JACKSON, WY— Local conservationist, recreationist and SHIFT founder Christian Beckwith is hoping to bring the founding principles of SHIFT, a conference focused on conservation and recreation, under one roof in a Center for Moutain Culture here in Jackson.
The Center for Mountain Culture, a tentative name, would loosely resemble the Aspen Institute, or the Banff Centre. Its mission would be to bring like-minded people and organizations who are committed to conservation, wellness, health and outdoor recreation under one roof—because those things are intrinsically linked, Beckwith said. “Time outside in nature is a critical component of our overall health.” Not only is it good for our health, he added, but it’s also good for the wellbeing of the natural world. The more time we spend outside, the more we grow to appreciate it, and the more we want to protect it. And Jackson is the perfect place to cultivate wellness in every arena.
“Jackson is at the epicenter of life on the human-wild interface,” Beckwith said. “We’re in a unique position to understand how we might advance and promote ways to live in balance with nature.”
The Center would be multi-functional. By day, it would be an office space for organizations committed to wellness, recreation, and conservation to rent out. Not only would it offer an affordable option for organizations doing important work, Beckwith said, but bringing similarly-minded and driven minds all under the same roof could be “disruptive in the best possible way.” Many organizations and individuals have the same or similar big-picture goals—why not work together?
“There could be a lot more cross-pollination of ideas,” Beckwith said. “More cooperation and collaboration between principles with very similar objectives.”
Other components would include a climbing gym and community events venue similar to the model Brooklyn Boulders has created across the country. Local climbers know all too well that Jackson hasn’t had a climbing gym in years, since the Enclosure closed in 2014. “As a climber, I’ve been trying to find a way to bring a climbing gym back to our community,” Beckwith said. He opened up a conversation with the CEO of Brooklyn Boulders, who now operates climbing gyms in cities nationwide. “What I like about Brooklyn Boulders is the community-centric approach,” Beckwith said. They host Ted Talks, concerts, and other community events, and are intentional about engaging a clientele that is “actually reflective of the American demographic,” Beckwith said.
Beckwith acknowledges there are already a handful of effective community venues in town, and he doesn’t mean to compete with them. But a space like the one he envisions could “accommodate events in a much more dynamic setting,” Beckwith said. “That could be of value to the community as well.”
Right now, the Center for Mountain Culture is still just in the “conceptual” stage. A handful of organizations have already expressed support in a variety of industries, including outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainability, and wellness.
Beckwith would love for the Center to live at the base of Snow King. It’s already a hub of outdoor recreation, and Beckwith thinks a Center for Mountain Culture offers ample community benefit. But he’s open to ideas and suggestions, and first just wants to build momentum for the idea of such a space. Visit CenterforMountainCulture.org to learn more.