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The Ethical Culture Society of Essex County
Platform Programs 2009-2010

Platform Programs each Sunday at 11:00 AM
516 Prospect Street, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Corner of Parker and Prospect
Phone 973-763-1905


Sept 13 Betty Levin, “Bringing out the best in others while healing oneself”

A few months ago, Betty Levin feared she might never be able to return to her beloved house, let alone drive, or pick up the reins of her normal life, but she achieved all that. At our first platform of the 2009-2010 season, she plans to share the extraordinary story of her recovery from an illness earlier this year and the role that her lifelong involvement with Ethical Culture played in that surprisingly joyful process. Just as family and friends helped sustain her through the ordeal, so Betty shared her outlook with those around her, often astonishing staff and visitors with her almost euphoric appreciation for life.

Betty Levin is a third-generation Ethical Culturalist and immediate past president of the Essex society. She has been a psychotherapist for the past 35 years and was the founder of the New Jersey Association of Women Therapists. She is also the author of a number of published essays.

Sept 20 Howard Radest, “Can Virtue Be Taught — The Possibility and Impossibility of Moral Education”
2,500 years ago, Socrates wrestled with the question: Can virtue be taught? And we’re still at it. I think back to my experience as an Ethical Culture Leader, as head of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, and now as Board of Trustees Chair of the soon to be born Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City. I look around at the complications these days of knowing, judging, deciding and acting ethically. So, once again, I’m trying to figure out what the teacher, the classroom, the school, the parent and the community can do to teach for moral competence. Doing ethics is a life-long vocation,so I’m still trying to illuminate the moral situation and how we can help our children (and ourselves) face it effectively. Can virtue be taught? Socrates answered “yes” and “no.” But figuring out what that means remains a continuing puzzle for us human beings.

Dr. Howard B. Radest is dean emeritus of the Humanist Institute and a member of the National Council of Ethical Culture Leaders. He has been an author and consultant treating issues of religious and philosophic thought, moral education, ethics and bioethics. Dr. Radest received his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia University.














Sept 27 Steve Sklar -- Puzzles Concerning Progress and Poverty

History presents a puzzle. Technological breakthroughs and miles of cable allow news to cross the globe in seconds. Travel improvements bring East and West Coasts closer together than ever before. And yet: warehouses stand full of inventory that people need but cannot afford, banks and other businesses, even large well-established firms, collapse without any apparent warning and even the most capable of men and women find it harder and harder to find or keep employment, let alone make a living. Across the globe, advances in invention and technology have made it possible to produce wealth more effectively than ever before yet once again the world is racked by severe economic depression. How is it that progress itself seems to bring with it the attributes of poverty?

A mystery for the late summer of 2009? Undoubtedly. But the subject of this talk by Steve Sklar, concerns a development in the late summer of 1869. The telegraph is the communications breakthrough; the transcontinental railroad has just been completed; financial catastrophe, kicked off on Black Friday (September 24), will be known as the Panic and Depression of 1869. And it is a 30-year-old journalist who, ruminating on the perennial global economic puzzle, has happened upon a question productive of insight: Is there a relationship between the rise in land values (which, with the closing of the American frontier at that moment, was spectacular) and the deepening struggle for economic survival?

The journalist was Henry George. The question led him to further thought and to writings, the best known of which was a book entitled Progress and Poverty. It would become an international best-seller. George’s followers would include a young Winston Churchill, Sun Yat Sen and Tolstoy; George’s writings and speeches would inspire George Bernard Shaw and others to take an interest in social problems. At George’s funeral in New York, Ethical’s founder Felix Adler would be one of the eulogists.

Steve will discuss George’s insight concerning the relationship between the institution of private property in land and land speculation, on the one hand, and economic distress, on the other — that is, the relationship between progress and poverty; and a second puzzle, “If Henry George’s thinking, once so well known, is as compelling as it appears to be, how has it come to be relegated to obscurity?” As in his past talks, humor will be attempted.

Steve Sklar is a lawyer who specializes in immigration issues. He lives in Maplewood with his wife, lawyer Nikki Pusin, and their two children.




Oct 4 Boe Meyerson, Art and Ethics: The Relationship.

This platform will address two questions: (1) Is Art essentially moral? (2) Is ethical conduct essentially beautiful? There will be ample opportunity for audience discussion on these topics.

Boe Meyerson is leader emerita of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County.


Oct 11 Michael Lally, Being a Poet in the Age of the Internet.

Poet/actor/author Michael Lally has been writing a much-visited blog (See http://lallysalley.blogspot.com/) in addition to working on a book. He will describe what it’s like having one, discuss with the audience how the internet affects the writing life, and — as he has in his past appearances at Ethical — he will read some of his poems

Born in Orange, New Jersey in 1942, youngest of seven in an Irish-American family of cops, priests, and politicians, Michael David Lally started out playing piano and reading his poetry in coffeehouses and bars in 1959. In 1962 he joined the Air Force. After more than four years as an enlisted man, he later used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.

