Shifting Landscapes October 18th

Mason County District Library and Abondia Center continue the new public lecture series, Shifting Landscapes, on Monday, October 18, with Strangers: Who Are We? at 7-8:30 pm at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, and on Zoom, featuring MSU philosopher ethicist Stephen Esquith.

Click to jump to reading resources related to Stephen Esquith’s talk can be found below.

         During 2021-2022, Shifting Landscapes looks at six areas of our lives that have been reshaped by Covid-19 and the many events that have occurred in the past 20 months. October events focus on “community.”

         Stephen Esquith will explore the most expansive experience of community yet in the series, our relation to strangers. “I am interested,” Esquith commented, “how our responsibilities to strangers might have shifted as a result of Covid-19.  How have our lives in cyberspace (e.g., on Zoom, social media) affected our responsibilities to others?  Have we created new connections with others who were not visible to us before?”

         Esquith also notes, “We’ll also consider such questions as, “Have our responsibilities to those previously close to us been weakened by this shift from physical to virtual presence?  What does it mean to think of others as ‘distant strangers,’ or does this term make less sense now that we are more virally as well as virtually connected?”

         “When the team was thinking about topics for the series,” began Cathy Organ, the Shifting Landscapes’ team member who recommended community as a topic, “I kept drifting back to covid. I thought how, in the aftermath of that and everything else that went with it, different concerns would hit me in stages. First I was aware of myself as an individual—my strengths and my limitations too. Then, we started to go back out into our neighborhoods. So there was that hooking up. I certainly welcomed some of it. But it didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it would! And then, finally, a whole world was out there again. ‘How am I to deal with?’ I first asked myself.”

         “Then, I remembered,” Organ continued, “the graphic book ‘American Utopia,’ by musician David Byrne and artist Maira Kamlan that I’d read during lockdown. When I saw strangers again—other than on television or streaming—a powerful quote that Bynre and Kamlan included in their book echoed in my head. Others were ‘to remind the world that there are people of independent minds—beyond war and nationalism—who live for different ideals.’”

         Organ paused and said, “So that’s one side of strangers. The gifts they offer—hard may it be to behold sometimes. And then it became clear, really clear. There’s more. And that’s the responsibility we have to them, to strangers. Important, essential responsibilities. How to see them now after what we’ve been through? This is something I’m especially looking forward to talking with Stephen Esquith about.”

         Events are free, live or by Zoom. Tickets are not necessary. Registration is helpful. To register as well as sign up for Zoom:

         November events focus on science. November 1, What is Science? November 8: Vaccines: How Good Is the Science?  November 15: Epidemiology: Why Does the Course of Disease Matter? The series then continues in January (education), February (race), March (truth and politics) and April (economics.) Speakers join live or via zoom. A team of six community members developed Shifting Landscapes.

For further information check the library’s website at or contact Thomas Trahey, Mason County District Library at or Brooke Portmann, director of Abondia Center, at

Esquith Resources:

Articles by Stephen Esquith:

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