2023-2024 Creative Living Speaker Series



Welcome to our 60th Anniversary season

The shortened 60th season runs from September through December 2023 due to renovations of the Woodstock Opera House auditorium, beginning in early 2024.

Series tickets and single tickets now available. Programs begin at 10 a.m. in the Woodstock Opera House. Coffee and conversation offered at 9 a.m.

Will Steger
Adventurer, Arctic Explorer, Advocate
September 21, 2022

Will Steger is best known for his legendary explorations spanning 50 years, including some of the most significant polar expeditions in history. Hiking and dog sledding across continents of ice, exploring the unknown step by step, he is an eyewitness to the changes overtaking the polar regions of our plant. He has become a formidable voice calling for understanding and the preservation of the Arctic and the Earth. Deep in the Minnesota woods he built his Wilderness Center by hand to inspire in the next generation a passion for discovery and innovative thinking. Steger shares stunning photographs and videos from his expeditions, explaining the implications of compelling data and satellite imagery. While the issue is critical and the presentation dramatic, his message is one of hope and empowerment. Steger is a recipient of National Geographic’s rarely bestowed John Oliver La Gorce Medal and the National Geographic Adventure Lifetime Achievement Award. 

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Homer Hickam
Aim High: Stories and Inspiration from the Real-Life Rocket Boy
October 19, 2023

How does a boy from Coalwood, West Virginia, grow up to become not only a rocket scientist but also a best-selling author? Homer Hickam described the journey in his coming-of-age memoir Rocket Boys, a New York Times best-seller that inspired the film October Sky, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Hickam wrote other memoirs in what became the “Coalwood” series and continued to write while working as an aerospace engineer at NASA on projects such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. His novels include the World War II-era "Josh Thurlow” series, the juvenile sci-fi series Crater, the adult thriller The Dinosaur Hunter and the romance Red Helmet. He has spoken all over the world, inspiring millions to “aim high.””

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Frances Palmer
Lessons on Inspiration and Creativity
November 16, 2023

What makes a creative life? Ask Francis Palmer. She’s a potter, gardener and beekeeper, a lover of art, cooking, drawing, photography. Her book Life in the Studio: Inspiration and Lessons on Creativity offers a peek into her creative process and insights into how to nurture your own talents, to knit all one’s passions into the whole of life. Palmer’s handmade, functional ceramics have been exhibited and sold internationally and are represented in leading private craft and contemporary art collections around the world. She has been featured in House & Garden, British House & Garden, Elle Decor, T—The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, and The World of Interiors.

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Laura Dowling
Holiday Cheer: Festive Decor in the White House Style
December 14, 2023

In her position as Chief Floral Designer at the White House from 2009 to 2015, Laura Dowling managed floral designs for thousands of official and private events including state dinners and large-scale installations such as the White House Christmas. As she shares her experiences in Washington, DC, she will demonstrate her innovative approach to floral design, creating arrangements and wreaths on stage and offering tips on how to master the free interplay between flowers, floral boughs and branches, berried twigs and leafy vines. Just in time for the holidays, you’ll go home with ideas on how to create your own beautifully sophisticated, seasonal designs that are at once modern and classically refined.

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Bruce Iglauer
Bitten By the Blues
April 18, 2024

Bruce Iglauer founded Chicago-based Alligator Records at the age of 23. He built the company into the largest contemporary blues label in the world, becoming the Grammy-winning producer of blues giants Koko Taylor, Son Seals, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Winter, Billy Boy Arnold, Lonnie Brooks, Fenton Robinson and dozens of others. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1997. He is also a founder of the Chicago Blues Festival and co-author of Bitten by the Blues. Bruce—the man who wants his headstone to read “The Blues’ Best Roadie”—takes us on a journey through the business of the blues and shares stories of the extraordinary and larger-than-life blues greats he produced and toured with and with whom, in many cases, he became personal friends.

Past Speakers Include
Rebecca Makkai, Miguel Cervantes, Robert Rodriguez, Bill Odenkirk, Anna Celenza, Judy Collins, Mary Badham, Rebecca Eaton, Dr. Temple Grandin, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Carol Marin, Charlie Trotter, Phil Ponce, John Bredar, Dr. Michael Roizen, Beverly Sills, Martha Stewart, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Rick Kogan, Wally Phillips, Joan Benny, Rick Steves, Studs Terkel, Joseph Epstein, Amy Dickinson, Ann Patchett, Geoffrey Baer, Rick Bayless, John Callaway, Scott Simon, Robert Wittman, Bill Kurtis, Sarah Paretsky, Gene Siskel, Eddie Ross, Leslie Hindman, Jeffrey Lyons, Beekman 1802 - Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge

See brochures from our past 60 seasons