Kristen Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden, a true story from a woman who grew up next to the Rocky Flats weapon facility in Colorado. Iversen is a seasoned speaker on the secret nuclear plant that was once designated "the most contaminated site in America."
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The Myth of Absolute Safety: When Governments or Corporations Put Our Health at Risk
People in small towns and big cities across the country are constantly and unknowingly faced with environmental hazards that can lead to serious health issues, including contamination from former nuclear weapons sites and nuclear power plants, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and coal mining. In this lecture, Iversen discusses how we can work toward stronger safety measures and greater transparency regarding the risks of these activities.
Rocky Flats and the Secrets of the Cold War
From 1952 to 1992, the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, located not far from Denver, produced more than 70,000 plutonium pits for nuclear bombs, the heart of every nuclear weapon in America. Local residents and workers at the plant were largely kept in the dark about radioactive contamination of the air, water, and soil, until the Department of Energy finally conceded that Rocky Flats was the most contaminated site in America. In this lecture, Iversen discusses what Americans didn’t know about bomb development and production during and after the Cold War years, while sharing her personal story of growing up near Rocky Flats, and the ten-year process of researching and writing Full Body Burden.
The Shadow of the Nuclear West
The idea of pristine frontiers has long been an integral part of how Americans think about the West and the American spirit. But there is a dark shadow behind this western ideal: the network of nuclear weapons sites, testing zones, and radioactive/toxic storage facilities that constitute the silent backbone of America’s relationship with nuclear bombs. This is the Nuclear West, and the history of it tells us as much about the American psyche as the myths of the American West that are so familiar to us.
Telling the Truth and Telling a Good Story
Creative nonfiction is the genre of true stories told in a dramatic fashion using techniques more commonly found in fiction, from using symbols and metaphors to rendering real people as vivid characters. In this lecture, Iversen discusses the art of nonfiction, and how to take real events and pace them so that they make for a compelling narrative. How can you tell a captivating story and still maintain the factual integrity of a work of creative nonfiction? What happens when the two come into conflict?