Aspen Ideas Festival

aif2014Aspen Ideas festival WOW!  One of my favorite events of the year.  The beauty of nature combined with the brilliance of experts of every field so that both your senses and intellect are stimulated.  Each year it seems to get better and better.

A few of my favorite sessions during “Spotlight on Health” this weekend started with Dan Buettner and the Blue Zones.  He is the National Geographic researcher who spent many years researching exact Census’ statistics to discover the five places on earth where the people live the longest.  They have the highest concentration of 100 year olds.  These are not the places you would expect.  They are called Blue Zones because they used a blue pencil to circle the areas after their exhaustive research.  The blue zones are Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.  They do have nine commonalities which are moderate, regular physical activity, life purpose, stress reduction, moderate calorie intake, plant based diet, moderate alcohol intake, especially wine, engagement in spirituality or religion, engagement in family life, engagement in social life.  Integrating these points into our lifestyle could add many years to your lifespan and Dan said you can start at any age.

Dan BuettnerBlue Zones:  Can Communities Eat their Way to Longer Lives? | Dan Buettner

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You all must know Craig Venter.  He is based in La Jolla, California and for $25,000 you can join his Health Nucleus and have your entire genome sequencing.  It was apparent from a number of the sessions that sequencing your DNA to enable doctors to personalize medication to deal with any illness will be the future of medicine.  Have you ever heard of CRISPR/gene editing?  Walter Isaacson the President of the Aspen Institute explained that it could be the answer to cure all illness but it could also be a weapon of mass destruction.  Right now it is in its beginning stages but just imagine the scientist’s ability to create a super race.

Craig VenterLink to his session:  In Conversation: J. Craig Venter |

Next up on the list is cancer breakthroughs.  Would you believe they took 200,000 flies and injected a person’s cancer tumors into them to figure out the best medication to use.  Or immunotherapy where your own body fights the cancer cells.  It was fascinating to learn about Jackie Bezos and the Bezos Family Foundation which emphasis on educating Americans on the importance of talking, singing, and relating to your children from the moment they are conceived. Her program is called Vroom and they work tirelessly to prevent children from being left behind because of the lack of interaction with their parents in the first five years which is most critical to the human brain.

bezosInnovations in Early Childhood Education:  Maximizing potential for kids and parents | Jackie Bezos | Bezos Family Foundation

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I also found the session on Food Safety and Security extremely enlightening.  We tax payers spend many billions of dollars to support our farmers and put no restrictions on the support.  As a result, the farm industry pollutes our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans to the point where Lake Eerie is turning green.  In the United States we have over 10,000 additives in our food which are not regulated which means they have not been tested for their safety.

IMG_3618Let me not forget to mention Caitlyn Jenner’s personal discussion of her struggle to become a woman which packed the venue.

Spotlight Health Closing Session | Caitlyn Jenner

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My favorite part of coming to aspen is meeting new friends and seeing so many old friends.  Last but not least is Jazz Aspen. It was the highpoint of the weekend dancing in the aisles and listening to Diana Ross at age 74 sing every one of her fantastic hits.

IMG_3621The Benedict Music Tent was rocking.  Of course I have to find time for a walk along the Rio Grande and commuting with nature as well as visiting a few houses which Aspen is famous for with my friend Carrie Wells who sells them all.