COVID-19 has laid bare the vast systemic inequities of our country—inequities that extend from the environment to the foundations of our infrastructure to individual health outcomes. The ongoing murders of Black Americans have placed our institutionalized racism in stark relief. Never has it been so abundantly clear: there is no separation between social justice, environmental justice and public health.
The traumas of institutional racism are not new. Current events, however, have revealed their depth and breadth to all Americans. This revelation creates an opportunity that we must not let go to waste—for it is precisely in those moments when we are most vulnerable that we are most capable of change.
SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) is dedicated to the advancement of nature as a social determinant of health. We believe 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, we seek to advance a cost-effective component of comprehensive health care while raising the value proposition of nature in society at large.
Numerous efforts around the world are underway to establish the connection between exposure to nature and positive public health outcomes. Their proponents include health care providers, environmental justice advocates, conservationists, land managers, outdoor recreation proponents, researchers and early childhood educators.
This work, however, has been largely siloed, as there has been no national hub to unify their efforts.
Which is where SHIFT comes in. By uniting natural allies across sectors, SHIFT promotes broader mainstream adoption of the health benefits of nature, contributing to the transdisciplinary advancement of public and planetary health in a time of unprecedented threat to both.
We use three main vehicles to advance our work:
The three pillars of our work are science, economics and storytelling. We rely on them to:
Over the past six months, our efforts have fostered, incubated and launched the following initiatives:
Our goal is to create an incontrovertible argument for the importance of nature to health outcomes—and in so doing strengthen our demands for its protection.
Learn more about our programmatic focus here.
At the core of our vision is the belief that bringing together leaders from various sectors, cultures and lived experiences to discuss the most challenging problems facing our public health and our natural world’s survival makes us stronger, smarter and more resilient.
Personal investments in one another are our foundation, and our opportunity. When we invest in trust and respect, we grow individually and as a community. This allows us to build upon our shared experiences at SHIFT and ELP with new allies and partnerships.
We are part of the natural world. We learn from it and about it, and are partners in its future.
Building a diverse coalition is difficult and complicated. We enter this work with the expectation that deeply held beliefs may be challenged—and that changing our perspectives and our minds to develop new ways of thinking may be critical to our shared success.
SHIFT and ELP are built to foster and create personal relationships. The resulting alliances make our work fun and sustainable and enhance our ability to protect our natural world.
Additionally, our efforts are informed by the Four Principles of Successful Networks identified by Jane Wei Skillern at New Network Leader:
At The Center for Jackson Hole, we believe the coalition of stakeholders working to protect our natural world has the potential to become a movement. Outdoor recreationalists, land managers, health care professionals and conservationists realize their greatest opportunities for effectiveness when they address issues of common concern with a unified voice. Working together to achieve shared objectives, our ability to champion public health and our natural world in a time of unprecedented threat is extraordinary.
One of the greatest threats to the movement’s success is fragmentation. Compartmentalization of work, replication of effort, lack of communication between principals, and conflict between natural allies are just a few of the challenges that conspire against a united whole.
Jackson Hole wildlife biologist Olaus Murie used to say, “It’s going to take all of us to do it.” Until our efforts to protect our natural world represent the rights and interests of all people, we won’t be strong enough to succeed.
By uniting natural allies and combining the protection of the natural world with health, business, and responsible recreation, 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 natural world. With your help, we look forward to creating a unified framework for its stewardship.