Blake Street House Speaker Series

The Blake Street House Speaker Series brings a wide-ranging, thought-provoking selection of authors to the Bentonville area to lead stimulating conversations and transformational workshops. The series focuses on all aspects of wellness—health and healing, neuroscience, work and productivity, relationships, creativity, psychology, movement, communication, and more. The events are held monthly in the Great Room at Blake Street. It is hosted in collaboration with The Center for Nonfiction, based at Columbia University in New York.

About The Center for Nonfiction

The Center for Nonfiction is a project with Columbia University’s Community Scholars Program that seeks to empower first-time authors with practical advice on writing, publishing, and monetizing rigorous, yet accessible, projects.


The Speaker Series is curated by:

Photo credit: Fortune Horse Studios
Stephen M. Morrison was most recently the Publisher of Picador US, a leading general interest trade publishing imprint of the Macmillan/Von Holtzbrinck Group. Prior to that he was the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Penguin Books. Currently, he consults on projects across the publishing and intellectual property worlds, with clients including WGBH’s Masterpiece Theatre and Scout Productions (Queer Eye) and serves as an advisor to international literary agency Susanna Lea Associates.
Kevin M. O’Connor is a longtime business development executive in kids’ media. In 2014, he became a full-time literary agent. He agents middle grade novels, middle grade nonfiction and adult nonfiction in history, science and technology. He is the founding director of The Center for Nonfiction, a project through Columbia University’s Community Scholars Program.
Photo credit: Fortune Horse Studios
Terry Moore
Brain Health for Life: How Scientific Research Shows a Flicker of Hope for Alzheimer’s disease
Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease. There is no way to predict who will get it. Your DNA alone does not determine if you’ll get it. And if we live long enough, we’ll be faced with the devastating effects of the disease either as a patient or a caregiver.

But there’s hope. The cure for Alzheimer’s disease may be preventative. Scientists have discovered new therapies and habits that could stave off cognitive decline. It’s important to understand the science behind cognitive decline and then learn about convenient, nurturing brain health and wellness routines that could have dramatic positive effects on you and your loved ones.

Terry Moore Chairman of HomeoLux. Known as a Business Philosopher, Terry has been a life-long leader in science, and research. He came out of retirement to help launch HomeoLux, a health and technology company that designs wellness products based on cutting-edge science. Supporting HomeoLux is Terry’s answer to his wife’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and his dedication to battling cognitive decline. Terry is also the founder of the Radius Foundation, a forum for exploring and gaining insight from different worldviews. He serves as a board member at The Columbia Center for Radiology Research and has popular TED Talks that examine how to master even the most simplistic life skills.
Katherine D. Kinzler is a Professor of Psychology and Deputy Dean of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. She was previously Chair of the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard in Psychology and her B.A. at Yale in Cognitive Science, and she was a Fulbright Scholar at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Much of her research focuses on the origins of prejudice and ingroup/outgroup thinking, with an emphasis on understanding how language and accent mark social groups. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the John Templeton Foundation. Her work has appeared regularly in the New York Times and other outlets, and she was named a “Young Scientist,” one of 50 scientists under age 40 recognized by the World Economic Forum. Katie is the author of the book HOW YOU SAY IT: Why You Talk the Way You Do—And What It Says About You which published from Houghton Mifflin in 2020.
Photo credit: Cornell University.
Katherine Kinzler
Event: How You Say It: Understanding the Surprising Ways that Speech Structures Our Lives
Theme: Society & Culture

We gravitate toward people like us; it’s human nature. Race, class, and gender affect our feelings of social identity. Yet something is often missing from the study of social grouping—and from public discourse about tribalism, prejudice, and human nature in general – language and the accent you speak with.

Where we belong, whom we connect with, whom we love, and whom we hate: almost every aspect of social life is shaped by the way we speak. This is true in personal relationships, employment decisions, and many other facets of our lives in society. language can divide us, but it can also bring us together. By better understanding the power of speech in defining our lives, we can take this power in hand and use it for the good.

Adrienne Raphel
Event: How to Tackle the New York Times Crossword Puzzle
Theme: Play

This workshop weaves information about the crossword with real-time puzzle construction and solving. Adrienne will give a brief history of the crossword puzzle, from its stint on Broadway to its role in World War II to the A.I. trying – and failing – to beat the best human solvers. Adrienne will discuss what the crossword world looks like today, and give practical advice about how to solve your next Sunday New York Times crossword. Over the course of the session, teams will create grids, write clues, and solve puzzles.

