Letter: Feeding young minds

After Richard Branson concluded an informative and joyful Ideas Fest presentation telling of his aspirations, his determination and the decision making that went into his life’s story, several of us said, “Wow, I had no idea!” However, it is the young folks, those just starting on their life’s journey, who also should be benefiting from hearing these inspiring and knowledgeable individuals. That opportunity is available this year for 14- to 21-year-olds for only $15, and scholarships are available.

The Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival’s first Young Adult Forum is taking place Monday from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the St. Regis for an afternoon of big ideas with Rajiiv Vinnakota, Aspen Institute vice president of youth and engagement, and other presenters, including Supreme Court legal expert Neal Katyal; New York Times reporter and author Charles Duhigg; Theaster Gates, artist in residence at the Aspen Institute and professor at the University of Chicago; Alex Wagner, senior editor at the Atlantic; poet and community activist Donte Clark; author Adam Grant, who is the highest-rated professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; Kristen Soltis Anderson, author, Republican strategist and columnist at the Daily Beast; Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Navina Khanna, director of Heal Food Alliance, who is an educator, community organizer, policy advocate and recipient of a James Beard leadership award; Clint Smith, a teacher, writer, national poetry-slam champion and presenter of the TED talks “The Danger of Silence” and “How to Raise a Black Son in America”; poet and activist Sonita Alizadeh; and Jose Anton Vargas, a journalist, media publisher and founder of Define America.

To register, go to, or for more information on the forum and scholarship, contact

Thank you to the Aspen Institute for reaching out to our local high schools and youth organizations, planning and putting on this dynamic and interesting afternoon program with all these presenters for our young people in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Sue Helm

Old Snowmass