Overheard at the 2015 SHIFT Festival.

By Posted in - Green Events on October 22nd, 2015 Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The conversation floating at the confluence of conservation and recreation is a choppy one. Long-held perceptions run just as high as emotions, and most folks have a very real, very worthy cause. That’s why the common ground created by the SHIFT Festival is such a powerful platform—a hotbed of experts, activists, and adventurists. This year, the speakers not only moved the conversation forward—covering every shade of sustainability and sport— they moved the audience.

Making a Statement at SHIFT

Participants included industry icons, politicians, mothers and men, the hook and bullet outfit, children, dirtbags, military heroes, white, brown, wide-eyed, gray-haired, athletes, overachievers, and the underprivileged. And they all had something to say. These quotes from the 4-day event in Jackson, WY are just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Politicians who think they’re smarter than climate scientists are either crooks or dumbasses.”—Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia and Patagonia Provisions
  • “Let’s talk about the largest public space we share as humans: the oceans.”—Chad Nelsen, CEO, Surfrider Foundation
  • “Youth engagement is the key to our future.”—Martin Leblanc, Senior Vice President of External Affairs, IslandWood.
  • “How do we get kids to fall in love with nature?”—Joe Petrick, Senior Director of Field Education, Teton Science Schools
  • “We can use technology and social media as a positive tool. They have allowed my organization to grow nationally.”—Graciela Cabello, National Director, Latino Outdoors
  • “Nature is our best textbook.”—Juan Martinez, Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network, Children & Nature Network
  • “We cannot win without forging an emotional bond to save what we love.”—Steven Gold
  • “When it comes to outdated policies, we need to engage the people they affect.”—Bob Ratcliffe, Division Chief, National Park Service’s Conservation, Recreation and Community Assistance Programs
  • “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin (OK, not in attendance, but noted and quoted)
  • “Each of us [Americans] own 193 million acres of forests.”—Meryl L. R. Harrell, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • “You cannot go wrong being true to yourself.”— Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director, Protect Our Winters (POW)
  • “Be inclusive.”—Deanne Buck, Executive Director, Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition
  • “There is an ongoing attack of bedrock laws and movements in Congress.”—Michael Carrol, Senior Director of National Partnerships, The Wilderness Society
  • “Our national treasure is our public lands.”—Randy Rasmussen, Advisor for Public Lands & Recreation, Back Country Horsemen of America.
  • “This is for me. I belong here. Estamos aquí.”—Jose Gonzales, Founder/Director, Latino Outdoors
  • “Being in nature is our human nature. We have to have faith and believe that the next generation will care about the environment.”—Courtney Aber, National Director for BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development), YMCA
  • “Kids want to get outside, but one visit isn’t going to tell them, ‘This is where I belong.’ You have to take them outdoors year after year.”—Tyrhee Moore, Program Staff Member, City Kids Wilderness Project
  • “National Parks, by definition, are islands.”—David Quammen, author, journalist, and Contributing Writer for National Geographic.
  • “We need to drop the silos between each group of outdoor recreation enthusiasts.”—Luis Benitez, Director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
  • “What is the next 100-year ‘big idea’? Connecting people.”—Rebecca Bear, Director of Education and Local Community Development, REI
  • “What’s good for you, is good for the planet.”—Mark Bittman, American food journalist, author, and columnist for The New York Times
  • “I want to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.”—Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia and Patagonia Provisions
  • “What can I do?”—Grade schooler, the next generation

For me, that last quote/question was the hardest hitting of the festival, to which Yvon Chouinard replied, “Write a letter to your Congressman and tell him you believe in global warming.” It closed Mark Bittman’s bit on food with wild applause. After that night, and after the buzz of the festival dies down, I suppose we’re all left with that very question. The answer: Keep the conversation going.

Get your pro-planet word heard

I started Mooncut Mountain Creative to get the message out for organizations doing right by the planet. Why? When the environmental do-gooders succeed, we all benefit. And the SHIFT Festival is flooded with these folks. If you haven’t been, get there next October. Whether you attended SHIFT or you share the same passion to be part of the solution, please connect with me using the contact form below or via Twitter.

Also, I know I missed a mountain of quotable nuggets during the 2015 event, so attendees, please share your favorites in the comments below and I’ll tack ’em on to the growing list. Let’s keep shifting the waters together, as lovers of and fighters for this magnificent place.

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