Adrienne Raphel is the author of THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them. She has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, and Poetry, among other publications. Her debut poetry collection, WHAT WAS IT FOR, won the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Born in southern New Jersey and raised in northern Vermont, she holds a BA from Princeton, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD from Harvard. Currently, she teaches in the Princeton Writing Program.
Photo Credit: Nina Subin
Tara Schuster
Event: A Grown A$$ Adult’s Guide to Re-Parenting
Theme: Self-care
We often think that parenting ends when mom and dad send us off to college (or kick us out of the house!) but this transformative session will persuade participants that they urgently need to take on the role of being their own parents.

Tara will provide humorous, hard-won, practical tools for growing into our best selves at any age.

This talk examines re-parenting ourselves through creating a sense of safety for ourselves, giving ourselves structure, and finally learning to unconditionally love ourselves the way a parent would.

photo credit: © Sarah Coulter
Tara Schuster is an author, playwright, and accomplished entertainment executive, currently serving as the Vice President of Talent and Development at Comedy Central. She is currently the Executive in Charge of Lights Out with David Spade, was the Executive in Charge of the Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning Key & Peele, the Emmy® Award winning @Midnight, and numerous other shows including Another Period, Detroiters, and Hood Adjacent. For her work on Key & Peele, Chris Hardwick has called her “brilliant” and Jordan Peele remarked that she is “ahead of her time…she sees the future a little bit.” Her plays have been performed in The New York International Fringe Festival and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker and Forbes.

Tara’s first book, BUY YOURSELF THE F*CKING LILIES: and Other Rituals to Fix Your Life from Someone Who has Been There, was published by Penguin Random House in 2020. The hilarious and relatable self-help/memoir tells the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a “ninja of self-love.”

Kulreet Chaudhary, MD
Event: Sound Medicine—A New Frontier in Human Potential
Theme: Body-Mind connection

Why does a baby’s cry instantly flood a mother’s body with a myriad of stress hormones? Why does sound itself evoke such primal and deeply felt emotions? What are the other untapped properties of sound as a technology for human potential?

Through this interactive workshop, Dr. Chaudhary demonstrates how we all can use sound to improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Dr. Chaudhary explains how sound impacts the human body and brain uniquely, and explores the physiological effects of sound vibration, from altering mood to healing disease to connecting to one’s higher consciousness. This revolutionary approach combines biology, quantum physics and ancient mystical practices.

Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary is an integrative neurologist, neuroscientist, and the former director of Wellspring Health at Scripps Memorial Hospital. She received her Internship in Internal Medicine at UCLA and her Neurology Fellowship from UCSD. She has participated in over twenty clinical research studies in the areas of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. She is currently the head of the Sri Narayani Holistic Centre in Tamil Nadu, India where she is not only implementing the use of sound medicine into the treatment of chronic disease, but also studying the ancient Siddha texts that have been hidden from public view for centuries. Dr. Chaudhary is the author of THE PRIME and has appeared as a medical expert on numerous programs. Her book, SOUND MEDICINE, was published in 2020 by Harper Wave.
Amir Levine, MD
Event: Decipher Your Attachment Style and Transform Your Life
Theme: Relationships

Dr. Levine has harnessed decades of research findings about how we behave in close relationships and turned them into a tool we can use in our daily lives to improve our interactions with others and to understand our specific attachment styles. Be it at work, with friends, family or in a romantic relationship, Dr. Levine provides a blueprint of how to improve our close relationships and in the process learn to understand our social brain and our neurobiology better.

In this evening’s event, Levine will help us explore and understand own attachment styles and that of others, providing us with crucial keys to unlock the secrets of how we understand ourselves and the people around us.

Dr. Amir Levine grew up in Israel and Canada and graduated from medical school at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Amir’s was a resident in adult psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, where he specialized in child and adolescent psychiatry. While working in a therapeutic nursery with mothers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and their toddlers, Amir witnessed the power of attachment to heal and realized the importance of attachment principles in the daily lives of adults as well as children.

