04.11.19 NORTH CAROLINA wins $1.8 million grant to expand outdoor industry in region

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

Noah Wilson is one of Western North Carolina's leading outdoor recreation economy advocates, and was a key player in the region's successful efforts to win a $1.8 million Appalachian Regional Commission/POWER grant, which will go toward expanding the outdoor industry and related jobs in the region. His work in outdoor industry organizing began with a formative role in the creation of the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, and will continue as one of the lead implementers of the broad-based initiatives funded by the ARC/POWER grant.

He’s also a proponent of “regenerative economic development.” And here’s what that means, in Noah’s own words”

“Regenerative economic development is rooted in two ideas. The first is that nature often heals things stronger after they've been fractured, than they could ever have been if they stayed whole. If you break a bone, it heals back stronger after it's broken. And indeed, we have micro-fractures in our bones all the time, just like we have small muscle tears whenever we get a good workout, and that's what makes you able to lift more or run farther next time. Our bodies, and similarly, our ecosystems, need disruption, need to be broken a little bit, if they're going to develop. That's why so many ecosystems in our world were literally built to rely on periodic fires, or floods, or mass migrations of hungry herbivores. Getting broken a little bit makes them healthier in the long run.

Which brings us to the second idea: What is humanity's ecological niche? What's our role in the environment?  Our role is in many ways to be stewards of the land; to literally work in partnership with our places to make them more abundant. Sometimes that means starting a fire, or flooding a field. But it also means being able to bring in new partner organisms and materials, and to help fight off invasive species and pathogens. We have a unique capacity as a species to consciously shape our environments to be better able to nourish both human life, and the larger ecosystems that we're all a part of. 

When we practice regenerative economic development, that's what we're working to do; not to try and return to some idyllic past, but to help consciously steward the ecosystem through it's regrowth phase.

We're working to regenerate communities which have gone through the trauma of a socioeconomic fracture, and that process needs conscious effort. After a big break, you need to set a broken bone correctly if it's going to heal stronger. But if we do our work right, which is to help realign those pieces, coordinate the care, and bring in new resources and organizations to grow into and around those fractures, then we can weave together a more diverse and resilient economy and human community, that is serving its ecological niche by working in partnership with the land, to create abundance for all. 

And bringing it back to outdoor recreation: I firmly believe that getting outside and spending time in nature keeps people in relationship with their places. It helps them appreciate what makes their homes special, and inspires them to be better stewards of their land and community. It even helps people deal with their own traumas, which is why a lot of people turn to wilderness and the outdoors when trying to fix their own fractures, whether that be a nervous breakdown or high blood pressure or a substance abuse disorder. That's why it's a critical part of economic regeneration; it helps bring in new resources through things like new business development, tourism, jobs in land management or trail building or gear manufacturing. But it also helps people be better stewards and champions for their own health, and that of their human and natural communities."

LINK: Emergent Opportunities (Noah Wilson)

LINK: Full list of 2018 ARC/Power Grant recipients.

LINK: Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC

LINK: Mountain Biz Works press release

LINK: Wikipedia entry on Appalachian Regional Commision

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12.20.18 WASHINGTON eyes education, climate as opportunities for outdoor recreation movement

In Washington state, Jon Snyder is the Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jay Inslee. He’s also a former journalist, music fan, and all-around fascinating guy.

Key links from the interview:

2014 Blue Ribbon Parks & Outdoor Recreation Task Force Report

Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition

No Child Left Inside

Nirvana Discography

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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12.19.18 UTAH hits full stride after five years

From the celebrated ‘case study success’ of Ogden to a $5 million annual Outdoor Recreation Grant, the state of Utah is making the most of their Office of Outdoor Recreation … which was the first in the country in 2013.

Tom Adams is the office’s director, and brings a lifetime of outdoor experience to the role, from work as a ski instructor and horsepacking guide to an 8 year stint with Petzl.

Links from the episode:

OIA Case Study: Ogden, Utah

Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant

Utah Outdoor Summit

Utah State University, Outdoor Product Design and Development

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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12.11.18 NEW MEXICO hones in on economics of National Monuments

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Jeff Steinborn is the Southern New Mexico Director of New Mexico Wild. As the Southern New Mexico Director for New Mexico Wild, Jeff helped establish the successful campaign to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. After serving for eight years in the New Mexico House of Representatives Jeff was elected to the New Mexico Senate in 2016. He is also a primary organizer of the Outdoor Economics Conference, and a leading advocate for an office of Outdoor Recreation in New Mexico.

Links discussed in this podcast:

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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12.06.18 The Duluth outdoor miracle: a city's reinvention

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Hansi Johnson’s current position with the Minnesota Land Trust is focused on helping the City of Duluth re-envision how it uses more than 11,000 acres of open space in the City limits. The work centers on the idea of using destination class outdoor recreation to turn these un-used spaces into life changing recreational experiences for the people who live and also visit Duluth. The core idea being creating a better quality of life for those who live here and for those who may want to live here in the future.  It also comes with a recent commitment of $20 million … and the support of numerous activity based organizations (ski, bike, hike, climb and paddle) which honed in on working to make Duluth an even better place to live, through celebrating its open space versus apologize for it. 

A couple links from the interview:

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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11.29.18 Michigan flexes their outdoor muscle

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Marc Miller is the Outdoor Recreation Industry and Regional Initiatives Deputy at Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A natural resources professional and conservationist, Marc’s role is focused on working to improve public engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, including the outdoor recreation industry and local officials and communities. Marc previously served as the Director of the Illinois DNR for six years, bringing a strong conservation ethic, inclusiveness, professionalism, and science-based decision making to the agency.

LINK: Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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11.15.18 Oregon brings in the A-team for outdoor office

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Cailin O’Brien-Feeney is Oregon’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation director. Previously, he was an active force in the outdoor recreation movement nationwide, working as the State and Local Policy Manager for Outdoor Industry Association. At the OIA, Cailin worked with governors, legislators, and agencies across the country to improve access to outdoor recreation opportunities, increase economic benefits, and promote establishment of Offices of Outdoor Recreation in other states.

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

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11.12.28 Wyoming goes big with outdoor plans

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Directly responsible for management and leadership of Wyoming Parks, Historic Sites and Trails Division of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, DOMENIC BRAVO oversees 40 state park/historic units, many federal recreational grants and the snowmobile/ORV program. In this position, Bravo provides policy direction and prioritizes the $28 million budget for the agency, including the field staff, presents items to the Commission for their consideration and develops and presents legislative initiatives through the Governor’s office to the legislature. Bravo also serves as state liaison for state’s land and water conservation program and maintains working relationships with a variety of partners and interest groups, including the tourism industry.

LINK: Wyoming Outdoor

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Theme music by Chicky Stoltz

Subscribe to Outdoor States Podcast on iTunes.