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Los Angeles Hope Festival: 3 Days of Hope and Optimism

The Los Angeles Hope Festival is the celebration and examination of hope and optimism, two paradigmatic mental attitudes that play a vital and influential role in our daily lives. 

The Los Angeles Hope Festival is a three-day capstone event of the the Hope and Optimism initiative, a $5 million, four-year grant at Notre Dame, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. The project explores the theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of hope, optimism, and related states.


All daytime sessions are free but seats are limited, click on the session time below to RSVP. All events are at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, 2220 Beverly Blvd.

FRIDAY, MAY 19th

3 - 4:30 | PANEL – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HOPE: Michael Scheier, Eshkol Rafaeli, Lori Markson (Moderator: Samuel Newlands)

4:45 - 6:15 | KEYNOTE – Tali Sharot: "The Science of Optimism"

6:30 | Box office and bar area open

7 - 9 | PERFORMANCE – “I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

9:30 | LIVE MUSIC BY THE BAR with Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit

SATURDAY, MAY 20TH

11 - 12:15 | TALK – Yiyun Li: "The Small Why and the Big Why: Under the Supervision of Memory"

12:15 - 1:45 | LUNCH – Food Trucks

1:45 - 3:15 | PANEL – THE PHILOSOPHY OF HOPE: Luc Bovens, Nicole Hassoun, Andre Willis (Moderator: Andrew Chignell)

3:30 - 4:45 | TALK – Sabra Williams: “Hope In Darkness - The Actors' Gang Prison Project"

5 - 6:15 | KEYNOTE – Dr. Cornel West: “Justice Matters - What Love Looks Like in Public"

6:30 | Box office and bar area open

7 - 9 | PERFORMANCE – “I Carry Your Heart" followed by talkback with playwright, director, actors

8:30 | LIVE MUSIC BY THE BAR - Tyler Cole & Willow

SUNDAY, MAY 21ST

10 - 12:00 | READING – “How To Conquer The World: A Brief History Of Yogurt," followed by talkback with playwright David Myers

12:30 - 1:30 | LUNCH - Food Trucks

1:30 - 3 | READING – “The Body," followed by talkback with playwright Steve Moulds

3 - 3:30 | SCREENING – Winning shorts from Hope on Screen video competition, conversation with grand prize winner Keaton Davis

3:45 - 5 | TALK - David Eagleman, neuroscientist and host of The Brain on PBS

5:15 - 6:30 | READING - “Are We Not Men?" by T.C. Boyle followed by Q&A with the author

6:30 | Box office and bar area open

7 - 9 | PERFORMANCE - “I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

9:15 | LIVE MUSIC BY THE BAR with Orkestar Meze and Daniel Rotem

-- For a more detailed explanation of each event by theme, and complete show calendar for the mainstage play, please scroll down. --


FRIDAY AT L.A. HOPE FESTIVAL

Friday, May 19 at 3:00PM – PANEL – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HOPE

Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for happiness, coping, and health - Michael F. Scheier is Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). His research falls at the intersection of personality, social, and health psychology.

Becoming parents: A study of dyadic, dynamic, and malleable hope - Eshkol Rafaeli is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Center at Bar-Ilan University, where he directs the Affect and Relationships Lab. He and his students seek to advance the understanding of two key components of daily life – our affect (that is, our moods and emotions) and our relationships (and particularly the intimate bonds connecting committed couples).

Children's positive outlook on self and society - Lori Markson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Washington University in St Louis. She directs the Cognition & Development Lab where she and her students investigate social cognitive and conceptual development in early childhood.

Friday, May 19 at 4:45PM

The Science of Optimism

Have humans evolved to be optimistic? How is optimism generated? How is it maintained in the face of reality? What is the optimism bias and is it good or bad? Who is most likely to be optimistic? And can we use the bias to our advantage? In this talk Cognitive neuroscientists Tali Sharot will answer those questions and more.


(Tali Sharot, Photo by Brill/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Speaker: Tali Sharot (Author of The Optimism Bias, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and founder/director of the Affective Brain Lab at University College London. Her papers on decision making, emotion, and influence have been published in Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Psychological Science, and many others. She has been featured in numerous outlets and written for The New York Times, Time Magazine, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, and more.)

Friday, May 19 at 7:00AM (Opening)

"I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

Phoebe is a young poet, forever living in the shadow of her estranged mother's literary acclaim. When her mother unexpectedly dies Phoebe is left with two complicated legacies: donating her mother's organs and reading her mother's unpublished confessional journal. Meanwhile, Tess and her partner Lydia receive an early morning phone call, informing them that a donor heart is available for Tess. As these two families form an unlikely connection, they struggle to understand the politics and poetics of organ donation—and they dare to hope that pieces of us can live on after great tragedy.

