Magazine article Humanities

In Focus: Ted Lord

Magazine article Humanities

In Focus: Ted Lord

Article excerpt

TED LORD CAN POINT TO A MAP OF WASHINGTON STATE AND CONVEX WITH A SORT OF CONTAGIOUS enthusiasm, the wide-ranging impact of Humanities Washington.

There are the Story Exploring family reading programs in Seattle and other urban school districts, and a migrant-worker literacy drive that stretches across much of the state's rural farms and orchards. His organization sponsors dozens of Inquiring Mind community conversation events, at which experts lead seminars with intriguing titles, such as "Tea, True Womanhood, and Uppity Women" and "Speeders, Galloping Geese and Doodlebugs: Little Trains that Served the Northwest." Humanities Washington also has the ambitious goal of hosting at least one such event annually in each of Washington's thirty-nine counties by 201 I.

As executive director, Lord is also enthused about the organization's move later this year into the historic Stimson-Green mansion in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. The eclectic, almost whimsical, architecture of the many-gabled 107-year-old mansion-with English Tudor, Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical touches inside and out-makes the mansion a popular spot for wedding receptions and murder-mystery dinners. It will still offer those and, with Humanities Washington headquartered there, it will also provide a perfect spot for salon-style gatherings.

Still, as interesting as all these gatherings and events are, there seems to be even a bit more twinkle in Lord's eyes as he discusses Humanities Washington's goals for serving an online world. Befitting Seattle's reputation as a high-tech hub, Lord envisions using the Web to stitch an entire new fabric of communication-and wisdom-into the state's cultural tapestry.

"We are living in a golden age for pamphleteers," says Lord, leaning in to emphasize the "golden" bit. "It has become possible to connect people in ways never available before. The Web brings together huge numbers of people, of course. But it also allows us to find narrower and narrower slices of affinity."

And while the idea of "cloud computing" is often cited as a way to put many minds to work simultaneously on a scientific or engineering challenge, Lord envisions ways that an online community could come together and collaborate in other ways-to think, to philosophize, to write a poem, or a story. …

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