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General Topic Areas:

Business and the Workplace

  • Appreciative Inquiry: Strengths-based Planning and Organizational Development

    Appreciative Inquiry is a new way of leading positive change that can be rapid, sustainable, and transformative. It is a way of being and of seeing, a strengths-based approach to change. It assumes that every human system—a department, a classroom, a company, or an entire community—has something that works right, something that gives it life when it is vital, effective, and successful. Appreciative Inquiry begins by identifying this positive core and connecting to it in ways that heighten energy, sharpen vision, and inspire action for change. The process can be used to build teams, conduct strategic planning, improve and enhance communication in organizations, find common ground, and create an appreciative, positive climate for change.

    Presenter: Lane Glenn

  • Education and Workforce Development: Meeting the Needs of Merrimack Valley Employers

    In the 19th century, America’s Industrial Revolution was born in the Merrimack Valley, and ever since the region has been known for its industry, its productivity, and its innovation. Riverfront mills and carriage shops have been replaced today by high tech manufacturing facilities, architectural and software design companies, life sciences and financial services operations, and a booming healthcare industry. The workforce in the Valley is growing faster than the rest of the Commonwealth, even as it is getting younger and much more diverse through a rapidly growing immigrant population. This presentation explores what all this means for employers, for education and training, and for public policy.

    Presenter: Lane Glenn

  • Thinking Differently About the Economy:
    A Community Based Approach to Creating Opportunity

    This presentation explores the dismal science of economics through a brighter lens. A community based approach to understanding the economy can help communities and individual community members better position themselves for cyclical downturns and upturns. With an introduction to community economic development as an alternative approach to pure capitalism and an emphasis on financial literacy, the roles of the market system and government intervention are explored in a creative way that forces us all to think differently about current economic conditions. Local, regional, national, and global economies have all been hit hard by this latest recession. This presentation takes a systems approach utilizing theories of individual and collective agency to employ an action based framework for creating opportunity, especially during challenging economic conditions. There is a bright side to the dismal science!

    Presenter: Patricia Machado

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Criminal Justice

  • The Real CSI

    If you watch television shows like “CSI”, you might think that assessing crime scenes is a relatively simple or routine task. It is not! In this seminar, we will learn about the “do’s and don’ts” of evidence collection and processing. We will review famous American murders (i.e. Nicole Simpson and Marilyn Sheppard cases) and we will find out what happens when evidence is not processed properly.

    Presenter: Paul Caven

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Deaf Culture


  • Choosing the Right College for You

    After high school, when changing careers, or looking to improve our futures, many of us are faced with bewildering options for further education. Should I go to a two-year college for an associate’s degree in a specific field? Should I begin at a two- year college at less expense and then transfer my credits to a four-year institution? This is an information session for parents, teens, and all families which will help you formulate your goals, take advantage of the many educational opportunities available today, and make a smart decision about your educational future.

    Presenter: Trish Machado

  • Community Colleges: an American Invention

    Community colleges, often called “Democracy’s Colleges,” are an American invention. While other countries have traditional universities, vocational schools, and other forms of higher education, America invented the idea of a public, two-year “bridge” between high schools and four-year colleges and universities. Community colleges open their doors to everyone and embody American democratic principles like opportunity, access, and service to local community. In this lively, interactive presentation, you’ll take a community college “quiz” (for prizes!) and learn more about the role of Democracy’s Colleges, including NECC, in our community.

    Presenter: Lane Glenn

  • Education and Workforce Development: Meeting the Needs of Merrimack Valley Employers

    In the 19th century, America’s Industrial Revolution was born in the Merrimack Valley, and ever since the region has been known for its industry, its productivity, and its innovation. Riverfront mills and carriage shops have been replaced today by high tech manufacturing facilities, architectural and software design companies, life sciences and financial services operations, and a booming healthcare industry. The workforce in the Valley is growing faster than the rest of the Commonwealth, even as it is getting younger and much more diverse through a rapidly growing immigrant population. This presentation explores what all this means for employers, for education and training, and for public policy.

