Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
The Yakima Town Hall’s motto is, “Give us an hour…and we’ll bring you the world” – and boy do they deliver! From the top of Mt. Everest to the forest floor in Tanzania and beyond, Yakima Town Hall has been bringing the world to Yakima for more than 40 years through their speaker series.
Dreamed up by two Yakima women who wanted to enrich the community by bringing nationally and internationally recognized speakers from the literary, political, artistic, and business worlds, Peggy Lewis and Bella Rash made their dream a reality. Since its inception in the early 1970’s, the board has remained an all-female volunteer non-profit. And while they’ve had some men express interest in serving, the group likes the dynamic of an all-female mix.
From recognizable names like Laura Bush, to those a little less known like Jamling Norgay, the selection process is a “carefully orchestrated endeavor,” with each speaker candidate being researched, vetted, presented, and discussed.
“We have to have at least one headliner, who prompts patrons to consider the series,” said Debby Douglas, the Marketing Media Chair on the Yakima Town Hall Board. “Then we fill in the season with lesser known speakers who very often bring as much or more to the series than our headliners.”
Douglas has been serving on the board since 2006, but was immediately smitten with the organization when she moved here in 2001 and knew that she had to be a part of it.
“It is an organization whose work and members challenge my intellect, fire my imagination, and nurture my spirit through our united goal and camaraderie,” said Douglas who says she is a converted geography lover after Dutch geographer, Harm deBliji left her spellbound after his presentation.
“The speakers are very much representative of the human race in general,” shared Douglas who fondly remembers the time when Salman Rushdie used the euphemism, “That was when the excrement hit the mechanical device for moving air.”
While the group would love to have speakers like Christiane Amanpour, Steve Wozniak, Diane Sawyer or Queen Noor of Jordan on the docket, sometimes they just can’t afford it.
“If it weren’t for the generosity of our community’s private and business sponsors, our ticket prices would not support our series,” said Douglas. “It’s our hope that the series will continue to thrive, to grow stronger and more valuable with time. It is an integral part of our community; we wish it to remain so.”
The speaker series kicks off on October 1st with David Gergen and ends on April 22nd with Anna Quindlen. Tickets for this year's series are on sale now for $85 for all 4 speakers. To learn more about these speakers and the organization, click here.
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