From The President
The Public Policy Forum of Crested Butte is a Colorado non-profit organization which brings to
the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte/Gunnison community each year a series of speakers
presenting and discussing significant contemporary issues.
The Crested Butte Public Policy Forum recently completed another great speakers program this summer. Thanks to our generous supporters, the Center for the Arts and the Oh Be Joyful Church, we were able to bring eight outstanding speakers to the Gunnison-Crested Butte community to address issues of national, global and local importance.
We started on June 25 with Professor John Leshy, who talked about matters of vital interest to Coloradans: “Challenges for the West: Water and Public Lands.” One of the country’s leading experts on these matters, Leshy’s basic message was surprisingly optimistic. While the complex agreements governing water usage in the Colorado River drainage present challenges, there is not, at present, a crisis. As to public lands, despite recent rhetoric from some politicians and fringe groups urging more sales of public lands to, and use of public lands by, private interests, Leshy said that position is widely unpopular and has gained little traction.
On July 2, Cheryl Thomas, CEO of Global Rights for Women, spoke on another very timely and important subject: the global impact and significance of the #MeToo movement. Ms. Thomas and her organization have spent three decades promoting women’s rights around the world and finding effective ways to combat violence against women. She described how, just two or three years ago, the #MeToo movement, took off, gaining millions of passionate followers around the world, sharing their experiences of abuse and harassment, and how that has resulted in important legal and practical gains in many countries.
Turning to politics, on July 9, journalist John Nichols, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation magazine and frequent commentator on television, talked about “Trump and the Media,” a large and multifaceted subject. His main point was to fault the media, including outlets critical of Trump, for pandering to the public’s appetite for spectacle and scandal rather than performing what he regards as its proper journalistic role of informing the public about facts relevant to issues of genuine public importance.
The following week, Professor Sean Theriault, an award-winning professor at the University of Texas, discussed “Congressional Dysfunction and Party Polarization,” a subject about which he has written several books and many articles. Using detailed statistics and metrics, Theriault showed how members of Congress are more polarized ideologically and less willing to work with the other party and reach bipartisan compromises than ever in recent history – a phenomenon he largely attributes to Newt Gingrich’s tenure as speaker of the House.
On July 23, Ambassador Ron Neumann spoke on the current state of Afghanistan. Neumann, a career Foreign Service Officer who was U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Algeria and Bahrain, argued that maintaining the current U.S. and NATO troop levels is the least bad option for reaching a political settlement and avoiding a much worse civil war and the return of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Our next two speakers were Coloradans. On July 30, John Walsh, former U.S. Attorney for Colorado, discussed the importance of maintaining an independent Department of Justice, and the following week award-winning University of Colorado history professor Patricia Limerick entertained the audience with reflections on Crested Butte, issues confronting Colorado and a few well-crafted limericks.
Our final speaker, on August 13, Spencer Wells, a geneticist, anthropologist and author, enlightened the audience about what may be the most important scientific development in modern times, “The Genetics Revolution.” Wells described the vast data base of human DNA that has been collected in just the last decade, how it has profoundly affected such diverse fields as anthropology and law enforcement, and the many questions of privacy and public policy it presents.
I thank our growing audiences, our sponsors and donors for their enthusiastic support of our program.
Crested Butte Public Policy Forum