Cristal Logan has lived in Aspen her whole life and now serves as Director of Aspen Community Programs at the Aspen Institute. Creative and passionate, we couldn’t think of a better person to inspire you to visit this great destination…
Tell us a little bit about yourself
As the Director of Aspen Community Programs at the Aspen Institute, I am responsible for creating and overseeing year-round public programs for the Aspen community. The Aspen Community Programs hosts several public programs throughout the year in Aspen for residents and visitors alike. Ranging from lectures with world-class leaders to transformational seminars for teens, these programs offer unique opportunities for a diverse mix of people to find inspiration in a variety of ways. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are able to keep these events affordable, and offer scholarships to teens and adults to take part in our programs. Each year, the Aspen Community Programs host over 60 days per year of programming including the McCloskey Speaker Series, the Hurst Lecture Series, Great Books, Great Decisions, Athens to Aspen, Teen Socrates, the Hurst Student Seminars, and more.
How long have you lived in Aspen?
I’ve lived in the Aspen valley my entire life with the exception of my college years. My great grandfather moved to the area in the 20s, and my family has been here ever since.
What do you think makes Aspen so special?
Aspen is special for several reasons. First and foremost, is Aspen’s stunning natural beauty. Then you add its rich silver mining history which saw the building of its treasured landmarks including the Wheeler Opera House, and the Hotel Jerome. At the onset of skiing in the late 1940s, Aspen had already been a cosmopolitan city with the infrastructure to stage its cultural renaissance. When the Aspen Institute was founded, which included the Aspen Music Festival & School, Aspen had almost all of the ingredients it needed. Strict land-use codes instated in the 70s helped keep Aspen’s special character. The recipe is complete—Aspen is special in the hearts of those who value the environment and its natural beauty; its rich history and architectural treasures; its vibrant arts and cultural gifts, and its small town community feeling.
Why do you think the community is so important in Aspen?
The community is special because it is the glue that holds this grand city together. The community is made up of hard-working people who make the magic happen. It is made up of the colorful characters who make their mark. It’s made up of the people who have chosen to invest in this fine place for the good of all. It’s made up of people who care about Aspen, and understand what makes it work.
What has been your greatest achievement as Director of Aspen Community Programs so far?
We have been able to offer a great deal of diverse events to the Aspen community and those who visit. We started out with about 19 days of programming and we are up to 60 days per year. These programs are affordable and accessible in many ways, so I’m proud of that. In addition, the Institute hosts several public events during Aspen Ideas Festival that are available to the public on an a la carte basis.
What is your favorite annual festival or cultural event in Aspen?
Aspen Ideas Festival is a marvel. Hundreds of events, hundreds of speakers over 6 days (now 10 days!) make for an experience that will give you a chance to learn, think, ponder, and network. It provides stimulation in a setting that inspires, challenges and refreshes. My close second favorite is the Food & Wine Festival. Who wouldn’t enjoy the chance to learn, taste and spend time with others doing the same?
Why do you think the Aspen Ideas Festival has been so successful over the years?
The Aspen Ideas Festival is an intellectual endurance event. The sheer size of the Festival, now 10 days long, offers participants an immersion into the important ideas that affect us today, and those on the horizon. The great mix of speakers really makes the Ideas Festival exciting, and when you see people mingling and talking during lunch, or between sessions, you can see the Aspen Institute’s convening power at work. You can almost see thought leading to action.
Are there any special treats can we look forward to at this year’s 10th annual Aspen Ideas Festival?
We can look forward to seeing some new initiatives that will allow for more thought leading to action. New this year is Spotlight Health for those who want a deep dive. If this gets traction, we may choose a new topic each year, or perhaps stay with health, since we can’t seem to quench the thirst for this topic.
Could you sum up Aspen in a sentence for us?
Fulfilling the vision that Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke had in the late 1940s for this special place, ‘Aspen is a place where one’s mind, body and spirit can thrive and find inspiration.’