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If you’re in the continuing-ed demographic, the coming week is for you

If you are not among the demographic groups that spent the last few weeks going back to school, well, my inbox is positively groaning with continuing-ed opportunities being hosted by Twin Cities educators and civic leaders that you, Dear Reader, really might want to attend.

For starters, would you like to hear reviled and revered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange argue the case for posting leaked documents online, no matter how potentially explosive? Well, good luck. Assange has been avoiding travel to this side of the pond of late — he blew off a scheduled appearance at my favorite professional organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors, in June.

The closest you’re likely to come, then — and I’d argue it’s still a booking coup — is the 26th annual Silha lecture at the University of Minnesota’s Silha Center, based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Someone over there convinced British barrister and free-speech attorney Mark Stephens, who has defended Assange from extradition efforts, among other things, come to discuss his work.

Mark Stephens
Mark Stephens

Which is pretty interesting. Stephens has argued freedom of information cases in a number of courts around the world, including the Hague War Crimes Tribunal, where he defended a Washington Post correspondent who had been ordered to testify about atrocities he observed while covering the Yugoslav war.

“Free Speech and the Digital Challenge Around the Globe: A Conversation with Mark Stephens,” will take  place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Coffman Union Theater, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis. The event is free, open to the public and will include an audience Q&A. Brave, those Silha folks, to go in for free speech on the micro, as well as the macro, scale.

Economics and civil rights
No less controversial but likely a great deal quieter will be Friday’s weekly convocation at Carleton College. Gavin Wright is an economic historian, a leading authority on the American South today, and professor of American economic history at Stanford. His topic: “The Civil Rights Revolution as American Economic History: Who Gained? Who Lost?”

Did civil-rights gains of the 1960s provide economic benefits to African-Americans of all classes? If so, did gains come at the expense of whites? I have no idea where Wright lands on these questions, but his track record as a scholar might yield clues. In his most recent book, “Slavery and American Economic Development,” Wright argues that slavery held the south back in terms of economic growth, which had a negative economic impact on masters and slaves alike.

The presentation, again free and open to the public, will take place from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. (they just have to be different at Carleton, don’t they?) in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, located on First Street between College and Winona streets in Northfield.

My humble suggestion: You catch the talk, take notes on how to construct an argument that you can do well by doing good and then jet across the street for lunch at St. Olaf, which has officially snared best campus dining honors. (And yes, I do realize Carleton uses the same local, sustainable, irresistible catering company. Just trying to spread the love.)

Kaler on first 100 days
And you are coming to the next MinnPost Asks, aren’t you? The one next Monday, Oct. 3, where I get to interview Eric Kaler about, more or less, his first 100 days as the new president of the University of Minnesota? You are? Smart cookie, you.

Your shekels — $15 for current MinnPost donors, $15 for young professionals, $25 for others — will support great Twin Cities journalism. If that alone doesn’t tease the wallet from your hip pocket, the event takes place at Hell’s Kitchen, 80 South 9th St. in downtown Minneapolis, so the snacks and dessert bar alone justify the price of admission.

You’re not coming? All rright, but the only acceptable excuse is that you are so charmed by the following item you can’t stand it:

Do you remember the recent controversy over a proposal to locate a dog park in Martin Luther King Jr. Park at Nicollet Avenue South and West 40th Street? Neighbors of a variety of races and backgrounds thought an underused corner of the park would make a great place for canines and their two-legged escorts to chill. A number of African-Americans who recall the police practice of turning dogs onto civil-ights protesters in the South did not.

One Minneapolis One Read
It took a while, cartloads of checked assumptions and a lot of respectful listening, but for once community members heard one another out and learned something. The talks did not result in a dog park, but in One Minneapolis One Read, a first-of-its-kind invitation to the entire community to read the same book.

In “The Grace of Silence,” Minneapolis native and National Public Radio host Michele Norris describes what it was like to grow up in the first black family on a south Minneapolis block. The book is just out in paperback.

Norris and MPR host Kerri Miller will facilitate a discussion of the memoir at the Guthrie Theater at 7 p.m., Oct. 3. Seating is reserved; tickets are $10; $5 for seniors, students and people with limited incomes. 

What’s that? You’re as excited about this dialogue as I am but torn because you want to know whether U of M Prez Kaler actually had anyone in mind when he called out “boring” professors in his inaugural remarks last week?

Good thing Norris will discuss her work in other local venues next week, and that the fine folks at Minneapolis Public Schools, the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County Libraries have arranged other opportunities for dialogue.

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