YAKIMA, Wash. - Oprah show correspondent Lisa Ling took the stage at the Capitol Theatre Wednesday morning as the latest speaker for Yakima Town Hall.
Ling believes these series offers a forum you cannot find anywhere else.
"You really get a chance to have this sort of unadulterated hour with someone who is recounting incredibly diverse and rich stories," she said. "The fact that this community here is so committed to continuing that is so exciting."
In the fall of 1972 a group of women, lead by Peggy Lewis, created Yakima Town Hall after seeing a similar program on the west side.
"We were convinced we could sell it, having seen what happened in Bellevue, we knew it would work and it was something I think Yakima was waiting for," said Lewis.
For more than 30 years, the series has brought some of the biggest names in the country to Yakima. Unlike many series across the country, Yakima Town Hall is non-profit. The fee for each speaker can run anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 plus expenses. But since the beginning, tickets for the whole season have always been a fraction of that cost.
Back in 1972 it was $12 and now in 2009, it is $75 thanks to outside sponsors.
For the audience inside the theatre on Wednesday, whether it was their tenth season or their first, they believe the series has a large impact on Yakima.
"It's amazing in our town to have that caliber of speaker come," said Jennifer Falk. She has attended the series for 10 seasons. " You always learn something, it's incredible."
Mixed in with the crowd of returning ticket holders were students from local high schools, taking part in their first season of the series.
"I think this series is one of the most positive things that I have seen come out of Yakima," said Mackenzie Karn, one of the high school seniors in the audience. "It's really bringing the world outside to Yakima."
As another season of town hall comes to end, the series' board is already preparing for next year.
Story by KNDO Local News http://www.kndu.com/global/story.asp?s=10232633
Posted April 22, 2009
"I very much enjoyed the lively Yakima Town Hall group which made sharing my experiences a great pleasure. Many thanks for the invitation and I will try to keep in touch from time to time with developments from Kenya." - Louise Leakey, Leakey Family Dynasty Pioneer/Paleoanthropologist