The Festival That Began It All
22 years since the first Ideas Festival we continue to promote dynamic change within the Telluride region. From our beginnings as a festival of big global themes we've refined and narrowed our sights. Recent festivals have dealt with pressing local issues, such as sustainability for the region, that fit within the larger global contexts.
Our first Ideas Festival, 1985's "Reinventing Work." saw the beginning of TI with participants included British politician Shirley Williams, the Julliard String Quartet's Robert Mann and then-Senator Al Gore.
Since that first festival, TI has held numerous Ideas Festivals, including 1988's "Perestroika," the first event in the United States to be co-sponsored by a NGO and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR (the only political party permitted in the USSR at the time), and 1989's "Housing the Community," which inspired an ongoing effort by the local governments in the Telluride region to provide deed-restricted housing to the local workforce.
1992's "Water: The Upper San Miguel Watershed" gave birth to the San Miguel Watershed Coalition, now an independent nonprofit group whose 2006 Watershed Report Card inspired the Institute to hold a lecture series addressing the issue that summer.
1993's "TeleCommunity" spawned the InfoZone, a project which made Telluride the first small town in the United States not affiliated with a university or corporation have direct dial-in to the Internet through a dedicated Internet POP tied to a pervasive community tele-computing network.
Other guests who have attended the Ideas Festival include Soviet cultural ambassador Alexander Potemkin, writer Edward Abbey, Rep. Newt Gingrich, Reagan strategist Lee Atwater, and Tom Hyden, the co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), along with several United States Senators and Governors from Colorado and neighboring states.
Photo: Richard Lowenberg for TI