Poster for Strangers in Town

Strangers in Town: A Film about Diversity

September 24, 2019  7:00 pm

Forum Hall, K-State Student Union

Co-sponsored with UFM, the KSU College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Lecture Series and the KSU Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

As more attention is given to the topics of diversity and immigration in the United States, many platforms have shed a negative light on the increased number of immigrants and refugee populations. Activists have emerged to counteract the hate and discrimination these minorities face. In our region, Steve Lerner, psychologist, filmmaker, and musician, has become a prominent ally for these communities.

Lerner’s recent short film, Strangers in Town, shares the story of how Garden City, KS, has dealt with global migration in the past century and how the town’s citizens have adapted without anger or hate. Per a Data USA report, Garden City was home to individuals from more than 35 different countries in 2015. The film, which is comprised of multiple interviews, shows the benefits and positive outcomes of accepting diversity and welcoming people from different cultures. The Kansas perspective is a unique bonus.

A discussion with the filmmaker will follow the showing.

About the filmmaker:

Steve Lerner is a psychologist, filmmaker and musician. Starting his filmmaking career in 1972, his first film, addressing mental health, won Honorable Mention at the Marin County Film Festival. He went on to found Menninger Video Productions and Equal Partners Productions. Lerner’s cultural film, Tras Bambalinas (Behind the Scenes) won Best Documentary in the Kansas/Missouri Short Film Festival in 2009. He continues to produce short films highlighting different cultures which have received many honorable mentions and awards for both his directing skills and films.

Another View of Garden City’s Past: We have learned that a group of K-State sociologists researched immigrant conditions in the Garden City area in the 1970s. An outcome of this was a film called The Invisible People – Un Pueblo Invisible.   The film is linked here for those who wish to view it.  Be aware that the picture and sound have lost some integrity. Nonetheless, it provides an interesting addition to the current picture presented in the Lerner firm.

Photo of Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh

October 15, 2019  7:00 pm

Heartland: Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Forum Hall, K-State Student Union

Co-Sponsored with UFM, Student Governing Association, the Staley School of Leadership Studies, and College of Business Ethics Education Initiative.

About Sarah Smarsh:

Sarah Smarsh is an author, speaker, and journalist who focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, an instant New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, examines economic inequality through her upbringing among the working poor on a Kansas farm.

Sarah has reported on socioeconomic class for The Guardian, the New York TimesThe New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. Heartland was named a “best of 2018” by NPR, Fresh Air, the Boston Globe, Amazon, Buzzfeed, Barnes and Noble, and Publishers Weekly. In addition to being short-listed for the National Book Award, Heartland was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, the Lukas Prize, the Indie Choice Award, and an Audie Award for Smarsh’s reading of audiobook. Actor-producer Sarah Jessica Parker selected the title for the American Library Association’s Book Club Central.

Sarah is a regular political commentator in national media and has spoken internationally on poverty, rural issues, and cultural divides at venues ranging from small-town libraries to the Sydney Opera House. Sarah was recently a Fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and will soon launch a much-anticipated podcast about class and rural America.

By ninth grade, Sarah attended eight southern-Kansas schools, ranging from a 2,000-student high school to a two-room prairie schoolhouse. Now, she holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. A former English professor and grant-writer for social service agencies, Sarah aims for all of her work to have a backbone of civic responsibility.

As a fifth-generation Kansas farm kid, Sarah is a long-time dancer of the Country Two-Step, and she once won a nail-driving contest. She lives in Kansas.