigious James Beard award, including one for Outstanding Personality/Host. In each episode, Pati embarks on a culinary adventure focusing on a single Mexican food, such as vanilla, avocado, or chorizo, and how it has been used both historically and today. For example, season 8
Recap by Francesca Frey Kim
focuses on the vivid cuisine and culture of Sinaloa, a coastal state long considered "the breadbasket of Mexico." 

Pati keeps it real by filming cooking episodes in her own home kitchen, often including roles for one or more of her three enthusiastic sons. She has written two best-selling cookbooks:  Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking and Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes.

Invited by Julie Goodman
Innocence on Trial
Rick Bowers--May 1, 2019

Rick Bowers
Photo from R. Bowers 
Carol O'Toole introduced guest Rick Bowers, an award-winning author and journalist specializing in the quest for social justice and equal rights. Though he's the author of two nonfiction books and a PBS documentary, his talk focused on his debut novel, a legal thriller titled Innocence on Trial. The book follows an idealistic young attorney who seeks to exonerate a man she believes was wrongfully imprisoned for murder, while she figures out who is stalking her, and why. 
Innocence on Trial, a legal thriller by Rick Bowers
The idea for the book came to Bowers while at the dog park in Silver Spring. There, he met a young woman who was studying innocence law, a legal specialty that focuses on exonerating those wrongly convicted of a crime. The strong women in his life -- his wife and daughters -- helped him shape the main character, and he dug into the research. 
Bowers was astounded at what he learned. He got to know the Innocence Network, an affiliation of 67 organizations from all over the world dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. The use of DNA evidence has been instrumental in exonerating innocent people and increasing awareness of the causes of wrongful conviction mis-identification, flawed science (problems in state labs),
Recap by Shelby Settles Harper
false confessions, and inadequate defense counsel. 

Bowers chose to tell the story through fiction because he wanted to create a drama that might draw people in. From the little snippets Bowers treated us to, it's clear Innocence on Trial is a thrilling read. It's also sure to be an educational journey through the darker parts of the American criminal justice system. 


Invited by Lauren Kafka
Aging Matters
Cheryl Beversdorf--May 8, 2019

Cheryl Beversdorf
  Photo from LinkedIn
With 121 recorded radio shows and 7 television shows under her belt, Cheryl Beversdorf has ample experience to share. She provided us a glimpse into her journey from nursing student to radio host. It was likely an unintended consequence but an enlightening experience to understand how she moved from one career to another: responding to new insights, personal learning, following her passions, and utilizing her talents as they presented themselves. 

For now, Cheryl works as a volunteer with Arlington Independent Media, hosting a radio show called Aging Matters on WERA-LP 96.7, where she explores a wide variety of age-related topics ranging from sleep to funeral planning to useful products. Through interviews with experts in their fields, Cheryl provides a conduit for awareness, understanding, and education. One memorable piece of information shared was the acronym for stroke awareness: 

Cheryl shared a recorded sample of both a radio show and television interview.
Recap by Cathy Bamji
Everything has been preserved online, where you can access all previous shows.  The best way to access these is to go to the Aging Matters Facebook page (yes, you can do this even if you don't have your own Facebook page) .  Here you will find access to all current and past shows as well as a way to subscribe to future programs so you don't miss anything. Just about anything you can imagine is being explored on the Aging Matters show -- set some time aside and explore.

Invited by Katie Meskill
The WMG meets most Wednesdays, September to June, at the
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church,  9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD

Laura Forman

Adrienne Athanas

Kirstie Saltsman
Adrienne Athanas
Pat Cascio
Karen Deasy
Harri j. Kramer
Cathryn Meurer
Melinda Robbins
Kirstie Saltsman

Lisa Forte