Humans with our large complex brains have an innate thirst for knowledge, whether understanding nature or delving into our own psyches. The upcoming Crossroads Lecture Series gives islanders a chance to use their brains in an exploration of the mysteries of love, a potential natural disaster, the extinction of languages and the impact of giving. The series brings speakers to Orcas Island to share their expertise on timely and important issues.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Relationship Institute present “Making Love Last,” Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m. at Orcas Center. The couple are elaborated researchers and couples counselors, who will delve into the mysteries of love exploring its origins and answering some tough questions, like what makes relationships work and what destroys relationships.
The “Gottman Method Couples Therapy” is known for translating scientific ideas into practical advice. At the upcoming lecture they will share their research about love and what it takes to develop a trustful, intimate and emotionally fulfilling bond. Julie Gottman said love is attainable, but can be a challenge for certain people.
“Some people cannot commit to a partner and long-lasting love depends in part on commitment,” she said.
One patient she treated grew up in a cold, detached and critical family and found it hard to stay faithful in his own marriage. But she said most people can find love once they get into a healthy relationship.
The Gottmans have found that humans are a species that benefits from long-term monogamous partnerships.
“When relationships work well, studies have shown that are a resource for health, speedier recovery from illness, longer lifespans, greater wealth and improved well-being of children,” said Julie Gottman.
John Gottman’s recently released a book “What Makes Love Last?: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal” will be on sale and he will be available for signing at the reception after the lecture.
Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, will talk about a potential natural disaster. “The Next Big One: Earthquake and Tsunami Risks in the San Juan Islands” is Sunday, April 7, is 2 p.m at Orcas Center.
Every few hundred years or so, the Pacific Northwest experiences a tremendous Cascadia Earthquake. Walsh will discuss the risks of such an earthquake, and the resulting tsunami, in the San Juan Islands.
Walsh earned bachelors and masters degrees in geology from UCLA, and has been practicing geology in Washington for more than 32 years and has taught the subject at South Puget Sound Community College for nearly 30 years. Walsh has performed extensive geologic mapping in many parts of the state — as well as tsunami hazard mapping, active fault characterization, and landslide and abandoned coal-mine hazard assessments.
Dr. Greg Anderson presents “Vanishing Languages: The Salish Experience” on Wednesday, May 1, 5 p.m., at Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Hall. He is the director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and National Geographic Society Fellow.” Anderson will discuss how the global language extinction crisis stands out among the most widespread but still poorly known social issues of the 21st century.
“It is because language shift is happening largely among subjugated and ignored segments of the population,” he said.
Throughout the lecture, Anderson will contextualize the global language extinction crisis, its causes and consequences, and speak to the situation in the Pacific Northwest region.
“Many of the voices of this region have already fallen silent, but steps are being taken to combat the language extinction crisis on the local level,” said Anderson. “I highlight some grass-roots movements among federally recognized groups as well as communities that lack current federal recognition from the region, focusing on language groups that belong to the Dene and Salish families.”
Anderson delves into the deeper ideas of what language can and can’t achieve. For instance, languages creates identity and a unique historical record
But Anderson said there is a myth that common language leads to mutual understanding.
“It can be easily disproven by the incredible number of civil wars fought in the past and present, including our own Civil War – common language didn’t stop that – in fact I am unaware of any war ever having been fought over language as the primary motivating factor,” he said.
“Questioning Charity: The Real Impact of Giving” is on Sunday, May 12, 2 p.m. at Orcas Center.
Award-winning writer Sallie Tisdale will talk about the challenges and successes of international aid work, and recount her experiences volunteering in a village in Uganda.
“I hope that my lecture will encourage people not to have simplistic or unconsidered ideas about charity of any kind, but help people to reflect on the complexities of our interrelationships,” she said.
Tisdale is the author of seven books including “The Best Thing I Ever Tasted: The Secret of Food” and her latest, “Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom.” Her essays have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker and the Antioch Review. Tisdale is also a teacher and a palliative care and hospice nurse.
Her philosophy is that happiness is deeply entwined with generosity.
“Doing charity as I have in Uganda has embodied old questions about our responsibility to each other, what it means to be wealthy or poor, the nature of altruism and selfishness, the encounter with fear, and many other things,” said Tisdale. “It’s forced me to think in a new way about happiness.”
Tickets to the lectures are $10 at Darvill’s Bookstore or at the door. Tickets for all four lectures are $30. Visit www.orcascrossroads.org for more information.