Nature-Rich Interventions

There will be much discussion at this year’s SHIFT about the health benefits of outdoor recreation on our public lands—but will be plenty of ways to get outside as well.

Nature-rich interventions are immersive techniques that connect people with the world outside. While most of SHIFT will take place inside, a number of special programs will teach participants ways they can bring nature more robustly into their lives.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m., land managers, health care professionals and anyone interested in prescribing time outside will gather in May Park to attend the Public Lands, Public Health Exhibition Trail. The walk will proceed from May Park to the top of Nelson Knoll on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and showcase attributes of a successful public lands/public health trail model on both municipal and federal lands.

At noon that same day, Jonah Yellowman, the spiritual advisor for Utah Diné Bikéyah, will lead a blessing that acknowledges the abundance of the natural world and asks for its permission in assisting participants in their work.

Shinrin-yoku (“forest therapy” or “forest bathing” in Japanese) was developed in Japan during the 1980s as a way to counter stress by connecting with nature. It has since become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 12 p.m., Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, the medical director of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, will lead a hands-on exploration of the benefits of shinrin-yoku.

Later that evening, Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist and the founder of Walk with a Doc, will lead participants through a Walk with a Doc demonstration. Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Dr. Sabgir started Walk with a Doc in 2005. Today, there are more than 400 chapters of Walk with a Doc worldwide.

Bears Ears National Monument—ancestral territory of the Diné, Hopi, Zuni, Ute and other Puebloan peoples—was created out of Native American knowledge, language, cultural resources, data and storytelling. A cornerstone of this creation is reciprocity: the exchange of mutual benefits, such as asking the natural environment for assistance or permission to use many of its lifeforms for public health.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, at 12 p.m., Alastair Lee Bitsóí, communications director for Utah Diné Bikéyah, will debut the Take Your Shoes Off campaign, which introduces the healing concept of reciprocity by helping participants connect to the land from a Native American perspective.

Presented by National Audubon Society, in conjunction with the Teton Raptor Center, Thursday’s Deep Bird Language Workshop will offer participants a glimpse of the world of Deep Bird Language, including tips on how to “re-awaken” a hardwired skill set of awareness that helped humans evolve. Led by tracker, naturalist, and birder Dan Gardoqui (a video of Mr. Gardoqui’s bird language skills may be found here), the workshop is free for All-Festival Pass and SHIFT Summit Pass holders, and $50 for the public.

Also on Thursday afternoon, four SHIFT Award Official Selections that help those with cancer thrive through nature contact—Reel Recovery; Boarding 4 Breast Cancer; Casting for Recovery; and First Descents—will host a casting clinic that doubles as a forum on the various ways their organizations are facilitating their own nature-rich interventions.

“We expect the conversations at this year’s SHIFT to be dynamic and provocative,” said Christian Beckwith, SHIFT’s Director. “Complementing them with hands-on techniques and strategies will give participants tools they can take back to their own communities.”

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