Lally’s first book was published in 1970. By 1980 there were twenty Lally moved to L.A. in 1982 to find work acting in movies and TV, while his writing found its way into several movies. Lally’s poetry and prose have garnered numerous awards, including 2 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Awards.



Oct 18    Peter Montague, An Experiment in Coal Power on our Doorstep.


Dr. Peter Montague will be giving a short PowerPoint presentation describing a plan to put a new 750 megawatt coal power plant in Linden. The plant will capture its carbon dioxide (CO2), and gather carbon dioxide from other emitters near Linden. The carbon dioxide will be pressurized into a liquid, piped 70 miles offshore, and buried 1.5 miles below the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, hoping it will stay there forever.

This is a gigantic experiment with the people of Linden and the fish in the sea being used as experimental subjects.

Dr. Montague has co-authored two books on toxic heavy metals in the natural environment. From 1980 to 1983 he served as project administrator of the Hazardous Waste Research Program in the School of Engineering/Applied Science at Princeton University. During 1991-1992 he was employed by Greenpeace USA as a senior research analyst in the Toxics Reduction Campaign. Since then he has been director of Environmental Research Foundation (ERF) in New Brunswick, where he is active in the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. He is presently writing a book about decision-making with the precautionary principle.

Oct 25 Jane Franklin, Cuba-US Relations in the Obama Era.

In 1959 Washington launched an undeclared war against Cuba. Air raids repeatedly struck the sugar industry, mainstay of the economy at that time. Others bombed Havana itself. Another attacked a train full of passengers. For 50 years, this war has taken many forms: terror attacks, assassinations, an invasion, an illegal embargo, and an unending State of Siege. Will the Obama Administration continue the war?

Historian Jane Franklin has published books, articles, poems and film reviews and has lectured extensively about Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. She is a frequent commentator about Cuba on radio and television. (Jane Franklin’s home page is http://janefranklin.info/).





Nov 1 William G. Russell, Transitioning to Green: A World of Possibilities. Bill Russell will discuss ways you can explore context and definitions for sustainability, learn about the new Green Economy, explore what you can do in your career and as an individual to contribute to the transition to a more sustainable/green economy, and to distinguish three scenarios for the future which you can help shape.

 Bill is President of SKN Worldwide-USA, Inc, a management consulting and technology services company. He is a global leader in advancing sustainability aligned strategies and management systems. He works with a variety of clients to assess and financially quantify opportunities and risks posed by current environmental, social, economic and sector specific trends. He is advancing more collaborative business models that change how companies engage with external experts, their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. He also saw the potential of people, technology, and the internet to dramatically improve our ability to innovate, implement self-organized actions, and collectively learn and founded the Sustainability Knowledge Network (SKN). He administers the Transitioning to GreenTM Knowledge Exchange and Community Network, leads its Business Assessment service and facilitates its network of affiliated sector and role specific Green Business practitioner leaders.

He is the former US environmental practice leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers and currently serves as an advisory board member and research fellow of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Institute for Sustainable Enterprise (ISE) and its Sustainable Business Incubator. He is a co-editor and co-author of The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook by Greenleaf Publishing. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland and his M.B.A. from Rutgers University.



Nov 8 Ingrid Reed, What the election reveals about our political mood this season.

Ingrid Reed will analyze the outcome of the Nov. 3 gubernatorial and NJ State Assembly elections. A great deal has changed in the year since Barack Obama’s momentous victory, but there are also currents witnessed then that might have shifted choices in this off-year election. What do they reveal about present dynamics, and what do they predict for the future?

Ingrid W. Reed directs the New Jersey Project, an initiative designed to reinforce and expand the contributions of Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics to the governance and politics of its home state. Among its initiatives are programs on campaign, election and ethics reform, governance issues and initiatives to promote information for citizen participation.

 Reed has directed studies on television and press coverage of New Jersey election campaigns, on election administration, on ethics reform and issues of voter participation.   She is frequently interviewed for analysis of New Jersey politics by state, national and international media and has written op-ed columns for major New Jersey newspapers. 








Nov 15 Kal Wagenheim, “The shortcomings of the prison system in New Jersey.”

 Kal Wagenheim points out how much it costs to house and feed a prisoner ($40,000 a year) and how little is spent on education and rehabilitation, so that once released, the inmates can find jobs, support families, and pay taxes. As a case study, he will described the banning of the book he compiled of prose and poetry written by inmates, and the stoppage of his prison writing workshop, and the year-long “adventure” he has had trying to get that book made available to the people who wrote it!

