Oscar-winning ‘Free Solo’ director Jimmy Chin among Town Hall speakers coming to Fresno

An Oscar-winning film director, a retired Marine Corps general, and an expert on “megafires” are among seven renowned speakers coming to Fresno as part of the 2019-20 San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series that starts in October.

The third speaker in the lineup, Jimmy Chin, received international acclaim earlier this year when his film, “Free Solo,” about rock climber Alex Honnold, won an Oscar for Best Documentary.

All speakers will present at 10:30 a.m. at the William Saroyan Theatre, 730 M St., Fresno, except for comedian Dennis Miller, who presents at 7:30 p.m.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall speakers

Oct. 16: Nick Buettner, an explorer, researcher and media personality, will present “Live Long and Happy – The Blue Zones,” about communities where people routinely live to be 100 years old.

Nov. 5: Emmy-award winning comedian Dennis Miller, a former talk show host and Saturday Night Live performer, will present “America, How Can We All Play Nice Again?” about “the art of how to disagree agreeably.”

Nov. 20: National Geographic mountaineer, photographer and film director Jimmy Chin will present “World’s Greatest Climb – Free Solo in Yosemite” about Honnold climbing Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan without the protection of ropes.

Jan. 15: Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly will present “Geopolitics – Our Future on the Global Stage” about the “evolving geopolitical landscape” around the world.

Feb. 12: Science writer Rebecca Skloot will present “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” about the “intersections of scientific progress and morality, bringing public attention to vital bioethical issues.”

March 18: Forestry scientist Paul Hessburg will present “Megafires: How Do You Want Your Smoke?” about the “causes, impacts and implications of the mega-wildfires” plaguing the Western states.

April 15: Emmy-award winning journalist and author Cokie Roberts will present “The Founding Mothers Who Raised Our Nation!” about women who “supported, encouraged and even advised” the Founding Fathers.

Tickets can be purchased online at valleytownhall.com. The lecture series, run by a volunteer board of directors, is in its 83rd year.

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Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.