Sept. 29, 2023
Auraria Campus – Downtown Denver


** The agenda may be modified as the event approaches

Networking Breakfast: 7:30-9 a.m.

Come meet other attendees, Colorado Sun staff members, speakers and sponsors during a networking breakfast in the Turnhalle Ballroom.

Breakfast will consist of fruit, danishes, a coffee station, tea and a juice bar.

Session 1: 9-10 a.m.

Colorado State Demographer Elizabeth Garner has tracked the growth of the state’s population since taking on the role in 2004. She’s long predicted that Colorado’s aging population will have a massive impact on the economy. Then the Great Recession, COVID-19 pandemic and remote work trends happened. What’s changed? What hasn’t? Garner speaks to business reporter Tamara Chuang in a session we’re calling “From Alphas to Millennials to Boomers, here’s how Colorado’s population is growing larger and older.”

In the photojournalism session, Denver-based photographer Benjamin Rasmussen will discuss using visual narratives to connect Colorado’s past to its present. In his new book, The Good Citizen, Rasmussen brings together a decade of coverage of the American West to look at how today’s society is impacted by the ripple effects of history, from Sand Creek to Camp Amache to border policy.

Seeking Converts: The growing revolution to turn classic cars into electric vehicles. Join some of Colorado’s most enthusiastic and expert hobbyists as they show off their once-gas-powered-cars now running on clean battery power. Sun environment writer Michael Booth will field your questions for these radical tinkerers who have rebuilt a VW Bus, a Jeep rock crawler and a ’67 Beetle into EV instant classics. Before and after the panel, tour these gem vehicles on the Tivoli’s doorstep. Bring your questions, and a good pair of pliers.

A cattle ranch in Walden has been ground zero for Colorado’s wolf reintroduction debate ever since wolves that naturally migrated down from Wyoming killed some of Don Gittleson’s cows. He’s tried everything from electric flags to burros to keep the wolves away, a real-life test case in play as Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials worked to create a voter-approved plan to begin introducing wolves to the Western Slope by the end of this year. Come hear Gittleson, fellow rancher Greg Sykes and CPW wolf conservation program manager Eric Odell discuss a conflict that cuts right to the heart of Colorado’s rural-urban divide.

The Colorado Sun’s Politics Editor and Reporter Jesse Paul has a one-on-one conversation with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

Session 2: 10:30-11:30 a.m.

In a discussion centered on his bestselling book, award-winning author Ted Conover will talk about his immersion in the life and culture of the “flats” of the San Luis Valley, where he sought insights into the migration of people attracted to – and propelled by – the popular internet search words that became his book’s title. His exploration sheds light on the “edges” of society whose voice speaks ever louder in a divided America.

Homelessness has reached “state-of-emergency” level in Denver, where sidewalks downtown are scattered with tents and service providers are overwhelmed. More than 9,000 people are homeless in the seven-county metro area according to the latest count. Hear from a panel of experts on what it will actually take to solve the crisis: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless CEO Britta Fisher, executive director of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Dr. Jamie Rife, the City of Denver’s director of public engagement Milagros Barsallo Rubio, and Ana Gloom from Housekeys Action Network Denver.

The Colorado Sun’s Outdoors Reporter Jason Blevins will have a one-on-one conversation with Vail Resorts’ President of the Mountain Division Bill Rock. They’ll discuss how the Epic Pass has changed the resort industry. Using technology to address skiing’s most urgent challenges, from inclusion to climate. What does skiing look like in 20, 30 years?

The Future of How Colorado Moves will feature the state’s most innovative and powerful transportation planners. We’ll have Colorado Energy Office director Will Toor, overseeing the electrification of Colorado’s cars and trucks; Debra Johnson, leader of one of the largest transit agencies in the West at RTD serving 3 million people; and Dan Blankenship, CEO of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which has won national recognition for groundbreaking efforts to promote equity and innovation in the complex corridor of resort and working communities in Colorado’s mountain towns. Moderator: Sun environment writer Michael Booth.

Politics editor and reporter Jesse Paul has a one-on-one conversation with U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper.

Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

If you purchase lunch, it will include a sandwich, a salad, chips and a cookie.

Lunch will be boxed and provided outside Registration outside the Tivoli Student Union. Attendees have the option to bring their lunch into the keynote session, or take it to go.

Keynote: 12 – 1 p.m.

Outdoors Reporter Jason Blevins will have a one-on-one conversation with the Director of the state’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Conor Hall. They’ll discuss balancing outdoor recreation with protecting communities and natural resources, tracking the political, economic and cultural progress of the outdoor recreation industry. What’s up with plans to build an annual national gathering — the Outside Festival — in Colorado?

Session 3: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Colorado has been going mad with excitement as Michelin comes into the state to award stars in Denver and Boulder. Yet a common complaint heard among young people who move here is that “Denver has no good food.” We’ll take on the hunt for great meals in the metro with the bottomline in mind, with tips for when it’s worth it to stretch for a splurge.

Colorado has seen some issues with West Nile Virus this year, and numbers have shown to be higher than average. Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Dr. Bob Hancock, the mosquito man, will talk about some potential solutions. He will also share what we can learn about the future of Colorado’s bugs during climate change.

Politics editor and reporter Jesse Paul will have a one-on-one conversation about the future of housing in Colorado with Governor Jared Polis.

Session 4: 3 – 4 p.m.

1920s Denver was a hotbed of corruption and religious and racial bigotry. How did a “civic” hate group like the Ku Klux Klan become a powerful political bloc—and a shockingly mainstream middle-class movement—embraced by city and state leaders while claiming to protect “American values?” How did the actions of one principled district attorney help turn the tide, thwarting statewide corruption and lies? Join award-winning Colorado authors Alan Prendergast (Gangbuster) and Patricia Raybon (the Annalee Spain Mysteries) as they look back, through fact and fiction, at a past era with lessons deeply relevant for today.

The state of Colorado is grappling with an affordable housing crisis and a water supply crisis at the same time. More housing units could help drive down prices, but what do more houses mean for a state facing a shrinking water supply from the Colorado River? The Colorado Sun is asking a panel of experts to skip the talking points and drill down on solutions. Which ideas on the table are wildly idealistic and which ones could actually help the state meet contradictory needs?

Will your next doctor be … a bot? Exploring how cutting-edge AI technology could upend health care. University of Colorado-Anschutz Center for AI Health’s Director Dr. Casey Greene, University of Colorado-Anschutz Center for Bioethics and Humanities’s Bioethicist Dr. Matthew DeCamp, and UCHealth Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. CT Lin weigh in.

Colorado knows psychedelics. Denver was the first city to decriminalize mushrooms by vote. Therapists here are helping legalize MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. We’ll talk with two of the people behind these radical shifts in our culture.







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Lunch/keynote speaker