Nonprofits empowering each other
As executive director of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation from 1984 through 1989, I take strong exception to Andy Stone’s “opinion” in your Feb. 18 issue (“Are all writers bums and winos? Well, not exactly,”). His silly, cliched generalities are not only untrue, they are hurtful to the people who care about the foundation and have worked to produce events and build programs specifically to help writers write, and to bring writers and readers together.
These people include decades of directors, staff members, board trustees and donor supporters.
As with any nonprofit, especially in a wealthy area like Aspen, more or less wealthy supporters are requisite to the capacity of an organization to produce vital programs and events that serve the public ” in this case writers and readers of all ages.
Is Mr. Stone aware of AWF’s writers-in-the-schools program? Aware that AWF staff and volunteers have assisted Aspen High School students in publishing their yearbook for at least a decade? Have run exciting summer camps for grade-school writers for 20 years? Hold not one, but two year-round, free weekly writing workshops for adult residents and visitors? Carefully plan and feature a “retreat” during the annual Summer Words literary celebration, wherein writers from all over the country have a chance to study with top-notch authors who are also skillful teachers?
What about the Winter Words series of celebrated national authors who bring writing up close and personal? And the Summer Words Literary Festival itself ” has Mr. Stone paid attention to its fabulous casts of international authors, African, Indian, Irish, Western American, Native American, Canadian, Israeli, Russian, Muslim and so on, who have enlightened, educated and entertained the Aspen public for over a quarter century?
Indeed, the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s merger with the Aspen Institute is hardly a case of krill and whale, as Mr. Stone fancies, but rather a brilliant match that gives the institute a highly valuable and venerable 33-year-old literary arm while in turn enlarging AWF’s potential to grow its own vision in the form of expanded literary events and writing programs for all ages, programs that bring intelligent writers and readers together from all over the valley and around the globe.
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