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Against the Grain Speaker Series Features Bill Ayers and Other Leading Voices

Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary's College of California
[email protected]


What: The January Term Speaker Series at Saint Mary's College features Bill Ayers and four other distinguished speakers throughout the month. This year's theme, "Against the Grain," reflects the provocative stance the speakers have taken on issues ranging from politics to sustainable living. Bill Ayers was a political lightning rod during Barack Obama's recent race for the presidency because of the president-elect's association with the former 1960s radical. Ayers headlines the speaker series, which also includes: Doug Fine, author of Farewell, My Subaru; Davey D, Bay Area hip hop historian; Chris Carlsson, co-founder of the Critical Mass bicycle movement; and Marilyn Wann, body image activist and editor of the magazine Fat! So?.

During the intense January Term, students step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that often embody the Lasallian tradition of social action. The "Against The Grain" theme of the Jan Term 2009 Speaker Series is in keeping with that tradition.

When: Jan. 7, 7 p.m.: Doug Fine: "Off-the-Grid and Against the Grain." (public lecture)

Doug Fine is the author of Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living and a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. A true believer in local sustainable living practices, Fine surrendered a life of relative privilege for off-the-grid simplicity. He will share his thoughts on living a solar-powered and fully sustainable lifestyle and achievable ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Jan. 12, 7 p.m.: Chris Carlsson: "Against Traffic & Against the Grain" (public lecture)

Chris Carlsson is a founding member of the Critical Mass bicycle protest collective. Carlsson provides a unique perspective in living life against the flow of the mainstream and will discuss his new book: Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today.

Jan. 13, 7 p.m.: Davey D: "Hip Hop Politics" (public lecture)

Davey D is a premier hip-hop historian, journalist, deejay, and community activist. He is also the co-founder of the Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition, a member of the Bay Area Black Journalist Association. A regular contributor to KALX, KPFA and KMEL radio, he will address his concerns about the relationship between government and media in the U.S.

Jan. 21, 7 p.m.: Marilyn Wann: "The Real F-Word" (public lecture)

Marilyn Wann is the editor of the magazine FAT! SO? and a contributor to the Fat Studies Reader. As a self-proclaimed happy, proud fat person, Wann will speak on the need for women, and men, to think outside of the image expectations of mainstream U.S. society and re-imagine our sense of weight-based physical ideals.

Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.: Bill Ayers: "Trudging Toward Freedom" (public lecture)

Bill Ayers is a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has just released the Handbook of Social Justice in Education. He is noted for his work in education reform and also for his controversial history as a founder of the Weather Underground. He will discuss his life and work and their inevitable intersection in the pursuit of social justice.

Where: Saint Mary's College of California, 1928 St. Mary's Rd., Moraga. All public lectures are free, open to the community and will be held at the Soda Center.

Background: Presented over the college's January Term, the speaker series reflects the "Against the Grain" theme of the school's innovative four-week session where students are challenged to think in new ways and explore social justice issues as part of the College's Lasallian heritage. During the day the speakers will meet with several classes and participate in a lunch time roundtable discussion with students and a free public lecture follows in the evening.