Free Educational Topics in Chicago

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  • Cured: Is Recovery from Mental Illness Possible?

    Sarah Fay, Ph.D., MA, MFA, Award-winning Author and Mental Health Advocate, Northwestern University

    In this gripping talk, Sarah Fay shares her experience of a full recovery from serious mental illness. She was one of those “hopeless” cases: twenty-five years in the mental health system, six different diagnoses, nearly a dozen different medications, and unable to live independently. MORE >

    Her life changed with one word: Google. That’s right, Google. Her psychiatrist told her about a patient who’d fully recovered and gone on to become an executive at Google.

    Recovery? No one recovers from mental illness or any psychiatric diagnosis. Anorexia, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc.—those are forever.

    Turns out that’s not the case. To psychiatrists, mental health recovery is the moment when a person who’s experienced debilitating mental and emotional suffering is no longer disabled by it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

    For Sarah, recovery required a complete shift in her understanding of the world, her treatment, and herself. It was incredibly difficult and full of wrong turns and setbacks, but she did it.

    This talk explores the various definitions of recovery, the data on recovery, what mental health recovery looks like, and how we work toward it. It’s especially well-suited to high school, college, and university students—who are experiencing a mental health crisis and often given no hope— and women—who are the largest users of mental healthcare services in the country.

    Learning points: 

    -What mental health recovery looks and how it differs for each person

    -Why we think psychiatric diagnoses are lifelong and the data on mental health recovery

    -The difficulty in terminology—are we “cured,” recovered, well, better?

    -Personal versus clinical recovery

    -Concrete tools and resources for mental health recovery

    -Crafting mental health narratives

    -How to find support

    -How to guide others—particularly children and young people—in their journeys toward recovery

    -How to create work, education, and living environments that foster recovery
    Find out more and watch Sarah's speaking reel here:

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  • How to Create Resilient Equitable Communities in a COVID-19 World

    Kelwin Harris, Diversity, Equity and Civic Engagement Speaker

    Our cities face serious threats; growth is uneven; neighborhoods are struggling; and streets are erupting in protest as COVID-19 has made existing inequalities worse. Now more than ever, we must address racial equity and provide strategies for prosperity for the good of everyone. Drawing from his experience as a community leader on the South Side of Chicago and as an urban planner, Kelwin Harris uses an equity lens to discuss multiple facets of systemic racism that persist and offers strategies and interventions for the road ahead. MORE >

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  • Congress Doesn’t Care What You Think

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    this presentation addresses the problem of unlimited political money corrupting our democracy. We explain the problem clearly, and discuss the causes and possible solutions, including steps that we can take in our own communities to begin addressing this structural problem in our country. The presentation is non-partisan and brings issues to light which are of concern across the aisle. MORE >

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  • What’s an Assault Weapon, and why are they so deadly?

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    There's been a lot of discussion lately about tighter regulations on assault weapons like the AR-15. If we are going to regulate these weapons, we will need a legal definition describing them. And instead of a definition that depends upon specific configurations or cosmetic appearance, we propose a definition based on the factors that make this class of weapons so deadly. MORE >

    This presentation focuses on the development of this class of weapons, the factors that make them so deadly, and how we can use those factors to legally define an "assault weapon" for future regulation thereof.
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  • Increasing Political Polarization and what we can do about it

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    Every decade, increasing gerrymandring has created more and more "safe seats", which have resulted in more and more extreme legislators on both sides of the aisle - creating a legilature where compromise is impossibe, and very little legislative progress ensures. This presentation shows why this happens, and what we can do about it, using the recent example of the Alaska special election, utilizing a nonpartisan primary and a ranked choice voting general election, as an example of how to promote more moderate legislators and a more productive legislature. MORE >

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  • Can we print fake mail ballots? (not really)

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    There's lots of talk about how easy it would be to flood an election with fake mail ballots. Let's take a look at what it would take to do that...

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  • Illinois permanent vote by mail list

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    This presentation reviews the 2021 laws establishing a permanent vote by mail list in Illinois, with special attention to how this new list relates to voter registration activities.

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  • School board disinformation

    Ed Spire, Co-lead, Restore our Democracy Project, NWSOFA-Indivisible

    Our public school boards are under attack. Responsible school board members are being threatened, and reasonable school policies are being dismantled. We'll help you understand why, who is doing it, and what we can do about it.

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  • Get it SOLD with Home Staging

    GraceAnn Simoni, President & Premier Home Stager, Staging Redesign Group Inc.

    Selling your home now or in the future. When you’re ready to put you house on the market will you know where to start? Do you think the Realtor will do everything for you? Does the thought of getting your home ready for the buyer’s critical eye scare you? Are you willing to take a price reduction rather than investing a little into the house? MORE >

    Staging a home results in fewer days on the market and a higher selling price. Be one step ahead of the competition. Learn how to stage your home today! Get it ready now before even calling the Realtor!

    What can be done to get your house ready for little or no money?
    From the curb to the back door!
    What home Staging is and what it is not.
    What are buyers in this market looking for in their new home?
    How to shorten the time on the market and get the best offers.

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  • Understanding Pain Color and Light

    GraceAnn Simoni, President & Premier Home Stager, Staging Redesign Group Inc.

    Ever choose the perfect paint color only to realize it does not look the same on your walls? Why? Understand more about color, the new light bulbs and how they effect color. Discover how light outside and inside you home effects paint color.

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