Aspen Center for Environmental Studies launches new speaker series in Snowmass |

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies launches new speaker series in Snowmass

A man walks out of The Collective as the final touches are added in preparation for the opening day in Snowmass on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies kicked off its third speaker series this month, bringing consistent environmental- and adventure-based community storytelling to Snowmass for the first time.

Last winter, the nonprofit hosted a handful of speakers within the shell of the now fully built-out Collective building in Base Village as a pilot of sorts.

One year later on the heels of that test run’s success and with continued support of The Collective, ACES is back in Snowmass with a free, 10-week storytelling series, Wild Perspectives, featuring a variety of speakers and topics.

“Wild Perspectives is more Snowmass-focused,” said Nika Meyers, the Snowmass speaker series coordinator and an ACES educator. “We’re really looking to create a community building space for families, locals and visitors to gather and hear unique stories and perspectives.”

Meyers said bringing that unique blend of stories to Snowmass locals and visitors with this winter’s inaugural Wild Perspectives series meant finding a mix of longtime locals and nonlocals with tales of adventure, environment and town history to share.

This winter, the series will feature a variety of stories, from embarking on a Brazilian wildlife safari and solo biking the Baja California Peninsula, to understanding Snowmass’ forest ecosystem and mapping mountain snowpacks, every Tuesday night.

For locals, Meyers hopes the Wild Perspectives series becomes a consistent meeting point to learn more about the village and their peers.

For visitors, she hopes the series educates and inspires a search for similar storytelling opportunities in their home communities.

“I hope the series gives a small glimpse of the local lifestyle and what is rich about this place,” Meyers said. “We want to build it into the community space and for it to become a consistent factor in our winter program planning.”

On Jan. 7, Meyers helped kick off the Wild Perspectives series at The Collective with its first speaker, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president of strategy and business development Rich Burkley, who spoke to a room of roughly 30 people about the history of skiing in Snowmass. For 45 minutes, Burkley unpacked the history of the Snowmass Ski Area, its construction timeline and European-inspired layout; operational and special-use permit boundaries; and how skiers and snowboarders are granted the privilege of recreating uphill and allowed to move in and out of those boundaries at their own risk across all of the four Aspen-Snowmass resorts, year-round.

“What we’re doing so far seems to be working locally but certainly it is a privilege that could disappear,” Burkley said of allowing uphilling at Aspen-Snowmass resorts specifically.

Having Burkley kick off Wild Perspectives in Snowmass was luck, Meyers said, as the date worked well with his schedule. She felt his expertise and historical knowledge of the Snowmass Ski Area was a great way to start the winter speaker series, and looks forward to the next nine stories lined up for the rest of the season.

“It was great to have a Snowmass-history centric story to start,” Meyers said. “It really set the tone for the appreciation of this place.”

For a complete Wild Perspectives speaker schedule, visit