The Living New Deal offers periodic webinars (online lectures and panels) featuring lively discussions of New Deal topics, past and present. The webinars began as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they turn out to have the added virtue of allowing us to reach a wider national audience through Zoom and Facetime. We will continue to offer webinars as a complement to live talks, exhibits and other events by both our West Coast team and our New York City branch.
A conversation with the author, Scott Borchert, and writer David Kipen.
Scott Borchert, author of Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America, and writer David Kipen explore the Federal Writers’ Project—from its optimistic early days to its dismemberment by the House Committee on Un-American Activities to the “culture wars” today.
The New Deal built a network of parks and recreation facilities that still enriches life in the New York metropolitan area. Maintaining and extending this inheritance has meant confronting both racial discrimination and budget cuts. Join us as we explore the New Deal’s legacy for our region’s parks and contemporary efforts to build parks for communities that lack green space.
Eighty-five years ago, as a result of the Great Depression, America suffered an acute housing crisis. How did the New Deal respond, and what lessons can we take away from its successes and failures to help address the current housing crisis? For low, moderate, and middle-income families, the current crisis had its origins in the 2008 recession and was disastrously exacerbated by the pandemic, which brought with it increased evictions and homelessness. What are the proposals being put forth to address immediate and long-term housing needs, and what chance do they have of being enacted? How do those proposals address financial as well as racial inequities in the housing market? Our speakers will provide an overview of the New Deal’s innovative housing programs for urban, suburban, rural, and migrant families; and then examine current plans for financing and building housing, as well as ensuring the equitable distribution of housing assets.
The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), launched in 1935 under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), employed thousands of out-of-work writers, researchers, historians and librarians during the Great Depression. The FWP produced hundreds of publications, including the American Guides to states and cities. Congress largely defunded the FWP in 1939 after the House UnAmerican Activities Committee accused it of having communist sympathies.
Speakers: Susan Rubenstein DeMasi is a freelance writer and the author of “Henry Alsberg: The Driving Force of the New Deal Federal Writers’ Project.” David Kipen, former book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and Director of Literature for the National Endowment of the Arts, David authored the introductions to four American Guides reissued by UC Press. Fern L. Nesson, an attorney and fine arts photographer, uses her collection of American Guides on road trips, which she chronicles in her column, “Travels with the WPA State Guides,” featured on the Living New Deal’s website.
Picture an America in which an angry crowd of radical veterans surround the Capitol and are dispersed only with tear gas and gunfire. An America in which a disgruntled Marine general is approached about leading a coup to overturn an election; in which right-wing fanatics hoard weapons, set up paramilitary and youth indoctrination camps around the country, and encourage children to turn in undocumented immigrants. An America in which a ranting demagogue sends his followers into the streets to assault Jews and spread stories of foreign subversion. Where a clownish, would-be president plots to grab the White House by forming his own third party and splitting the vote. Where the most outlandish conspiracy theories and the wildest rumors are spread everywhere about the president, his wife and children, and his most trusted advisors.
No, we’re not talking about America today but America in the 1930s, when the Bonus Army marched on Washington, the fascist “Silver Shirts” set up a Manson-like compound outside Los Angeles, millions tuned in to hear Father Coughlin spread his anti-Semitic poison over the airwaves, and American Nazis set up such a large youth camp on Long Island that the Long Island Railroad had to run special trains to it from Grand Central Station every weekend. Learn about just how extremist America could be, back when Donald Trump was still just a twinkle in his father’s eye—and Fred Christ Trump was still just a home-building Klansman in Queens.
Hear the sort-of-shocking, sort-of-reassuring story of how the country held on during the ultimate stress test of the Great Depression and the approach to World War II. It’s the story of how we saved democracy before—and how we might do it again.
Among its many achievements, the New Deal devoted significant resources to improving public health. Join our panel as they explore this forgotten history and seek ways to address the public health challenges we face today.
Our first webinar of the year, on January 7 brought together leading experts on the role of posters in social movements. Lincoln Cushing, an artist, archivist and author based in Berkeley. Lincoln discussed the history of posters as tools of social change. Ennis Carter, founding director of Philadelphia-based DfSI/Social Impact Studios and author of Posters for the People, talked about posters of the WPA. She maintains an online archive of thousands of posters created during the New Deal era. Max Slavkin, is co-founder and CEO of Creative Action Network, which runs crowdsourced, caused-based campaigns and an online marketplace for art with purpose. Max’s book, Posters for a Green New Deal, features 50 original pull-out posters by artists worldwide. Susan Ives, who directs the Living New Deal’s Communications, moderated the discussion.
Starting out as a set of aspirational policy objectives, the Green New Deal has rapidly gained traction among policymakers, change agents, and the public. It draws its inspiration from the New Deal, which offers a compelling model for tackling the challenges ahead. Our distinguished speakers will lead a discussion about the economic, environmental, social, and political changes that many of us want to see and be part of..
Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.
Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.