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Etta Meyer | July 6, 2017 | Lifestyle
Aspen IDEAS 2017, In Review
The sun is setting in Aspen, Colorado and the shadows are growing long across the meadow at The Aspen Institute. The path running through campus is busy with people hustling both ways, plastic badges fluttering around their necks. They are trotting from one panel discussion to another. We are part way through the exclusive 10-day festival that is: Aspen IDEAS.
The Aspen Institute campus, aflutter with activity during the 10-day festival.
Every year at the end of June, The Institute invites big thinkers of every stripe to the mountain hamlet for its banner event. Scholars, politicians, executives, researchers, journalists and entertainers convene in the thin alpine air to exchange ideas about the country's (and world’s) trickiest issues. Their mission? To foster solutions by bringing people of different disciplines together for inspired conversation.
“The time to cross the proverbial aisle is now, right here, right in Aspen, right at the Ideas Festival,” remarks Kitty Boone, the Vice President of Public Programs and Executive Director of the Ideas Festival, during the opening of Part Two.
To be clear, the ten days running from June 22 to July 1 are divided into three parts: Spotlight Health followed by Parts One and Two.
At the closing panel for Spotlight Health, on June 25th, IDEAS did what it does best. It showcased speakers from different perspectives, back-to-back. First up, Tom Price, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary was interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of the Atlantic. Price outlined the Trump administration’s five guiding principles for healthcare including: affordability, accessibility, quality, incentivizing innovation, and empowering patients through choice and transparency. Goldberg fired back with questions stemming from the president’s Twitter account.
Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Tom Price, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation, also presented at the closing for Spotlight Health. She spoke with concern that the legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Senate would undo much of the progress she has seen in women’s healthcare. She offered that access to reproductive care is widely popular to Americans and quipped, “If more members of Congress could get pregnant, we wouldn’t be fighting about birth control and Planned Parenthood.” She received a standing ovation.
Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spoke during the closing of Spotlight Health.
Other topics that emerged: the opioid crisis, cybersecurity, the role of the internet in the 2016 election, revelations in brain science, race relations, and conservatism in the age of Trump. Yet the festival is not all policy doom and gloom; Colin Jost and Michael Che of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update made an appearance, plus New York Times columnist, David Brooks, is always a festival-favorite.
Michael Che and Colin Jost of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update
If you missed IDEAS this year, fear not. Many of the sessions were filmed and are available on youtube.com/user/AspenInstitute as well as on the Institute’s Podcast, Aspen Ideas To Go. aspeninstitute.org
The Aspen Institute/Photo by Dan Bayer