Here House hosting Mike Kaplan for free oral history event on Wednesday – Aspen Daily News

Here House hosting Mike Kaplan for free oral history event on Wednesday – Aspen Daily News

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Candice Carpenter Olson, owner and founder of Here House, is pictured speaking before a room full of people during a recent event at the clubhouse. Olson invited Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan to come speak at the next event hosted by Here House, which will take place this Wednesday and is free and open to the public. 
Mike Kaplan is photographed at the base of Aspen Mountain on opening day. The current president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Co. announced his retirement will be in April 2023, which marks 30 years with the company. As a longtime leading member of the community, Kaplan was invited to share his oral history of Aspen for a free event taking place at Here House on Wednesday. 

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Candice Carpenter Olson, owner and founder of Here House, is pictured speaking before a room full of people during a recent event at the clubhouse. Olson invited Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan to come speak at the next event hosted by Here House, which will take place this Wednesday and is free and open to the public. 
Living in a town like Aspen, it can seem as though the characters who shape its community will be around forever. But with time, the movers and shakers leave or pass, and preserving their stories is essential to preserving this place. 
That’s according to Candice Carpenter Olson, owner and founder of Here House club. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Here House is hosting a free and public event, which will feature one of the town’s influential characters giving his oral history of Aspen: Mike Kaplan. 
The current president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Co., Kaplan announced in March that he’ll be stepping down from the leadership position in April 2023, which will mark 30 years with the company. 
Mike Kaplan is photographed at the base of Aspen Mountain on opening day. The current president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Co. announced his retirement will be in April 2023, which marks 30 years with the company. As a longtime leading member of the community, Kaplan was invited to share his oral history of Aspen for a free event taking place at Here House on Wednesday. 
“Mike has had kind of a lifelong love affair with Aspen,” Olson said. “And he’s someone who really proves you can work your way up through the ranks here, because he came skiing and then he was an instructor and now he’s CEO. I really want him to chart that and I hope it’ll be inspiring to people.”
Olson, who will be moderating Wednesday’s conversation, said the upcoming oral history event with Kaplan marks the third in an ongoing speaker series at Here House. The clubhouse previously hosted photographer David Hiser and the late and former Sheriff Bob Braudis as the other two impactful community members to share their Aspen histories. 
Hiser is now 85 years old and has lived in the valley since the mid-1960s. The photographer is recognized for having documented many vital moments throughout Aspen’s history, including journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s campaign for sheriff. The beloved Braudis, who passed away in June at 77 years old, served as Pitkin County sheriff for 24 years. 
Olson described both of these men as “very special community members” who have shaped the valley, and she expressed gratitude for having been able to bring them into the Here House space to share their stories. 
“A lot of our goal is to capture these stories while we can,” Olson said. “In Mike’s case, he’s retiring soon and in other cases, you know, people are getting older. … I just don’t want them to go without telling their story to this younger generation.”
As the third speaker in Here House’s oral history series, Olson invited Kaplan to share his personal Aspen journey — and to do so in the context of his experience being the leader of something important to town — as well as the valley’s more recent historic happenings and changes, she said.
“He has some really tough trade-offs to make — between the environment and revenue and between the ski bums and billionaires, the forces of money and grappling with our government,” Olson said. “I’d really like to talk to him quite a lot about how he’s navigated that and how he’s thought about it all.” 
Other topics that Olson aspires to cover with Kaplan include everything from the controversies around the Pandora expansion to the reasons he’s decided to step down from SkiCo and what he plans to do post-retirement. On a more personal level, Olson said she plans to ask Kaplan about his experience raising a family in this community and what he’s seen throughout his different stages living in Aspen. 
Olson spoke highly of Kaplan, stating that he’s seen a lot in his leadership position and has “behaved with integrity” in trying to balance the issues of this ski-town community, she said. Olson mentioned how the CEO is often seen during ski seasons at the base of Aspen Mountain, helping to load people into the gondola alongside his lifties. 
“He’s actually one of my heroes in the valley, along with the other people we’ve had share their oral histories,” Olson said. “And the fact that he’s loading the gondola and stuff, Mike has modeled that we don’t have to create these divisions between the workers and the leaders, that it can be thought of more as everyone is here in the valley, together.”
Olson said she wants Here House to be fully packed with people on Wednesday evening for Kaplan’s talk. She explained that bringing Kaplan to the club’s intimate space to speak openly in front of the community is a rare opportunity, as the CEO does not give talks often, Olson noted. There will also be opportunities for the audience to ask questions throughout the conversation. 
“This is going to be more personal and wide ranging in terms of topics, and I think a very intimate discussion,” Olson said. “It’s getting to see a lot of sides of him that are not usually visible — I really want the audience to have a chance to see him up close.”
Olson emphasized how she especially hopes younger-generation Aspenites will attend. She said that a lot of what she’s trying to do through the public events at Here House — and especially with this oral history series — is to make sure the younger generations in Aspen are informed of its histories and happenings and feel as excited as older community members do to protect it. 
“You know, if I were to say, ‘What’s the purpose of these evenings?’ It’s that I would love for younger people to come here and understand the history of this valley a little better from really interesting people,” Olson said. “I’m just a big fan of whatever can build community to keep Aspen real — it’s a lot to be proud of and to want to protect.” 
The oral history event with Kaplan will take place on Wednesday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Here House, located at 614 E. Cooper Ave. The event is free and open to the public. To reserve a spot, email [email protected]
Jacqueline Reynolds is an arts & entertainment reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at [email protected].
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