Sunday, September 28, 2008

Panelists Reflect Back Stage

By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate at The Connecticut Forum

After The Presidency ended on stage, things got
very busy back stage!

Check out these post-Forum reactions from some of our panelists!

Elizabeth Edwards describes her experience at The Connecticut Forum:

Matthew Dowd:

Stay tuned! More to come!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate of The Connecticut Forum

Intermission is a VERY busy time backstage...check it out!

Forum volunteers sort thru your many questions

Moderator Michel Martin prepping on the stairs for the second half

YOUTH Forum member Ornella Thompson looks on
as she prepares to welcome the crowd to the second half

Elizabeth Edwards enjoying Ornella's speech

Lights! Camera! Forum!

By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate at The Connecticut Forum

It’s official! The Presidency is underway, and along with it, the 2008-2009 season of The Connecticut Forum!

The stage, just before the panelists step out

Executive Director Doris Sugarman,
and Founding President Richard Sugarman welcome the crowd

The panel has finally made it to the stage!

Pre-Forum Cocktails and Dinner

By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate at The Connecticut Forum

I’m back!

Dinner is underway, with Forum panelists, friends, and sponsors enjoying delicious food and fueling up for the great evening ahead!

Sponsors and other friends of the Forum mingle with panelists while enjoying a few drinks

CT Forum staff members
Sandy Morrow (The Ticket Empress)
and Linda Kollmorgen (The Dinner Queen)

More to come! The panel will be hitting the stage soon!

Live! It's The Presidency!

By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate at The Connecticut Forum

Hello Forum Fans!

Tonight marks the kickoff of our exciting 2008-2009 Season with our first Forum, The Presidency. This evening our elite panel of historians and insiders will take a look at the nations highest office..where its been, and where its going.

The panel includes:

Elizabeth Edwards
, Political Insider and Inspirational Woman

Matthew Dowd, Chief Strategist of the 2004 Bush-Cheney Campaign

Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Historian and Author of Founding Brothers

Michel Martin, Host of NPR's Tell Me More will Moderate

I am here to provide you with an exclusive behind the scenes look at tonight's Forum...let's get started!

The panelists have arrived and are settling into The Connecticut Culinary Institute, where the pre-Forum cocktail and dinner are held.

First Stop? The panelist meeting room. Here the panel meets and greets each other before the evening begins, and take a few moments to sign some autographs. Take a look!

Then it is off to the press confrence where members of the media, as well as our very own YOUTH Forum members have a chance to intimately ask the panelists a few questions.

Check back here in a few minutes for clips from the press confrence, and the dish on dinner!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Connecticut YOUTH Forum: Straight Talk on Stereotypes

By Katlyn Knox, Executive Associate at The Connecticut Forum

This week, over 150 students from high schools all over the state of Connecticut kicked off the school year with the first monthly meeting of The Connecticut YOUTH Forum. Students from near and far came together in the cafeteria of Avon High School to listen, talk, and connect. This month’s focus: Stereotypes.

As a relatively new employee of The Connecticut Forum, this was the first YOUTH Forum meeting I have ever attended and I did not really know what to expect. I understood that the YOUTH Forum held monthly meetings that were focused on specific topics, and that adults could participate as silent observers, but I couldn’t imagine how this would work. I mean, more than 100 teenagers in a room engaging in civil and respectful dialogue…with microphones? Was this even possible? How?

I learned. I had heard that microphones would be passed…driven with minimal facilitation from adults, and I was absolutely blown away by the conversation I witnessed. To see such a large group of teens from very diverse walks of life speaking on their own accord about such a touchy subject was amazing. I was awestruck by the rawness, intelligence, and passion in their comments.

“It’s OK the be open minded, to have an opinion, and not be afraid to say what you want to say,said Tina, a Senior at New Britian High School.

And they weren’t afraid. The conversation was broad and heartfelt, with students defining what the word stereotype meant to them, and sharing their own experiences.

The highlight of the afternoon, to me, came when Kyle, a Freshmen at Rham High School stood up and explained an experience he h

“When we first started playing (hockey) everyone in the league was white, and there was one new black kid. We all assumed that that he would be the one that we probably wouldn’t be able to trust with plays and pass the ball to. He ended up being the fastest and highest scoring kid on our team.”

This young man, standing up in front so many other students and candidly admitting his own wrong, spoke directly to the mission of The Connecticut YOUTH Forum, which is to bring youth together through discussion and action while providing opportunities for growth and exploration.

I know that have grown from the experience of participating in this meeting as a silent observer. Days later, the comments and ideas that were expressed by those teens have stuck with me, kept me thinking, and have me looking forward to the next meeting.

Read more about the CT YOUTH Forum meeting at Avon High School in the Hartford Courant blog post, "Teens Talk Stereotypes at Avon HS."

For more information on The Connecticut YOUTH Forum, and how you can get involved, visit or call (860) 509-0909 ext. 12

Monday, September 22, 2008

If These Walls Could Talk: A Forum Virtual Open House

By Jamie Daniel, Forum Advancement Associate

Forum Playbills Line the Walls

Last week we hosted an Open House at our office to kick-off our 17th Season. We had longtime friends to The Forum and newcomers alike, and everyone had a chance to peruse past playbills, have a glass of wine, talk to YOUTH Forum members and check out the pictures on the walls.

As a new employee of The Forum, this event was a chance for me to experience a bit of the buzz that surrounds Forum events and to take in some of the history of The Forum.

I see the proof of the amazing Forum history every day, but this open house gave me the chance to sit back and really think about the organization that I am now a part of and all the dynamic and interesting personalities that have come to The Forum over the years.

