Tracey Flower
Special to the Daily

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June 6, 2013
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Let the Vail Symposium broaden your brain

EAGLE COUNTY — This summer you can embark on a sailing expedition on a raft made out of plastic bottles, venture back in time to Leadville’s early mining days and head to the Arctic on a National Geographic photography expedition. You can explore the intricacies of Mexican immigration, take a trip around the world in search of rare jewelry and take a journey inside your mind in search of a higher consciousness.

And you can do all of it without leaving the Vail Valley.

The Vail Symposium’s summer 2013 season is underway and it is full of programs that will take you to these places and more, provoking thought, sparking debate and inspiring action along the way.

“We have been told by many of our supporters that we need to do fewer yet more relevant programs,” said Symposium President Alby Segall. “This summer we are pairing down and focusing on important and entertaining topics. Our Hot Topics series has the country’s top expert on human trafficking, the founder of the growing political movement No Labels and one of the most knowledgeable analysts on Mexican immigration.

“The Living At Your Peak experience will bridge the gap between traditional and integrative medicine with seven of the nation’s leading practitioners,” Segall continued. “And we are proud to host the founder of Kipp Academy, the most innovative educational experiment in America. Please reserve (tickets) in advance. I think we are in for a sold-out season.”

Hot Topics

The Symposium’s most recognizable series, Hot Topics, features experts who speak about issues relevant to the community and the world.

First on tap in this series for the summer is “Forced Labor and Human Trafficking” on June 20. Professor Claude d’Estrée, the director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Denver, will discuss the state of modern slavery in the world today and how various organizations and governments around the world are responding to this growing problem.

The series continues on June 28 with longtime Symposium speaker Jamie Metzl discussing “Rising China and the Changing Global Order” over lunch at Larkspur in Vail.

Then, on Aug. 7, Mark McKinnon will talk about the No Labels organization, which he co-founded.

“As one who is fed up with partisan politics as usual — and who isn’t? — it was heartening for me to learn about No Labels almost two years ago,” said Symposium Board Member and General Manager of the Antlers at Vail, Rob LeVine. “When David Walker spoke for the Vail Symposium that same year, he was inspiring. Now, we are incredibly fortunate to have Mark McKinnon, another one of the organization founders, in Vail this summer.”

On Aug. 20, Professor Gilberto Cardenas joins the Hot Topics lineup with a talk about Mexican immigration. The series concludes on Sept. 18 with “Innovations for the Future of Education,” featuring co-founder of the Kipp Academy Mike Feinberg and Colorado Senator Mike Johnston.


On June 27, the Symposium is co-presenting an estate jewelry show and lecture with Betteridge Jewelers in Vail Village. Terry Betteridge will speak about his worldwide searches for the rarest and most exciting pieces of jewelry ever made, and unique pieces of jewelry will be available for purchase. A percentage of the proceeds from sales at the event will be donated to the Vail Symposium.

Speaking Locally and Unlimited Adventure

It is part of the mission of the Vail Symposium to offer affordable programs to the community; one way that is accomplished is through the Speaking Locally and Unlimited Adventure series, both of which are offered on a pay-at-will basis.

Traditionally a winter series, Unlimited Adventure makes its summer debut this year with two programs featuring intrepid explorers who aim to not only share their stories, but to also incite action.

On July 16 National Geographic photographer Ben Horton will show some of his best images, talk about his experience shooting for National Geographic, and tell the stories that have come from his work and travels, including the tale of his two-month Arctic adventure with National Geographic Explorer in Residence Will Steger, where he used photography to document the effects of global warming.

Then, on Aug. 27, 5 Gyres Institute co-founder and executive director Marcus Eriksen will speak about the growing problem of plastic in the world’s oceans. He’ll use images and stories of his adventures around the world on a homemade raft of plastic bottles to illustrate his message.

The Speaking Locally series gives local leaders, athletes and other prominent authorities and community members a platform to share their ideas and passions with an audience. This summer Gillian Klucas, author of “Leadville: The Struggle to Revive an American Town,” will speak on “The Rise and Fall of Leadville” on Aug. 29.

Film series

On the heels of the Vail International Dance Festival, filmmaker George Nierenberg will present two of his documentaries about the art of tap dancing, “No Maps on My Taps” and “About Tap” (Aug. 11). These films capture both the performances and legacy of some of the most important dancers of their time. Nierenberg is an acclaimed filmmaker whose career has spanned the worlds of independent features, network, cable and international television and corporate productions.

Living At Your Peak

The Symposium’s Living At Your Peak series has evolved since its inception a year ago into a category of programming that incorporates themes not only relating to traditional physical health and wellness, but also to cutting-edge ideas, theories and practices in the area of alternative medicine.

This summer the series starts with a presentation titled “Effective Body Care: Common Sports Injuries and the Easy Home Remedies to Fix Them” on July 5 by Dr. Jordan Metzl. It will tend directly to the physical side of health and wellness, before venturing into the realms of integrative medicine, meditation and consciousness healing with six programs in September. The series will conclude with a meditation retreat in Evergreen in October.

“I hope that we can expand the world view of Vail locals, visitors and longtime Symposium supporters by bringing to their attention the last 50 plus years of research, conclusions and ongoing studies related to topics that fall under the theme of consciousness,” said Living At Your Peak committee member Gary Gilman. “These topics include such things as the mind-body connection, the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, non-local consciousness, energy and remote healing research and modalities, near death experiences, out of body experiences, after death communications and other similar mystical experiences that many people have experienced directly.”

Tracey Flower is the development, marketing and administration officer for the Vail Symposium. She can be reached at

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The VailDaily Updated Jun 9, 2013 05:19PM Published Jun 6, 2013 10:30AM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.