 Kal Wagenheim (born in Newark, N.J. in 1935) is a journalist (formerly with The New York Times and currently editor of Caribbean UPDATE monthly newsletter), author and translator of eight books, and ten plays and screenplays. His biography of Babe Ruth was a Playboy Book Club selection and was adapted for an NBC-TV film.  His plays, Bavarian Rage, We Beat Whitey Ford, Wegotdates.com and Coffee With God have been produced off-off-Broadway. Coffee With God has been published by the Dramatic Publishing Co. and is being produced at festivals and schools nationwide. It is also being produced as a short film for broadcast on NJ cable TV. His poetry and fiction have been published in online literary magazines (www.jerseyworks.com) and PulpLit.com. His nonfiction articles have been published in The Nation, and The New Republic.  He has also taught creative writing at Columbia University and The State Prison in Trenton NJ. Member: PEN American Center and The Dramatists Guild of America. Film producers may access his screenplays on the website www.inktip.com.



Nov. 22 Linda Eckhardt, What we’ve got to be thankful for and where to find it.

Multi-talented food writer Linda Eckhardt will discuss the abundance of foods available in this country, and how to ensure that Thanksgiving — for many families, the most indulgent feast of the year — is both pleasurable and healthy. Linda, will also provide a taste of the healthy-eating guidance offered in The Silver Cloud Diet, The Sustainable Diet for the 21st Century, the e-book and website she has co-authored with acclaimed physician, Dr. John Salerno of New York City.

In addition to winning the James Beard Award, for Entertaining 101, veteran cookbook author Linda West Eckhardt also won the Julia Child IACP Award for her innovative book, Bread in Half the Time, which was named the Best Cookbook in America for 1991, and also the best book on the subject of baking for that year.

In addition to a busy schedule writing books and magazine pieces, and as a public relations writer specializing in food-related topics, she co-hosts the national radio show “Don’t Talk with your Mouth Full” with Jennifer English on The Food and Wine Radio Network, nominated for a James Beard prize in 2002, and teaches monthly Master Classes at A Cook’s Table, Baltimore, Md, as well as teaching in cooking schools from coast to coast. An animal lover herself, she has also written about making nutritious meals for your pets.

Linda Eckhardt is a longtime Maplewood resident.  




Nov 29 Dr. Felix Ukponu, What is the Grail Message?”

The speaker will share insights from the work In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin (Oscar Ernst Bernhardt, 1875-1941). The Grail Message gives the foundation for a new philosophy of life, intended — in its clarity and simplicity — to be comprehensible to every human being. The author aimed to provide a universal key to all hitherto impenetrable cosmic mysteries and humanity’s unsolved questions. He wrote: “I wish to fill the gaps which have so far always remained unanswered in the souls of men, and which never leave any serious thinker in peace, if he honestly seeks for the truth.”

Felix Ukponu, MBA, Ph.D. is Chief Operations Officer of Enenia Biometrics, Inc., USA. Dr. Ukponu has an eclectic background in science, biotechnology, education, IT, business administration and management. In a career spanning over 20 years, he has held research, teaching and professional positions at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, and the University of Benin, Nigeria; the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Bloomfield College, and AT&T in NJ. Dr. Ukponu has also served as a consultant with local governments, NGOs, mentorship programs, leadership training and business fellowship organizations. In the most recent past, he was with the Newark Public Schools. He has presented many papers at conferences and workshops in biotechnology, and local government administration, and authored several scientific publications. Dr. Ukponu is a member of the Society of Industrial Microbiology. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology and an MBA from the University of Benin, Benin-City, Nigeria, as well as a Certificate in Molecular Techniques. He can be reached via ukponu@eneniabiometrics.com.



Dec 4 Boe Meyerson, “The Wit and Wisdom of Abe Lincoln.”
Boe will explore and describe some of the wittiest and most heart warming stories of America’s great emancipator. Boe Meyerson is the Leader Emerita of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. She holds Masters Degrees from University of California, Berkeley, in Literature and from Columbia University in Philosophy where she also taught Humanities.
Dec 13 Louisa “Dweezil” Lubiak and Julius “Clown Chips” Carallo, “A Sassy Solstice Saturnalia!” 
In ancient Rome the Winter Solstice was celebrated with a feast of Saturn, called the Saturnalia, when the Roman world engaged in merrymaking and the exchanging of gifts. Saturnalia celebrated the sun overcoming the darkness of winter, the bounty of the year’s harvest now stocking the larder, and the new wine ready to be served.  The festival also allowed a temporary reversal of social status (slave over master, child over adult), revealing the virtues of law and order over the evils of disobedience and chaos. Join Clown Chips and Dweezil in a cheeky feast of mirth and myth as we celebrate the solstice season with a Sassy Solstice Saturnalia!
Louisa Lubiak is an ECS Friend, a naturalist and a performance artiste. She works for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection in Trenton. Having a background in classical voice and opera, and needing a creative outlet to balance her technical work, she attended Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp in Buffalo, MN, and took workshops on physical comedy in NYC. Louisa now performs as “Dweezil the Clown” in various venues ranging from children’s birthday parties to parades and stage shows. She also plays in a Cajun band just for the fun of it! 
Julius Carallo moved from Brooklyn, NY, to Roselle, NJ in 1988 and soon after started studying the art of clowning, magic, juggling and acting from notable instructors. As “Clown Chips”, Carallo began entertaining with the Alain Zerbini Family Circus in 2004 and with the Cole Brothers Circus in 2008. Carallo is also President of the Humpty Dumpty Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes brain injury prevention, and is the C.E.O. of A Mobile Clown Theatre. He produced several stage shows that include A Clown Wedding Show, Kings to Center Rings, and Fool Circle.  His new production, I’m An Original On Broadway, directed by “Jingle Jaynie” Jayne Bierman, will feature new upstarts along with professional entertainers.

