Helen Ward http://aspenpublicradio.org en At the Debate, Questions of Ukraine and Old Russia http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/debate-questions-ukraine-and-old-russia <p>I spent most of today in classrooms judging debate rounds. Topics varied from the serious like should governments allow completely unfettered free speech to more social topics like should marijuana be legalized? It was a long day with 9 rounds of debates. By 4pm everyone was exhausted. The agenda, however, called for mandatory appearance in the assembly hall to hear Arnoldas Pranckeviciys speak. Sun, 27 Apr 2014 15:57:39 +0000 Helen Ward Obermeyer 17669 at http://aspenpublicradio.org At the Debate, Questions of Ukraine and Old Russia During a Conflict & Debate http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/during-conflict-debate <p>My journalist friend Neil told me two things before leaving for Russia. First, it is often the best time to visit a country when we are embroiled in conflict. He is a war correspondent for the New York Times so he has a certain proclivity for conflict, but his point was that when tensions are escalating and both sides are being fed exaggerated points of view, remembering that we are all human and want essentially the same things; peace, prosperity, health, a better world for the next generation, beauty, poetry, music and dance -- is important. Fri, 25 Apr 2014 14:39:26 +0000 Helen Ward Obermeyer 17578 at http://aspenpublicradio.org During a Conflict & Debate A Rebuilt Palace, the Mall & the Museum http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/rebuilt-palace-mall-museum <p>We have hit a streak of &nbsp;perfect spring weather which looks like it will last until we depart for Lithuania. We took advantage of summer weather to head 20 minutes out of the city to the summer residence of the Tsars, Catherine's Palace. One could yawn at this point from over exposure to gilt encrusted, lapis and onyx inlaid and pilastered rooms. Faberge and Sevres adorned furnishings appear mundanely in room after room and we have only visited three of the dozens of palaces. It would have been a shame to miss this one, however. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:50:28 +0000 Helen Ward Obermeyer 17463 at http://aspenpublicradio.org A Rebuilt Palace, the Mall & the Museum A Perfect Easter Afternoon http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/perfect-easter-afternoon <p>It is Easter morning and the Nikolsky Cathedral is full. Russian orthodox services are delivered to a standing crowd. Families mill about listening to prayer, seeking inspiration from their favored saints represented in icons hung through out this gorgeous blue jewel of a church. They have picnic baskets full of treats which are being blessed with holy water by one of the officiants. The golden onion shaped domes of the church, sky blue facade against the perfect blue sky, budding trees couldn't embody resurrection more clearly, The crowd is joyful and we feel entirely welcomed.&nbsp;</p> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:05:09 +0000 Helen Ward Obermeyer 17397 at http://aspenpublicradio.org A Perfect Easter Afternoon Memories and New Visions http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/memories-and-new-visions <p>Wow! A lot has changed since my last visit to St P in 1977 when I came with my High School teacher Dr Egan and 10 other classmates from our Russian History Class. Back then the monochromatic palate of the identical black Volga cars everyone drove,&nbsp; the consistent shades of grey and black coats and hats, the low grey January clouds and pallor of everyone's skin made the polychrome onion domes and pastel palaces of the Romanov's shocking in their brilliance. Today the billboards, variety and magnitude of cars and fashion in every shape and size present a very different image. Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:06:37 +0000 Helen Ward Obermeyer 17331 at http://aspenpublicradio.org Memories and New Visions