Although the space between now and Monday’s announcement grows, my social media feed continues to thunder:
Outdoor enthusiasts with their protests (‘Solitude not Crude!’)
Grassroots organizations with their kickstarters ($159K and counting)
Outdoor brands with their lawsuits against the administration (The President Stole Your Land)
A war has been declared, and the outdoor industry isn’t backing down.
I’ve been watching from across the border, and while I’ve been wishing for a positive outcome, I began to lose hope long ago. We knew this was coming, didn’t we?
For months, we have shouted the incalculable social and economic benefits of outdoor spaces from the rooftops; we have decried the destruction of public lands (…or, with 2017 relevancy, through social media hashtags). All the while, we continue to be swept aside by the uncompromising forces of the political tides.
While it is inspiring to observe the movement this injustice has created, there is still one key element that began as a tickle but now rings loud and clear:
The administration does not care.
They don’t care about the land like we care about the land. In their equation of value:
Profit > Preservation
And so I have spent the week asking the question… how does that mentality change?
One day, maybe we’ll get into my long road from complacency to outdoor enthusiasm. Coles notes: it involves a deep and unidentified struggle with self-worth, a breakup, and the opportunity to seek out the life I found most meaningful.
Today, I care because Indian Creek helped shape the adult I have become: that land gave me the confidence I needed as a climber, as an entrepreneur, and most significantly, as a woman to finally push my life in the direction I wanted it to go. I have lived and breathed and loved that land.
In other words, my value was delivered in an envelope of experience. And so, perhaps, to get people to care is to get them there. But where?
My mind immediately shifted to the places closer to home. I don’t have to travel by plane to find a place that compliments my life. There are trails and trees and parks right down the road. For many of us, this is true.
Value doesn’t have to come in the form of a profound life experience across the continent, or a backpacking trip in Europe, or an expedition into the remote corners of the wilderness. It can be in the form of morning dog walks along your neighbourhood trail, or weekly hikes with your significant other, or an afternoon spent gazing at a local waterfall.
Conservation areas. Provincial/State Parks. Historical Monuments.
They can all assist in bringing some significance to our days.
It is easy to say these spaces should be preserved because they are unique and because they are beautiful. What is challenging is to measure the additional ecological, historical and cultural significance they also harbour.
It is easy to say we owe it to the next generation to protect these areas. The more difficult question, however, lies in demonstrating the value of these places so that those next generations care to protect them as well.
It is easy to say we need to get outside. There is a whole field of research that tells us so. The more onerous of the tasks is finding ways to get more people to do so.
How do we? I have thought about it for a week, and still do not have the answers. Maybe you do?
In the meantime, I will take a little extra time this weekend to show my home base that I care. I will rally with solitude (not crude) on a local level. Would anyone like to join me?
This may be their cage; those may be their wings / Lying on the ground but it’s their hearts that sing
From: This is Where I Stand, Tom Francis
*All photos were taken in Ontario along the Bruce Trail or within Dundas Valley Conservation Area, a part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority. The Dundas Valley is less than 15 minutes from the centre of Hamilton; the Bruce Trail runs throughout our downtown core.