For all its beauty, Jackson Hole is a region fraught with complicated issues: environmental concerns, heightened tourism and lack of affordable housing among them. Next week, the Charture Institute wants to give you the opportunity to hear from the officials charged with making decisions about those issues.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Spring Creek Ranch, “22 in 21,” the annual conference the institute puts on, is back to gather leaders from federal land management agencies, members of state congressional chambers and community leaders from Teton Valley, Idaho, to talk about the future of the region.
“I hope to create a high-level conversation,” Executive Director Jonathan Schechter said. “People don’t normally get together with other people to talk about the future; usually they only do so because there’s a crisis.”
Those who have attended in years past will remember the format was close to a speaker series. The officials stood up one by one and gave an update on their particular area of expertise, whether that was Grand Teton National Park or Teton County School District No. 1. Schechter called it “analogous to a State of the Union speech,” albeit broken into bits.
This year, with so many officials slated to attend, Schechter has changed the format to more closely resemble other conferences. Instead of 10-minute snippets, officials will sit down on panels, grouped by area of expertise, to talk about the answers to a pair of questions: What is the most important thing regarding our region’s future? And, what is one step we can take as a region to create a better future?
“When I’ve run events like this, there’s usually some fruitful conversation,” Schechter said. “The really cool part is that I reached out to get moderators who are experts in those fields.”
Schechter hopes that arranging the officials in panels, rather than having them talk individually, will create a sense of creativity and discussion that perhaps wasn’t inherent to former iterations of “22 in 21.” But he doesn’t just want the officials to join the conversation.
“At the end of the day, everyone will sit down and discuss at their tables,” Schechter said. “They’ll talk about what will the future look like.”
Between the panelists, moderators and over 100 attendees, Schechter expects new, diverse ideas to bubble to the surface, which he hopes can influence the direction officials take in the future and give them new ways to address the complex issues facing the region.
“If we can get 140, 150 people to talk about the one thing they think is most important, we can assemble mosaics of what people want,” he said.
Tickets are available at 22in21.com. They cost $100 and include lunch and a post-conference cocktail hour.