Town Hall Seattle Civics Series-logo

Town Hall Seattle Civics Series


The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.

The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.


United States


The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.








288. Lily Geismer with Margaret O’Mara: How Democrats Have Failed to Solve Income Inequality

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the U.S. has reached its present state over decades and centuries of political decision-making, not just a handful of years. Every move builds on the last, doing and undoing the work of former leadership while facing new crises on top of the old. Is it possible to call out poor policy choices of the past, understand how things went awry, and take meaningful steps forward without partisan finger-pointing? In her new book, Left Behind, political historian...


287. Robert W. Gehl and Sean T. Lawson: Propaganda, Deception, and the Manipulation of Information

The United States is awash in manipulated information about everything from election results to the effectiveness of medical treatments. Corporate social media is a particularly effective channel for manipulative communication — Facebook being a particularly willing vehicle for it, as evidenced by the increased use of warning labels on false or misleading posts. Not to mention the inconsistent, confusing, and controversy-stirring ways that comments and posts are moderated in social media...


286. Mónica Guzmán with David Horsey: How to Stay Fearlessly Curious in Divided Times

There’s no way around it — it’s a challenging time in America. Societies have lived through pandemics and political strife before, but never with powerful tools like social media and the Internet. It makes for a special brand of division that most of us have experienced in some way, from dinner table arguments with relatives to heated interactions at the grocery store. Have we forgotten how to interact and connect, despite our differences? Journalist Mónica Guzmán knows the struggle all too...


285. Howard Zehr and Barb Toews with Omari Amili and Freddie Nole: Stories and Portraits of Life Sentences in Prison

Each night in the United States, more than 200,000 people incarcerated in state and federal prisons — 1 in 7 prisoners — will go to sleep facing the reality that they may die without ever returning home. In 1996, criminal justice activist and photographer Howard Zehr published Doing Life, a book of photo portraits of individuals serving life sentences without the possibility of parole at a prison in Pennsylvania. The book gave a voice to the human beings in front of the camera lens,...


284. Patrick Sylvain, Jalene Tamerat, and Marie Lily Cerat with Danielle McKoy: Immigration, Race, and Identity in the Classroom

Students today face a barrage of stressors that impact every corner of their lives, from academic and social stress to family dynamics and personal trauma. The added layers of non-inclusive school environments, along with the unique challenges of immigrant and first-generation students, only contribute to students’ stress and anxiety. In their new book, Education Across Borders, educators and co-authors Patrick Sylvain, Jalene Tamerat, and Marie Lily Cerat contended that the practices and...


283. Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of Big Brother in America

Most Americans are well aware that companies like Facebook are harvesting our data, but do we fully understand how their information is being used — and misused? In his new book, The Hidden History of Big Brother in America, radio host and bestselling author Thom Hartmann revealed exactly how the government and corporations track our online moves and use our data to buy elections, employ social control, and monetize our lives. Hartmann traced the history of surveillance and social control,...


282. Laura Shin with Steve Scher: The Making of the Cryptocurrency Craze

Cryptocurrency has been making steady waves — no doubt because of its almost too-good-to-pass-up promise of fortune that isn’t consistently regulated or controlled by any single authority. And while Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gone through booms and busts, they aren’t going anywhere: at the time of this writing, the value of all crypto assets is estimated at $3 trillion. In her new book, The Cryptonians, journalist Laura Shin described how cryptocurrency experienced a downturn...


281. Elie Mystal with Shaun Scott: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

Casual political discussions are anything but easy to navigate. Committing each of the 4,500+ words in the U.S. Constitution to memory and interpreting them effectively in conversation is a near-futile effort for the average American. To effectively engage in discussions — and often, arguments — about American politics, we might think we need a law degree; but perhaps what we need is a sharper, more accessible lens through which to interpret the U.S. Constitution. The Nation contributor and...


280. Nick Timiraos with David Wessel: How Jay Powell and the Fed Prevented Economic Disaster

The inner workings of the Federal Reserve System are an enigma to most of us. But as the early months of 2020 unfolded with a massive public health crisis, huge drops in the stock market, and millions of jobs lost, the actions of the Federal Reserve were critical in preventing sudden economic disaster. Nick Timiraos, chief economics correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, took readers behind the scenes of the Federal Reserve in his new book, Trillion Dollar Triage. Through extensive...


279. Erik Larson with Mary Ann Gwinn—The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Bestselling author Erik Larson is widely known for masterful works of narrative nonfiction, and has a particular penchant for drawing a certain richness from historical snapshots — the kinds of topics typically relegated to the footnotes of conventional history books. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Larson said, “My mission is to try to create as rich a historical experience as I can for the reader, so that when they’re done with the book, they come out of it feeling like...


