1992: Dewi Writes a new Chapter in history
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society. Dewi Writes a new Chapter in historyBy Mary Eshbaugh HayesAll her life, Dewi Sukarno has been in the eye of the storm…She was a child in Japan during World War II. She was the wife of President Sukarno of Indonesia during his struggles to bring Third World countries into the 20th century. She was there when he was overthrown by a coup.Now she is in the eye of a storm in Aspen.Dewi Sukarno, 62, is accused of smashing a champagne glass in the face of a rival, Victoria Osmena, granddaughter of a former president of the Philippines.The alleged assault took place at a Jan. 2 jet set party at Primavera restaurant given by German Prince Heinrich Hanaii-Schaumburg in celebration of his purchase of the Aspen Club Lodge.Sukarno’s trial will begin August 12 in District Court in Pitkin County Courthouse.Sukarno maintains the incident was an accident. She wants to go to trial.”A trial is the only place I can clear my name, she insists.”I still can’t take it as a reality,” she said in an interview last Saturday with The Aspen Times. (April 18-19, 1992)The Aspen Institute Is Coming HomeBy Loren JenkinsIn the lee of the Paepcke Auditorium these gentle days of spring, there are bee buzzing around the crab apple blossoms and the soft rustle of aspen leaves in the breeze.For an instant all seems bathed in a sleepy, off-season tranquility, till the illusive calm is shattered by the slap of a carpenter’s hammer and, beyond, the angry growl of a front loader.Only a month before the Aspen Meadows is to open its summer season with the 42nd International Design Conference, the placid campus of the valley’s leading non-profit institutions is a chaos of construction being hurried toward completion.One whole residence of the Aspen Institute’s compound has been gutted and is being rebuilt. Its main restaurant and reception building is being similarly re-modeled, as is the 17-year-old Boetcher Conference Center buildings. And, where Aspen’s most famous fox family once resided, a whole new Institute residence is being built.With little fanfare and an initial construction investment of $6 million, the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies is methodically rebuilding its facilities. After a touchy, 15-year estrangement from the community of its birth, the Aspen Institute is finally getting ready to come home to stay.”You bet we are coming back to Aspen,” said Institute President David McLaughlin, after a brief visit to inspect the construction last weekend. “We can’t tell people back East that yet, but that is our intention.”It isn’t that the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies has been totally absent from Aspen in recent years. It is just that since a historic dispute between the the institute and the town of Aspen 15 years ago, it has used Aspen only as a secondary, occasional summer venue for its activities while its main operations and headquarter have been concentrated at an old plantation at Wye, Virginia.Now, finally, after years of difficult negotiations and planning, the institute is embarked on re-shifting the focus of its operations back to the Aspen Meadows, the site of the its origins when it was created by the late Walter Paepcke in 1950.”The Aspen Institute has been engaged for over four years in a strategic repositioning of its focus to reinforce the purposes for which the Institute was founded in 1950,” Institute President McLaughlin wrote recently in a position paper directed at potential fundraisers for its non-profit operations. “Central to these effort has been reclaiming our properties in and using that development to … establish Aspen as a base for the institute’s ongoing programs.”Part of the impetus for the institute’s return to Aspen is, according to McLaughlin, a desire to return somewhat to its original humanistic aims after a period of having the institute’s main preoccupation’s shift to the more political and economic agendas of our time.But another reason for coming back to Aspen seems to be the realization that out East, the Aspen Institute’s voice was often drowned out in the babble of the dozens of other similar think tanks which, like the institute at Wye, crowd around Washington.”We have come to realize that we can make a statement in the West that we can’t in the East where there are so many competing institutions,” McLauglin said. “If we do something here in the mountains, everyone will hear about it.”The current construction at the Meadows the first phase of a $16 million project that will take place over the next three years is aimed at upgrading the Institute campus facilities so that it can make its voice heard from the mountains again and begin the sort of year-round programming in Aspen that was impossible in the past because its original buildings were not winterized.Ironically, what drove the Aspen Institute originally was frustration over the inability to upgrade the original Aspen campus that it found increasingly inadequate to meet the needs of its own growing institutional ambitions.As originally built by the late Bauhaus designer Herbert Bayer, he Aspen Institute facilities were geared to serve the small summer executive seminars that were the heart of the institute’s program.But the institute’s thrust an ambitions changed dramatically after Walter Paepcke’s death in 1960 when the Institute came under the direction of Robert Anderson, the chief executive of ARCO. Where Paepcke had been concerned with raising th individual intellectual and humanistic level of the leadership class of American business, Andersen’s ambition was to engage and influence the nation’s political establishment.Within a decade of Anderson’s assumption of the presidency of the Aspen Institute, he was locked into a major battle with the anti-development-oriented city council of Aspen over his demands for permission to build a hotel at the Aspen Meadows to house conference participants.Unable to get his way, Anderson, in 1976, first broached the subject of abandoning Aspen in a paper that stated: “We must assess our future role in Aspen and whether or not it will be a desirable base for the major portion of our activities.”In a matter of only a few years, Anderson had his alternatives. In 1978, an institute trustee, Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. of Corning Glass, deeded his Wye Plantation outside of Washington to the Institute. A year later Maurice Strong, another trustee, gave the institute a 300 acre ranch in Baca Grande in southern Colorado. (May 16-17, 1992)
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