Aspen, Colorado, is. on the surface, a 1% kind of town. The small local airport is filled with the sleek, blank white bodies of private jets. A trip of more than three blocks, joked one of my Twitter friends today, requires a limousine. Gucci and Louis Vuitton pepper the stores, even if most of the people are dressed in khakis and button-downs.
But that’s not the whole story of Aspen. It’s also a working town, a town where a considerable local population works to maintain the economy. The symbiosis of rich and middle-class here results in a surprising lack of class resentment; maybe, like the Aspen trees the town is named for, the residents realize that their experiences here are interconnected by the roots, that they share a common soil. Maybe it’s also because Aspen is a town where almost everyone seems to be passing through – the wealthy on their vacations, many of the workers here for a summer or a couple of seasons or a year or so.
The Aspen Institute is one of the few stalwarts of permanence in the town. It was founded in 1950 to foster ideas and open thinking, and for the past eight years, has run its Aspen Ideas Festival for two weeks every summer. In hourlong sessions, conferences, tutorials and outings, the attendees devote themselves to a kind of cultural core curriculum: where is our society going? What can we learn from it? And how can it be better?
Marketplace has had a presence at the Ideas Festival in recent years -reporting and broadcasting live – and we do again this year. I’ll post regular updates about the best ideas and discussions we’re hearing here – often things you won’t hear anywhere else. Check back often.