SATURDAY AT L.A. HOPE FESTIVAL

Saturday, May 20, at 11:00AM

"The Small Why and the Big Why: Under the Supervision of Memory"

There are big whys and small whys. The big whys are not always answerable. The small ones are often neglected, replaced by other small whys. But what is disregarded does not disappear. The small whys come back, part of something bigger by then. In this talk, Yiyun Li will look at literature and her own life and explore how, under the supervision of memory, the big whys and small whys intertwine with hope and despair, optimism and pessimism, to make up the true disposition of life.

(Yiyun Li, MacArthur Foundation)

Speaker: Yiyun Li (As an author, she has received numerous awards, including Whiting Award, Lannan Foundation Residency fellow, 2010 MacArthur Foundation fellow, 2014 Benjamin H. Danks Award from American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others. She is a contributing editor to the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space.)

*LUNCH AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT THE FOOD TRUCK 12:30-1:30PM*

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 1:45PM – PANEL – THE PHILOSOPHY OF HOPE

Hope: In Pictures and Poetry - Luc Bovens is currently a Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method in the London School of Economics. He is currently working on a book entitled Coping: a Philosophical Guide in which he explores topics in moral psychology such as hope, regret, gratitude, self-deception, love, and death.

Human Rights, Hope and the Virtue of Creative Resolve - Nicole Hassoun is a residential fellow with the Hope & Optimism Project at Cornell University and an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Binghamton University. Professor Hassoun heads the Global Health Impact project intended to extend access to medicines to the global poor. It assists policymakers in setting targets for and evaluating efforts to increase access to essential medicines.

Perfidious Hope - Andre C. Willis is the Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. He is a philosopher of religion whose work focuses on Enlightenment reflections on religion, African American religious thought, critical theory, and democratic citizenship as it relates to hope, recognition, and belonging.


Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 3:30PM

"Hope in Darkness: The Actors' Gang Prison Project"


(Students participating in a program with The Prison Project, photo by Peter Mert)

Speaker: Sabra Williams & Prison Project (Williams is an actor and activist who oversees The Actors' Gang Prison Project, which conducts weekly and seven-day intensive programs inside the California prison system, a weekly re-entry program in the community, as well as program in juvenile facilities, and soon a program designed for correctional officers.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 5:00PM

"Justice Matters: What Love Looks Like in Public"


(Dr. Cornel West, Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Speaker: Dr. Cornel West (Dr. West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University, will impart a message of love, hope, equality, and justice with a focus on American democracy but with reference to a broader global humanitarian context. Topics will range from the current political climate, Socratic self-examination, social activism, the African American Freedom Fighting tradition, and more.)

Saturday, May 20, at 7:00PM

"I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

Phoebe is a young poet, forever living in the shadow of her estranged mother's literary acclaim. When her mother unexpectedly dies Phoebe is left with two complicated legacies: donating her mother's organs and reading her mother's unpublished confessional journal. Meanwhile, Tess and her partner Lydia receive an early morning phone call, informing them that a donor heart is available for Tess. As these two families form an unlikely connection, they struggle to understand the politics and poetics of organ donation—and they dare to hope that pieces of us can live on after great tragedy.

SUNDAY AT L.A. HOPE FESTIVAL

Sunday, May 21 at 10:00AM (Reading)

"How to Conquer the World: A Brief History of Yogurt" by David Myers

In 1975, un-proven research assistant Arlene Hoffman created the ad campaign that transformed a queer fermented milk product into the 9 billion dollar a year phenomena it is today. Now, with the ghost of her dead immigrant father, Arlene will tell us how she did it. A story of culture, appropriation, family and the American Dream.

Sunday, May 21 at 1:30PM (Reading)

"The Body" by Steve Moulds

While mom is away, Abby and her stepdad Joe spend what promises to be a frustrating week together. Then an unusual crate appears on their doorstep, and they work to unravel the meaning of its contents—a life-sized doll with no face, and an instruction manual with no words. Was this doll sent here to repair their relationship? Or is it a harbinger of a more disturbing truth for Joe?

Sunday, May 21, at 3:00PM

Hope on Screen: Short Video Winners

Sunday, May 21, at 3:45PM

How We Navigate Ourselves into Our Possible Futures: Lessons from Neuroscience

In this talk, David Eagleman will present a framework of the brain as a team of rivals, with different networks driving different behaviors. He'll discuss how a major job of intelligent brains is simulation of the future, and he'll leverage lessons from neuroscience about how we can best steer ourselves into the future—keeping our behavior consistent with a long-term notion of the self.


(David Eagleman, photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for New York Times)

Speaker: David Eagleman (New York Times bestselling author, he heads the Center for Science and Law, a national non-profit institute, and serves as an adjunct professor at Stanford University. He is the writer and presenter of the international PBS series, The Brain with David Eagleman; a TED speaker; a Guggenheim Fellow; and winner of the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication.)

Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 5:15PM (Reading followed by Q&A)

"Are We Not Men?" by T.C. Boyle

(American author T.C. Boyle, Photo by Brill/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Speaker: T.C. Boyle is winner of the PEN/Faulkner Prize (World's End), the PEN/Malamud Prize (T.C. Boyle Stories), and the Prix Medicis Etranger for the best foreign novel in France (The Tortilla Prize). He is the author of twenty-six books of fiction including The Terranauts (2016), The Harder They Come (2015), The Inner Circle (2004), Drop City (2003), and After the Plague (2001).

