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OPEN series quietly brings US ambassador, thought leaders to St. Pete

Megan Holmes



USFSP’s OPEN (Open Partnership Education Network) speaker series brought a highly influential former U.S. Ambassador to St. Petersburg, and you probably didn’t even know about it. Yeah, I didn’t either. The series is – to little acclaim – bringing in heavyweight speakers with serious clout; speakers you will not want to miss.

So, what is OPEN?

Surrounding its foundational themes: Seeds, Rad Schools, Live Well, and Future City; as well as its new themes, Civility and Frontiers, the OPEN series, in partnership with USF – St. Petersburg seeks to “encourage community dialog and connections.” The OPEN series was created to connect community leaders in St. Petersburg with innovators, thinkers, and leaders throughout the world, to share ideas, open a dialogue, and create action around topics that are important to St. Petersburg.

In its Spring 2018 lineup, the program has chosen to focus on the themes of Future City and Civility. According to a press release, in this series “speakers share compelling personal experiences and aspirational visions as they provide insights into money, world peace, global affairs and women in combat.”

One of its most notable speakers has already come and gone. In mid-February, Thomas Pickering – former United States Ambassador and distinguished Aresty Speaker spoke about his diplomatic service and the dynamics of the world today through the extraordinary lens of someone who has spent nearly five decades in the midst of it all.

But it’s not too late to catch the rest of the OPEN speakers, and the next is just a few days away. Mark your calendars.

Upcoming OPEN Events:

Future City: Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of Finance – March 1, 5:30-8pm at the University Student Center @ USFSP (140 USFSP Harborwalk S)

The world of cryptocurrency with Charlie Shrem – Aresty Speaker and bleeding-edge pioneer in this new world. Charlie discusses bitcoin, blockchain and his personal journey to create an alternative financial exchange industry. Charlie was convicted and served prison time for his cryptocurrency exchange activities – unlike traditional bankers and traders behind the 2008 collapse of the global economy. His ideas and first-hand experiences provide thought for what money truly is and how traditional and new ideas of money impact almost every part of life. Charlie is featured in the documentary “Banking on Bitcoin.”

Future City: Circular Cities & The New Resourced Based Economy – March 15, 5:30-8:30pm at The Edge at Coquina Hall (700 4th St S)

A vision for a world beyond politics, poverty and war with Roxanne Meadows – Aresty Speaker and representative of the Venus Project. The Venus Project is a model for a futuristic society as well as a practical, sustainable campus in Venus, Florida that embodies the concepts envisioned by Jacques Fresco. Ms. Meadows will present the state of this project since Mr. Fresco’s passing last year and will reflect on how the campus fared during last year’s furious Hurricane Irma.

Civility: Stacy Pearsall: Combat from behind the Camera – March 29, 11:15am-1:15pm at USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business (140 7th Ave S)

Life as a female combat photographer, and what follows after that – Stacy Pearsall began her military career at age 17 as an Airforce photographer and extended to three tours of duty which included assignments in over 40 countries. She has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for her combat actions. Her St. Petersburg conversations will focus on the aftermath of this experience as a wounded veteran – and the special challenges she faced as a female in combat zones.

About Open Partnership Education Network

The Open Partnership Education Network, or just OPEN, seeks to make us smarter, better connected cities learning together. For more information, visit https://www.learnopen.org and watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB6Hlt85U0g.

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