The Center for Mountain Culture

If we can’t figure out how to live in balance with nature, who can?

 

 

Vision

Vision

Photo: David Swift

 

The Center for Mountain Culture will create a community-centric, youth-positive campus for outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainability, health and wellness in Jackson Hole.

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Objective

Objective

Photo: Nancy Fernandez

To promote and advance a balanced relationship between people and land that benefits our community and the world at large.

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Background

Background

Photo: Christian Beckwith

Jackson Hole is a place of great wonder, one characterized and informed by the natural influences of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It attracts millions of people each year who seek proximity to its singular nature. A number of organizations run by passionate, dedicated residents work toward the health and wellbeing of this place and its people, but the growing costs of real estate threaten their ability to do so in the future.

As we lose these organizations and the people committed to running them, we lose not only the heart and soul of the Jackson Hole community. In a time of great ecological peril, we lose what is becoming an ever-more valuable opportunity to understand, explore and celebrate the delicate relationship between people and land—and to advance policies and legislation that insure our planet’s future.

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Proposal

To address these needs, we propose creation of The Center for Mountain Culture (working title), a home to the outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainability, health and wellness efforts so important to the future of this community and to our natural world. Inspired by Plas y Brenin, The Banff Centre and The Aspen Institute, The Center for Mountain Culture (“The Center”) will create a hub for complementary efforts and foster a collaborative approach to advance Aldo Leopold’s 1949 definition of conservation: “a balanced relationship between Man and land.”

Office space will be available to organizations whose work falls within The Center’s purview. A shared workspace will be available to individuals—writers, photographers, freelancers, etc.—whose scope is similarly aligned. To encourage innovative legislative efforts, this space will also be available to Town and County elected officials who advance and promote The Center’s objectives.

Borrowing from the successful Brooklyn Boulders model, The Center will be developed around a climbing gym that doubles as community space, offering a dynamic, innovative home to events and gatherings. The gym will also provide a safe, healthy, alcohol-free venue for local youth that’s open after school, on the weekends and during times, such as summers, when schools are closed, connecting them with positive role models and a lifestyle pathway that’s congruent with Jackson’s mountain legacy and traditions.

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The Big Picture

The big picture

Photo: Aaron Nydam

With climate change, invasive species, the loss of habitat and population growth adversely affecting the natural world, we must develop models that balance the interests of people and the environment. We are in the midst of the greatest mass migration in human history—a migration indoors and behind screens. The less connected we are to nature, the less invested we become in its future.

As noted in The SHIFT Principles, “Outdoor recreation in natural settings is and always has been an indispensable part of conservation. Active engagement with the outdoors has produced some of the country’s most inspiring conservation leaders. Our natural places and the recreational activities they provide are essential to us mentally, spiritually, and physically. By immersing people in the natural world, outdoor recreation builds support for conservation of the places we come to love and helps to develop the next generation of stewards.”

A growing body of evidence (documented on sites such as Active Living Research and Institute of the Golden Gate) highlights the health benefits of time outside as well. The growing disconnect from nature adds billions of dollars to health care costs while simultaneously undermining the value of nature in society. At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside, and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and mental anxiety—all directly connected to declines in physical activity—are proliferating, connecting outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainability (which insures the wise use of finite natural resources so that we may continue to use them in perpetuity) and health and wellness has never been more important.

Millions of visitors each year visit Jackson Hole, seeking a connection to our magnificent valley. Jackson Hole is in a unique position to influence them and promote a sustainable worldview—as long as those at the front lines of the work are able to approach it collectively.

The Center for Mountain Culture will advance a sustainable connection to the natural world and provide a collaborative approach to insuring that our Valley’s future, and the future of the world around us, is as bright and resilient as its past.

As Jackson Hole wildlife biologist Olaus Murie used to say, “It’s going to take all of us to do it.”

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Supporters

Organizations that support the vision for The Center as potential residents include the following.

Outdoor Recreation:

Conservation:

Sustainability:

Wellness:

Ambassadors:

Residents

Photo: David Swift

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