Sunday, May 21, at 7:00PM

"I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

Phoebe is a young poet, forever living in the shadow of her estranged mother's literary acclaim. When her mother unexpectedly dies Phoebe is left with two complicated legacies: donating her mother's organs and reading her mother's unpublished confessional journal. Meanwhile, Tess and her partner Lydia receive an early morning phone call, informing them that a donor heart is available for Tess. As these two families form an unlikely connection, they struggle to understand the politics and poetics of organ donation—and they dare to hope that pieces of us can live on after great tragedy.

--

Full showtimes for "I Carry Your Heart" by Georgette Kelly

Evening showings at 7:00PM

Thursday, May 18 (Preview) | Friday, May 19 (Opening) | Saturday, May 20 | Sunday, May 21 | Thursday, May 25 | Friday, May 26 | Saturday, May 27 | Thursday, June 1 | Friday, June 2 | Saturday, June 2 | Thursday, June 8 | Friday, June 9 | Saturday, June 10

Matinee showing on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 2:00PM

Phoebe is a young poet, forever living in the shadow of her estranged mother's literary acclaim. When her mother unexpectedly dies Phoebe is left with two complicated legacies: donating her mother's organs and reading her mother's unpublished confessional journal. Meanwhile, Tess and her partner Lydia receive an early morning phone call, informing them that a donor heart is available for Tess. As these two families form an unlikely connection, they struggle to understand the politics and poetics of organ donation—and they dare to hope that pieces of us can live on after great tragedy.

--

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

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Our ‘little brain’ turns out to be pretty big

The multifaceted cerebellum is large — it's just tightly folded.

Image source: Sereno, et al
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Just under our brain's cortex and close to our brain stem sits the cerebellum, also known as the "little brain." It's an organ many animals have, and we're still learning what it does in humans. It's long been thought to be involved in sensory input and motor control, but recent studies suggests it also plays a role in a lot of other things, including emotion, thought, and pain. After all, about half of the brain's neurons reside there. But it's so small. Except it's not, according to a new study from San Diego State University (SDSU) published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

A neural crêpe

A new imaging study led by psychology professor and cognitive neuroscientist Martin Sereno of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center reveals that the cerebellum is actually an intricately folded organ that has a surface area equal in size to 78 percent of the cerebral cortex. Sereno, a pioneer in MRI brain imaging, collaborated with other experts from the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands.

So what does it look like? Unfolded, the cerebellum is reminiscent of a crêpe, according to Sereno, about four inches wide and three feet long.

The team didn't physically unfold a cerebellum in their research. Instead, they worked with brain scans from a 9.4 Tesla MRI machine, and virtually unfolded and mapped the organ. Custom software was developed for the project, based on the open-source FreeSurfer app developed by Sereno and others. Their model allowed the scientists to unpack the virtual cerebellum down to each individual fold, or "folia."

Study's cross-sections of a folded cerebellum

Image source: Sereno, et al.

A complicated map

Sereno tells SDSU NewsCenter that "Until now we only had crude models of what it looked like. We now have a complete map or surface representation of the cerebellum, much like cities, counties, and states."

That map is a bit surprising, too, in that regions associated with different functions are scattered across the organ in peculiar ways, unlike the cortex where it's all pretty orderly. "You get a little chunk of the lip, next to a chunk of the shoulder or face, like jumbled puzzle pieces," says Sereno. This may have to do with the fact that when the cerebellum is folded, its elements line up differently than they do when the organ is unfolded.

It seems the folded structure of the cerebellum is a configuration that facilitates access to information coming from places all over the body. Sereno says, "Now that we have the first high resolution base map of the human cerebellum, there are many possibilities for researchers to start filling in what is certain to be a complex quilt of inputs, from many different parts of the cerebral cortex in more detail than ever before."

This makes sense if the cerebellum is involved in highly complex, advanced cognitive functions, such as handling language or performing abstract reasoning as scientists suspect. "When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept," says Sereno, "you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that's just how the cerebellum is set up."

Bigger and bigger

The study also suggests that the large size of their virtual human cerebellum is likely to be related to the sheer number of tasks with which the organ is involved in the complex human brain. The macaque cerebellum that the team analyzed, for example, amounts to just 30 percent the size of the animal's cortex.

"The fact that [the cerebellum] has such a large surface area speaks to the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition," says Sereno. "It has expanded so much that the folding patterns are very complex."

As the study says, "Rather than coordinating sensory signals to execute expert physical movements, parts of the cerebellum may have been extended in humans to help coordinate fictive 'conceptual movements,' such as rapidly mentally rearranging a movement plan — or, in the fullness of time, perhaps even a mathematical equation."

Sereno concludes, "The 'little brain' is quite the jack of all trades. Mapping the cerebellum will be an interesting new frontier for the next decade."

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