BASALT - Conservationist and columnist Paul Andersen, of Basalt, is reviving his Community Conversations program starting this month to engage Roaring Fork Valley residents in a variety of community-interest topics.
Andersen started the program last year with sessions on food, energy and water. It's back by popular demand and expanded in a partnership with the Basalt Regional Library.
Community Conversations will be held once each month for the next six months. The free sessions are held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month through June at the library. Each session will feature an expert on a particular topic.
"These individuals come from far different walks of life and are very influential in their own spheres," Andersen said in an email interview with The Aspen Times. "By bringing them to a free and open 'Community Conversation,' their ideas are allowed to flower for a general audience that is, hopefully, interested in a civil dialog about issues that affect us all."
The first session, Monday features Michael Kinsley on "Making Our Communities Sustainable." Kinsley is a former Pitkin County commissioner and a senior researcher at the Rocky Mountain Institute. He will focus on how communities can control their economies by keeping money in circulation at home.
The Feb. 4 session will feature Dr. Glenn Kotz in "Athletics, Fitness and Longevity." Kotz, who practices medicine in the midvalley, will discuss the value of athletic activities and fitness on long-term quality of life.
In the March 4 session, KDNK station manager Steve Skinner will discuss freedom of local radio and its value on a local, regional and national scale in "The Free Voice of Public Radio."
April 1 will feature longtime Roaring Fork Valley journalist Brent Gardner-Smith on "Moving Beyond Print Journalism."
On May 6, sculptor Nancy Lovendahl will discuss her work and the value of three-dimensional art in "Sculpting the Creative Muse."
The June program is yet to be announced.
All discussions will be led by Andersen, who is an Aspen Times columnist. He is a trained seminar moderator through the Aspen Institute, where he has reported on wide-ranging policy discussions.
"This is an opportunity to further the sense of community that most residents seem to value highly as a reason for living here," Andersen said in the email interview. "Basalt Regional Library shares that same goal, which is a perfect role for a very popular community library. I am grateful the library director, Barb Milnor, is willing to take a chance on a program like this."