Library series focuses on post-pandemic topics. 

September 27, 2021

Library series focuses on post-pandemic topics. 

LUDINGTON — Mason County District Library and the nonprofit Abondia Center will present Shifting Landscapes, a new public lecture series, examining fallout from COVID-19 and many other events that have occurred over the past 20 months. The first section, Community, begins October 4, 2021, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, and on Zoom. 

Developed by a team of six community members, Shifting Landscapes looks at six topics. Three sessions will be devoted to each topic, with sessions scheduled for the first three Mondays of the month. October’s topic is Community, followed by Science in November. With no sessions in December, the series will pick up in January with Education and continue February focusing on Race/Racism, Truth in politics in March, and ending in April with Economics.

“For the first session on the topic of Community on October 4,” said team member Cathy Organ, “we’ll start with a focus on how we as individuals got through Covid.”

“For the second Community session, on October 11” Organ said, “we will take a look at what it was like re-connecting with friends and neighbors after we came out of quarantine earlier in this summer.” 

“And for the third Community session, October 18,” continued Organ, “we’ll look at the way we might have changed how we think about strangers. Do some of us think less about others outside our personal community? Or more? I think it’s different for everyone.” 

Organ added, “It’ll be helpful to hear how other people have experienced these questions over the past year-and-a-half or more. To learn how people might have changed—or not changed—their ideas about being individuals and being members of a community as a result of all we’ve been through, and all the work we have ahead…that is something to look forward to.”

Abondia Center’s director Brooke Portmann comments, “After the quarantine started, it seemed like so much had changed from what we once knew to be so. Then came the murder of George Floyd, and so much more shifted and changed. And it continued to change month after month in so many more facets of our lives. I began to have thoughts and questions in my own head that I heard in conversations with others.” Portmann continued, “These included, ‘We can’t go back to the old norms. We need new norms. But what do we want? And how do we get there?’” 

“A short time later,” Portmann said, “the team of six gathered on Zoom to discuss what we could do to get our bearings and help others get theirs once quarantine was over.” 

Thomas Trahey, Mason County District Library’s Head of Circulation and a member of the team, noted, “Everything was changing. People were in the streets protesting all across the country, businesses were closing, people were afraid and unsure. Everything was up in the air. At the same time, we felt both closer to our community and more isolated. The world had changed and we weren’t sure what it was changing into.”

Following many discussions, the team arrived at the series. “We each identified a topic that we were very concerned about and could take the lead on developing,” Portmann said. “We recognized there are many important topics the series isn’t looking at. Yet, we could get started with these.” 

“Initially, when I was asked to join the team,” Trahey said, “I had just come back to work, I was isolating myself in a room at the library and I felt kind of lost. We didn’t know where this project was going to end up, but it seemed like something worth doing.”

“I feel like we don’t have enough civil conversation by people who disagree with each other,” Trahey added. “I’m always looking for ways to do that. As we continued planning the series, I realized that we really had something here.” 

“After identifying the topics,” Portman said, “we began to look for people who could help us move our conversations forward with purpose and intent, perhaps to shift our perspective, or help us think about these topics in a new way.”

Trahey continued, “Here at the library we are always talking about our mission of providing (reliable) information. This is exactly what this series is about. I hope that these programs get people talking and thinking about these ideas.”

“The library’s sponsorship evolved over time,” Trahey reported. “And I remember a point when we were deciding where to hold the different events. I realized I wanted the library behind every single one of them. They are all important.”

“Since we started planning the series more than a year ago,” Trahey noted, “I’ve had many more conversations with library patrons. I’m excited that it’s finally here.”

Science is the topic in November. The first session will explore what science is, the different kinds of scientists there are, and how their approaches and outcomes may be very different. 

The second Science session will take a look at vaccines and how people can determine if the science is trustworthy. 

Epidemiology and the value of tracking diseases is the topic for third Science session. 

“It’s the team’s hope,” Portmann said, “that the series will connect people with their own restlessness, uncertainty, fears, aspirations, and heart. We hope many join us to move the conversation forward and deepen it. To give all of us more to think about.” 

October and November sessions will be at Ludington Center for the Arts (LACA) at 107 S Harrison Street, Ludington, 7-8:30 p.m., and available via Zoom at All sessions are free. Attendees are encouraged to register at For further information check the library’s website at or contact Trahey at or Portmann at 

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