Q: What is SHIFT?
A: SHIFT is an annual festival that uses food, film, speakers, workshops and outdoor adventure to leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains.

The Premise: outdoor recreationalists, land managers and conservation advocates realize their greatest opportunities for effectiveness when they address issues of common concern with a unified voice.

The Problem: Despite the fact that outdoor recreation is the third largest economic sector in the US economy, generating more direct jobs than mining, drilling and oil combined, its perspectives and their influence on public policy are perennially underrepresented, in part because it does not speak with a unified voice: climbers speak for climbers, hunters for hunters, horsemen for horsemen, and so on. Compounding this is the fact that natural allies exist who share similar values and concerns, namely that our natural resources remain healthy in perpetuity. The strongest of these natural allies are conservation advocates and land managers, but their perspectives are often siloed from our own, and from one another’s. Were the three constituencies to unify, we’d have a far stronger voice with which to influence decisions that affect our public lands and waters than we do today.

The Solution: SHIFT is the only gathering of its kind that unites outdoor recreationalists, land managers and conservation advocates around the common goal of protecting North America’s public lands and waters. Our objective is to advance on-the-ground solutions that leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains, and to provide a unified framework for these natural allies that will allow them to influence conservation and outdoor recreation policies at both the local and international levels, thereby increasing success in the protection of our public lands and waters.

Q: What does SHIFT stand for?

A: Shifting How we Invest For Tomorrow.

Q: What are GEMS?
A: GEMS are Gateways to Environments of Major Significance—that is, communities like Jackson Hole that depend on the health of their surrounding landscapes for economic and cultural success. SHIFT looks at conservation’s future in part through the prism of GEMS. These GEMS host some of North America’s greatest natural capital. Because they exist on the interface of the natural and built environments, they understand the fragility of the balance between the two. And because they’re small, they are well positioned to adapt to the necessary changes that lie ahead.

North American GEMS considered for the 2015 SHIFT Festival are as follows:

Hawaii: Hanalei.

Alaska: Talkeetna; Seward.

West: Sedona, AZ; Taos, NM; Moab, UT; Springdale; UT. West Coast: Mt. Shasta, CA; Mammoth Lakes, CA; South Lake Tahoe, CA; Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA; Big Sur, CA; Truckee, CA; Avalon (Catalina Island), CA; Bishop, CA; Idyllwild, CA; Mariposa, CA; Hood River, OR; Friday Harbor, WA; Port Townsend, WA; Port Angeles, WA.

Rocky Mountains: Vail, CO; Silverton, CO; Fruita, CO; Ridgway, CO; Crested Butte, CO; Aspen, CO; Steamboat Springs, CO; Telluride, CO; Frisco, CO; Breckenridge, CO; Durango/Mesa Verde, CO; Keystone, CO; Leadville, CO; Estes Park, CO; Grand Lake, CO; Winter Park, CO; McCall, ID; Ketchum, ID; Sun Valley, ID; Sandpoint, ID; Big Sky, MT; Red Lodge, MT; Whitefish/Kalispell, MT; West Yellowstone, MT; East Glacier, MT; Livingston, MT; Jackson Hole, WY; Cody, WY; Park City, UT.

Central North: Wall, SD; Hot Springs, SD.

Northeast: Martha’s Vineyard, MA; Nantucket, MA; Bar Harbor, ME; North Conway, NH; Block Island, RI; Killington, VT.

South: Key West, FL; Gatlinburg, TN.

Canada: Canmore, Alberta; Banff, Alberta; Jasper, Alberta; Vancouver Island, British Columbia; Nelson, British Columbia; Whistler, British Columbia.

Mexico: La Paz, Baja California Sur; Todos Santos, Baja California Sur; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato; Sayulita, Bahia de Banderas

Q: What is the SHIFT Summit?
A: The SHIFT Summit is an event-within-an-event that allows participants to go into deeper detail on the  festival focus.

Q: How does SHIFT decide which initiatives from GEMS to invite to the Summit?

A: In addition to benefiting communities, economies and environments in GEMS around North America, SHIFT’s goal is to honor innovative initiatives that not only produce significant, measurable, and long-term improvements in their communities and environments, but that can be easily replicated in other locales.

SHIFT identifies initiatives to invite to the SHIFT Summit based on three categories: Impact, Innovation, Replicability.

  • To judge Impact, we consider whether the initiative has produced measurable, meaningful, and long-term improvements in its community, economy and/or its surrounding ecosystem.
  • To judge Innovation, we consider whether the initiative provides distinctive or new approaches in addressing its challenges.
  • To judge Replicability, we consider how easily the initiative can be replicated in other GEMS.


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