    Presenter: Lane Glenn

  • It’s Not How Smart You Are; It’s How You Are Smart

    A successful person is not always someone who is “book smart”. In fact, many people are extremely successful because of other strengths such as interpersonal intelligence. This presentation will address the theory of multiple intelligences which was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. Gardner’s theory suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

    • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”):
    • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
    • Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
    • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
    • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
    • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
    • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
    • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

    This presentation is appropriate for anyone interested in identifying strengths and working from a strengths based perspective, including parents, students, teachers or a general audience. Participants will identify their strongest intelligence and find out how it impacts their abilities in all aspects of their lives including school, work, and within the family.

    Presenter: Deirdre Budzyna

  • Joining the Academic Community: Making a successful transition to school

    You’ve made the decision and done the paperwork; now that school is in the future for you or your student, how do you take the next steps? How do you organize your life for success? What should you expect, and how should you prepare? Dr. Melissa Juchniewicz will welcome you into the larger academic community as she provides you with strategies and techniques that will help you to focus on what is important, and to avoid the time-traps and stress-makers. As a private consultant, she guided many students and parents toward successful transitions. She will demonstrate how, with a few changes to environments and habits, anyone can take advantage of the joyful adventure of learning. This is a wonderful presentation for the high school student or their parents, or for adults who want to further their education and don’t know where to begin.

    Presenter: Melissa Juchniewicz

  • Redefining Gender Equity in Education

    This presentation examines the historical, cultural, educational, biological, and chemical causes for the crisis in male academic performance and offers some strategies for retaining males and helping them graduate.

    Presenter: Suzanne Van Wert

  • Save the Males!

    Young men are graduating from high school, enrolling in college, and finishing degrees at rates that are astonishingly lower than young women. And along the way, they require more remediation, earn fewer credits and achieve lower grades.

    This is not new—it’s a trend that began thirty years ago and has continued steadily since. Not worried yet? If you have a son, a grandson, a nephew or a pesky kid brother, remember this: Men with a high school education or less are least likely to marry, least likely to be employed, and most likely to end up in prison. It’s been a long time in the making, but we may just now be realizing the devastating academic, social and economic condition of American young men. What’s the deal?
    How about video games and the feminization of schools? Helicopter parents and over-inflated self-esteem? Adderall, Ritalin and Dexedrine. Water bottles turning us into “half the man” our grandfather used to be? And how does Homer Simpson fit into all this?

    In this presentation we’ll take a run at these things and a few more, then consider what we might do to help Save the Males!

    Presenter: Lane Glenn

  • Transforming Education for Information-Age Learners

    This presentation describes the values, behaviors and thinking patterns of the Net Generation and explores ways of adapting our teaching to their strengths and weaknesses.

    Presenter: Suzanne Van Wert

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  • You’ve Finished College – Now What?

    Whether you’re a veteran, a single mom, or a 20-something, this presentation will help college graduates start their financial strategy plan. We’ll go over your personal life cycle and see how it aligns with the economy, see how the current laws have impacted our ability to acquire a good credit score, and make sure you are picking smart goals. Learn how the economy works so you can better plan your future.

    Presenter: Trish Machado


  • Did you sleep well last night?

    Sleep issues affect all of us from babies who can’t sleep through the night to teens who simply don’t get enough sleep to elderly people who suffer from insomnia. While having a few sleepless nights can be frustrating, undiagnosed sleep issues can also threaten your health, leading to stroke, hypertension or heart failure. John Murray, coordinator of the Sleep Technology Program at Northern Essex, can provide a general overview of sleep issues or more targeted presentations addressing sleep issues related to pediatrics, women, drowsy diving, high school students, or the elderly.

    Presenter: John Murray

  • The Mouth is Part of the Body Too!

    Explore the relationship of dental health to one’s overall health. There are many scientific studies now showing a link between periodontal disease and heart disease as well as diabetes. Learn how to keep your mouth healthy and why it’s important.

    Presenter: Kerin Hamidiani

See also – Science Topics:


  • Any Aspect of Geography, History or Politics

    Richard Padova, Adjunct Instructor of History, Geography and Government at Northern Essex Community College, will provide a talk on any aspect of geography, history or politics. The presentation can be tailor-made depending on the age group of your organization, as well as their needs and interests.

    Examples of past presentations: History: “A Review of the Lewis and Clark Expedition on its 200th Anniversary”; Geography: “A Geographical Look at the Country of Italy”; Politics: “Presidential Campaigning, 19th Century-Style.”