Dec 20 Rescheduled till January 17, 2010! Snowstorm!
Anne Creter, “Working at The United Nations for A Culture of Peace”
“The Development of a Culture of Peace” will be the topic of the Sunday platform on December 20, 2009 at the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. The Society is located at 516 Prospect Street, Maplewood, and the program starts at 11:00 AM. The presenter is Anne Creder, past state coordinator for the U.S. cabinet level Department of Peace campaign which currently has over 70 sponsors in the House of Representatives. She will present a Power Point talk discussing the expansion of the peace efforts to a global perspective. There are now 40 countries worldwide focusing on a United Nations Resolution in this direction. Everyone is invited, and there is no charge. For further information, call E. Betty Levin at 973-763-1033 or 973-763-1035.
The Peace Alliance campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace is part of a worldwide movement to promote the Culture of Peace.  The “Culture of Peace” Working Group of the United Nations NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns is leading an international civil society “peoples” effort to pass a UN Resolution in the General Assembly encouraging ministries or departments of peace in all member states.  Anne will show a power point presentation of the UN Resolution and how you can help plant seeds for its passage.
Anne Creter, MSW, is a licensed social worker, retired from a 30-year public service career in welfare protective services.  As NGO representative to the United Nations for Operation Peace Through Unity, she is co-chair of the “Culture of Peace” Working Group of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns NY.  She serves as UN Liaison to the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace, from having been District Team Leader in her congressional district, as well as New Jersey state co-coordinator of the U.S. Department of Peace campaign.
Adds Betty Levin: “We have an opportunity to shift into HIGH, to help create a Culture of Peace. … Young people, the next generation, are part of this thinking. Senior citizens have a fine opportunity to support and promulgate ideas that can leave a truly better world for our children and grandchildren. Join us on Dec 20 to discover how you can make a difference and to lead to a rededication of our Peace Site with real vitality.“
Dec 27 Open discussion: “A year of re-definition.”
Jan. 3 Risa Olinsky, “The Anti-New Year’s ‘Non-Resolution’: Personal Accountability & Health”
  Risa Olinsky, JCC Metrowest Director of Lifestyle & Wellness and nationally certified wellness coach has over 25 years of experience in the health and wellness field. She has extensive experience in health coaching, exercise testing, personal training, and fitness programming for adults of all ages. Risa is the creator of Count on Yourselftm coaching and founder and executive director of HWPN, The Health & Wellness Professional Network — a professional organization with 200 members across NJ and NY.
  Risa has been featured in Newsweek, the Star Ledger, New Jersey Monthly, New Jersey Life Magazine, and Millburn-Short Hills Magazine as well as numerous other national publications. Currently, she writes on health and fitness topics for the NY Times, blog The Local, here in Maplewood, South Orange and Millburn.
  Risa has taught wellness coaching at UMDNJ’s Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She is a Licensed Certified Wellcoach with Wellcoaches Corporation partnered with the American College of Sports Medicine. She holds three certifications with the American Council on Exercise including Lifestyle & Weight Management Consulting, Personal Training and Group Fitness and has a Specialty Recognition in Nutrition. She has a both a Masters degree in Adult Fitness Management and a BFA in Dance from NYU. 
Jan 10 Dean Sluyter, “Bigger Than Pain, Bigger Than Joy”
  Sometimes we might feel that we’re carrying pain so intense that we’ll never get over it. Sometimes we might feel that we’ve had joy so intense that nothing else can ever match it. Either way, it’s a gloomy prospect. But the sages of Advaita point out that all joy and all pain are experienced within awareness; therefore awareness itself must be “bigger” than both. In this session, Dean will lead a guided meditation and directed self-inquiry facilitating direct experience of your own nature: pristine, sky-like awareness.
  Dean Sluyter (rhymes with “lighter”) has taught natural meditation throughout the U.S. since 1970. He leads the New Jersey Sangha and is a prison chaplain for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Dean teaches at The Pingry School, where, as the developer of the Literature of Enlightenment program, he is a leading innovator in the use of meditative techniques in education. He is a film critic and the author of three books, the most recent being Cinema Nirvana: Enlightenment Lessons from the Movies; he also blogs for The Huffington Post. Dean has given talks and workshops throughout the U.S. at such venues as the Chautauqua Institution, New York Open Center, and Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and has spoken at colleges including Columbia, Rutgers, Wesleyan, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has appeared in various media, including Oprah & Friends Radio and National Public Radio. His work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly, which called his writing “joyously entertaining.”
  Born into a family of musicians and political activists, Dean grew up in New York and Los Angeles. He dropped out of college to hitchhike around the country and embark on a path of spiritual investigation, eventually returning to earn a BA in English and an MA in interdisciplinary education. He was married for twenty-five years to the late artist and dharma teacher Maggy Sluyter and has two grown children.
  Dean has trained and practiced with eminent teachers in various devotional and meditative traditions, with his main focus on the nondual contemplative practices of Buddhism and Advaita. He has completed numerous lengthy retreats in the US and abroad and has made pilgrimages to India, Tibet and Nepal. When not writing or teaching, Dean takes photographs, plays blues harp, sax and harmonium, and happily rides his Vespa through the streets of New Jersey. 



