The Extreme Life of the Sea

The oceans are in peril, but there is still plenty of time to save them. Will people act? Maybe if they find out more about all the wonderful creatures that live at the extremes of the oceans.  Marine Biologist Stephen Palumbi and Novelist Anthony Palumbi explore the mysteries of the deep at Town Hall Seattle, Monday, January 26th at 7:30


The oceans are still remarkably wild. Not as wild as they were, not as rich in sea life as they once were, but still, compared to land, mass extinctions haven’t occurred and though mistakes are being made, we know what to do preserve the health of the oceans.   Stephen Palumbi   is a marine biologist at Stanford and head of the Palumbi Lab where they focus on ecological, evolutionary, and conservation questions about marine (and sometimes terrestrial) organisms and ecosystems.  He directs the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station.  He is a graduate of the University of Washington. He is also a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and  a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Anthony Palumbi is a science writer and novelist.

Stephen Palumbi's previous books have looked at human impacts on evolution and the death and life of Monterey Bay.  His new book, co-written with his son, the novelist Anthony Palumbi is The Extreme Life of the Sea . The book reads like a novel, with characters identified as the oldest, fastest, smallest, hottest, oldest creatures of the sea.  Their goal was to create enough vivid characters and strong scenes to bring the oceans to life. Backed by strong science, readers can discover that sacrifices needed aren’t that great. What’s needed is a desire to do it.


The Creative Energy of Collaboration

Contrary to the stories we hear, great discoveries, great creations, are not typically the work of a single person.  Genius usually result from collaboration.  


In his book "Powers of Two: Seeking the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs," essayist, author, curator Joshua Wolf Shenk delves into the relationships of some famous duos to illuminate the shared sparks that generated their greatest achievements. Sometimes, one half of the duo got little credit, but their input was nonetheless decisive. 

  As part of his appearance in Seattle in the Fall of 2014,  Shenk conducted a workshop in Seattle with  Jess Van Nostrand, Founder of The Project Room Seattle,  

Van Nostrand created the The Project Room with her collaborators to create a virtual and physical space to explore big ideas and spark an inquisitive approach to the arts.

This final podcast in this series. "In Residence" illustrates the topic, it was a collaboration between Steve Scher, Elana Jacobs, Stesha Brandon, Weir Harman and the staff at Town Hall. It was better for the shared input.


If you are interested in hearing more of my work, please check out my new podcast, At Length with Steve Scher."You will find in depth interviews with scholars, artists, innovators from  wide and diverse fields who visit the University of Washington. 

 For all my podcasts in one place, invite yourself in to The House of Podcasts.

It will be a collaboration, especially if you are part of it.

Thank You.

Fighting A Real and Costly War in Cyberspace

The Surge, the US troop deployment credited with holding the unraveling Iraq war together, owes much of its success to well trained US soldiers fighting the battle in cyberspace. "@War:The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex" tracks the emergence of the fifth domain of warfare. Once we fought on land, air, sea and space. Now the US sees the greatest threat emerging from the interconnections made possible by the world wide web. Journalist Shane Harris examines the threat, the warriors, the battlefield and the companies that profit from this quest for internet security. Shane Harris spoke at Town Hall in Seattle with Scholar-In-Residence Steve Scher, November, 2014. 

"Don't Wait For The Next War"

Wesley K. Clark, retired U.S. Army General and one-time presidential candidate is long out of politics, but not political strategizing. Clark sits on energy company boards, works as an investment banker and runs an international consulting firm focusing on security and communication. "Don't Wait For The Next War: A Strategy for American Growth and Global Leadership." surveys  present American domestic and foreign policies and offers a plan. Here is an in-depth conversation with a man who has spent a good part of his life thinking about America's place in the world. 

"Stirring Up Seattle: Allied Arts in the Civic Landscape"

The history of Seattle, of any city really, shows in the buildings that are still standing and the ones that have been torn down. In Seattle, the Pike Place Market came close to being demolished. That weird garage in Pioneer Square dubbed the sinking ship, it might've been the template for the entire neighborhood. The fact that it stands ugly and alone is a testament to the social and political activism of "Allied Arts." The group has receded in influence in recent years. But through the efforts of its eclectic members, much of what we value about the city still stands.