    Audiences will be enriched with both facts and anecdotal information, and will come away from the presentation with a greater understanding and appreciation of historical, geographical and political phenomena.

    Presenter: Richard Padova

  • The History of US Immigration Policies

    In this presentation we will trace the US immigration policies and see how they evolved from the colonial period until the present. We’ll explore how different political issues impacted the United States’ evaluations as positive or negative the influx of European immigrants, and also of Chinese, Mexican and Caribbean workers. These evaluations determined how the US responded to each different immigrant population over time and will determine future legislation on this issue.

    Presenter: Ligia Domenech

  • Understanding Hispanic and Caribbean Culture

    So much of the culture of the Merrimack Valley comes from the Caribbean Islands. Immigrants from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti all contributed to the makeup of our populations. Join Dr. Ligia Domenech, a native of Puerto Rico, in her exploration of the Hispanic Caribbean cultures. What are these people like, who are the largest immigrant group in our region? What is their background? She will discuss their shared characteristics and cultural values, the African influence in their religious beliefs, food and music, the importance they ascribe to family relationships and other cultural aspects pertaining to marriage, race relations, etc.

    Presenter: Ligia Domenech

  • Understanding India, Land of Contrasts

    It’s the largest democracy in the world and the second most populated country after China. India is also the third country in technical and scientific capacity, after the USA and Japan. It has nuclear submarines, space missions to Mars and graduates 1 million engineers every year, but one quarter of its population lives in poverty and one third of the villages have no electricity. India is a land of great contrasts between wealth and poverty, castes, religions and gender and it has changed dramatically in the past decade. Will India retain its millenary traditions as it becomes one of the new superpowers? Join Dr. Ligia Domenech, recently returned from a trip to India, in exploring this great land, to learn about its past and gain insight into the future.

    Presenter: Ligia Domenech

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Human Services

  • Trends in Human Services

    This presentation will touch on issues facing the human service field over the next 20 years and provide an overview of the many career opportunities in this field. It will be of interest to anyone interested in pursuing a career in this field, those already working in the field, or members of the community who are interested in this topic.

    Presenter: Jane Gagliardi

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Personal Finance

  • Taking Control of My Money

    Bad habits can sabotage your financial health and prevent you from getting to your life goals. In this workshop, we will identify your own unique values, learn about goal setting and life management, and make sure you are picking SMART goals. This is a great presentation suitable for all adults, especially those 20-somethings who want to better their financial understanding. Take control of your future!

    Presenter: Trish Machado

  • Financially Mine: Women Taking Control of Their Money

    Learning how to make good financial decisions will empower you to take control of your money and your life. This presentation will go over budgeting your money, eliminating debt, looking towards the future, and making good financial choices. A great presentation for any woman, 18 and above, who needs some financial strategy information.

    Presenter: Trish Machado

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Science & Travel

  • Alternative Careers in Science

    This presentation will explore nontraditional career pathways in the science field, from artists to food critics. Included will be information on the college’s Laboratory Science Program; a new associate degree program at Northern Essex which prepare students to become laboratory technicians.

    Presenter: Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands

    Located in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands are famous for offering some of the best wildlife viewing in the world.  Biology Professor Ken Thomas recently returned from a trip to the islands and in this presentation he will share his experiences exploring the unique biodiversity of this area.  The geology of the islands will be covered as well as background on the many birds, reptiles, and mammals that make the islands their home, including Galapagos penguins, sea lions, and the highly endangered Galapagos tortoises.

    Presenter: Ken Thomas

  • Chocolate: The Secret Indulgence

    Learn which chemicals elicit biochemical reactions in the human brain, making chocolate the perfect indulgence. During the presentation, you will also learn how to taste chocolate for quality and how to eat it, too!

    Presenter: Michael Cross or Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Climate Change: Talk about Drama!

    Our world’s climate history is riddled with drama and intrigue! There is no doubt that humans are having an impact on the world’s climate but did you know that global increases in temperature have been occurring cyclically for millions of years? Did you know that carbon dioxide is not the only gas in the atmosphere we need to consider when we look at the temperature on earth? Marcy Yeager, Environmental Science professor, will talk about the earth’s climate history and how to use it to understand today’s climate crisis.