Jan 17 Anne Creter     “Working at The United Nations for A Culture of Peace”
The Peace Alliance campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace is part of a worldwide movement to promote the Culture of Peace.  The “Culture of Peace” Working Group of the United Nations NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns is leading an international civil society “peoples” effort to pass a UN Resolution in the General Assembly encouraging ministries or departments of peace in all member states.  Anne will show a power point presentation of the UN Resolution and how you can help plant seeds for its passage.
Anne Creter, MSW, is a licensed social worker, retired from a 30-year public service career in welfare protective services.  As NGO representative to the United Nations for Operation Peace Through Unity, she is co-chair of the “Culture of Peace” Working Group of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns NY.  She serves as UN Liaison to the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace, from having been District Team Leader in her congressional district, as well as New Jersey state co-coordinator of the U.S. Department of Peace campaign.
Adds Betty Levin: “We have an opportunity to shift into HIGH, to help create a Culture of Peace. … Young people, the next generation, are part of this thinking. Senior citizens have a fine opportunity to support and promulgate ideas that can leave a truly better world for our children and grandchildren. Join us on Dec 20 to discover how you can make a difference and to lead to a rededication of our Peace Site with real vitality.“

Jan 24 Maria Concilio, “A New Paradigm for Gardening with Pollinators in Mind”
  Local beekeeper Maria Concilio will discuss the potentially catastrophic threats facing bees and other pollinators — from environmental pollution and commercial production techniques to the pesticides used in gardens and on pets. She will outline some of the ways in which ordinary gardeners can help save these crucial creatures.
  “I have been keeping bees in South Orange, Maplewood and short Hills for two years & am a member of the New Jersey Beekeepers & Essex County Beekeepers Associations. I mainly became a beekeeper out of a deep commitment to restoring our environnment and felt the bee crisis was connected in a vital way. Little did I know I would become completely enamoured of this amazing little bug that gives us flowers, apples and even honey.
  “I am also raising three children, Raffaella, Ava & Carlo with my husband Jonathan Glasser, and they are the main reason for my cause to help our world be a better place. In my “spare” time I produce handmade soaps and lip balms, under the name, Honey Love Soaps, using beeswax and honey.” 
Jan. 31 Dr. Patrick Swift, “One Mountain, Many Paths: Celebrating Diversity Within Our Communities”
  Peace is not a destination, but a way of being for people of all traditions. Join psychologist and author Dr. Patrick Swift for a session of insightful and inspirational messages that make the path of peace a journey of love. An advocate for mutual respect based on his experience witnessing 9/11 from his NYC hospital and caring for some of the victims, Patrick shows us how celebrating diversity can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. Hailed as a mix between Dr. Oliver Sachs and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Patrick brings a unique mix of multicultural values, respect for diversity and a passion for teamwork to all he does
Patrick formerly studied to become a Jesuit priest and completed the Ignatian 30-day silent retreat. He currently serves as faculty at NYU Langone Medical Center with dual faculty appointments in Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine. Patrick is also a past President of the New York Academy of Traumatic Brain Injury and consulted with the US Army how to best care for our service men and women who have sustained traumatic brain injuries and blast injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. A man of many talents, Patrick is the author of the award-winning book One Mountain, Many Paths and previously hosted two television programs called “One Community, Many Faiths” and “The Diversity Doctor.” Patrick has been seen on national TV on “The O’Reilly Factor” and heard on radio stations across the country including several NPR affiliate



Feb 7 Boe Meyerson, “An Ethics for Both Mind and Heart”
Boe will explore different ways of joining the Right and the Good. Boe Meyerson is the Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. She holds Masters Degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, in Literature and from Columbia University in Philosophy where she also taught Humanities.









