The East Hampton Library has lined up a sensational roster of guest speakers for its annual Tom Twomey Series, which will relaunch on Saturday, May 12. The conversation series will debut with Fake News, Real News, and Failing Upward at The New York Times: A conversation with Jim Rutenberg, a New York Times Media Columnist.
We caught up with Chip Rae, a Library Board Member and chair of the series, about the 2018 programming – which will cover everything from life lessons from a Wall Street veteran, craft beer on the East End, The Creeks, and more.
You’ve got quite the diverse lineup for the 2018 series. How did you select this year’s topics/guests?
CR: I like to say, in a funny way, we look for topics that people like to talk about at cocktail parties – so when you talk about real estate or gardening or the economy or politics – it’s things that people like to talk about out here. When we look for speakers, we try and let that guide us initially. We try to cover art. This year we’ve added a program on The Creeks, but it’s things that are in the popular mindset that would be of interest to weekenders as well as fulltime residents. A topic has to be good and hopefully then we find a speaker that someone has heard, that they can vouch for. We look for people that can deliver 45 minutes, something that’s captivating, compelling and then we have a short Q&A. We try to keep it to one hour.
The series will be introducing a garden lecture and tour this year. Can you please tell me a little bit about that?
CR: Garden tours are very popular out here. We found a speaker, Charlotte, who is focusing on small gardens in town. Not expansive ones on five or ten acre estates, small ones on small lots. One of our trustees has a house over on Sherrill Road and she said there’s a lot of people renovating houses on Sherrill and Cooper that have these really exquisite gems of gardens. She started talking to people and we put together four gardens that match what the speaker is going to talk about. ARF has a garden tour, Guild Hall has a garden tour, but they’re vast, expansive things. These are little gardens, which I think will be fun. And the nice thing is it’s free.
Is there anything else new this year?
CR: We played around with the dates. We’ve done it on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. What we’ve learned is that in the summer season people are really busy on Saturdays. It’s Fridays this year, during the summer months, and then during the shoulder months, we try to do it Saturdays. We’re trying to do it so the most people attend.
We’re also trying to attract younger people, which is a challenge. Last year we did a wine tasting, we had three vineyards – North Fork and South Fork vineyards. The winemakers came in and gave talks about their winemaking and then we had a wine reception in our courtyard. We had over 100 people and it was very popular.
This year, we thought what can we do that’s similar? So we decided craft breweries. One of the board members has a son in his late 20s. He grew up with a lot of these people that are starting these craft breweries in Montauk and Greenport and Riverhead. We let him set this up, so there will be a talk about starting a craft brewery, making beer out here, and then we’ll have a tasting in the courtyard. We hope that will appeal to the younger people who like that topic.
Every time I go out to Montauk Brewing Company it’s always packed.
CR: Exactly. We just need some of those folks to come to us. We’re very good at appealing to retired people, but we’d like to appeal to as many people as we can.
What has been the most memorable lecture so far and why?
CR: We’ve done a couple of talks on architecture. One was by Preston Phillips, he’s a local architect out here. He wrote an article that was called Hampturbia, the killing of the Hamptons. He spoke about how we urbanized the land out here and then we had Paul Goldberger two years ago talking about a famous article he wrote for The New York Times about the strangling of a resort. Those things resonate with people; what’s happening to the land, what’s happening to the way people live out here.
Is there any topic/guest that you’re especially looking forward to this year?
CR: I think the one on The Creek should be very interesting. Someone like Howard Schultz, from Starbucks, he’s a neighbor of a trustee that got him to do it. How great is that? We’re fortunate that a lot of famous people have summer houses here so we have access to them, usually through their neighbors who are boards member. I think Byron Wien, a longtime Wall Street observer, who has two parts to his talk. One is: 20 life lessons he’s learned over a career on Wall Street, just basic things about how to conduct your life and advice for people. I think he’ll be very interesting and then he’ll talk a bit about the economy. Just by people making reservations, so we know how to set up the room, I think Fake News with Jim Rutenberg from The New York Times, which is Saturday, May 12th, we already have 60/70 people signed up for that. Anything with politics and the media, in this kind of world that we live in, is captivating for people.
For those unable to make it, the lectures are also filmed.
CR: Exactly. LTV films it and it’s put on our website.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
CR: We welcome people. Even though we have a reservation system, no one will be turned away. Howard Schultz could be a big number – we’ll pitch a tent outside or figure something out so everyone that wants to attend can.
In addition to Fake News, Real News, and Failing Upward at The New York Times, the series will cover Life Lessons and the Economic Outlook with Byron Wien of the Blackstone Group on Friday, June 22, Big Ideas for Small Gardens: Lecture and Garden Tour, an Illustrated lecture by Charlotte M. Frieze, followed by a tour of some of East Hampton’s little garden jewels on Saturday, July 7, Craft Brewing Out East, a Panel Discussion and tasting with Vaughn Cutillo of Montauk Brewery Company, Richard Vandenburgh of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, and Lauri Spitz of Moustache Brewing Company, on Friday, July 20, Building a Better Company with Howard Schultz, Starbucks Executive Chairman, on Friday, August 17, The Creeks: Epicenter of the 1950s Hamptons Art Community, a lecture by artist Mike Solomon, Ossorio Foundation founding director, on Saturday, September 15, and the series will wrap up with The Gardiner Family Legacy: Two Iconic East Hampton Estates – with an introduction by Richard Barons and panelists Bruce Collins and Chip Rae – on Saturday, October 13.
All events will take place at 6 p.m., with the exception of Big Ideas for Small Gardens, which will start at 9:30 a.m.
East Hampton Library is located at 159 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information on the series, or reserve a spot, visit tomtwomeyseries.org.