    Presenter: Marcy Yeager

  • Coral Reefs and the threat of Global Climate Change

    Coral reefs are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth, providing critical habitat to approximately 25 percent of marine species. Professor Thomas’ presentation will introduce the audience to coral reefs and include a discussion of the importance of preserving them. He will also cover the potential impact of global climate change and global warming including the dynamics of both processes. Findings from the Pew Report on Global Climate Change will also be touched on. This 50 to 60 minute presentation is geared toward high school students and scientifically curious adults.

    Presenter: Ken Thomas

  • Debate – Using animals for food and medical research, right or wrong?

    This topic explores the ethical issues raised when using animals for research purposes.

    Presenter: Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Exploring our disconnection with food and the benefits of mindful eating

    Are you eating in front of the TV and not remembering how the meal tasted? Are you forgetting if you ate or not? There are reasons why. In this presentation, you will learn how to make your eating more mindful, leading to better health, more pleasurable eating, and weight loss.

    Presenter: Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Genetically modified (GM) Food

    Did you know that genetically modified food is not new and that it’s been around for centuries? In this presentation, we will explore the world of GM food, including how it’s created and how abundant it is in our food supply.

    Presenters: Michael Cross or Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • How much do you know about the common cold?

    Most people know that colds are caused by a viral infection but did you know the symptoms are not caused by the viral infection but by an inflammatory response? Also, the best remedy for the common cold might not be what you think.

    Presenter: Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • International Travel:
    Jet setting 101: You can see the world on a budget!

    Do you day dream about taking a hiatus from your everyday life to reconnect with yourself through exploration and travel? Do you have list of countries you long to see and no idea how to get make your travel dreams a reality? Whether solo or as a group there is a trip that is just right for you! Marcy Yeager, coordinator of International Studies and adventure travel junkie, will share her own travel triumphs and woes and help make international travel an economic reality.

    Presenter: Marcy Yeager

  • Jungle Talk – The Amazon Basin

    Explore the Amazon Basin in South America, which is home to 60 percent of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests. Professor Thomas will share how the region—which is the size of the continental United States—is like a huge bowl that collects water and sends it thousands of miles to the Atlantic. He will introduce one of the tributaries, the Rio Napo in Ecuador, where he has spent time, and also touch on the Andes Mountains, the rivers, and the rainforest and the ways they are all tied to one another. His presentation will include photographs of the animals and plants that thrive in the area. This 30 to 40 minute presentation can be tailored for audiences ranging from middle school age to adults. A longer presentation could include a discussion of the Amazonian indigenous tribes and the plight they face with the western invasion into the Amazon.

    Presenter: Ken Thomas

  • Microorganisms

    Are you afraid of microbes? Learn about how microbes have impacted humanity, from the beneficial microbes found in yogurt to those that led to the black plague. Let’s explore them.

    Presenter: Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Old Wives’ Tales and Science. So many myths and so little time

    In this presentation, common myths are discussed and classified as TRUE or FALSE based on scientific evidence. Is it dangerous to hold your sneeze? Would cracking the knuckles cause arthritis? Carrots, do they really help with vision? Can you swim immediately after eating?

    Presenters: Michael Cross or Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Paddling the Florida Everglades: A Hundred Mile Journey

    This talk chronicles Professor Thomas’ “trip of a lifetime” from its planning and preparation stages to the actual trip itself. Hear about the pain of fire ant and no-see-um attacks, the beauty of paddling under a full moon, the frustration of running aground at super low tides, and the challenge of paddling during small craft advisories. This talk can be tailored for middle school through adult audiences and can run 40 minutes or longer, depending on time constraints.

    Presenter: Ken Thomas

  • Radioactivity in Your Life

    Are you aware of your exposure to radiation? Is this something you should be worried about? We always worry about nuclear power plants, but smoke detectors, cigarettes, and even table salt contain radioactive material. Learn how you encounter radiation in your daily life and whether this exposure should concern you.

    Presenter: Michael Cross

  • Science: The Problem, the solution, or neither?

    Is science to blame (or to thank) for the conditions we live in? Every day we see examples of science gone wrong: oil spills, pollution, toxic waste. But many of the things we take for granted in life were also created by science. Is science really the problem? Maybe Spider-man was right and with great power comes great responsibility.

