UCSB Arts & Lectures held a dinner party with Gloria Steinem on March 2 at the Orfalea Downtown Center to give donors an intimate dining experience and raise funds for its community outreach programs. About 60 fans of this legendary figure attended the soiree, which was underwritten by Lynda Weiman, Bruce Heavin, Sara Miller McCune, and the Orfalea Family, so all proceeds from the $500 tickets go to Arts & Lectures community outreach programs.
During the reception hour, guests mingled with each other and took turns chatting one-on-one with the 82-year-old Steinem. Guests partook of a scrumptious buffet dinner prepared by Kay Bowman Catering while Steinem casually addressed the gathering.
Steinem remarked that she had never seen anything like the danger and energy that exists now. She referred to her talk at The Arlington after the dinner as an “organizing meeting” and since she didn’t know this community, asked the dinner guests for advice. When someone suggested that she be herself, she responded that she “didn’t have any choice.”
She acknowledged her nervousness about public speaking, which was not the least bit apparent from her seemingly effortless remarks here. She shared how she first wanted to be a dancer and then a writer, both of which “are ways of expressing yourself in which you don’t talk…so talking is not my natural mode … so I tend to just do it like I’m in my living room which sometimes gets me in such deep shit.”
This casual conversational mode worked well with the guests, who enjoyed the intimate conversation. Steinem concluded by noting that she was looking forward to the evening because “there’s magic in getting in a space together and seeing what happens.”
The talk at the Arlington, sponsored by the same individuals as the dinner, was sold out long ago. Many watched a simulcast at UCSB Campbell Hall.
Steinem began the lecture by stating that “it is important I think to be hopeful…but it is also important to be skeptical and to look at the real danger so that we use our energies well.” She rallied the 2,000 guests by declaring that “now we are going to demystify and take all of the power away from Trump.” The talk leaped across many subjects, with Steinem sharing her insights and passionate zeal.
Earlier in the day, Arts & Lectures arranged a conversation with Steinem for community leaders and area nonprofit leaders.
Arts & Lectures has an exciting array of lectures and performances lined up for the rest of the season, including Terry Tempest Williams, Isabel Allende, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Naomi Klein. For more information about Arts & Lectures and their events, go to artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu/Index.aspx.
Send event invites to Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Gail Arnold