Crosscut Festival is over, but the conversation continues

A session with Nikole Hannah-Jones on Saturday marked the end of our annual ideas festival, but you can still experience every session.

Nikole Hannah-Jones speaking

Nikole Hannah-Jones, left, answers a question from University of Washington professor of political science Christopher Sebastian Parker during the keynote program for the Crosscut Festival at Town Hall Seattle on May 8, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

One of the greatest difficulties in putting on an ideas festival like the Crosscut Festival is that you don't know exactly what will be on people's minds once the conversations start. The festival is booked months in advance and, given the nature of the modern news cycle, there's no guarantee that the world will look the same months later.

Of course, there are a lot of topics we can expect audiences to show up for no matter the news cycle. Societal inequities, the pandemic and partisanship, for instance, aren't going anywhere any time soon. Still, we could never have guessed that the country would be rocked by a Supreme Court leak the night before the festival began.

That is what happened, though. On the morning of Tuesday, May 3, as our resident historian Knute Berger was kicking off the festival by interviewing author Pamela Paul about the ways the internet has changed our world, the internet was churning with news of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court that signaled a likely end to Roe v. Wade

In this case we were ready for the moment. We had already planned a conversation about the past, present and future of reproductive rights in the United States featuring Amicus host Dahlia Lithwick and three expert guests. As Lithwick said at the beginning of the session, "The conversation you are about to hear literally could not be more urgent or timely or necessary." The draft opinion would come up in a number of other sessions throughout the week, including those featuring Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as my interview with New York Times journalist Ezra Klein

Then, of course, there is the opportunity with a festival like this to make news. That is what happened on Saturday during a session with Gov. Jay Inslee in which the governor indicated that Washington's vaccine requirement for state workers would continue

That is also what happened during Judy Woodruff's interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, though the chief medical advisor to the president likely didn't plan to make news. After a portion of the prerecorded conversation was aired on PBS Newshour the week before, Fauci was called out for saying that the U.S. had exited the "pandemic phase" of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci did some additional interviews to clarify his view. And Fauci's words in that segment were confusing, but, really, that clarification was already there in the full interview that festival attendees watched last week. 

The truth is that the views expressed in so many of the sessions that took place last week could never be captured in a sound bite or a segment. Whether it is the experience of those living in homelessness, the challenges facing our schools or the difficulties of understanding something as complex as the war in Ukraine, the full conversation is really required. 

The crowd applauds as Nikole Hannah-Jones is introduced during the keynote program for Crosscut Festival at Town Hall Seattle on Saturday, May 8, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/ Crosscut)

Fortunately, the full interviews are still available. For a limited time, more than two dozen of the Crosscut Festival sessions are streaming on our festival website. And starting tonight at 7 p.m. — and continuing at the same time every night this week — KCTS 9 will broadcast a number of our keynote sessions, including those with Fauci, environmentalist Bill McKibben and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who closed out the largely virtual festival on Saturday, May 7, with a frank, in-person conversation about our nation's history in front of 500 attendees at Town Hall Seattle.    

Those and almost every other session from the festival will also be available through the Crosscut Talks podcast. We have already posted the Roe v. Wade session and the full interview with Fauci, and we will continue to post three sessions each week for the next couple of months.

I am the host of that podcast, which means that in the coming weeks I will listen to every one of those sessions. I hope you’ll join me.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten is the former director of digital news at Crosscut and KCTS 9.