    Presenter: Michael Cross

  • The Science of Sunshine

    Yes, we need to be concerned about skin cancer, but did you know more sun can be healthy. In this presentation, we will discuss “healthy” doses of sun and the benefits of more sun exposure.

    Presenter: Michael Cross or Noemi Custodia-Lora

  • Serendipity in Science

    Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, but sometimes a little luck can help. From penicillin to Silly Putty, NutraSweet to amazing anti-cancer drugs, some of the most incredible breakthroughs have been accidental. Learn about how the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for something that you have surely created in kindergarten.

    Presenter: Michael Cross

  • Sustainability: Sustain the world while living your life to its fullest

    Is it possible to live simply and still fully? Everyday we hear about how to “green” our lives and while there is a recognized need for positive environmental change it is difficult to take the steps. Marcy Yeager, environmental science professor and sustainability advocate at NECC, will offer ideas and solutions for small steps to take to live a sustainable life high quality life. Her collection of ideas are small, realistic, and only sometimes radical!

    Presenter: Marcy Yeager

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Social Issues

  • Community Development

    Faced with declining resources, Merrimack Valley cities like Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Methuen are using a variety of community development strategies to offset the economic downturn and help build stronger, more vital cities. Professor Santiago will discuss some of the more successful strategies that are being used locally to spur community development. These innovative approaches tend to build on the assets of a particular community, rather than mimic what other communities are doing. This presentation is for a general audience and will appeal to anyone with an interest in learning how communities can help themselves, even in a bad economy.

    Presenter: Dr. Jorge Santiago

  • Community Sociology

    There are many types of communities, ranging from the city you live in, to your workplace, to your neighborhood. Especially relevant in today’s world, this presentation will review the various components that make up a community and will help the audience to understand that while communities may differ, the components that comprise them are the same. This presentation will appeal to a general audience—whether students, business leaders, or a community audience– interested in better understanding their own communities.

    Presenter: Dr. Jorge Santiago

  • Latino Community and Culture

    This presentation focuses on the Lawrence community specifically, with a general overview of the Latino culture. It emphasizes the unique aspects that bind the various Latino groups, while also highlighting varying aspects of each. The audience will be surprised to learn just how different from each other groups of Latinos are. The audience will get not only an overview of the Latino culture, but also see how much of the stereotypes about Latinos can be easily debunked. This presentation is very much relevant to today’s world, especially to those in the United States, since this is the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S.A., Massachusetts, and the Merrimack Valley specifically. This presentation can be geared toward a general community audience, business people, or students.

    Presenter: Dr. Jorge Santiago

  • Race and Ethnic Relations

    This is a general presentation on the concepts of prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes. The audience will get a better handle on just what these concepts are, and how they relate to today’s world within the United States. The audience will be surprised to learn that even positive beliefs of particular groups can actually be just as bad as those that are negative. In a country like the United States, and in this region of Massachusetts (which are both extremely diverse ethnically and racially), it is important to understand how prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes relate to everyday life. This presentation can be geared toward a general community audience, business people, or students.

    Presenter: Dr. Jorge Santiago

  • Welfare Reform

    The state’s welfare system underwent great change with the welfare reform of 1995. Learn how these changes have affected welfare recipients, especially single mothers. Professor Santiago will share research that covers topics such as welfare fraud and debunks some common beliefs about welfare recipients. This presentation can be tailored to fit any audience interested in the topic.

    Presenter: Dr. Jorge Santiago

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  • Digital Life: Gizmos and Gadgets

    Technology can enrich our lives but many of us are too intimidated to take advantage of all it has to offer. In this presentation, the audience will learn about some of the new technology that has been recently introduced to the market, including robotic vacuums, e-readers, electronic pens, GPS’s, wireless keyboards, web cams, and more. Professor Schuster will bring her suitcase filled with new technology and give the audience a chance to try it themselves.

    Presenter: Ethel Schuster

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Theater, Music, Art & Literature

  • Affirmation and Integration: Rock and Roll and the Rise of Youth Culture

    This presentation focuses on the birth of Rock and Roll in the late forties and early fifties, the social and economic conditions of that era, the many creators of this new genre of musical expression, the messages they were trying to convey and how it evolved into many different forms of “rock” music.

