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For the week of June 21 through June 27, 2000

The West in perspective

Astronauts tell us that seeing the Earth from an orbiting space capsule puts life on the planet in perspective.

Historians do the same thing for the rest of us who can’t fly to the outer limits.

For the first time since the late ‘70s, the valley hosts a Western Issues Conference organized by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. The conference begins Friday and events run through the weekend.

Scholars will join with musicians, authors and artists to revive, revisit and revise great discussions about the places and people of the West.

No dry academic exercise this, a play carried out for obsequious students kissing up for an "A." The conference joins real scholars with Westerners old and new who live every day outside the ivory tower.

Conference participants will make sense of life in the West, the stories passed from family to family, and neighbor to neighbor.

Are the stories true? What forces really brought together the people who lived out their lives in the West? What forces shape us today?

What imprints of the past are felt today? Can we see the future by looking at the past? Are Westerners really shaped by the landscape or are we on a path to pure pavement? How are we doing in the Great American West anyway?

Maybe, if we can see this region from the scholars’ aerie, we will see things we haven’t seen before. Maybe, we will be rewarded with wisdom for the days and years to come.

The Wood River Valley didn’t know what it had in the Western Issues Conference until it was gone. Residents and visitors are lucky to have a chance to take part in its revival. Don’t miss it.


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