Fireside Chats

In 2024, WCA will gauge our community’s interest in Fireside Chats, a series of informal conversations to take place at the Little House. Since we are a community of people with diverse backgrounds, interests, jobs, and experiences, we hope the topics of our Fireside Chats will be equally varied. Fireside Chats invites any member
From our early soundings, we have heard suggestions on topics ranging from solar energy in Westmoreland to photography, native plants, parenting, estate planning, decorator’s tips, meditation, writer’s block, and health tips. That suggests that we would love to hear from gardeners, journalists, travelers, artists, philosophers, parenting experts (if these exist!), professors, entrepreneurs, and really anyone who is excited about a topic and brave enough to share it with others. From our perspective, the more niche and specific the topic, the better!  
If you have ideas, we invite you to share them in this brief questionnaire. It shouldn’t take you more than 3 minutes to fill out. The success of this endeavor depends on your ideas, interests, and engagement. 
Disclaimer: The Fireside Chats don't wish to promote, advocate, or endorse companies, viewpoints, or products. The intention is to have interesting, fun, and, whenever possible, useful conversations with neighbors and friends. 
Inaugural WCA Fireside Chat at the Little House: Tuesday, January 16th, 7:30 pm
Topic: Resolutions or Intentions: The Significance of a New Year
Lead conversationalist: Margaret Anderson

A new year gives us a chance to straddle the past and future and reflect on what has worked well and what we'd like to change. New Year's and Solstice have been observed throughout history, and generations before us also sat at this intersection, dreaming and planning for the future. Winter also offers the chance for retreat, reflection, and renewal, which is chronicled in Katherine May's beautiful book titled Wintering: The Power of Rest & Retreat During Difficult Times. We'll spend this time discussing what is possible when we take time for introspection and evaluation at the new year.
Margaret and her family have been living in the neighborhood for more than 15 years, during which time Margaret pursued a career in biomedical research and public health with a focus on innovation and equity. Margaret is a Managing Director at Deloitte engaging across the federal health, nonprofit, and life sciences sectors. She sits on several boards: Act for NIH, Allen Institute, FasterCures, Friends of Cancer Research, and the National Cancer Advisory Board. She is also a certified Executive Coach and a self-described super connector and networker for good.  
FEBRUARY FIRESIDE CHAT: Going Solar with Susan Kessler
Monday, February 12th, 7:30 pm, Little House
Monday, February 12th, 7:30 pm: Going  Solar in Our Neighborhood 
Come join WCA neighbor Susan Kessler and WCA Board Member Steve Herman to hear Susan's "My Solar Journey" story about the realities of solar power at her home. Our neighborhood, it turns out, is in a unique zone that offers us extra financial incentives to go solar, which makes this environmentally crucial technology sensible for our neighborhood. 
Susan is a surgeon, not an engineer or finance expert, but her layman's experience of installing solar panels in her home is illuminating: “After the activation of our solar grid in August of 2023, we on Elliott Road reduced CO2 production by 3.1 Tons! The equivalent of planting 51 trees or charging 369.8K phones, says my nifty solar consumption monitor. My Solar Journey is about what I learned about adding a Solar Roof to our house.”  Susan will share how she approached her solar project and help us understand some new technologies, regulations, and financing options. 
WCA Board Member Steve Herman will facilitate this discussion. Steve advises on renewable energy and innovative energy technologies focusing on climate change, including clean hydrogen technology and sustainable private equity. He has had decades of experience in investing in fossil and renewable power generation, environmental infrastructure, electric transmission, and energy services, through private equity, investment banking, and law. 
You can view Susan's presentation 
MARCH FIRESIDE CHAT: Let's Talk about Books: Reading, Writing, and More
Conversation with Deborah Kalb
March 5th, Tuesday, 7:30 pm, Little House

We often skip books that don't make it to the New York Times bestseller list, and we sometimes feel we want to write something - a novel, an autobiography, a poem, perhaps - but we never end up writing it. We lament the times when our children or we used to read more, yet when we look around, we often see people glued to a screen. Depending on our own judgments and habits, we conjecture that they are likely absorbed in breaking news, an important email, a not-to-be-missed op-ed, a parenting blog, or a recipe - the screen possibilities are endless. Or maybe a novel...
Join us for a talk about reading and writing with Deborah Kalb, a neighbor and an author of fic­tion for kids and non­fic­tion for adults. She is the host of the blog Book Q&As with Deb­o­rah Kalb, where she inter­views an eclec­tic range of authors. She's also the co-host of the new podcast Rereading Our Childhood. Deborah is the author of the recent novel Off to Join the Circus. She also has written three novels for kids in the President and Me series, and has written or edited various nonfiction books for adults on the topic of politics and government.
Deborah lives in the Westbrook neighborhood.
You can join by Zoom here.