The Aspen Ideas Festival
Attending the four-day Aspen Ideas Festival is like being able to go to Harvard without filling out a killer application or doing homework.
The first opening session (there are two four-day sessions) began with a discussion titled “What’s the Big Idea?” Presenters gave us an overview of what they would discuss in their individual seminars. The most brilliant intellects in the world gave the audience a smorgasbord of what to expect in the coming days.
The first seminar we attended was called “Millennials and the Next Generation” presented by Paul Taylor of Pew Research Center. The gist of his talk was statistically heavy and showed how the greying of America and immigration have changed our demographics.
On the first day there were 51 topic sessions to choose from. The Festival encourages one to go to sessions in areas that you know nothing about; “Robotic with their Head in the Clouds” is a challenging example.
One of the most interesting sessions featured Alice Walton and Don Bacigalupi, talking about “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” an art Biennial that will open at Walton’s museum, Crystal Bridges, this fall. They explained how their team went to almost every state in America looking at undiscovered art talent that they could show at the museum and the process of interviewing artists.
Brian Chesky, one of the founders of Airbnb, presented “Airbnb: How the Sharing Economy is Redefining the Marketplace and Our Sense of Community.”
Chesky shared how his company was born out of necessity. He and his roommates could not pay their rent and when a design convention was coming to San Francisco they put up an ad on the internet and rented the rooms in their apartment. They blew up air mattresses to accommodate their guests. Airbnb now rents millions of rooms a month worldwide. It is a fascinating story.
Day after day, we were exposed to exceptional people like Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law Professors who wants to change how lobbies influence American politics. Famous politicians like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tony Blair, as well as Drew Gilpin Faust, the President of Harvard, and Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo all presented. It was a mind-altering experience.
One of the best parts of participating in the Ideas Festival, though very intense, one can still experience the town of Aspen. This community is quite special. The natural beauty is awesome and one can spend hours hiking, biking or just being outside.
Cache Cache: French-American cuisine with outdoor seating. 205 S Mill St #106, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 925-3835
Campo di Fiori: Authentic Italian cuisine with outdoor seating. 205 S Mill St, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 920-7717
Ajax Tavern: Near the Gondola, very casual. 685 E Durant Ave, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 920-6334
Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort: Newly renovated, wonderful vibes. 330 E Main St, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 920-1000
The Little Nell: Very chic and close to the Gondola. 675 E Durant Ave, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 920-4600
The St. Regis Aspen Resort: They have an oxygen room for people who are having a hard time breathing. 315 E Dean St, Aspen, CO 81611 (970) 920-3300