What Are Topic Meetings
Topic meetings (formerly called “unit” meetings) are opportunities to learn about or discuss a particular topic of interest to our members and our community. Topic Meetings are held throughout the year, at different times and venues. Information about upcoming topic meetings are included in the LWVN weekly news updates and on our Facebook page. You can also find information about our upcoming topic meetings by consulting the homepage of this website, and checking the calendar.
LWVN members with ideas for topic meeting topics or other issues of concern that they would like to hear addressed, should contact us.
Members of the public are welcome to attend!
Topic Meetings 2021-2022
Stay Tuned for new events coming up!
What we have already learned:
September 13, 2021 (Monday, 7:00-8:00pm) – Reimaging our Village Centers. As part of the City’s community engagement efforts related to the redesign of the City’s Zoning Code, LWVN invited community members to get together to share their experiences of, and their future visions for, their village centers. The City will use the input generated by this meeting to help it identify areas of research for how to update zoning for village centers.
Read here for more information on the City’s Zoning Code redesign process, and the results of its community engagement with regard to village centers.
Topic Meetings 2020-2021
May 25, 2021 (Tuesday, 7:30-8:30pm) – Voices of the Next Generation: A Youth Panel on Civic Action. A riveting and thought provoking conversation with Newton’s younger generation exploring the issues surrounding youth engagement in civic action. This conversation will be facilitated by Nickki Dawes, PhD (Director of Center for Community-Based Learning & Associate Professor of Psychology, Lasell University) and included panelists include: Rachel Alpert-Wisnia, Emma Applbaum, Ethan Dhadly, Elianna Kruskal, Edie Pike, and Laila Polk-Thomas.
Read this article from the New York Times: “An Army of 16-Year-Olds’ Take on the Democrats”, about how young progressives have made an impact on the Massachusetts election scene.
March 10, 2021 (Tuesday, 7:00-8:30pm) – Representing the 4th: A Conversation with Barney Frank, Joe Kennedy III, and Jake Auchincloss. More than 300 people joined us for this informative and entertaining conversation with the three most recent representatives to the 4th Congressional District, all Newtonites.
View a recording of the conversation.
Read more about the 4th Congressional District and our representatives.
February 22, 2021 (Monday, 7:00-8:00pm) – Over 70 people joined us for a roundtable discussion on the Use and Preservation of Crystal Lake, with the Crystal Lake Conservancy. The Crystal Lake Conservancy began the discussion with a presentation on the environmental sustainability of the Lake. The discussion went on to explore questions such as:
- How the rules and regulations regarding the use of the Lake for swimming, boating and fishing compliment the environmental concerns regarding the use of the Lake?
- How do they compete with those environmental concerns?
- Do the current rules and regulations concerning the use of the Lake best meet the desires of the general public to use the Lake as a resource for recreation?
View a recording of the discussion.
January 10, 2021 (Sunday, 3:00-4:30pm). An intimate group of LWVN members and members of the community participated in an interesting and lively discussion of the book Factfulness. Factfulness explains how our worldview has been distorted with the rise of new media, how ten common human instincts can prevent us from seeing the world factfully, and how we can learn to overcome these innate biases to help separate fact from fiction when forming our opinions and to see the world more positively.
If you are interested in the topic, here are some additional resources to explore:
- Gapminder website
- Summary and Notes on Factfulness
- Factfulness Summary and Review
- Ted Talk: How Not to be Ignorant About the World
- You Tube Videos:
November 19, 2020 (Thursday, 7:30-9:00pm). Newton’s Zoning Reform. Newton resident and experienced local architect, Jay Walter, delivered an informed and comprehensive presentation on how the City Council is proposing to change Newton’s Zoning Ordinance, how those changes differ from current zoning, and what effect those changes will have on our community. Almost 90 people attended this virtual presentation.
View a recording of the presentation.
November 17, 2020 (Tuesday, 6:30-8:00pm). The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
LWVN joined with the Newton Free Library and Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ) for a presentation by author Richard Rothstein who argued with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state and federal levels, and offered several concrete suggestions for how to address the housing and economic inequities caused by these policies.