Currently at Columbia University, Amir is a Principle Investigator, together with Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel and distinguished researcher Dr. Denise Kandel, on a National Institute of Health sponsored research project. He also has a private practice in Manhattan.

His book ATTACHED: The New Science of Attachment, co-written with Rachel S.F. Heller, is a New York Times Bestseller.

Stephen M. Morrison and Kevin M. O’Connor
Event: This Is Your Life: How to Write Your Memoirs . . . and Why!
Theme: Self-knowledge/Creativity

Everyone thinks they have a book in them. . . . and, the truth is we all do. We all have stories to tell about our lives—important stories, meaningful stories, humorous stories. While not all our stories can (or should!) be written to become Oprah or Reese Book Club picks or New York Times bestsellers, writing a memoir—or writing about a particularly important moment in your life – begins with actually sitting down to do it. The benefits that can come from the writing process are manifold: inner clarity, new understanding, and communicating important family stories, for example.

In Kevin and Stephen’s memoir writing workshop, two long time publishing professionals—with almost decades of storytelling, editing and publishing experience between them—will guide the group in how to think about writing about yourself and the process of writing itself. Special emphasis is on communicating story – the emotional transformation we undergo based on our decisions – rather than the situations we find ourselves in.

2019 Speakers

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Event: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
Theme: Work/Life Balance

Overwork seems unavoidable in today’s always-on global economy. In many companies and professions, long hours are seen as an engine of high productivity, and a way to accelerate learning, and a filter for identifying your best and most passionate workers. But what if our assumptions about overwork are wrong? Using insights from the neuroscience and psychology of creativity, we look at the hidden role that exercise, downtime, and leisure play in making us more creative, and more prone to creative insights and investigate how the movement toward shorter work hours may boost both productivity and wellness.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang studies people, technology, and the worlds they make. His latest book, SHORTER (February 2020), shows how companies in a variety of industries are shortening their workweeks without sacrificing productivity and profitability. It’s the follow up to his book REST: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. Alex has given talks, led workshops, and consulted for government agencies in US, UK, and Singapore, as well as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, P&G, Jabra, and other companies. He has a Ph.D. in history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Photo credit: Kristian Kettner
Flynn Coleman
Event: Thriving in Our Technological Future
Theme: Ethical Tech

The Intelligent Machine Age is upon us. We are becoming irreversibly reliant on computers and algorithms, cognitively offloading tasks, problem-solving, and learning at a rapid rate. In this interactive workshop, Flynn Coleman will walk us through how we can thrive as teams, organizations, and as humans as we move into our brave new technological world. Based on ideas from Flynn’s work, we’ll examine how we can build a more humane future and employ transformative tools to move more conscientiously into a new frontier of our own design and to help us flourish in our careers, our communities, and our lives.

Photo credit: Jorge Estuardo de León
Flynn Coleman is a writer, international human rights attorney, public speaker, professor, and social innovator. She has worked with the United Nations, the United States federal government, and international corporations and human rights organizations around the world. Flynn has written extensively on issues of global citizenship, the future of work and purpose, emerging technologies, political reconciliation, war crimes, genocide, human and civil rights, humanitarian issues, innovation and design for social impact, and improving access to justice and education.

She is the author of the book, A HUMAN ALGORITHM (2019), a groundbreaking narrative on the urgency of ethically designed AI and a guidebook to reimagining life in the era of intelligent technology.

Anna Brones
Event: Taking Time for You: Adventures in Creative Health
Theme: Creativity

Creativity is elemental, we need it to survive and to thrive, whether we are an artist, a scientist, or a teacher. Creativity fuels innovation, it drives us forward. We often think of wellness as a balance between two things: physical and mental/emotional health. But there’s one crucial component of wellness that doesn’t get as much attention as the other categories: our creative health. In this talk, we’ll learn how to develop our habits to promote creative health.

Anna Brones is a writer, artist and producer. She is the author of six books, including THE CULINARY CYCLIST, FIKA: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, and LIVE LAGOM: Balanced Living the Swedish Way. Her papercut illustrations have been featured in books and magazines, including the 2019 edition of the classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Growing up in a Swedish/American household, her creative work is often inspired by the outdoor landscapes and cultures of the Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia. When she is not writing or creating art, she can most often be found riding her bike and making coffee outside.
photo credit: Jenny Nichols