Eric Persons on Central Current and Local Journalism

Join the Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library for an evening with Central Current, Inc. co-founder, Eric Persons. Central Current is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent digital news agency based in Syracuse. Eric will discuss the Central Current project and the role of local journalism in creating an informed and engaged citizenry. A brief Q&A will follow.

This event will be held on Thursday, October 14th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Eric Persons

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Eric is supporting Central Current, Inc. because of journalism’s renewed focus on citizenship and community engagement. As a broadcast journalist, he witnessed violent crime, economic failure, and a decline in social capital, and he became frustrated that his work had little impact in helping his hometown of Buffalo, NY address those conditions. Now, local news can no longer survive and thrive without having a strong, responsive relationship with its audience. He believes that online journalism provides opportunities for innovation and creative storytelling that can strengthen an understanding of issues, create engaged citizens, while also preserving journalistic objectivity and integrity.

Eric stepped into a newsroom over 30 years ago with interest in covering sports, local news and politics. As a television photojournalist, he covered breaking news overnight while spending his days covering the NFL, NHL and college sports. His news stories involved countless homicides, weather events and car accidents while also contributing to stories on local government, the economy and cultural events. In 1996, his coverage of a suspect’s death in police custody contributed to an investigation and homicide charges filed against a Buffalo police lieutenant.

In 1997, he traveled overseas to learn more about the political, economic, and social changes occurring in Central and Eastern Europe. The experience turned into a career developing programs in higher education and public affairs. He directed university programs on political and economic reform in Washington, DC, the Czech Republic and Greece until arriving at Syracuse University in 2002. He has been a resident of Central New York ever since, where he has developed community initiatives involving urban planning and design, public health and economic development. He also represented Syracuse University at the local, state and federal levels of government, and has been an advocate for innovation and community engagement in higher education.

About Central Current

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Mission: Strengthen Civic Engagement and Democratic Governance

Central Current, Inc. is working to launch a nonprofit digital news publication that will provide balanced, fact-based news, opinion and analysis about the issues, events and happenings that impact life in Central New York. At a time when commercial interests and political interference are limiting quality journalism, we strive to fulfill a need for independent news with thorough and investigative coverage of issues to help residents be well-informed citizens. Our objective is to strengthen civic engagement and democratic governance, and to foster a prosperous and healthy community.

As a digital multimedia news organization, Central Current, Inc. will take an entrepreneurial approach to online journalism that redefines the relationship between news media and its audience. We will publish quality journalism and produce meaningful stories through writing, video, photography and other forms of media. As a mission‐centered nonprofit organization, we are exclusively focused on serving and engaging the community to enhance civic dialogue and understanding of issues. We will uphold the highest standards of journalistic integrity and creative storytelling while ensuring news coverage reflects the needs and diversity of the region.

Our motivation is our love for Central New York, but knowing we can do better. Our region is an attractive place to live and raise a family. But we also have one of the highest rates of poverty and racial segregation in the country. And while having a strong industrial heritage with dynamic anchors in higher education and health care, we struggle to drive investment and growth in our economy. It is necessary more than ever to have a better understanding of the issues that impact our entire community and resolve any disconnect we have to realizing a better future.

We are also driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that is rooted our region’s diversity and talent. The people we employ and others who support our work will be more than representative of our community; they also will have an ownership in our enterprise. Our work culture will be defined by a collaborative group of individuals and partners from different backgrounds, experiences and skill sets who are willing to try new approaches and learn from each other and from the community we serve.

We strive to be a reliable and trusted resource for journalism and to set the standards for integrity and creativity that other news organizations will want to replicate. Our content will be free and accessible to everyone, and we will offer programs and events to foster dialogue on the issues we cover.

At a time of great transformation in journalism and digital media, we are well positioned in Central New York to make the most of that opportunity. We are rich in talent, and have a young and entrepreneurial generation of professionals living in Central New York who want to make an impact in their community. Our journalists will include writers, photographers and great storytellers, all of whom will be committed to quality standards and practices to advance their craft.

