At the Keystone Center, societal issues are not viewed as problems, but challenges to overcome. A nonprofit organization headquartered in Keystone, the center focuses on bringing people together to discuss important national and local issues.
The Keystone Dialogues identify timely policy issues and then bring in a panel of stakeholders and experts for discussion. The goal of the dialogues is to build a consensus among the participants in a non-confrontational and informative manner. The issues to be discussed come from the national government, the state government or groups of concerned or interested parties. Occasionally, the center itself identifies an important topic, and works to contact those involved.
Though many of the dialogues revolve around highly technical discussions and are closed to the public, the center also puts on public engagement nights, in which anyone is invited to attend and listen to the discussion at hand.
"We're proud of the results-oriented, problem-solving approaches we can bring to big societal issues," said Robyn Brewer, director of marketing communications at the Keystone Center. "Our goal is to shift the focus from oppositional approaches to shared decision-making processes."
In addition to the policy work, the center offers many other services, particularly those dedicated to facilitating discussion. Its facilitation and mediation service was utilized in the early stages of Breckenridge's Peak 6 discussions, for example. It also assists companies in forming advisory boards, offers leadership training and development courses and provides joint fact-finding services to stakeholders.
Education also plays an important role at the Keystone Center, which founded the Keystone Science School. The school offers camp programs during the summer, varying from daylong to weeklong schedules for both young children and teenagers.
"We believe every child deserves camp," the Keystone Science School website states. "We bring in the added element of outdoor education, combining science, adventure and fun to create life-changing experiences for every child we serve."
Throughout the year, school programs give students the opportunity to learn more about the environment, and methods of scientific inquiry. The goal is to teach students to develop critical thinking skills in a natural outdoor setting. Various community programs offer similar experiences to adults, both guests and residents of Summit County.
Learning also never stops for teachers, and they can do so through the center's educator programs. There, teachers learn how to create unique and interesting science curricula for their students.
"We don't just regurgitate textbooks," Brewer said. "We try to focus on issues that are current or relevant."
The educator programs revolve around science, engineering, technology and math skills, with emphasis on such skills as critical thinking, teamwork and problem- solving. The trainings are free of cost to the teachers.