Fabulous Las Vegas Awaits You
As I listen to the dry summer thunder this afternoon in the hot Southern Utah desert and anticipate the accompanying wildfires, I am prompted to reflect on our 2020 Convention theme, “Transformative Landscapes” and our common reader Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, by Terry Tempest Williams. Just as the landscapes I know so well will be changed, destroyed, and begin anew in this summer’s wildfires, the landscapes that surround each of you, no matter what they look like now, have been and will continue to be irrevocably changed by so many unpredictable and sometimes catastrophic events, some of which so many of us reading this blog know all too well: fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, and also humans. And, we know that as individuals we are also irrevocably changed BY those landscapes, sometimes in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine, as Terry Tempest Williams reminds us in this year’s common reader.
How many of us can say that we are the same person we were before we stepped foot into the Smokey Mountains or wandered through the Everglades, or hesitantly traversed the dangerous majesty of Angel’s Landing, or succumbed to the quiet vision of a horizon looming over an icy Atlantic Ocean? Or as you will soon experience, felt the dry dust and smelled the fragrant creosote of the Mojave Desert?
I hope that as we prepare for our journey to Las Vegas with our copy of Terry Tempest Williams’ love letter to the Western landscape in our backpacks that we will find our own moments of transformation in the unique landscapes (including urban cityscapes) that continue to change and transform every second of every day, year, month, and century.
So, my friends, get those submissions ready and pack your bags to head for the City of Lights, a place that seems miraculously dropped down in the middle of the desert where a thriving city might seem indeed unimaginable. And, yet, as one of my students so eloquently described Las Vegas just weeks ago, you’ll be entering a city that has itself transformed not just into the entertainment capital of the world, but as a “collector of culture,” a place where one finds the sand and craggy cliffs of the desert embracing a valley filled with one of the most diverse populations and city offerings that one will find anywhere. From the unique history of the Mob Museum and the Titanic Artifact Exhibit to the natural beauty of the Springs Preserve, to the stunning acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil and the stunning city view at the top of the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas promises to be a transformative adventure for each of us.
I hope you’ll join me in my home-away-from-home, Las Vegas, NV, for our 2020 Convention!
2020 Convention Chair