Attracting everyone from CEOs and political buffs to model Paulina Porizkova and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne (and it’s only this year), Aspen’s annual Festival of Ideas, hosted by the enigmatic nonprofit institute Aspen from June 25 to July 1, offers a week of events designed to create opportunities for in-depth dialogue on issues that challenge our times. Festivalgoers able to shell out $5,000 for a full pass can enjoy four days – there are two main four-day sessions to choose from – of exclusive access to panels, presentations and performances. But those of us with more down-to-earth budgets can still get a taste of learning by buy individual tickets ($30) to about twenty sessions. Here, our top five picks with seats still available.
The law that remade sport and the world
Why go: Who better to talk about the impact of Title IX, enacted on June 23, 1972, than two women who saw with their own eyes how groundbreaking education legislation also addressed gender disparity in sports? They would be freestyle skiing phenom Eileen Gu, who won Olympic gold and silver last February in a male-dominated sport, and entrepreneur Sheila Johnson, owner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
What to expect: No matter what you think of his choice to compete for China at the Winter Games, 18-year-old Gu is downright impressive with his intelligence and composure. Seven years ago, she had already studied Title IX, talking about the benefits of the law for female athletes in a college presentation while denouncing the persistent pay gap between male and female basketball players, among others. Johnson, who also co-founded Black Entertainment Television and runs Salamander Hotels and Resorts, has broken down many obstacles in her career, including being the first African-American woman to hold a stake in three professional sports teams. Tom Farrey, Sports and Society Program Manager, Aspen Institute, will moderate this discussion.
Details: June 26, 7-8 p.m.
The Great Friendship Reset
Why go: It might seem surprisingly tricky for a high-level discussion at the Aspen Festival of Ideas, but the topic of friendship seems to have come under intense scrutiny in these mid-pandemic days. Concrete example: the month of February of Jennifer Senior Atlantic article, “It’s your friends who break your heart,” got many of us thinking about how and why our relationships with our closest friends end. Senior, the magazine’s editor, will dive into the backstory of her article.
What to expect: Besides Senior, the panel includes two other writers and a psychologist. Eric Barker is a former Hollywood screenwriter who now has a blog, Barking up the Wrong Tree, based on his bestselling book of the same name, which is shaking up our perceptions of success. His book which has just come out, Play well with others, takes a similar approach to relationships. Prolific author Jen Hatmaker also runs the Women’s Empowerment Podcast For love and once hosted an HGTV reality series called Your big family renovation. And Marisa G. Franco, who teaches psychology at the University of Maryland and has a forthcoming book on making and keeping friends, will hold the quantitative end of the discussion, with science-based friendship facts.
Details: June 26, 8:30–9:30 p.m.
No ordinary campaign
Why go: One in 500 Americans will be diagnosed with ALS. Brian Wallach became one of them five years ago, when he was 37 and had six months to live. (Spoiler alert: He’s still around, and he and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, will be speaking at the event.) But while the disease hasn’t yet proved fatal for Wallach, the trip in which the couple was thrown: navigating disease and the failures of our health care system – was incredibly difficult. The documentary No ordinary campaign details their struggles and triumphs, including founding a nonprofit, I am ALS, who strives to find a cure for the disease. Katie Couric will moderate the post-screening conversation.
What to expect: A few tears and anger while watching the film. Next, there will be a discussion about health care that is likely to be fascinating, infuriating, and full of ideas for a better system. Other speakers include the film’s director, Chris Burke; Tania Simoncelli, vice president of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (led by the Facebook founder and his wife), which works for equitable health care and presents this session of the Aspen Ideas Festival; and Jinsy Andrews, who leads neuromuscular clinical trials at Columbia University.
Details: June 27, 6-8 p.m.
This land is your land
Why go: The debate over public lands – how (and if) they should be protected in the face of climate change and over-visit; what types of users should be allowed access; and even what should the earth be called – has it ever subsided? That seems unlikely, which is why listening to Chuck Sams, the National Park Service’s first Indigenous official, and Kristine Tompkins, known for conserving huge swathes of land in South America, talk about protecting wilderness seems particularly timely. .
What to expect: A member of the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Sams will bring a historically overlooked perspective to his role in the U.S. government, through which he said he hopes to expand access to the outdoors, protect public lands and modernize the NPS infrastructure. Tompkins, meanwhile, a former CEO of Patagonia, has gained enormous environmental credibility through an unparalleled commitment to rewilding lands. She and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, purchased millions of acres of land in Chile and Argentina, restored them to their natural state and reintroduced native animals, and gave the lands back to the countries as national parks. new or expanded. NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz will moderate the discussion.
Details: June 28, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Selma Blair: From Hollywood Ingenue to naughty baby Memorialist
Why go: A queen of late 90s teen movies like cruel intentions and Revenge of a Blonde, Selma Blair is struggling with serious issues these days, especially multiple sclerosis (MS), which she was diagnosed with in 2018 after battling symptoms for years (she is currently in remission). In her recent memoir, the actress shared what it’s like living with a degenerative disease, battling alcoholism (she says she first got drunk when she was seven , complete with Passover wine), coming to terms with a series of sexual assaults and dealing with the ups and downs of celebrity status. She presents it all at the Aspen Ideas Festival with brutal honesty.
What to expect: Blair is a smart cookie; she wanted to be a writer, a la Joan Didion, long before she started acting, so her memoir is the real deal and not a project written by a ghost. His work ranges from raising awareness (last year’s documentary Introducing Selma Blair presents a candid view of her physical struggles with illness) to help run a cosmetics company that makes easy-to-grip products. Ideas Fest doesn’t normally go to Hollywood, but Blair is likely to share insider gossip with bigger ideas. And about Legally Blonde 3, which was originally supposed to be released this year? Somebody has to ask.
Details: June 30, 7–8 p.m.