From where we sit, the 3-day SHIFT conference in Jackson, Wyoming can be summed up by one quote from the closing keynote speaker: "The outdoor industry can change the world." Luis Benitez, Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation for the State of Colorado.
We believe this to be true — it’s why we exist, and what gets us to the coffee pot every morning.
For all those bold enough to inquire, this begs the question: what is our role? The easy part is coming to the table, being engaged and waxing optimistic with like-minded peers about coalition building and models for collective impact. The challenge begins when we return from mountain-town-paradise to our computer screens and the realities of the daily grind. And now, punctuated by the political tides shifting in opposition to an environmental agenda, the path is even more daunting.
Held each October in Jackson Hole, SHIFT is an annual festival that explores the intersection of conservation, outdoor recreation and cultural relevancy with speakers, workshops, panel discussions, food, film, and outdoor adventure.
At this years festival, no-one shied away from the hard questions, and nearly every session was structured with clear objectives and next steps at the forefront. Action is part of the DNA of the SHIFT experience.
The day to day work of many of those in attendance is on the front-lines of the public-land battle, so it’s no surprise that this group was ready to roll up sleeves and play in the dirt.
The varied faces and perspectives present at SHIFT was reassurance that the future of the movement is in good hands. From The Wilderness Society and the Grand Canyon Trust, to the likes of Caroline Gleich, Terry Tempest Williams, Grace Anderson and a group of 32 energized Emerging Leaders — there was no shortage of passionate, capable people in the building who stop at nothing to protect the places we play.
Between early-season snow flurries and inspirational working sessions, we kicked around Jackson mulling the question over — what is our role?
We learned of SHIFT after being selected as a finalist for the Business Leadership Award, which “recognizes an outdoor company, be it retail, guide service, or other business, that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains.” It was humbling to be in such good company, and to be surrounded by those on the front lines.
We create outdoor products rooted in iconic landscapes, and contribute 5% of every purchase back to those regions. We call this Products Rooted In Place.
We started Bramble because we wanted to dosomething to protect our wild places, not just play in them. And the role we’re creating is a supporting one — our goal is to leverage innovative outdoor products to help organizations activate their evangelists, and engage the next generation of land stewards and conservationists we so desperately need to carry the torch. At SHIFT, alongside a handful of the most respected leaders in the movement, we gained valuable insight and a network that will help us continue to execute on this goal.
A quote by environmental activist and writer, Ed Abbey, came up on several occasions over the course of the long-weekend:
"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." -Ed Abbey
The action is the juice, and SHIFT succeeded in pushing all of us forward. When we drove out of Jackson after the festival, we left inspired. More importantly, we left hopeful. The future of the movement is driven by many brilliant minds and passionate hearts. In the wake of a challenging election cycle, this sentiment is elusive. But let us not forget that the outdoor industry can act as a vehicle for bipartisanship, and a mainstay for the preservation of our natural world.
We will continue to do our part — play our role — so that together, we can rally to protect the places we love. Much more to come in 2017, as our model evolves and we test some new ways to plug in and support the movement.
Until then, #BrambleOn.