Feb 14 Meg Paradise, “Transformational Leadership: WOMEN Taking the Lead”

At a time when the world is short of causes for celebration, here is a candidate to celebrate: within the next few months women will cross the 50% threshold and become the majority of the American workforce. Women make up the majority of university graduates and the majority of professional workers in several rich countries, from PepsiCo in US to Areva in France.

Women’s economic empowerment is the biggest social change of our times. Just a generation ago, women were largely confined to repetitive menial jobs. Today they are running some of the organizations that once treated them as second-class citizens. Millions of women have been given more control over their own lives.

Meg Paradise, who heads up the J.H.Cohn LLP Women’s Leadership Initiative, will be joining us for discussion on this new status of women and how women are bringing about positive changes by moving others beyond self-interests and toward the good of the group, organization and society.

Meg Paradise
Advancing Women’s Leadership at Every Level

Feb 21 Mary WanderPolo, “Planning to Maintain Control as You Age”
Ms. WanderPolo’s presentation will walk participants through the four documents she says everyone over the age of 18 should have: a will, a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive (sometimes called a “living will”). Ms. WanderPolo’s presentation will discuss the finer points of creating each of these four documents as well as how to pay for long term custodial care, what government benefits will cover and what can be done to insure that you receive the care you want, when you need it.
This program will help people determine what care they can expect to receive with current insurance as well as explore where to look for care through other means including Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care insurance.
Mary WanderPolo, CELA, is the principal attorney of WanderPolo Law, LLC, in Montclair, New Jersey. A member of the New York Bar and the New Jersey Bar, she is active in the Elder Law Section of the  New Jersey Bar Association. She has twenty years of experience in the fields of Estate Planning, Elder law and Disability planning. Co-Chair of the Program Committee of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney’s distinguished Council of Advanced Practitioners, Mary has a reputation for incisive legal resourcefulness as well as warm, personal concern for the whole family’s welfare.
Mary WanderPolo has been Certified by the National Elder Law Foundation as a Certified Elder Law Attorney since 1997. After passing a 6 hour examination, the Certification process requires the attorney to demonstrate, through documented cases handled, that she has extensive experience in all areas of elder law. Ms. WanderPolo has passed this certification process, and the equally stringent recertification process since 1997. She is a frequent lecturer for the New Jersey State Bar Association, Lorman and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Feb. 28-- Meredith Sue Willis and Alice Robinson-Gilman, “We All Live Downstream: Mountaintop Removal”

Alice Robinson-Gilman and Meredith Sue Willis will present a platform about Mountaintop Removal in Appalachia, a process by which giant coal mining machines destroy mountains — and often the streams and homes of the people near them. The platform will include both information and readings from a collection of writings by professional and amateur writers from the Appalachian region in response to Mountaintop Removal. The book, We All Live Downstream is published by Motes Books.

Alice Robinson-Gilman and Meredith Sue Willis have collaborated on creating platforms for the Ethical Culture of Essex County since 1995. For many years they and other members organized panel discussions on issues relating to children and the family. For the past several years they have gone on to giving panels on books related to Ethical Culture and ethical issues.

Alice Robinson-Gilman has twice been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ethical Society of Essex County. She was instrumental in shaping the focus of the Sunday School in the 1990’s. She served as co-facilitator of YES (Youth Ethical Society) for two years. In addition to her participation in The Strollers, the community theatre group of Maplewood, Alice has just received her certificate as a Landscape and Horticultural Designer. She lives in Maplewood with her husband, Howard, and her daughter, Molly, a professional singer and actor.

Meredith Sue Willis, novelist, teacher, and native of West Virginia, is a past president of the Essex Ethical Culture Society and past chair of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. She was the featured writer in the fall 2006 issue of Appalachian Heritage, and a featured participant in the Spring 2008 commemoration of the Columbia University sit-ins of 1968, in which she also participated. Her upcoming books include Out of the Mountains, short stories with an Appalachian connection from Ohio University Press, and Ten Strategies to Write a Novel from Montemayor .

For Stephen Colbert's humorous take on this very serious subject, look here , and for a relevant interview of Jeff Biggers by Lenny Lopate in February, 2010, listen here.



Mar 7 Alice Baldwin-Jones, “The Baha’i Faith.” Alice Baldwin-Jones will present an overview of the Bahaíi Faith, its principles and administrative structure,  situating the Bahaíi Faith in its historical context as a way of explaining why Bahaíis are persecuted in Iran.

Alice Baldwin-Jones is a Bahaíi and is a resident of South Orange. She is a doctoral candidate in the Applied Anthropology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University and an Adjunct Lecturer at CCNY.










Mar 14 Sandy Spekman, “Technology and Resources for Those Who are Hearing Challenged.” Sandy Spekman will talk about hearing loss statistics; hearing assistance technology, such as infrared and FM units (demonstration FM will be passed around the audience); and resources in the community such as captioned movies and theatre, community organizations, such as HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America).  
Sandy Spekman is a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing with Hearing Education Services, NYC Department of Education, and works as an itinerant (13 schools a week) teacher in the Bronx. She is also deaf herself, using a cochlear implant  (which she has had for ten years) and a hearing aid. She is active with the Hearing Loss Association of America in several capacities.
Ms. Spekman has lived in South Orange since 1985, when her son was two months old and her daughter was 2 years old. 


