We are just rolling in from the SHIFT conference in Jackson Hole! I enjoyed the conference even though I felt slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks that this organization is tackling – where conservation meets adventure. My eyes were opened to a much larger conversation which is centered on the development of national policy and the preservation of our public lands. I was inspired by the opening speakers highlighted by the Governors from Wyoming and Colorado that set the stage for three days of deep conversations about a variety of subjects focused on what Chris Beckwith, the Founder and Director at SHIFT, called the “triple bottom line”:
- Outdoor recreation as a tool to drive economic development
- The positive implications that recreation has on the health of an individual that includes physical, emotion, spiritual and intellectual, and
- The need to protect our public lands.
There were a number of conversations about the need to quantify the work but the number that got my attention was that 85% of Americans live in an urban environment and the implications that has on the next generation. I was reminded about why many of us love the Eastern Sierras as an element of a balanced healthy lifestyle, the need to protect our public lands and create opportunities (such as Digital 395) for people to live, work and play in our piece of paradise and then wondered how many ways we can define recreation in our region and how we enhance and expand those opportunities?
It was stimulating to observe and engage with the Emerging Leaders that represent the next generation that will be inheriting our world as the baby boomers pass the torch to the millennials. In my eyes it circled back around to the development of a consistent and collective message – bold ideas, the protection of place, to radically engage the community at multiple levels, to define the outdoor experience to build a sense of community and connect with “place.” I attended the California Trails Conference this past spring and built new relationships and learned new things but left the SHIFT conference somewhat intimidated by the sense of a greater purpose and the need to actively engage at the next level which is what policy development is all about and which is something I am quite familiar with based on my previous life.