telluride, co |  OCTOBER 3–6

original thinkers

an ideas festival that uses speakers, art and film to create new paradigms

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In a world gone mad, a band of thoughtful and capable, passionate and engaged, hopeful, and committed people gather together in the mountain aerie of Telluride, Colorado for original thinkers ideas festival.

With the intersection of story and idea they leave this conclave fundamentally changed and head back into the mad, mad, mad world, saner, smarter and ready to be the change. There are ten individual shows and each one is built around a central idea which is examined through a sharply curated mix of film, talks, discussions, and art to celebrate humanity’s wild potential.

help write a new story of our times.

below is a selection of the shows. find the full program here.


show one

A Tortoise's Journey

Our lives have become wildly sped up and are now dominated by the tyranny of urgency, but this opening show posits that it doesn’t have to be that way. Through his top-rated podcast, Rich Roll has spoken with scores of people who are the very best in their fields and, after numerous in-depth conversations, has learned the power of personal evolution and the importance of leading an examined life. Joining him is Ruthie Lindsey whose own personal journey is astonishing. Recovering from physical and emotional trauma led her to unexpected places that helped her realize the true depths or her wounds. She has dedicated her life to healing and sharing her story, so that others can find the beauty in their woundedness. Roll believes we need to commit to “a journey of self-inquiry and self-discovery where no one can tell you how to do your life,” which seems like a great way to start Original Thinkers.


Rich ROll

Ruthie Lindsey


show three

The Character of Our Country

A country as big, complicated and evolving as the United States is challenging to understand, but journalists Deborah and James Fallows tried like hell to do so in a deep and trenchant way by traversing the country in a single engine plane. On their remarkable journey, they visited a myriad of small towns across the U.S., which became the national bestseller, Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America.  


James & Deborah Fallows


show four

What Does Music Really Do To Us?

The effects of music on our lives is hard to put into words, but Sarfraz Manzoor, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Thatcher era England, can tell you exactly what kind of impact one musician – Bruce Springsteen – had on his once wayward life. Manzoor’s book about The Boss, Greetings from Bury Park, was adapted into a film called Blinded by the Light, which was a breakout hit at Sundance 2019. Singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman wanted to go beyond the album so he published his latest work as a podcast, creating a new hybrid of recording.


Sarfraz Manzoor


show five

unburying shame

Shame does something uniquely pernicious to us that we rarely look at or really try to understand. Photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally’s masterwork Upstate Girls focuses on the hard but loving lives of young women in hardscrabble Troy, New York, diving into this complex subject of shame on both a national and systemic level as well as a deeply personal perspective. “We have a bondage to the past, to the shame” says Kenneally who will speak on stage alongside one of her collaborators and subjects, Dana Schubart. Author and activist Brooke Axtell life’s story is extraordinary, which she has used to make huge inroads on the scourge of human trafficking. Forensic traumatologist Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh works in Las Vegas where there is a ready built ecosystem of victimization, creating a remarkable challenge for her professional goal of helping people heal, which often involves first lifting the heavy burden of shame from what happened to them. Stanley Stellar is a photographer who chronicled the history of American gay rights from it’s shame-infused hidden hallways in the 60’s to a robust rights movement today.


Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh

Brenda Ann Kenneally

Brooke Axtell

Dana Schubart