Friends of Emerson
Side Streets: Stimulating discussions of philosophy, politics, poetry abound in Colorado Springs
By Bill Vogrin
Craving an adult conversation about politics or poetry or life in general?
Looking for a place to express your deepest thoughts, be challenged on your beliefs or stretched intellectually by an opposing point of view in a nonthreatening, civil environment?
Artist Dick Eustice painted the Friends of Emerson group, its members' feet symbolically dangling in Thoreau's Walden Pond. Writer Lucy Bell started the group in 2002 while grieving the death of her husband, Oliver Bell. Twice a month, ever since, the group has met in the library of First Congregational Church, 20 E. Saint Vrain St., to discuss Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poems and how they relate to modern life. Eustice is a member of the group. Courtesy
Friends of Emerson meets 4-5 p.m., second and fourth Thursday each month, First Congregational Church, 20 E. Saint Vrain St.
One of the most intriguing is the Friends of Emerson group, which meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month and uses the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson as a springboard for an hourly discussion.
The group was founded by my friend Lucy Bell, the author, historian and retired teacher whose name is familiar to "Side Streets" readers. Lucy introduced me to the Brown Bombers, an all-black baseball team that recently was enshrined in the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame. And she's host of the popular "Walk in the Woods" program at Cheyenne Mountain Park, which celebrates famous writers each summer.
Lucy started Friends of Emerson in December 2002 after discovering the 19th-century Boston-born writer-poet-philosopher as she was grieving the death of her husband, Oliver Bell. She was moved by Emerson's account of his grief after the death of his wife, Ellen. Lucy was inspired by his emotional journey, which he documented in his essays and poems.
Lucy put a note in her church newsletter seeking others who might share her enthusiasm for Emerson and want to meet.
The group was born and has continued with a dozen or so regular members ever since.
"He's so relevant to life today and what's going on," Lucy said. "We listen to his ideas and the conversation goes from there."
The group is free to attend and open to anyone "looking for somewhere to connect."
"It's philosophical, but not academic," Lucy said. "We have people from all walks of life, male and female, and all points of view."