JACKSON, Wyo. — Christian Beckwith has a vision of a community at the center of the most important experiment in human history.
That community is us, the residents of Teton County.
The experiment, he believes, is how we meet our needs in a manner that preserves and protects the area’s ecosystem, community and economy, for this and future generations.
If we manage to do this, he says, we will become a model for Aldo Leopold’s 1949 definition of conservation: “A balanced relationship between people and land.”
Beckwith believes there is no other community in the world currently meeting that definition.
He also believes Teton County can meet that definition. And he’s running for Teton County Commissioner to make sure we succeed.
To make his point, he offers the following observations.
“The world is at a tipping point,” he says. “Climate change, population growth, invasive species and the loss of habitat are contributing directly to the sixth mass extinction, a polluted environment, direct threats to our food and water and geopolitical disruption as people are forced to leave their homes just to survive.”
He believes Jackson Hole is at a tipping point as well.
“Unbridled growth to accommodate the insatiable desire to live here has contaminated our water, fragmented our habitat and accelerated demands for housing, which in turn is pricing out many of our neighbors,” he says.
This prompts a question he considers critical: “What will our magnificent valley be like in 100 years if we continue at this pace?”
Look no further than the rest of the world for your answer, he says: increasingly urban, increasingly polluted, increasingly unable to handle the growing demands on resources, be they natural, social or economic.
Beckwith believes that we can do better.
“And if we act now,” he says, “we have an opportunity to draw from the power of this place and create not only a community that lives in balance with its natural surroundings, but a model of sustainability for the rest of the world.”
The world needs such a model if it is to navigate the challenges of the next 100 years.
Beckwith believes Teton County can become that model for a number of reasons.
Because our community exists at the intersection of the wild and the urban, he says, we understand the fragility of the balance between the two.
Because we’re a small community, we’re well-positioned to grow responsibly, in a manner that preserves the delicate equilibrium between our needs and those of our habitat, which is the engine of our economy.
“Our valley attracts millions of visitors each year,” he notes. “We’re home to influential full- and part-time residents.
“By serving as a model of sustainability, we have a unique opportunity to influence the behavior not only of our residents and the people they affect, but also the behavior of our visitors.”
Problematically, he says, decisions in Teton County are being made in the same manner they’re made anywhere else: as a way to address immediate problems, with minimal consideration for their long-term implications.
“We’re not anywhere else. We’re the greatest intact temperate ecosystem on earth.”
“If we can’t live in a balanced relationship with the natural world,” he asks, “who can?
If he were elected County Commissioner, Beckwith says he would ask himself three things before making any decision:
- What are its implications for our ecosystem?
- What are its implications for our full time residents, particularly those of lesser means who are contributing to our resiliency?
- What will be its implications for our residents—both human and wild—100 years from now?
“We need a vision for Teton County that’s relevant to the present, respectful of the future and inspired by the power of this place,” he says. “And we need leadership that’s strong enough to make the vision a reality.”
“The challenges before us are complicated,” he says. “Our solutions will need to be as bold as our landscape.”
He’s asking for your vote so that he can fight for those solutions, and “for the generations years from now who will look back at our decisions and judge them for the ways they impacted the most important experiment in human history.”
If you agree with his vision, please vote for Beckwith for Teton County Commission on August 18. Learn more about Beckwith’s candidacy and his positions at www.christianbeckwith.com..