– From

Suzanne Mettler on “Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy”

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are delighted to announce our February 2021 event, an evening with political scientist and Cornell University professor Suzanne Mettler who will discuss her latest book Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, which seeks to understand the tempest currently embroiling the nation’s institutions by placing it within a broader historical context. Many Americans subscribe to the belief that American democracy is eternal—an impervious object that no ideology, social, cultural, or political movement, and certainly no individual could ever tear asunder. Yet as Professor Mettler observes in Four Threats, America’s democratic experiment is anything but imperturbable. Four distinct pressures—political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and excessive executive power—menaced the republic in 1790, during the Civil War, in the Gilded Age and Great Depression, and most recently during the Watergate scandal. While American democracy resisted these threats in the past, there is no guarantee it will weather the current storm. What makes the here and now unique and alarming, Professor Mettler argues, is that all four of these threats are active at once. A brief Q&A will follow Professor Mettler’s talk.

This event will be held on Thursday, February 11th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Suzanne Mettler

Suzanne Mettler is the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include American political development, inequality, public policy, political behavior, and democracy.

She is the author of six books, including, most recently, Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, co-authored with Robert C. Lieberman. Her short essays and op-eds have been featured in popular outlets including the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesChronicle of Higher Educationand Washington Monthly. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships, and serves on the boards of the Scholars Strategy Network and the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences

About her latest book

Information about purchasing a copy of this book can be found here:

An urgent, historically-grounded take on the four major factors that undermine American democracy, and what we can do to address them.

While many Americans despair of the current state of U.S. politics, most assume that our system of government and democracy itself are invulnerable to decay. Yet when we examine the past, we find that the United States has undergone repeated crises of democracy, from the earliest days of the republic to the present.

In Four Threats, Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman explore five moments in history when democracy in the U.S. was under siege: the 1790s, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, the Depression, and Watergate. These episodes risked profound―even fatal―damage to the American democratic experiment. From this history, four distinct characteristics of disruption emerge. Political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and excessive executive power―alone or in combination―have threatened the survival of the republic, but it has survived―so far. What is unique, and alarming, about the present moment in American politics is that all four conditions exist.

This convergence marks the contemporary era as a grave moment for democracy. But history provides a valuable repository from which we can draw lessons about how democracy was eventually strengthened―or weakened―in the past. By revisiting how earlier generations of Americans faced threats to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, we can see the promise and the peril that have led us to today and chart a path toward repairing our civic fabric and renewing democracy.

Hyatt Green on COVID-19: Predicting the Next Outbreak

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are delighted to announce our January 2021 event, an evening with SUNY ESF professor Hyatt Green, whose novel approach to wastewater monitoring is currently being used as an early warning system for the next major outbreak of COVID-19 in Onondaga County. Battling COVID-19 requires rigorous testing. Testing, if it is to succeed, requires the close coordination of microbiologists, public health officials, and operational technologists. Professor Green’s cutting-edge wastewater monitoring project unites these fields. Its blend of microbiology and biotech provides local governments and public health officials with a non-invasive method for detecting the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community—a method that may just be able to contain the next outbreak before it spreads. You won’t want to miss this incredibly topical event. A brief Q&A will follow Professor Green’s presentation.

This event will be held on Thursday, January 14th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Hyatt Green

Hyatt Green is an assistant professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He holds a PhD in Microbiology from Oregon State University, and has been published in numerous scientific journals, including Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Environmental Science and Technology. His research looks at molecular microbial ecology, water quality and microbial source-tracking, microbial dark matter, and eDNA and molecular ecology.

In April 2020, Professor Green and his research team began developing a method to monitor wastewater for evidence of COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health awarded Professor Green $500,000 in funding to pilot a statewide coronavirus transmission early warning system. They are currently monitoring wastewater systems in 11 counties across New York State, including Onondaga County.