Mar 21 Paul Konye, “African Art Music: An Art Form In Search of Identity & Expressive Outlet.” African art music is defined as a category of African music which expresses the traits, peculiarities and characteristics of African indigenous music through Western music notation and its attendant peculiarities. Although expressed in Western notation, it remains essentially African.
Dr. Paul Konye is a musicologist, composer, conductor, and a violinist. He is currently Associate Professor of Music at Siena College. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and his musical education spans three continents—Africa, Europe and North America. Dr. Konye is the author of African Art Music and as a composer, one of his primary interests is to highlight the essence of African art music. Some of his latest compositions include Migrations: A Global Portrait and Tone Poem for Africa.
Mar 28 Marnie Valdivia, “The Strength of the Olive Branch: Joint Grassroots Palestinian and Israeli Peace Organizations.” Marnie Valdivia will be discussing the grassroots peace movement in Israel/Palestine and why joint organizations are so vital to grassroots peace building. Her talk will focus on 5 particular organizations (Windows for Peace, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam, Combatants for Peace, Open House, and the Bereaved Families Forum)—their history, focus of operation and composition; the successes and limitations of such organizations and finally, their overall impact in the peace process. Ms. Valdivia hopes to demonstrate that these organizations make an impact by creating a culture of peace — in line with the ideas Anne Creter outlined on Jan. 17.
Marnie Valdivia is from Belmar, NJ. She is a senior at Drew University (Religious Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies) involved in the Peace Builders, a student group on campus affiliated with Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict. Her area of concentration is Islam, Judaism, Arab-Israeli conflict, and grassroots peace movements and peace building.




Apr 4 Boe Meyerson     “A Spring Celebration”   
Boe will begin by giving a brief introduction to the pros and cons of springtime. She will give a brief Platform address on some of the ambivalences among famous poets to the onset of this traditionally happy season.   All members and newcomers planning to come to our Platform meeting on Sunday April 4 are hereby invited to bring their favorite springtime poems to share with all of us. Boe will start off the program with some of her favorites. Please note that there is room for curmudgeons as well. You are free to bring anti-spring poems if you so desire.
Boe Meyerson is the Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. She holds Masters Degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, in Literature and from Columbia University in Philosophy where she also taught Humanities.



Apr 11 Martin Novemsky, Yiddish and Social Justice
Martin Novemsky will deliver readings in translation of some favorite examples of Yiddish literature, pieces that highlight the intrinsic values of social justice expressed in Yiddish culture and in the language itself. That will be followed by a discussion.
Martin Novemsky, professor emeritus of Theater at Fairleigh Dickinson University, grew up in the Bronx with Yiddish as his first language. It left him with a lifelong love of the language and the culture. As an actor, he has performed readings of his own translations of the work of writers like Sholom Aleichem at various venues in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.
Apr 18 Michelle Munsat, “It’s Not Necessarily Over When The Soldier Returns from Iraq or Afghanistan: Legal Problems Faced by Many of Our Returning Vets”
Michelle Munsat is a member of Military Families Speak Out, a nationwide organization of over 4,000 members, each of whom has a family member or loved one in the military and who is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She will be discussing the problems facing the returning soldiers and the efforts to aid them. Her involvement with MFSO has brought her to a unique understanding of, and involvement in, the legal issues facing military veterans of these wars.
Ms. Munsat is an attorney specializing in plaintiff’s employment and immigration law and appeals. Michelle’s daughter and son-in-law served in the Army, and her son-in-law did one tour in Iraq.
Apr 25 Anthony C. Sciglitano, Jr., From Saeculum to “the Secular”: Narratives of Salvation in Theology and Secular Culture
In the middle ages, “saeculum” indicated a period of time, namely, the time from the beginning of the Christian Church at Pentecost to God’s consummation of Creation in the end. This temporal category was understood as a time of pilgrimage, when souls never fully happy in this life would nevertheless struggle to mirror the virtues of the City of God in their personal, ecclesial, and political lives. In the 14th century, a major shift (one of many!) began to take place in this view of the secular. “The secular” now began to take on the “spatial” significance we are familiar with today: a public region or area of discourse according to reason (law, economics, politics) that makes of faith and its content something for the private, affective sphere. On this account, faith is about particular beliefs/feelings that should be restricted to the private sphere because they cannot be verified by reason and may cause violence, or at least some sort of fanaticism.
Anthony Sciglitano, Ph.D. is currently Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Seton Hall University. His training is in Contemporary Systematic Theology at Fordham University. He has published in professional journals such as Modern Theology and Pro Ecclesia and is finishing a book entitled The Cross and the Covenant: An Anti-Marcionite Theology of Religions with Crossroad press. Anthony is especially interested in contemporary discourse on secularism and Christianity, specifically, and secularism and religions more broadly. He is privileged to chair a department of remarkable people and scholars.

