“He wanted 80 lectures,” laughs East Hampton Library Board member Brooke Kroeger Goren, but, she points out, the organizing committee settled on 12 to inaugurate Tom Twomey’s dream series, Conversations With, the project he was working on with her when he died this past November. “Amazingly,” she adds, “the committee came together easily,” although both time and weather were against them. And now, as the series will prove, the best memorials don’t look back, but ahead.
Conversations With will continue the commitment of Twomey, the former chairman of the Library’s Board of Managers, to broaden and deepen awareness of a wide variety of ideas, issues and topics of current interest and of particular significance to the East End. The series will do so in a spirit that honors the high level of discourse Twomey demonstrated in the volumes he edited for the library’s East Hampton Historical Collection, a cornucopia of local history texts and photographs. The series will also reflect Twomey’s dedication to ensuring that these archival materials are available to the public.
An attractive website, TomTwomeySeries.org, lists programs, speakers, hosts and dates. The talks, which will take place in the library’s elegant new Baldwin Family Lecture Room, will run from April 18 to September 19, augmented by relevant exhibitions. Each lecture begins with a glass—or two—of wine at 4 p.m., the reception followed by the presentation, from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m., including Q&A. The entire series is free and 2015 is only the start of a legacy that will “only get better,” according to Goren. LTV will be filming the series, which will be archived online.
It seems only fitting that the launch lecture on April 18, hosted by the board’s first vice president, Ann Chapman, chair of the Long Island Collection for many years, will feature the dedication of the Tom Twomey Gallery, the space adjoining the Baldwin Family Room. Long Island Collection head Gina Piastuck, joined by library staff and board members, will offer comments on the unique collection Twomey bequeathed.
This year’s lectures will include “Meeting Climate Change Challenges: A Coastal Community Perspective,” with Linda B. James; “The Interaction of Ticks and Our Immune System,” with Dr. George Dempsey; a WWI centennial commemoration, “Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War,” with soprano Brett Kroeger and pianist Christopher Denny; “The Political Biographer,” with Blanche Wiesen Cooke and Richard Reeves; “From Natural Landscape to Native Plants: A Passion for Nature at The New York Botanical Garden,” with Todd Forrest; “Saving Our Communities from Fiscal Crises,” featuring Richard Ravitch and Larry Cantwell; “The U.S. Congress: Is the Branch Still Broken,” led by former Congressman Tim Bishop; “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About North Korea but Were Afraid to Ask,” with Robert Boynton; “Update: The Strangling of a Resort,” with Paul Goldberger revisiting his iconic New York Times piece about development in East Hampton; “A Farewell to Sport,” with Robert Lipsyte; and Bruce Collins, on “tales from the heart of our sea,” based on new whaling acquisitions in the library’s Long Island Collection.
“Come often and come prepared,” encourages Brooke Kroeger, urging prospective audiences to access the website where details about topics and speakers can be found. She also says that everyone should feel welcome to suggest themes for future talks.
As if blessing the new program on the eve, so to speak, of its inauguration, The New York Council for the Humanities announced that the library was awarded a grant for the series, which Library Director Dennis Fabiszak notes was “awesome news.” Suffolk County Bank is underwriting the series as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.