The founder and director of SHIFT, Christian Beckwith moved to Jackson, Wyoming, in 1993, and started his first publication, The Mountain Yodel, soon thereafter. In 1996 he became the youngest person to edit the world’s premier mountaineering journal, The American Alpine Journal. In 2002 he co-founded Alpinist Magazine, an archival-quality climbing quarterly that Reinhold Messner called “the greatest climbing magazine in the world today.” More recently, he started The Alpinist Film Festival; coordinated the Teton Boulder Project, which developed a bouldering park at the base of Jackson’s Snow King Mountain to honor Teton climbing pioneers; launched Outerlocal, a social media website for adventure athletes; and started The Town Pump, a summertime bouldering series.
Starting Alpinist led Beckwith to believe human-powered outdoor recreation can and should result in the stewardship of our natural world. His work with SHIFT has persuaded him to adopt a “Place First” approach: the belief that our collective, long-term interests can and should take precedence over any special interest group’s needs and desires.
Today, he believes that creating an irrefutable case for the health benefits of nature represents the strongest argument we can make for nature itself. By highlighting public health as an ecosystem service, and by investing in access and outcomes that are both equitable and inclusive, he believes we can advance a cost-effective component of comprehensive health care while raising the value proposition of nature in society at large.