    Using recorded music, film clips and still images, the presentation will examine the idea that Rock and Roll music did more to integrate America than any law or politician. We will use music to examine the social and political conditions that existed in the United States following World War II, how Rock and Roll originated as “race music” and evolved into the mainstream, the many creators of this music (such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis), and the many genres that evolved from the root of Rock and Roll.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • Ansel Adams as an Environmentalist

    A slide presentation of photographer Ansel Adams and his long career starting at age 12 in Yosemite with a box camera. Find out about his work with the Sierra Club, The National Park Service, and his work in the environmental movement of the 1960s. The presenter, Lance Hidy knew Ansel Adams personally and has designed several books featuring his photography.

    Presenter: Lance Hidy

  • Children’s Literature

    So many of us have a special place in our hearts for children’s literature, yet many people don’t realize what a powerful, vital and contentious body of literature it is. It is a burgeoning field which has changed over time as it reflects the society that produces it. Whether you would like to take an introductory look at the world of children’s literature, review its history, or look closely at an individual children’s book, author, or illustrator, Dr. Juchniewicz will be happy to tailor her talk to the interests of your audience.

    Dr. Juchniewicz has been teaching courses in children’s and young adult literature for more than 15 years. She is a member of the Foundation for Children’s Books, and was a Book PALS volunteer, taking books into shelters and literacy centers to read to underserved children. For five years she wrote the “Book Beat” column for the Journal of the New England Reading Association, and has written about and reviewed children’s literature for other journals as well.

    Presenter: Melissa Juchniewicz

  • Designing Scenery for Spaces Not Intended to be Theaters

    Professor Sanders has designed scenery for theater productions being held in a wide variety of spaces from a cow barn to a fire station to a two-room schoolhouse. These converted spaces often present design problems for scenic designers but the reality is that many regional theater companies perform in spaces that are designed for other uses. This presentation will offer solutions for scenic designers who are presented with design challenges.

    Presenter: Susan Sanders

  • How Shakespeare’s Playhouse Affected Performance

    The King’s Men, the company William Shakespeare was a sharer in, performed at The Globe and Blackfriar’s Theaters on stages that were essentially bare. The audience accepted that the players were in “the vasty fields of France”, Verona or a magical island in “the still vexed Bermoothes.” With two doors and a discovery space, the actors conveyed different locales through words, movement and use of the space. This talk illustrates this through examples from the plays, with a little help from the audience.

    Presenter: Susan Sanders

  • Labor and Radical Politics: The Music of Joe Hill and the IWW Labor Movement

    This presentation will examine how a radical labor organization, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was able to integrate music, art and politics to create a unique form of political and social protest. It will focus a great deal on the music and execution of one of its leading poets and songwriters, Joe Hill.

    Using recorded music and still images, we will thoroughly explore the radical labor politics and sabotage activities of the IWW, including the strikes in Lawrence, MA and Patterson, NJ. Throughout the presentation connections will be made between the music of the IWW with the labor music of today, as well as comparing the musical attitude of Joe Hill with that of later twentieth-century musical troubadours and troublemakers.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • Memoir Writing: Share that story of yours!

    You are the only one to tell the stories that have made you who you are; no one else has seen the world through your eyes. Maya Angelou cautioned against “…bearing an untold story inside you.” But where do you start? What do you need to begin? Do you have to be a great writer? What if others don’t like what you have to say? Melissa Juchniewicz will show you that with just your memories and pencil and paper, you can begin to voice your wonderful stories. She will provide ideas for structure and techniques for results worthy of your experiences. Dr. Juchniewicz has facilitated memoir writing workshops for nearly 20 years around the Merrimack Valley, and has overseen the production of thousands of pages of people’s life stories. Bring something to write with, and you’ll leave with something written that may be the start of a great journey.

    Presenter: Melissa Juchniewicz

  • Painting Realistic-looking Brick, Stone, and Marble

    Faux stone is often used in scenic painting. This presentation will demonstrate simple steps for creating realistic brick, marble and stone.