During this virtual session, attendees also heard a conversation between library director, Ellen Meyers, and community activist, Richard Evans, who told his family’s story of encountering discrimination in the 1960’s during the state’s eminent domain taking of land for the construction of the Mass Pike bypass through Newton.
To wrap up the session, Newton City Councilor Deb Crossley introduced attendees to the efforts being made by the City Council to address housing inequities in Newton by engaging in a comprehensive review of Newton’s zoning codes.
October 20, 2020 (Tuesday, 7:00-8:30pm) – Voting is Voice: Women’s Suffrage and Beyond. Together with Project Citizenship, The Philanthropy Connection, The Wellesley Centers for Women, and League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA), LWVN co-sponsored this virtual forum. A panel of accomplished women reflect on why elections, voting and civic engagement matter so much, considering both the success and shortcomings of the suffrage movement; the empowerment of new voters today; and what future work remains to ensure all citizens can and do exercise their voting rights.
Previous Topic Meetings
Topic Meetings 2019-2020
February 26, 2020 (Wednesday, 7:00-9:00pm) – we hosted a Climate Change Forum at the Scandinavian Cultural Center. The leagues of Framingham, Needham, Wayland, Wellesley and Weston joined us as co-sponsors. Almost 90 people attended this event. We discussed the current state of climate change science and implications for society, the current status and importance of the regional transportation and climate initiative, and the plan to help transition gas utilities to delivery of clean, safe, renewable energy and the importance of the FUTURE Act. Our panelists included Craig Altemose, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Better Future Project; Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director of the Acadia Center; Audrey Schulman, Co-founder and Executive Director of HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team), and Zeyneb Magavi, Director of HEET. State Senator Cynthia Creem, a sponsor of the FUTURE ACT, also attended and provided remarks on the FUTURE Act and current state legislative efforts to address climate change.
Additional Resources from the Climate Change Forum.
February 13, 2020 (Thursday, 7:00 Pm to 8:30PM) we hosted a forum at the Durant Kendrick House on the binding referendum election regarding the Northland Development Project that was to appear on the ballot on March 3, 2020 (the same day as the presidential primary).
December 1, 2019 (Sunday, 3:00-4:30pm) – Barbara Berenson Book Group. About 20 LWVN and community members gathered at the Waban Library Center to participate in a book group discussion with Newton resident and author Barbara F. Berenson, who had also previously presented at a forum held at the Newton Free Library in October. We had an interesting and lively discussion of the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Massachusetts and more generally in the US, and of the issues of woman’s rights and social justice in today’s political & cultural environment. The discussion was coupled with a nice spread of refreshments and holiday cheer.
November 12, 2019 (Tuesday, 7:00-8:30pm) – Sheriff Koutijian on Criminal Justice. LWVN hosted Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian at the Angier Elementary School. This forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters from Acton, Arlington, Weston and Winchester. Sheriff Koutoujian spoke to an audience of over 40 people about the work of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, partnerships with local law enforcement, and efforts to address the needs of justice-involved individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. He also discussed innovative programs for incarcerated military veterans and young adult offenders.
October 30, 2019 (Wednesday at 7:00pm) – The Suffrage Movement and Women’s Rights. LWVN joined the Newton Free Library, Historic Newton, and the Newton Human Rights Commission, as co-sponsor to the event, “After Suffrage: A 20/20 Perspective on Women’s Rights, 1920 – 2020.” Hosted by author Barbara Berenson, this talk explored how women have fared politically and legally over the past century; considered how women activists have built alliances and shaped laws in an effort to combat stereotypes, discrimination and gender-based violence at home, at work and in the public sphere; and reviewed the long and ongoing campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment.
September 15, 2019 (Sunday, 5:00-6:30pm) – Thoughts on the Constitution. Held at the Durant-Kenrick House, we tackled the question of whether our Constitution is “holding up to the test of time.” Our speaker was Jed Shugerman, a Newton resident and former Bowen PTO co-chair, and nationally known law professor and legal historian at Fordham University in New York. About 40 people attended and engaged in a robust discussion of the Constitution.
Topic Meeting Archives
See our Topic Meeting Archives.