Seton Hall University in South Orange




May 2 Solidarity Singers’ Second Annual ECS May Day Sing-Along. The Solidarity Singers will celebrate the Workers’ Holiday with songs of labor and the continuing struggle for justice.  There will be familiar songs and/or songs with easy to learn choruses.

Jean Romstead says: “This year we will highlight the effects of the current financial crises on workers and non-upper-class people in general. We have sung at rallies and protests this year in front of banks who are reluctant to lend but eager to foreclose on peoples’ homes. We will share some of those songs. We will also do some great songs of labor history past, some of which are unfortunately quite relevant to today.” 




May 9 Mother’s Day Colloquy Betty Levin. While only some members are mothers, all have had or still have mothers and some more than one. We all have powerful ideas about what “mothering” means to us. This is a chance to dip back into those waters, to share our insights, to celebrate or commiserate or re-imagine what mothering can mean. If so inspired, bring photographs or other mementos. As Betty Levin points out in her essay in this newsletter, Mother’s Day had its roots in the goal of caring for all who needed it. Let’s see if “mothering” still evokes that ideal.














May 16 Annual Meeting of the Ethical Culture Society Membership. All members are invited to attend the Annual Meeting of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. Hear a brief re-cap of the year just past and help make plans for the year ahead. We will vote on the budget and for our Board of Trustees for the coming year.

Enjoy refreshments and a chance to catch up with friends at 10 a.m. The meeting will start promptly at 10:30 a.m. and will conclude by 12:30 p.m.



May 23 Afghanistan — conditions on the ground, and what can be done to help. Paul Surovell of South Mountain Peace Actiion will speak. Paul will present an overview of the current U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the public's deeply divided views about it. Paul Surovell is chairperson of South Mountain Peace Action of Maplewood and South Orange, NJ.  He teaches high school math in New York City.  He was editor and publisher of Interflo: A Soviet Trade News Monitor during the '80s and '90s and was an abstractor/indexer for the New York Times Information Bank during the '70s.  Paul was a VISTA Volunteer in 1968 and served as a medic in the US Army from 1969-71, taking part in the GI antiwar movement. He received an MA in economics from the New School in 1976. He was treasurer of the WBAI station board in 2004 and 2005.  

Paul Surovell is a peace activist in Maplewood and South Orange. Paul is chairperson of South Mountain Peace Action (SMPA) of Maplewood and South Orange, editor of SMPA's website and is also an elected member of the WBAI Local Station Board. Paul teaches high school math in New York City. He's been active in the peace movement since his high school days in the 1960s. He served as a medic in the Army from1969 to 1971. He was active in the GI anti-war movement and in Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In recognition for his work with SMPA, Paul received the Sal Santaniello Humanitarian Award from the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County in 2004 and a Proclamation from the Maplewood Township Committee in February 2005. Paul and his wife Judi Kramer, an attorney practicing in New York, have lived in Maplewood since 1977. Paul is married to Judi Kramer and is the father of Maggie Surovell.  He has lived in Maplewood for 33 years and is a member of the Ethical Culture Society


May 30 Memorial Day Discussion with Ethical Leader Martha Gallahue.Is Peace Making too Radical for Us?
Too vague?   Or just plain too different?
The talk will focus on the latest developments in building a culture of peace in the US.    We will look at the benefit of engaging in peace building  in an ethical community.   We will demonstrate how conscience dictates such calls to action in our times. Martha Gallahue is an Ethical Culture Leader who has worked at the United Nations as the Main Represenative for The National Service Conference of the American Ethical Union and for the global United Religions' Initiative.   She has given Platform talks at fifteen ethical culture societies throughout the country.    She now resides in New Jersey with her spouse Elizabeth Alexander.



Sunday, June 6 Boe Meyerson, “The Normandy  Invasion (June 6, 1944) and the Liberation of Europe.” Boe Meyerson is the Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. She holds Masters Degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, in Literature and from Columbia University in Philosophy where she also taught Humanities.



Sunday, June 13 Dr. Howard Radest, “The New Atheists — Sense and Nonsense.”
Several best-sellers have flown the banner of the "new" atheism in recent years. Our colleague, Greg Epstein, who is the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, has just written a book Good Without God. In his innaugural, President Obama mentioned non-believers. So, in this platform talk, I want to reflect on what's going on, and on our part — if anything — in these interesting and puzzling developments. Dr. Howard B. Radest is dean emeritus of the Humanist Institute and a member of the National Council of Ethical Culture Leaders. He has been an author and consultant treating issues of religious and philosophic thought, moral education, ethics and bioethics. Dr. Radest received his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia University.


Sunday, June 20 Ed Bokert on Fathering!




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