The Aspen IdeasFestival Turns 10


In keeping with the spirit of “WeBlogTheWorld” and having a global perspective, I flew from Stockholm to Oslo to London to Washington, D.C., to San Francisco en route to Aspen, Colorado to cover the second half of the 10th Anniversary of the Aspen IdeasFestival, an annual gathering of luminaries meeting in this alpine paradise to discuss burning issues of the day.

In the middle of the six day, two session marathon of seminars, talks and panel discussions spanning 16 topical tracks is an “afternoon conversation” plenary involving attendees of both segments.  This year, interviewees included Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, former vice president Al Gore, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, and former CIA director David Petraeus. Impressive that the first three speakers on this top profile stage in the Benedict Music Tent were women, as was noted by David Gergen, who interviewed Al Gore. Watch this space over the remainder of this week for highlights and themes from this august gathering.

Of course, if you are reading this, you probably are not at the all-consuming conference.

Don’t feel left out.

Note that many events are being webcast live. Check out the Aspen Ideas Festival website. Also, Aspen Institute runs an active blog worth checking out, with reports on many of the symposia, talks and other gatherings. Here is a summary of the 10th year objectives and format and a brief discussion of this year’s theme, Imagining 2024.

I like to attend the conference as a cornucopia, but those with laser focus may prefer to read the program according to its 16 separate tracks, plus for for its new ‘prequel’ segment, “Spotlight Health”.

Or look at sponsor the Atlantic’s summary highlights of the last ten years.

Above photo: Hillary Clinton faults the Supreme Court’s decision on Hobby Lobby, saying ruling that corporations could deny women employees birth control coverage on religious grounds is a slippery slope to asserting corporations have the same rights as a person … in Facebook Live interview at Aspen Institute.



Sam Perry
Sam Perry has been a correspondent and editor for Reuters and United Press International, covering business, technology and politics in North America and Europe. From journalist, he moved into investments and management as a venture investor and executive and has been involved in startup high tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than a decade, including Yahoo! and Tesla Motors.

He is President of Ascendance Ventures, which participates in seed stage fundings and was a former corporate venture capitalist for Reuters Greenhouse | RVC.
Sam is active in several nonprofit groups, including E2 – Environmental Entrepreneurs, business leaders supporting progressive environmental policies. Sam is also an alumni member of the Full Circle Fund, an organization of New Economy leaders innovating in a venture philanthropy model to provide expertise and grants to enterprises in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a VISTA volunteer, he worked as a community organizer in the coal country of Mingo County, West Virginia.
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