The third annual Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas closed Saturday after two days of engaging and compelling conversations that ran the gamut from the inadequacies of the criminal justice system — outlined in no uncertain terms by Judge Alex Kozinski — to the flaws in our education system, articulated by extraordinary 18-year-old reformer Adora Svitak, the perils of Vladimir Putin, who writer Masha Gessen described bluntly as “a thug,” and the dangers of over-treatment in the healthcare system, articulated all too clearly by activist and author Shannon Brownlee.
The festival, held in downtown Berkeley and on the Cal campus, was far from being one long downer, however. For what emerged from nearly all the sessions and discussions, on and off the stage, was a call to action of sorts: to get uncomfortable and to fight back. Or, as Krissy Eliot interpreted it in her excellent report for California Magazine of the festival’s first day, “Screw the system” — let’s dismantle and then reconstruct some of those systems to create a fairer society.
And perhaps that, ultimately, is what an ideas festival is all about: people coming together with a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to wrestle with the pressing issues of the day and then to begin to look for creative ways to make progress. And what more fitting place for that to happen than in Berkeley?
As the host of Uncharted, Berkeleyside would like to thank all the speakers, moderators and performers who opened our eyes to a wealth of new knowledge, or transported us with their singing (thank you, Meklit) or cracked us up with their humor (salute to W. Kamau Bell); the attendees who brought the whole festival to life; as well as our partners who, with their financial and in-kind support, made it possible to put the festival on in the first place.
For those who missed the festival, or just some of the sessions — or for anyone who wants another chance to take in the thought-provoking discussions that took place there — Berkeleyside aims to make available podcasts of some or all of the Uncharted conversations.
Meantime, to provide a taste, we bring you a small selection of the wonderful photographs taken over the course of the festival by photographers Pete Rosos and Kelly Sullivan.