Aspen’s intellect is on the line
August 23, 2010
Please vote in favor as long as all documentation requirements have been met and all statements from both sides can be proven to be true. Any false statements (or intent) should nullify the MOU. The city should not give away the right to make the new owners go through the permitting process or in any way give the new owner a “free ride” to radically change the current character of the Given grounds.
I feel strongly that the Given is a keystone in Aspen’s intellectual life. The fact that it is largely unknown to Aspenites insures quiet enjoyment by the neighborhood and the attendees. It is a shame that the low-key aspect of the conference center is detrimental to the ballot question but the ballot is still (at this time) the only slim chance Aspen has to keep this dynamic space alive.
There is no question that the space is architecturally important. Since the renovation of the Arena Stage in Washington it is the *only* extent original auditorium in the three-quarters round design by Mr. Weese which I can find (the Arena was the first 360 theatre in the U.S.). The loss to the history of American architecture as well as the loss to local Aspen history would be tragic.
More importantly the loss to the “Aspen Idea” would be more than tragic. This little town has a unique magic. It is inspirational. This is evident at The Aspen Institute and other similar forums. People with widely differing views, people of widely different backgrounds, classes, status, economic situations – they can all listen to the presentations (if only on the radio). People whose differences would normally keep them separate can mingle. The city of Aspen provides a safe haven for the exchange of ideas. The demolition of the Given would effectively strip the biosciences out of that mix. It would also cripple the other organizations which use the venue.
I am frankly skeptical of the city’s ability to manage the Given. However, my skepticism is not greater than my horror at the thought of losing the Given and all it stands for.
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