Community. It’s at the heart of the Institute’s national and international policy work. Community building starts at home—as the new Institute headquarters demonstrates daily in the open space that joins dozens of offices previously in separate fiefs and floors, and as we all dramatically saw this summer on the Aspen campus. Just after the Aspen Ideas Festival ended, fires spread down the Roaring Fork Valley. Would speakers be able to travel? Would long-planned events be cancelled altogether?
The threat of concern to all of us, though, was everyone who contributes to the summer’s events—the Institute’s staff and family, of course, but also the many volunteers and workers at the Meadows resort on campus. So staff members welcomed to their homes friends who were evacuated. The Institute immediately donated $10,000 to the Aspen Community Foundation. Dan Porterfield, in his very first summer as the Institute’s president and CEO, mobilized forces on the staff to coordinate with local authorities and to offer all the resources on campus—including rooms at the Meadows—to those in need. It was a baptism by, well, emergency. But it was also part of Porterfield’s incoming intention to forge close bonds with Aspen community leaders—work he continued after the threat of the fires had passed and the summer events were over.
Forward motion is what animates every summer at Aspen. No one demonstrated this more elegantly than my two favorite models of our annual IDEAS Magazine t-shirt, shown above: Damian Woetzel, about to dance his way to the Julliard School as Erika Mallin came onstage to direct the Insititute’s Arts Program; and board member Katie Couric, who in public dances her way through life but spends much of the Aspen Ideas Festival sprinting to a secluded room to intensely prepare for the substantive, fearless conversations that make the summer’s ideas dance in our minds for months to come.