Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association 24th Asilomar Conference,
February 12-15, 2010
Our Friday night speaker, Dr. Jay Davis, Scientist and Past Founding Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DoD), was masterful at making very complex issues understandable, explaining both the technical and the political problems that face us in working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenal. He also shared with us a realistic timetable for accomplishing various levels in the future. A truly meaningful reduction in numbers will require decades to achieve, and must ultimately include all nations that now have such weapons.
On Saturday morning, Father Leo Arrowsmith, American Orthodox priest and artist, completed a rough draft of the painting of an icon, all the while entertaining us with his gentle spirit and sound insight and astounding us with his artistic ability. The icon was auctioned for the scholarship fund (the winning bid was $200, but several folks came forward afterward to contribute to the scholarship fund, so the total is now up to $450). Fr. Leo will detail the icon, which we have decided to donate to his Church when it is finished, since none of us has the wall space to hang a 3x4 foot painting at home. I think we can get a fine reproduction of the icon made (say, 5x7 inches, on a mounting board), that we can make available to the membership at a nominal price, which can also contribute to our scholarship fund. That would make a great memory of the weekend for us.
Saturday afternoon we experienced an interesting travelogue of the Chilean Fjords and Antarctica (penguins, orcas and all), by Cal Wood.
Saturday evening's presentation was an explanation by Special Agent Ron Umbel, of the FBI’s Infragard Program (how ordinary people and businesses can help us remain alert to terrorist threats)
On Sunday morning, John Seager, President of Population Connection, gave an excellent summary of Jeffrey Sach’s Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, and led us in discussing the book. In the afternoon, Mr. Seager (overcoming the lack of a microphone) gave us a most enlightening talk that updated us on what countries can do, and which some have already done, to address the very real problems created by a growing world population faced with limited resources. His insights into this pressing matter proved to be encouraging for those who are taking things seriously and working to solve the problems, as well as a bit frightening in light of those who are not yet “on board” for long term solutions.
On Sunday evening our own Marci Coglianese, former mayor of Rio Vista and member of several boards and commissions for Delta Water problems, shared with us her considerable expertise about many of the political difficulties and technological problems that face anyone trying to find equitable, common ground for water use in California.
On Monday morning we found ourselves again in the company of our dear friend, Ranger Roxann, who has such enthusiasm coupled with extensive knowledge of Asilomar and Julia Morgan, its architect. She gave us a guided tour that left us all feeling satisfied and filled to the brim with the ‘Asilomar Experience.’ She has promised to return next year. Yippee! See you all there.