What I will declare as the world's first Sagan Slam was so great I couldn't stop smiling afterward.
Dozens of people came up to to the mic to read their favorite passage from Sagan's books or talk about how Sagan influenced their life. There were people of multiple nationalities and many different backgrounds. We even had a person recite lyrics from a song about our spacecraft that are leaving the solar system.
Sagan Slam Participant Scott Lewis
Not pictured, the entire crowd.
We put out a table of Sagan's books for people to flip through and provided post-it notes to help mark their favorite passages. I emceed the event, starting out with one of my favorite passages from Pale Blue Dot (not the one you're thinking of) and handing the mic off to fellow attendees afterward. There was never a dull moment. We closed out the night, and wrapped up just as Mijares was making last call and closing their doors.
I had been unsure of how people would respond to the idea, but I shouldn't have been. Our high point had about 80 people clustered in the small room at Mijares Restaurant in Pasadena, many of them holding cosmos and listening intently. Several of our guests from our tribute event at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum also attended, and at least one of them jumped on the mic at one point.
It was a beautiful testament to how Sagan not only informed people, but moved them. These people were there not because they thought space was "merely" cool or intellectually stimulating, they were here because an idea had touched something deep inside them. The room rippled with this emotion and energy.
These events are one of the many reasons I love The Planetary Society. Everyone there had been moved in some way by Carl Sagan. Everyone shared this one commonality, if nothing else, and the Society brought us all together.
The Society, I might add, which Carl Sagan co-founded.
Went I went home, I watched the following video a number of times. I kept thinking that there's so much to be done. There's so much we can do, but don't.
This is why I became member of the Planetary Society and why I left my old career to come work here. The Planetary Society carries on Carl's legacy of his true embrace of hope for the future and the deep desire to explore. The frontier is still everywhere, we just have to decide to go.