After his fascinating lecture at the Arlington Theatre on April 20, Thomas Friedman joined about 20 select donors from UCSB’s Arts & Lectures for a pleasurable, intimate reception in the private dining room at Olio e Limone Ristorante.
Even in his television appearances on Charlie Rose and others shows, Friedman exudes a friendly spirit, and in this intimate setting his warmth of spirit was all the more palpable. For donors who enjoy his TV appearances and his regular column in the New York Times, being able to casually converse one-on-one with this preeminent author and journalist over a glass of wine and gourmet nibbles was a pure delight.
Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, is known for his complex yet clear analysis of issues facing the world. Vanity Fair has dubbed him the country’s best newspaper columnist and The Wall Street Journal has placed him second on its list of influential business leaders.
Friedman gave a riveting talk at The Arlington that discussed themes from his most recent book, Thank You for Being Late, an Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. Friedman explained the title derives from his breakfast guests frequently arriving late to the restaurant and his use of that downtime to eavesdrop, people watch, reflect, and connect ideas that previously had eluded him. He realized the benefit to this downtime and started thanking his guests for being late. He also noted the serious need, at this point in history, to reflect, re-think, and reimagine.
A main focus in this fast-paced talk were three major nonlinear accelerations all occurring at the same time: the market, in terms of digital globalization; mother nature, in terms of climate change, biodiversity loss, and population growth; and Moore’s law, which states that the speed and power of microchips will double ever 24 months, which has more or less held up for 52 years. The incredible power of the exponential, he explained, has lead to “some funky stuff” such as self-driving cars. He admonished that political leaders need to figure out how to get the best out of these three accelerations and cushion the bad effects that they engender.
In a fascinating Q&A after the lecture, Friedman emphasized the importance of healthy communities. Pointing to the lack of trust and other factors paralyzing the federal government and the weakness of so many families who are headed by a single parent, he sees healthy communities as “the right governing unit for the 21st century.”
Before leaving the donor reception, Friedman thanked everyone and stated that UCSB Arts & Lectures “is one of the great lecture series in this country,” and noted how familiar he was with all of them. This was the third time Arts & Lectures has brought Friedman to our piece of paradise. In general, ticket sales cover only about 30 percent of Arts & Lectures expenses, making donor contributions critical.
The Friedman main event was sponsored by Susan and Craig McCaw. The donor reception was sponsored by Kath Lavidge and Ed McKinley.
For more information about Arts & Lectures, go to artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
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By Gail Arnold