R.M. Campbell arts critics for the Seattle P.I. for 30 years. He was around for many of the battles Allied Arts launched. Mary Coney, now a retired UW Professor , was one of the Presidents of Allied Arts. Campbell has written a history of the organization, "Stirring Up Seattle: Allied Arts in the Civc Landscape." Mary Coney provided a lot of history, facts and material for the book. 

When you read it, you might be surprised to find out who some of the Allied Arts firebrands were. Some names will be familiar, some will be new. But for almost 30 years, the one time "Beer and Culture Society" shaped the city we know today.

Nicholas Kristof "A Path Appears."

" A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity" is by New York Times' Nicholas Kristof and  Author Sheryl Wudunn. It is a book of good news, of positive stories, of people making a difference. It's Kristof's response to his day job, covering some of the most horrendous stories of our time.

Kristof spoke at Town Hall  Seattle, October 7th, 2014. 

Finding the Ghost in the Now

Town Hall is on First Hill in Seattle. The folks who run it were interested in finding out about their neighborhood. So, they asked the well known "Now and Then" creators Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard to put together a permanent photographic display of First Hill, Now and Then.

Scholar in Residence Steve Scher talked with Dorpat and Sherrard at Sherrard's Greenlake home, about their partnership, their motivations and their exploration of First Hill in Seattle. 

Historian and author Paul Dorpat has been documenting the region for most of the past 4 decades. He has contributed more than 1300 “Now and Then” features to the Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine since 1982. Jean Sherrard came to the partnership when Paul was asked to do a “ Washington Then and Now “ book.  Apparently Jean liked driving around the state a lot more than Paul did.


Paul Dorpat is co-founder of He was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Pacific Nothwest Historians Guild in 2001. His documentaries have been featured on local television.  He used to lecture widely. Now he is often in his basement.

Jean Sherrard has worked as an actor, writer, director, photographer and teacher. He was Co-founder of the Globe Radio Repertory. He first worked with Paul Dorpat on the “Bumberchronicles” Documentary that was presented on KCTS-9

Describing Cosmology in 1000 Common English Words

Astrophysicist Roberto Trotta turned a thought experiment into a short book, "The Edge of the Sky: All You Need To Know about the All-There-Is."

Trotta has taken the most common 1000 words in english to explain dark matter, dark energy and the early universe. He tells Town Hall Scholar in Residence Steve Scher why.

For more about Trotta's work, go to

Check out Town Hall Seattle  for more events and talks. 

Find In Residence Podcast on iTunes  and Stitcher

Connecting to the Icons of NW Art

Photographer Mary Randlett is known for her portraits of some of the most important artists and writers of the last 70 years. From Tom Robbins back to Morris Graves, Randlett created intimate portraits of many of the people who shaped Northwest culture.  "Mary Randlett Portraits" from UW Press reveals the connections her legacy has made across the generations.  Award wining poet and essayist Frances McCue shaped this book, providing background and details to the people within the frame. 

I talked to Frances at the UW Press offices, where a number of Mary Randlett's pictures are displayed.

McCue and Randlett discuss the work at Town Hall, Seattle Tuesday October 14th at 7:30.

Am I hard to hear?

More than 50 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss. It too often keeps us from going out to public places and enjoying public events.  Katherine Bouton is a long-time New York Times editor and author of  “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other American’s -–Can’t Hear You.” She talked with Town Hall Fall 2014 Scholar-In-Residence Steve Scher about new technologies, including Town Hall’s new Hearing Loop system, that make it much easier for people with hearing loss to hear at public venues. 

Daniel Levitin, "the Organized Mind"

Neuroscientist and one time rock and roll record producer Daniel Levitin explores how the mind categorizes and retrieves information in his book "The Organized Mind." He spoke with Steve Scher at Bumbershoot. Steve is Scholar-In-Residence at Town Hall, Fall 2014 

"Tehren's Secret Citizens"

Iran is a divided nation. Politically, the regimes support among its most stalwart supporters has dwindled. Iranian efforts at reform ebb and flow. At the same time, clashes between modernity and tradition rage on- often beneath an surface calm
Ramita Navai is an Iranian-English journalist with a penchant for reporting from dangerous places and a nose for finding the outcasts, underdogs and critics who fill out the story of a society
In her book, "City of Lies,"  she takes us into the forbidden warrens of Tehran, Irans capital, to meet the people who face punishment, even death , for daring to live as they feel.