Mountain Mayhem: Big Ideas |

Janelle Patrick and Rachel Wandzilak get inspired on the Aspen Institute campus.
May Selby

Founded in 2005, the week-long Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF) event at the Aspen Institute returned in person this year with lively talks, seminars, panels and tutorials featuring leading figures from media, musicians, designers, entrepreneurs, politicians, diplomats, presidents of organizations and more.

The bustling campus was bustling with AIF programs, as was the new Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies, which several friends and I visited during the week. I highly recommend taking a guided tour.

Health kicked off the festival from June 22-25 with a dedicated focus on health and medicine, followed by a wider range of topics divided into two segments. Festival 1 took place from June 25 to 28 and Festival 2 from June 28 to July 1. While attendees mostly attended with a pass, purchasing individual public tickets offered a great way to get a glimpse, which I did. I signed up for a few sessions and found each one interesting and moving.

A theme that I continued to echo at each conference involved a search for solutions and connectedness, as well as a genuine sense of compassion for others, despite shared opinions or differences of opinion.

I had the pleasure of meeting a participant who came to town for the health: Joel Lieginger, CEO and founder of a company called Paceline.

“(It’s like) a cross between Strava and AmEx,” he described, which intrigued me from the start. Lieginger explained the concept behind his wellness platform that “science shows that incentivizing good health behaviors improves health outcomes, which is good for individuals and good for the world. “.

The rewards app and credit card are connected to fitness tracking through wearable devices such as FitBit, Garmin or Apple Watch, and in turn offer rewards for being active. It’s like getting cash back from the loyalty programs of other cards that honor the spend.

While there, he organized a bike ride to get around, network, and connect outside of the conference campus with a ride along the Rio Grande Trail to Capitol Creek Brewery. I couldn’t make that outing, so instead we took a rainy road to the Bells the next day.

Ride rain or shine with Joel Lieginger, CEO and founder of wellness platform Paceline.
May Selby

On June 28, I took a seat in the Benedict Music Tent for the annual Afternoon of Conversation with five engaging segments, including a welcome from Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and Cesar Conde, president of the NBCUniversal News Group, which was AIF’s media partner. Among the conversations was one with female journalists Katie Couric, Mary Louise Kelly, Erin McLaughlin and Erin Trieb, who spoke about reporting from Ukraine. I particularly linked to their comments about the continued efforts to connect with the people of Ukraine and find human interest stories, which have a major impact on keeping readers and viewers engaged.

“Today” host Sheinelle Jones interviewed actress Selma Blair at a party on June 30. Blair spoke about overcoming an addiction to alcohol and the shame associated with her behavior, as well as being diagnosed with and living with multiple sclerosis. Joined by her service dog, Scout, and warmly welcomed by Jones and a caring audience, Blair opened up about her struggles and found strength and purpose in a very authentic way. Afterward, she signed copies of her new autobiography, “Mean Baby,” spending time with each person online as she approached the office to have her copy personalized.

With over 300 leaders and innovators taking part in the festival, this is just a glimpse of the vast and intriguing lineup. Visit for links to live recordings and more.

The Benedict Musical Tent during an afternoon conversation for Aspen Ideas Fest.
May Selby
Actress and author Selma Blair signs copies of her new autobiography, ‘Mean Baby’ as her service dog, Scout, looks on.
May Selby
Friends attend a tour of the new Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies at the Aspen Institute during Aspen Ideas Fest.
Richard Stettner
Katie Couric interviews Mary Louise Kelly, Erin McLaughlin and Erin Trieb on reporting from Ukraine at Aspen Ideas Fest.
May Selby
An engaging Selma Blair (right) poses for a photo with guests after her Aspen Ideas talk.
May Selby
Lori Benson, CEO of Hip Hop Public Health; Matthew Mutti and his wife, CNBC health correspondent Bertha Coombs; and Joel Lieginger, CEO and Founder of Paceline go for a bike ride during Aspen Ideas Fest.
Courtesy picture

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