Walter Cronkite was here? Toni Morrison? Bill Cosby? Benazir Bhutto? Jennifer Weiner, Joyce Carol Oates and Kurt Vonnegut?

All of these amazing people came to Hartford to engage in conversation and discuss the things that are important to them? It's a lot to think about.

Here are a few pictures off the walls of our office that provide a glimpse of the Forum past and present. Enjoy!

Bucky Dent and Carlton Fisk together on stage - and laughing!

Nobel Peace Prize winners Elie Wiesel (at left), Jody Williams and Oscar Arias came to The Forum for A Nobel Evening to discuss war and peace, ironically on the very first day of the Iraq war.

In The Power of Music in 2002, Trey Anastasio (below) was totally enthralled with Nicholas Payton's trumpet tunes. Trey later invited Nicholas to perform on his next album.

Thomas Friedman naps (above) while Malcolm Gladwell thinks and twirls his hair.
So this is what happens in the Green Room back stage!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Schools Working with Community: A Radical Idea?

By Pat Rossiter, Connecticut YOUTH Forum Program Manager

This recent article from the Associated Press piqued my interest.

It seems Waterbury Public Schools, along with other Connecticut school districts, is doing something radical: Teachers and parents will be participating with each other in the management of the schools!

I have to say, I’m confused, confounded and amazed all at once. I guess I figured they had been doing this all along. In Forum-land, two heads are generally better than one and people are happier and more productive when they get to participate in the decision making.

Would it be crazy of me to suggest they talk to the kids too? OK…maybe that’s going too far.

On a slightly more inspirational note… let's hear it for this amazing kid!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Former Forum Panelists Weigh in on Palin

Leave a comment or email us at info at ctforum dot org by Wednesday, September 17 at noon EST for a chance to win two tickets to The Presidency! Good luck!

These days, it seems that everyone's talking about politics, preparedness, and Palin. (But mostly the latter.)

Here's what a few former Connecticut Forum panelists have to say...

Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
“ can disagree with some of her positions, I disagree violently with some of them, but…she is the governor of a state, you don’t get to be a governor by accident... She has balanced raising a family with public service and my hat's off to her.”
“You want to have a spirited, close race where the public really has to sit down and think what they want and who they are going to vote for. That’s good for democracy. I think she is to be congratulated. I wish her and John McCain well. And I wish Joe Biden and Barack Obama well...I hope the press focuses on the issues instead of some of the personal things that seem to have dominated the press for the last few days. It was really a shame.” Read more...
Gloria Steinem:
Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton...Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs." Read more...
Newt Gingrich:
"She is the real thing," Gingrich said. "But she is going to make mistakes, and her ability to withstand what (the media) will legitimately try to do to her" will determine "whether she is an enormous asset and game changer, or she turns out to be a liability." Read more...
Mo Rocca:
Let's face it: this is a race between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Joe Biden is dead weight - a good man, perhaps, and funny at times. But he can be downright tedious - speaking in undiagrammable sentences. And McCain is ideologically rudderless - this week a maverick, last week conservative, next week a populist - all the while nervously tugging at his fingers, hoping he can hitch a ride on the Palins' DC-bound snowmobile. Read more...
Pat Buchanan:
"...she's a terrific gal. She's a rebel, reformer..." Watch video clip...
Thomas Friedman:
With his choice of Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change, for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil. Read more...
Ann Coulter:
John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his running mate finally gave Republicans a reason to vote for him -- a reason, that is, other than B. Hussein Obama. They claimed Palin was chosen only because she's a woman. In fact, Palin was chosen because she's pro-life, pro-gun, pro-drilling and pro-tax cuts. She's fought both Republicans and Democrats on public corruption and does not have hair plugs like some other vice presidential candidate I could mention. In other words, she's a "Republican." Read more...
Alec Baldwin:
"John McCain is not George Bush, Sarah Palin is." Read more...
Peggy Noonan:
Much has been said about her speech, but a few points. “The difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick” is pure American and goes straight into Bartlett’s. This is the authentic sound of the American mama, of every mother you know at school who joins the board, reads the books, heads the committee, and gets the show on the road. These women make large portions of America work...There is something so normal about her, so “You’ve met this person before and you like her,” that she broke through in a new way, as a character vividly herself, and vividly genuine. Read more... or read/watch her unedited live comments...
James Carville:
"This is a very, very complicated world and my problem with this woman is not what kind of mother she is or not what her values's that she's just uniquely and supremely unqualified for the office of which they've selected to run for and it's kind of unfair to her." Watch the video...
Mary Matalin:
"She's new, she's fresh, she's young, people like her..." Watch the video...
Frank Rich:
"We still don’t know a lot about Palin except that she’s better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women...Whatever we do and don’t know about Palin’s character at this point, there is no ambiguity in what her ascent tells us about McCain’s character and potential presidency..." Read more...

Friday, September 5, 2008

When We Yell at our TV, Do We Really Expect it to Answer?

The political debates have begun, the VP picks have been vetted, the thinly veiled insults have been hurled and the issues have been examined. Yup, it’s election time.

And where has the average American been through all of this? Well from what we’ve been hearing, a lot of us have been at home, yelling at our tvs and doing our part to stimulate engaging political debate.

Here’s what some Connecticut residents tell us that they have been yelling from their couches:
“People really believe this stuff?”

“Leave her daughter alone!”

“Who votes for this guy?”

“You go girl!”

“I can’t even remember what I used to watch before election coverage took over…”

“I cannot survive four years of him.”

“What’s a Palin?”

“Could their daughter BE any cuter?”

“My nightly Law & Order fix is cancelled for this?”

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you identify yourself with, we can all agree that the current presidential race has given us a lot to think about and question as the political drama unfolds. We’re just happy that people are talking – even if it’s just to their tvs!