The 2018 SHIFT Festival

The Center for Jackson Hole is a 501c3 organization in Jackson, WY, the mission of which is to strengthen the coalition of interests devoted to our natural world by investing in the future of their constituencies.

We advance this mission via two main programs: SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow), an annual festival, held each autumn in Jackson Hole, that explores issues at the intersection of outdoor recreation, conservation, land management and public health; and The Emerging Leaders Program, which trains a culturally diverse group of young outdoor recreationists to help lead our work at SHIFT and in America.

The 2018 SHIFT Festival, which took place Oct. 16-18 in Jackson Hole, convened innovators, early adopters and thought leaders from around the country who are integrating time outdoors into our health care system and our daily lives. Over three beautiful fall days, in hotels, restaurants and venues around Jackson Hole, natural allies at the forefront of the “Outside Rx” movement collaborated on an agenda that advanced a stronger connection between, and thus a stronger argument for, public health and public lands.

The 2018 SHIFT Festival was informed by the Center for Disease Control’s determinants of population health. It featured two tracks:

  • Communication: How do we communicate the evidence behind the health benefits of time outside to the health-care community, the policy makers and the public at large?
  • Activation: What best practices are connecting Americans to time outside in impactful, innovative and replicable ways?

Both tracks were developed around two elements integral to our goal of facilitating networking and the showcasing of best practices:

  • Official Selections for The SHIFT Awards, which feature representatives of the work determined to be the most innovative, impactful and replicable in the space by our researchers
  • The Emerging Leaders Program, which prepares exemplary early career leaders to help facilitate the Festival proceedings

Complementing this work, which comprised the heart of the SHIFT Summit, were numerous ancillary meetings held over the course of the Festival. These included:

  • The third annual State Offices of Outdoor Recreation Workshop, which, by developing the Public Health and Wellness pillar of the Confluence Accords, provided outdoor recreation leadership positions at the state level a roadmap that they can use to advance and promote the health benefits of time outside via their respective offices
  • A “Nature Rx” think tank, which convened leading experts to identify opportunities for mainstreaming “Nature Rx” as an integral element of national healthcare delivery systems. The think tank marked the first time that insurance executives, physicians, outdoor recreation leaders, land managers and conservation advocates met as a group to discuss opportunities for collaboration
  • The “Public Lands, Public Health Exhibition Trail,” which showcased attributes of a successful public lands/public health trail model at both the municipal and federal land levels, and identified opportunities to expand public lands/public health trail collaborations into replicable models for communities nationwide
  • SHIFT for the Planet, a collaboration with 1% for the Planet, Silicon Couloir, and The George B. Storer Foundation, which convened funders to judge SHIFT Award finalists, who made their “pitches” in a series of five-minute presentations that featured the work’s focus, its impact, and a central challenge facing its ongoing success
  • A “Researchers Meeting” that convened researchers from around the country on the final day of SHIFT to discuss ways to use the proceedings to plan a conference on the state of the research. This meeting built upon the numerous research-related panels and small-group discussions that took place throughout the Festival, including presentations by:
    • Dr. Michael Suk, one of the country’s foremost advocates for the health benefits of time outside
    • Dr. Wallace “J” Nichols, noted researcher and the founder of Blue Mind, on water as medicine
    • Northeastern University Professor Arthur Kramer and the University of Utah’s Professor David Strayer, on how physical activity in nature helps address chronic health care conditions such as obesity, diabetes, mental anxiety, social isolation and cognitive decline
    • Dr. Nooshin Razani, Director of University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Center for Nature and Health and winner of the 2018 SHIFT Award for Clinical Research, on improving health equity by increasing access to nature
  • A Land Managers’ Meeting, led by Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service under President Obama, that invited federal and municipal land managers to discuss ways to incorporate best practices identified during The SHIFT Festival into their work and planning
  • A Funders’ Track, led by New Network Leader founder Jane Wei-Skillern, that introduced funders from around the country to the principles critical to collaborative success
  • Nature-rich interventions—immersive techniques that connect people with nature—that taught participants ways they can bring nature more robustly into their lives. Interventions included:
    • A hands-on exploration of the benefits of shinrin-yoku (a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine) led by Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, the medical director of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy
    • Walk with a Doc, led Dr. David Sabgir, the cardiologist who founded it and led its growth to more than 400 chapters worldwide, in a demonstration of its attributes
    • A Deep Bird Language Workshop, which offered 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
    • A casting clinic, featuring SHIFT Award Official Selections that help those with cancer thrive through nature contact
Dr. Robert Zarr, Founder of ParksRx America, presents his work during SHIFT for the Planet.

For the past five years, The Center for Jackson Hole has developed SHIFT into a coalition of stakeholders broad enough and strong enough to champion our public lands in a time of unprecedented threat. The addition of opinion-leading representatives from the health care, research and funding communities in 2018 created a unique and powerful expansion of our alliance that in turn enhances our ability to protect our natural world.

Jackson biologist Olaus Murie used to say, “It’s going to take all of us to do it.” By combining the protection of the natural world with health, business, responsible recreation and cultural relevancy, The Center for Jackson Hole’s programs advance ideas and initiatives that are revitalizing the American conservation movement. In an increasingly partisan political landscape, these programs also represent a uniquely nonpartisan effort to protect our public lands, waters and wildlife. With your help, we look forward to continuing to develop a unified framework for their stewardship.

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