Lecture series features world renowned speaker

— Created May 4, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

 He is a renowned cultural anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author, professor, photographer, filmmaker and explorer, and he is bringing his knowledge and expertise to Whidbey Island as the speaker for the eighth annual Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series, to be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley.

Dr. Wade Davis will present his lecture on “Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World” at this free event, sponsored by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. Doors open at 7 p.m. and limited seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

Davis’ appearance represents a move back to in-person appearances for the lecture series and his selection was carefully considered and planned.

“We spend several months each year deciding upon a speaker and a topic,” described Marshall Goldberg, one of the organizers of the Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series. “Suggestions for same often come from members of the planning committee who are aware of someone who has written a book or made a presentation that they think would be of interest to our community.

“In the case of Wade Davis, several committee members had heard him speak or had read some of his books, and they thought he would be interesting because of his unique background as a cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist studying diverse indigenous cultures around the world,” he continued. “They were impressed with his breadth and depth of knowledge of these cultures and felt he had had personally changed their views of the world. Moreover, with the Sno-Isle Libraries’ commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, it seemed entirely appropriate to have him as our speaker this year.”

According to Goldberg, it is the organizers’ goal to provide a wide variety of topics and speakers. Past lecturers have included Bob Whitsitt, a former manager for the Seattle Seahawks; K.C. Golden and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, leaders in climate change activism; Jill Tietjen, a women’s historian and electrical engineer; internationally acclaimed photographer Chris Jordan; Dr. Robert Williams, former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute; and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who helped expose the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich.

This wide-ranging series of speakers and topics is something of which the lecture series’ namesake would heartily approve, Goldberg feels, and believes it pays proper tribute to a well-known and well-loved individual.

“The series started as a way to remember a remarkable member of our Island County community,” he said. “Trudy Sundberg was a beloved Oak Harbor High School teacher who taught there for 35 years and changed the lives of hundreds of students. She developed special relationships with everyone she met and for many of them, she became their mentor. Over her lifetime, she was engaged in numerous civic activities and had many accomplishments. The Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series was designed to bring a speaker of renown who could inform and inspire our audiences on topics that Trudy would have found of interest.”

Goldberg said it was important these lectures be free and open to the public and it was equally important speakers also address students at one of the local high schools. Because their missions overlapped, the lecture series became affiliated with Sno-Isle Libraries and its foundation, enabling them to share resources.

Organizers also share a “Trudy Tribute” at the beginning of each presentation, to give audiences an idea of what it was like to know Sundberg. Goldberg said as far as he can determine, this lecture series is one of only three in the state that memorializes an individual. He said he thinks she would be pleased.

“I think she would love the fact that we strive to keep her spirit alive by honoring her lifelong commitment to explore and exchange information, ideas, and opinions in an environment of respect and consideration,” he said. “She would also appreciate the variety of the speakers and topics that we’ve brought to the Whidbey Island community and our mission to engage our lecturers with the local high school students and teachers.”

Goldberg said it is also nice to be able to return to an in-person format after two years of COVID-forced virtual events.

“Virtual events just don’t have the ‘vibe’ that one gets sitting in a large audience and watching and hearing other people’s reactions to our lecturer’s presentation and the responses to their questions,” he said. “In the past, the Trudy Sundberg lectures have provided an opportunity for attendees to socialize before and after the lecture and in doing so, create a sense of community.”

Without the support of the volunteers who organize the lecture series and the support of Sno-Isle Libraries and its foundation, Goldberg said the series simply wouldn’t be possible.

“It is costly to bring renowned speakers to Whidbey Island and offer lectures that are free and open to the public,” he said. “This would not be possible without the generous financial support of individuals, local businesses and foundations. I am grateful for that support and hope that we can continue to offer memorable presentations that enrich the lives of people in our community.”

Learn more about Dr. Wade Davis at daviswade.com or about Friday’s appearance at wicaonline.org. Learn more about the Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series at sno-islefoundation.org/trudy-sundberg/.