NewtonFestivalLogoA few nights ago I went to the “Newton Inspires” event at Newton South high school.  I hadn’t been before and I loved it.  Its an annual event and this is its fourth year.

The organizers recruit an impressive line-up of Newton residents from a broad range of fields and they give 30 minute presentations.  As a guest, you sign up for three 30 minute sessions.  I learned about bio-materials, nano-technology and human tissue engineering from Robert Langer, an MIT inventor and engineer.  I heard some great anecdotes from Barry White, the former ambassador to Norway.  I finished the night with a talk about the future of media in politics and news by Herbie Ziskend, a former White House staffer and Huffington Post chief of staff.  These were just three of maybe 20 presentations that night, all from Newton residents.

As somebody said to me that night, it was like being back at school with only the best parts  …. but no homework or tests.

One striking thing about the night was the level of talent and experience of many of our Newton neighbors.

In the same vein, but coming at it from a different direction, the Newton Festival of the Arts just put up its web site.  The festival will be held in May and will feature  an amazing range of about 65 events featuring Newton based artists, groups and performers – music, dance, theater, literature, cooking …..  Once again the breath and depth of local talent is amazing.

On a totally different axis, I was really wowed back in November when we put on the first Nomad Story Slam.   Twenty two regular folks from (mostly) Newton got up in front of an audience and told an amazing collection of stories – heartfelt, funny, moving, wacky ….  We’ll be doing it again tomorrow night and I’m sure the stories will be just as good.

There’s all sorts of better know virtues to living Newton (goods schools, proximity to Boston, etc), but the longer I live here, the more I’m beginning to appreciate that the residents of Newton may be among its biggest assets.