Ideas Festival Launches in Sedona

When Lauren Kelley took her friend Brad Kaywell, co-founder of Groupon, up on his invitation to Chicago Ideas Week she herself was struck with an idea. Why not bring a day dedicated to ideas to Sedona?

As Verde Valley School’s Director of Experiential Education, Kelley will do just that on Saturday, September 21 at the school’s Village of Oak Creek campus.  Events run from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Verde Valley Ideas is dedicated to the power of ideas. At its heart is the simple belief that when a broad spectrum of thinkers and doers share ideas, we have the power to change the world. The one-day festival offers three experiences: intimate workshops called Labs, a stage-based program of talks and performances, and a unique Farm to Table Dinner. Come for one or enjoy the whole day.

Bret StephensThe school will host speakers, including Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist Bret Stephens, Tucson poet Logan Phillips, and leader in the mindfulness movement Dave Mochel, on the stage of Brady Hall. Talks are united under the theme of “ever wonder.”  The festival is designed to bring together a cross-section of the world all looking to imagine possibilities for our collective future.

Bill BarclayIn the morning, participants can participate in “labs” – small group workshops designed to deliver new ideas, new experiences and new world views – lead by speakers and world-renowned specialists in their fields. The planned labs are diverse in their scope and include leaders such as Bill Barclay, Director of Music at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, local farmer Mike Speilman, global education pioneer Vicky Weeks, and mindfulness coach Dave Mochel, who will pull double duty as speaker and lab leader as he introduces participants to daily practices to increase awareness and acceptance in daily life.

Place is an important component in the one-day festival as well.  “We believe people are the most inspired, the most alive, the most creative when transported to places that inspire awe. Sedona does just that,” Kelley added.

In part, Kelley’s idea for the one-day festival came from the realization that Verde Valley School’s dynamic experiential education shouldn’t be limited to students.

“We should be an icon and beacon for experiential education and that shouldn’t be just for teenagers,” she explained. “Now the power of the school is accessible to more than just our students.”

Find out more about Verde Valley Ideas’ presenters and workshops at or call Verde Valley School at 928.284.2272.

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