A Week Two Message from Chautauqua’s President

Michael Hill

Welcome to Week Two of CHQ Assembly. Thank you to all of you who joined us on this first week’s journey. As we noted during our announcement, this is a “beta test” summer, where we experiment and refine these powerful new platforms. I hope you’ll keep sharing your feedback as you continue the journey alongside us, and that you’ll invite friends, family and colleagues to experience Chautauqua with you in this way.  

This past week was an incredible exploration of climate action and a chance to share conversations about and within our artistic offerings. I hope you felt inspired by what you heard, and are thinking about ways to make use of our shared dialogue in whatever community you find yourself during these times. I also hope you had a chance to visit some of the new digital properties we launched in the past week, including our new Chautauqua Visual Arts platform and our online Poetry Makerspace microsite. There are so many things to do within CHQ Assembly, and we hope you have a chance to fill your summer months learning and asking important questions with us.  

Week Two shifts our dialogue to the issue of “Forces Unseen: What Shapes Our Daily Lives,” in which the Chautauqua Lecture Series will explore how we are influenced in ways we often do not know or understand, by people, algorithms and nature. This week we ask several questions, including: Who are these shapers of modern life? And how can we as individuals better recognize and contend with forces influencing our personal realities, or indeed the realities of our fellow Americans?  

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we look at “Forces that Shape Our Daily Lives: The Contemporary Search for Spirituality.” The recent studies are countless: Organized mainstream religion is on the decline, and we have an emerging class of “nones,” referring to those who assign themselves to no faith tradition at all. But other assessments tell us that while many don’t identify with a mainstream religion, many more are indeed on a journey seeking spirituality and meaning. In this week we look at the evolution of modern faith traditions and ask: How might the “nones” unite with the mainstream to shape a better future?  

While there are many powerful programs this week, I’m particularly looking forward to my Monday conversation with Cedric L. Alexander as we explore the need for police reform in the United States. Alexander served more than four decades in law enforcement and public service, and was chief of police in DeKalb County, Georgia; president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; and a member of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Many of you asked how we might bring current events into our platform this year, and I’m excited that we were able to find someone with Dr. Alexander’s experience to help us unpack this very complicated issue. 

We also continue this week our Monday series of chamber concerts, and have a very special evening with Ben Folds planned for Friday. I continue to be so grateful to our artists for finding ways to lift our spirits and to move us to even deeper reflection during this time. 

While our online programming has much to offer, I hope those of you who have joined us on the grounds in this unusual summer are also taking advantage — safely — of the various amenities we have endeavored to make available to you. Our recreation pillar is very much alive, with the Chautauqua Golf Club, Tennis Center, Children’s Beach and Sports Club all operational, providing you a bevy of opportunities to enjoy this beautiful weather and amazing environment of the lake and grounds. The Chautauqua Bookstore, Smith Memorial Library and Chautauqua Visual Arts galleries are open with restrictions, along with Heirloom Restaurant, the Plaza Market, Afterwords Café and, now, the Brick Walk Cafe — get some of your beloved ice cream! Please also be sure to visit our privately operated on-grounds shops, spa, salon and restaurants. Three on-grounds real estate agencies are also here to serve your property ownership and rental needs. I’m so proud of how our staff members and business operators in all these areas have developed protocols to operate safely, following state regulations, in order to provide these services to our community and visitors. 

A few last notes. I felt tremendous gratitude to be able to gavel in the 147th Assembly last week with the traditional Three Taps of the Gavel address. If you haven’t seen it, it’s available for replay on CHQ Assembly. But perhaps the most poignant moment of the opening weekend for me was watching the tribute service to Jared Jacobson with a memorial concert performed by Josh Stafford, our interim organist and a protégé of Jared. Keep your eye on Josh. This incredible talent has brought beautiful sounds out of both the Massey and the Tallman Tracker organs here, and will do so every day of the season. We are so blessed to have him. When he played the Largo, I felt truly home. Thank each and every one of you for joining us at The heart of Chautauqua is its ever-expanding community. As many of our materials say, “it wouldn’t be Cha_ta_q_a without U.” Whether we convene in person or in the digital sphere, that remains the truth. 

Have a great Week Two, all! 

Tags : Letter From the Presidentmichael e. hillweek two

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