Authors Liz Petrone and Ed Griffin-Nolan to Speak

The Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library are delighted to announce a December 2020 event featuring authors and Strathmore natives Liz Petrone and Ed Griffin-Nolan as they discuss their new books, The Price of Admission and Nobody Hitchhikes Anymore. This event will be held on Thursday, December 10th at 7 pm virtually on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

Travel, both personal and socio-cultural, is the theme of the night. First, blogger, analyst and survivor Liz Petrone will speak about her moving, humorous, and inspiring memoir, The Price of Admission, which follows her journey through the dark valleys and sunny uplands that constitute the landscape of our lives. Then, stick out your thumb and hail a ride across America with Syracuse New Times columnist and reporter Ed Griffin-Nolan as he tries to uncover the reasons why Nobody Hitchhikes Anymore. A brief Q&A will follow the discussion.

You can register for this event here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Note: We have removed the need for a password to access this event. We apologize for any confusion that may have been caused by this requirement in the past.

About Liz Petrone

Liz Petrone is an author, blogger, speaker and survivor. Her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington PostThe Mighty, and Erma Bombeck’s Writer’s Workshop. A true believer in the healing power of storytelling, Petrone writes stories that speak to the lessons learned in survival and recovery. Her readers gather to speak openly and honestly about their own struggles. The nationally renowned blogger is also a programmer analyst for a Syracuse corporation. She is a resident of the Strathmore neighborhood, where she lives with her husband and four children. Her columns are available on the web at, on Twitter at @lizziepetrone and on Facebook at @lizpetroneblog.

About Ed Griffin-Nolan

Ed Griffin-Nolan first came to Syracuse in 1978 on a cross-country hitchhiking trip. He returned to town a few years later and raised his family on Parkway Drive, in the house where his son Daniel now lives. A long-time columnist and reporter for the Syracuse New Times and contributor to other publications, Ed is additionally a massage therapist and the owner of The Spa at 500 on West Onondaga Street.

Missed our last event? Watch the video!

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are excited to announce that our virtual events will now also be accessible after the event in video form.

Missed Michael Streissguth and his presentation on City on the Edge: Hard Choices in the American Rust Belt? Watch the video below!

Dr. Colin Beier on Climate Change

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce our November 2019 event, an afternoon with Dr. Colin Beier. Dr. Beier will explore the science and evidence behind our changing climate. He will discuss near and long-term solutions for managing this change and the implications of failing to manage it.  This event will be held on Sunday, November 10th at 2 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

About Colin Beier

“My work recognizes that humans are integral parts of the Earth system, capable of both inducing rapid and irreversible changes, yet also providing careful stewardship that fosters the adaptive capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems.” – Colin Beier

Colin Beier, PhD, is a father, a husband, a student and teacher of the natural world, and an associate professor at SUNY ESF.  He is a broadly trained ecologist interested in the fate of forest ecosystems and landscapes – including people and our economic, political, and cultural institutions – in a rapidly changing world. His current work is focused on monitoring ecosystem impacts of climate change in the Adirondacks, developing a statewide forest carbon inventory and monitoring program for New York, and leading a new ESF initiative in ‘Pathways to Net Zero Carbon’ that will integrate science and design to address our critical challenges and opportunities at the nexus of land use, energy systems, and climate change.

Dr. Jana Shaw on The Rise of the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Why Should You Care?

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce our October 2019 event, an afternoon with SUNY Upstate’s Dr. Jana Shaw who will explore the rise of vaccine hesitancy and why it should matter to you. This event will be held on Sunday, October 20th at 2 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

About Dr. Jana Shaw

Dr. Jana Shaw is an immunization content advisor with expertise in the area of vaccine refusal and 17 years of experience providing primary and specialty pediatric care. Dr Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at the SUNY Upstate Medical University with training in pediatric infectious diseases, public health and immunology from the Johns Hopkins University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Dr. Shaw’s research has focused on identifying populations at-risk for undervaccination, with a particular focus on undervaccination and school systems in the United States. Findings from her research have been disseminated through presentations at national and state meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Shaw has previously collaborated with the numerous public health and academic institutions on variety of vaccination coverage improvement projects such as Center for Disease ControlUniversity of Albany, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins and the New York State Department of Health. Her expertise also extends beyond the national borders. She has collaborated with public health professionals in New Zealand to search of ways to enhance coverage in a country without immunization laws.