278. Tiffanie Drayton with Krystal A. Sital: Black Womanhood and the Toll of Racism

In the early ’90s, young Tiffanie Drayton and her siblings left Trinidad and Tobago to join their mother in New Jersey, where she’d been making her way as a domestic worker, eager to give her children a shot at the American Dream. At first, life in the U.S. was idyllic. But chasing good school districts with affordable housing left Tiffanie and her family constantly uprooted – moving from Texas to Florida then back to New Jersey. As Tiffanie came of age in the suburbs, she began to ask...


277. Jacob Mchangama with C.E. Bick: A History of Free Speech from Socrates to Social Media

Freedom of speech or expression is a fundamental element of democracy around the globe. Many countries have adopted constitutional laws that protect free speech; it’s also recognized as an international human rights law by the United Nations. But (and there’s always a but) free speech isn’t cut and dry, and interpretation of the not-so-simple right can vary from region to region and during times of social or political unrest. Danish lawyer and human rights advocate Jacob Mchangama has been...


276. Howard W. French with Drego Little: A Vital Reframing of World History

When we think about how the “modern world” came to be, history tends to focus on Eurocentric milestones: The Age of Discovery, which centered the expeditions of seafaring European explorers; the scientific contributions of great thinkers like Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Descartes, and Galileo; and countless other narratives centered on Western achievements. But despite attempts to push an entire continent to the outskirts of global history, as Howard W. French argued in his new book Born in...


275. Jules Boykoff with Bill Radke: A Critical Take on Sports and Capitalism

The Olympic Games are no stranger to political controversy; a look back at over a century of modern Olympic history reveals countless boycotts, scandals, and international conflicts. Jules Boykoff, professor of political science, writer, and former professional and Olympic soccer player, is no stranger to writing about the Games through a critical lens. Bolstered by extensive research and first-hand experience, his latest book, NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in...


274. Diane C. Fujino and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez: A Contemporary Look at Asian American Activism

Can we transform our society through unruly resistance, defiant love, and radical care? Two highly respected and widely-published scholars, Diane C. Fujino and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, think it’s possible. In their new book, Contemporary Asian American Activism: Building Movements for Liberation, they brought together stories of lived experiences, lessons, and triumphs from grassroots Asian American organizers and scholar-activists fighting for transformative justice. In the struggles for...


273. David Cay Johnston with Sarah Reyneveld: How Donald Trump Fleeced America

It’s not uncommon for commentary about former president Trump’s spending habits to be met with raised eyebrows and stifled chuckles; soundbites about golf resorts and hotel empires induce a special kind of side-eye when they pop in and out of the news. But beyond anecdotes, most Americans probably don’t know the colossal extent of Trump’s spending. How bad was it? Bad, argued Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston. According to Johnston, Trump’s self-beneficial money machine...


272. Jeffrey S. Sutton with Joe Nguyen—State v. Federal: Who Decides the Law?

In September of 2021, Senate Bill 8 passed in the state of Texas. With it, some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country were enacted into law, going against the constitutional rights established in the landmark Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade. Such a critical legal interpretation can prompt review of the perennial question: who should get to decide on major questions of public policy today — the federal government, or state courts and state constitutions? The Honorable...


271. Gregg Mitman with Kerri Arsenault: How Liberia Was Transformed Into America’s Rubber Empire

Rubber is one of those things that goes unnoticed most days, even though our modern lives depend on it for building supplies, medical and industrial equipment, and so many things that help us get around. Despite its tendency to fade into the background, the story of rubber, particularly U.S. rubber, is one worth noticing. In the early 1920s, Americans owned 80 percent of the world’s automobiles and consumed 75 percent of the world’s rubber. At the same time, global demand for rubber...


270. Timothy Frye with Michael Rawding: How Putin’s Russia Really Works

When it comes to Russian politics, public discussion tends to zero in on either Russia’s unique history and culture or the omnipotence of Vladimir Putin, who has held positions of power in the country since 1999. But based on over 30 years of research and first-hand experience, scholar Timothy Frye’s latest book, Weak Strongman, suggests that Russian politics extend far beyond the authority of Putin. Thanks to decades of experiences that offer a rare glimpse into the many complexities of...


269. erin Khuê Ninh with Takeo Rivera: Model Minority Identity and the Pressure for Excellence

In 2007, Azia Kim pretended to be a Stanford freshman and even lived in the school’s dormitory for several months. In 2010, Jennifer Pan hired a hitman to kill her parents after they found out she had been deceiving them about her educational successes. Why would someone make such an illogical choice? And how do they stage such convincing lies for so long? erin Khuê Ninh considered what drives people to such extreme lengths in her book, Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other...