    Presenter: Susan Sanders

  • Poetry Workshop

    Everyone can write poetry! Discuss the basics of imagery and figures of speech, or delve into the complexities of rhyme and meter in a poetry workshop that can be designed for all ages and stages of poetry writing. Writing workshops can be free verse or focused on the familiar structures of haiku or the sonnet, or the less familiar gazhal, accentual-alliterative poetry, or ekphrastic poetry.

    Presenter: Ginger Hurajt

  • Sin to Swing: The Evolution of Jazz in America

    This presentation takes us into the history and musical culture of New Orleans, the birth of a new music called Jazz, the many colorful songwriters of this music, and its evolution to Swing and Big Band music.

    Using recorded music, film clips and still images we will examine how the politics and social conditions of late 19th Century New Orleans were integral in the creation of a whole new musical culture, and how that culture spread throughout the United States. An emphasis will be placed on the musicians who created Jazz, how that music spread rapidly throughout the United States, the conditions that led young people of the 30s and 40s to embrace it, and its patriotic use for a war-weary nation.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • From Slave Spirituals to Hip Hop: The Social and Political History of American Music

    This presentation will review the rich and complex development of music over the four centuries of post-Columbus American history and connects these strains of music by examining their social and political context.

    Using recorded music, film clips and still images the presentation will trace the evolution of American popular music from the early slave spirituals, through the hugely popular minstrelsy in the late 19th century, to the blues and jazz that developed at the opening of the 20th Century, to the Rock n Roll that was created in the late 40s and early 50s, to the convergence of topical folk music with Rock, and ending with various strains of American popular and topical music of today that resulted from that convergence. Throughout the presentation an emphasis will be placed on the social and political context of the music and the messages the songs were attempting to convey.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • Slaves, Soldiers and Abolitionists: The Music of the Civil War Era

    This presentation will review the music of American slaves in the two centuries leading up the American Civil War, the popular music styles that were celebrated in the northern and southern states in the 1850s and early 1860s, the songs of the abolitionists and finally the songs and music used by both the Union and Confederate soldiers.

    Using recorded music, film clips and still images, the presentation will integrate the politics and social conditions that existed in America during the Civil War era with the music being played throughout the country. Kevin explores the use of music to express the struggle for freedom by the American slave, the ideas and attitudes of soldiers and abolitionists and the contemporary popular musical culture in American.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • Tricksters and the Marketing of Breakfast Cereals

    Did you ever wonder why so many breakfast cereals for kids are marketed by cartoon characters? And why breakfast cereals in particular so much more so than other kinds of foods? The answers to these questions may surprise you as Tom Greene, Professor of English at Northern Essex, traces the interconnected threads of breakfast foods from their semi-mystical, religious origins, their mating with the trickster figure from depth psychology, to their ultimate arrival on your televisions and grocery store shelves, and what it all says about how Americans think about their food choices.

    Presenter: Tom Greene

  • Troubadours and Troublemakers: The Music and Politics of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan

    This presentation will examine three of the greatest protest singers of the twentieth century: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.

    Using recorded music, film clips and still images, we will take an American journey through history and geography. We will start by using music to examine the social and economic conditions of the Great Depression as we follow Woody Guthrie through the Dust Bowl. We will then travel across the United States as Woody works his way to New York City where we meet Peter Seeger. We’ll leave Woody to follow the travels of Pete as he sings his way through the American heartland, World War II, McCarthyism, the Civil Rights movement and the 1950s folk revival where we meet Bob Dylan. We will then leave Pete to examine Dylan’s songs that outlines the social and political conditions in the 60s. We will examine Dylan’s evolution to rock and roll and end with his classic performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

    Presenter: Kevin Comtois

  • Why are Vampires Sexy?

    Vampires have fascinated the English-speaking world ever since Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula became a smash hit more than a hundred years ago. Dracula is probably the most-filmed horror novel of all time, and Stoker spawned an entire genre of tales about night-walkers who drink the blood of the living. Yet legends of the nosferatu and other revenants have been common all over the world since time immemorial. What is it about vampires since Dracula that has kept people so deeply enthralled? Tom Greene, Professor of English at Northern Essex, outlines the evolution of the modern vampire legend and reveals how vampires captivate us by addressing not only to our deepest fears, but also our most secret desires.

    Presenter: Tom Greene

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