Michael Hebb starts the conversation
Ideas entrepreneur Michael Hebb, organizer of the Night School Penthouse Symposiums at the Sorrento Hotel—the ghost-pop 1920s hotel on Madison—hosted a fancy discussion last night starring City Year founder Alan Kahzei, who's written a kind of banal book called Big Citizenship.
Despite the so-so book (and Kahzei's desultory lecture about, among other things, how he met his wife), the other speakers in on the symposium—city council member Tim Burgess, state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, PI writer Joel Connelly, League of Education board member Gaurab Bansal, and Urban League head James Kelly, among others—got the crowd going on hot topics: the Tea Party, education, Abraham Lincoln, the McGinn/Conlin debate, George Washington, the media (this was me, defending the media's taste for conflict), political compromise, and angry stump speech rhetoric. Afterward, when the formal discussion broke down into folks just milling about the gorgeous hotel parlor sipping whiskey, the conversation turned to the civil rights movement, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the recent mayoral election in D.C., and more on education reform.
The Penthouse Symposium, Hebb says, used to be called the Midnight Symposium. But that scared people off because, he noted, Seattleites are a little intimidated by the idea of going so late.
Au contraire—last night was just getting started when the formal talk wrapped up at 10.