Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: End of the line for Vail Valley Institute?
With the passing of Brooks Thomas, the Vail Valley Institute’s seminar next week on Pakistan and Afghanistan may be the last hurrah.The seminars are designed for thinkers and have attracted some of the very best thinkers in their field for the past two decades.Some you might know, writers such as New York Times columnist David Brooks, that Carl Bernstein, Arianna Huffington, Thomas Frank. Politicians such as Gary Hart, Alan Simpson, George Mitchell, Jack Kemp. White House advisers such as David Gergen and Edwin Meese. Broadcasters such as Catherine Crier and Leslie Stahl.Some you’d have to be a scholar yourself to appreciate the Michael Jordans of academia, such as Harvard historian Paul Kennedy. Then again, you might recognize another Harvard historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. The institute’s seminar next week features similar luminaries.The keynote speaker, Peter Bergen, of CNN, was the first to interview Osama bin Laden after bin Laden declared war on the United States in 1997.ABC News reporter Gretchen Peters and research fellows Andrew Exum, adviser to Gen. McChrystal, and Kori Schake, a West Point professor, will join moderator Richard Lamm, the former Colorado governor for what will be a fascinating few days June 23 to 26 exploring what Afghanistan and Pakistan mean to us.If this might interest you, visit the Vail Valley Institute website at http://www.vailvalleyinstitute.org for more information.I’ve attended several of these seminars, and they’ve never failed to give whole new insights on that greater world outside Vail and the United States.This is a big part of what I love about living in these mountains. We have all the blessings of rural life – I’m thinking of mountain lions out the back door, literally, with their kills serving as evidence. The ski resorts, of course. A backcountry a couple of minutes from the thin line of civilization that runs through and connects our valley. Neighbors you know, in this crazy quilt of different characters who make our valley what it is. The cherry on top is the concerts, events and opportunities such as this one.The heart and soul of the institute really is Brooks Thomas, former chairman and CEO of Harper & Row Publishers, who started the seminars with others and died after a fall last winter. I’m not certain that these seminars will be able to continue without the energy he put into them. Hope I’m wrong.But in the meantime, while expensive, there’s at least one more that’s well worth the time and investment. So think about it. You may not get another chance.