By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

Old Dominion University, the Slover Library and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States will present Norfolk's third "Night of Ideas," bringing people together from across Hampton Roads for discussions, performances and the exchange of ideas. The event will be from 5:30 to 9:30 at the Slover Library in downtown Norfolk, located at 235 E. Plume Street.

This year's international theme is "Where Are We Going Next?" While the theme is the same for Night of Ideas events around the world, it particularly resonated with the Norfolk event's planners, said Peter Schulman, Eminent Scholar and professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Speakers and performers, including members of the ODU community, are local to Norfolk.

"Everyone has felt this uncertainty, paralysis and we were in a bit of an ugly bubble due to the pandemic," Schulman said. "Now that we have the time to reflect about the immediate future and what immediately surrounds us...let's take what has been a barren space and turn it into a poetic, usable space to reflect on our own area and what's around us."

The event, with its focus on local issues, stands in contrast to the 2021 "Night of Ideas" in Norfolk, which featured speakers and performers from across the world on Zoom. In 2020, the first year Norfolk hosted the event, it ran from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., with in-person performances. In 2021 the event went online, sponsored by the University's Department of World Languages and Cultures, with international speakers and performers hosting virtual discussions around the theme "physical distance, spiritual closeness."

This year's event will be a hybrid event, with both in-person and online options. The schedule of events starts at 5:30 and includes:

  • 5:30 to 6 p.m., "La Jetee"
    • Chris Marker's 1960s French masterpiece about love, Paris and time travel after a worldwide plague devastates the planet.
  • 6 p.m., Opening Remarks
  • 6:10 to 6:55 p.m., "Environmental Resiliency Panel: Resiliency...Overcoming Ecological Challenges and Disasters"
    • Chair and Panelist: Jessica Whitehead, Chair, Joan P. Brock Endowed Executive Director, Institute for Coastal Adaptation & Resilience (ICAR), Old Dominion University
    • Matthew Simons, Coastal Resilience Program Manager, City of Norfolk
    • Wie Yusuf, ICAR; School of Public Service, Old Dominion University
    • Panelists will explore coastal resilience and rebuilding at multiple scales but incorporate time scales (short-term/disaster recovery; medium-term; long-term) and geographic/community scales (home, neighborhood, locality, etc.) to give a comprehensive vision of what can and will be done in our area in the near- and long-term future.
  • 6:55-7:25 p.m., Poetry
    • Kindra Greene of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation will discuss what the ERT is doing to improve Norfolk and read from her own ecological poetry.
  • 7:25 to 8 p.m., Workforce Development Panel "Preparing the Workers of Tomorrow, Today"
    • Chair- Adale Martin
    • Kenyetta Goshen will talk about the Norfolk Public School Career and Technical Education curricula in our schools.
  • 8:10-8:40
    • BeatHunter Dance, created by Joél Casanova, performs a piece about isolation and unity.
  • 8:40 to 9:25 p.m., City Planning Panel "Visions for a Changing City" with chair Amanda Lloyd.
  • 9:25 p.m., closing remarks.

The event is free and open to the public, with both in-person and Zoom attendance options available. RSVPs are requested.

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