Community Table

From Comedian David Spade to Trail Blazer John Armstrong, Our Fantasy Guest List

The mixed bag of the community table was once an Aspen hallmark. Here’s our latest list to restart the trend.

By Cindy Hirschfeld July 27, 2017 Published in the Midsummer/Fall 2017 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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Image: Matty Newton

Artist Alya Howe works tirelessly to help elevate the Roaring Fork Valley’s creative spirit. With a passion for the performing arts, she aims to grow a robust slate of year-round programming that allows locals to find and hone their artistic voices. Over the past several years, she has helped curate the Salon series, Poetry Brothel (next one: Aug 4 at the Wheeler), and Writ Large storytelling events, all underwritten by Justice Snow’s. Her future vision? To share those inspired formats with other nearby mountain towns. 

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 One sure way to give your already successful nonprofit another boost: hire a leader in the field as president and CEO. That’s exactly what Ascendigo, founded in 2004 by Sallie Bernard to serve kids and adults with autism spectrum disorders, did in May by recruiting nationally known autism leader Peter Bell. In addition to holding past leadership roles at Autism Speaks and other advocacy groups, Bell has championed public policy reforms, founded the Autism Treatment Network, and served on a White House committee.

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Girls today can pursue any line of interest they want, and Marilyn Frias wants to make sure they know that. Long passionate about the subject of women, girls, and self-esteem, the long-time Aspenite recently self-published a children’s book, In Myself I Believe. Whimsically illustrated by locals Hamadou Bocoum and Caelina Eldred-Thielen, this story of a young girl who tries on different personas in search of the right fit is, says Frias, “an antidote to classic fairy tales.” 

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Image: Matty Newton


A devoted advocate for local trails, Pitkin County Open Space ranger supervisor John Armstrong upped his personal hiking time when he retired in June after 10 years with the department. Though some associate him with enforcing leash laws and the much-publicized Smuggler dog poop cleanup, Armstrong says that was only about 3 percent of the job—and his least favorite part. He’ll most miss interacting with trail users and sharing his enthusiasm for the beauty and nuances of our open space. Happy trails, John!

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Image: Matty Newton


Gretchen Rubin has made a career out of focusing on the million-dollar question: how to be happy. Out of her book The Happiness Project, the former lawyer has built an entire modern-day cottage industry around the habits and strategies most likely to engender contentedness and fulfillment. So is she really that happy? Find out for yourself when she appears at the Aspen Institute for a Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit lecture on July 26.

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Image: Matty Newton


You may know David Spade for his six years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live or for his movie work with the late comedian and fellow SNLer Chris Farley. Or you may be familiar with him from his various TV roles, including Dennis Finch on Just Shoot Me and Russell on Rules of Engagement. Now get to know his stand-up act. The master of the sarcastic put-down will be at Belly Up Aspen on August 12.

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