From the Think Tank: Ideas Festival Tackles Housing Crisis



Back in 1989, just five years after the local think tank Telluride Institute first formed, the theme for the semi-annual Ideas Festival was “Housing Our Community.” Fast forward to 2016, and the organization is tackling the exact same topic at its festival this Sept. 9-11; the housing crisis has resurfaced.

Affordable housing is a persistent problem not just in Telluride but in similar communities all over the country. Desirable places to live and visit, whether they are resorts or urban neighborhoods, are facing similar challenges. High property values have put homes and rental units out of reach for the working class people who live there, and businesses are struggling to find employees. Some of the rentals that used to house workers are instead used to house visitors who can afford to pay more.

So what do we do about it? How do we work together as a community to develop more housing and solutions to the problem? It all starts with exploring the issues and looking at creative ways to fix them—which is exactly what’s on tap this weekend at the Ideas Festival. The Festival is bringing together regional planning and housing officials, developers, architects, and other experts to lead the discussions. “Friday night, we will lay a base of background information focus on developing new, concrete solutions. On Saturday, and Sunday, we will work the weekend’s gains into an action agenda,” says Alec Jacobsen, festival director and founder of the San Juan Independent. “Audience participation is at the core of the Festival, with opportunities throughout to engage stage presenters and work alongside experts to develop solutions. This year’s Ideas Festival will have a vivid, inclusive, memorable and entertaining style, making use of our successful past format including lectures, panels, debates, the Bureau of New Mistakes, the Marketplace of Ideas, and more, and will provide everyone the opportunity to share their ideas with the festival as a whole.”

All the events are free and open to the public.