‘Tis the season – for the Crosscut Festival

This year it’s online only - and free

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Keep the first week of May open

Over the past few years, the Crosscut Festival has become a harbinger of spring and of a region flexing its urban, cultural and philosophical muscles as it takes on a continually stronger and deeper influence on the economy, technology and values of both the immediate as well as the larger region – if not national, even international, businesses and communities.

In previous years nearly 2,000 people would gather in Seattle to raise issues, post questions and advocate for causes both local and global, immediate and eventual.

Past speakers have included presidential candidates, prominent writers and journalists as well as leaders across political and cultural spectrums.

The premise of the Crosscut Festival is simple; any issue, no matter how complex or ordinary, no matter how intimidating or seemingly overwhelming, can be discussed, faced, and, to some degree at least, be resolved.

Beyond the scheduled events, current Crosscut podcasts can be found here – https://crosscut.com/podcasts and many previous talks and presentations can be heard here – https://crosscut.com/podcast/crosscut-talks.

Like everything else it seems, the Crosscut Festival of 2021 bears little resemblance to its usual form.

This year the Crosscut Festival, which is traditionally at a single location for a single weekend, will instead be virtual (online) stretched over six days (May 3-8).

As always, the Crosscut Festival will address issues, policies, events and values across politics, culture, the economy and the environment.

When it comes to the environment, the Crosscut Festival will not disappoint. With speakers as prominent and provocative as Jane Goodall, Bill Nye and Peter Singer along with journalists and researchers literally from across the globe – and in many disciplines, you are sure to hear of mind-boggling discoveries, convergences and maybe even a cause for hope now and then.

Representing politics this year will be nationally known figures like U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota; Nancy Pelosi, first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives; Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; and Pramila Jayapal, who was elected to Congress in 2016 to represent the Seattle area.

Exploring and explicating the economy will be, among others, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich and noted urbanist, Richard Florida.

Helping us navigate the ever shifting landscape of race and technology, you can encounter journalists like Ross Douthat from the New York Times, author Jillian C. York, Sonia Shah, Heather Cox Richardson, Dahlia Lithwick, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, Soledad O’Brien, Errin Haines, Michael Harriot and Judy Woodruff from PBS.

And for a taste of the future of travel, don’t miss local travel guru Rick Steves.

I’ve attended the IRL (In Real Life) Crosscut Festival for several years now, and I always rave about it and find much to consider and reframe my thoughts about emerging issues many months, even years later.

In 2015, Crosscut merged with KCTS 9 public television under the umbrella of a single nonprofit called Cascade Public Media. Since then, a combined staff of reporters, video producers and web developers fill an essential role in the Northwest’s news ecosystem, focusing on politics and public policy, race and equity, arts and culture and the environment telling stories and providing context and analysis that helps us understand our fast-changing region and how each one of us can make our voices heard and be a part of shaping it for the better.

Crosscut Festival Schedule

Beginning Monday morning, May 3 at 11 am you can join events, speakers and, this year at least, fellow attendees from around the world as we listen, learn and interact with those who are defining – and redefining – who we are, what matters to us and where we are going – as individuals, as communities, and to some degree, as human participants in a set of systems and processes we are just beginning to understand.

You can see the full schedule and get tickets here – https://festival.crosscut.com/schedule.

Some sessions, or excerpts from sessions, will be broadcast on KCTS – 9.

Is this what conferences and conventions will look like from now on?

As many of us are (involuntarily) learning, concerts, conventions and events like this are adapting – and some are even prospering.

The in-person model for gatherings had its inherent limitations in terms of cost, location and accessibility.

Flights, accommodations and convention centers, even for those few who looked forward to the events, were always an expensive, time-consuming ordeal.

But now, students, schools and organizations from around the world can participate in, or at least get a taste of the best of global – and sometimes hyper-local – thinking on issues that seem to affect us all.

Perhaps we will incorporate the best of both formats in the future with a free “virtual” component and a “real-life” version for those who can attend physically.

I love actual gatherings, but, like everyone, I can’t always justify or allow for the time or expense of a distant event.

Perhaps, even when COVID is a distant memory, a vibrant mix of virtual and physical meetings – and perhaps to some degree at least – open to anyone, anywhere and at no cost, will be our new standard.

In this, as well as many other ways, the Crosscut Festival, is leading the way.

Don’t miss it.