SHIFT festival

During the SHIFT Festival a crowd in the King’s Grill at Snow King Resort listens to a discussion focused primarily on proposed federal legislation that would allow biking in designated wilderness areas throughout the country.

The Center for the Arts lobby was packed with folks waiting for the start of the People’s Banquet, the final event of the SHIFT Festival.

Tables were prepped to hold a feast prepared by local chefs and supplied with regional produce and meats brought together by Slow Food in the Tetons. Haderlie Farms beet ravioli, Lockhart prime rib sliders and Alpenglow Farm tomato caprese skewers were only a fraction of the tasty morsels.

Max Ludington and his family attended the festival’s capstone event on Sunday. While he wasn’t sure if they would make it to the food part of the night because of his young daughter, he was excited to hear Steven Rinella speak.

“The talk is meaningful for me and has implications on what I do professionally and what I care about personally,” Ludington said.

It was the only SHIFT event he went to this year, but he has attended the conference in that past for his company, LegacyWorks Group.

“I work in the conservation field and so the overlap of how people use conservation in their everyday lives makes conservation more powerful and effective,” Ludington said. “So I like that there is an actual forum to discuss issues around that and how to actually engage.”

SHIFT kicked off Thursday with remarks from Wyoming and Colorado Govs. Matt Mead and John Hickenlooper. The festival, which aims to unite people around the common goal of protecting public lands where people recreate, hosted group discussions, happy hour networking events, evening entertainment and, as the finale, the foodie event.

“Last year it was amazing so I couldn’t wait for tonight,” Danna Stroud of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy said of the People’s Banquet.

During her second SHIFT, Stroud said she took a lot away from speakers in the new Emerging Leaders Program, which brought together young leaders and prepared them to engage in meaningful discussion at the festival.

“It was truly eye-opening because of the diversity they represented, and they represent areas that I’m not in,” Stroud said. “I live out in the middle of nowhere, and these young men and women were sharing their challenges and their inspirations. It was eye-opening but also inspiring.”

Stroud’s friend Deb Schweizer sat across the table from her and echoed her sentiments about the diverse set of voices.

“It very much challenged what I thought outdoor recreation was, what I thought users should be doing on the land,” said Schweizer, who works as a public affairs officer at the Inyo National Forest in California. “And I don’t know that I’ve ever been that judgmental about it.

“I like to think I’m pretty open-minded,” she said, “but those speakers made it very clear to me that their lens is something completely different, and it was really good for me to hear.”

After three days and a lot of speakers and discussion the women had a shift in their viewpoints.

“I think the intersection of conservation and outdoor recreation is beyond the traditional frame that we’ve always given it,” Stroud said. “There’s conservation and recreation intersecting in Central Park. There’s conservation and recreation intersecting in Philadelphia. There’s conservation and recreation intersecting on the pueblos. Seattle, Denver, wherever.

“You don’t have to be in [Jackson Hole] to have an appreciation for the intersection of conservation and recreation,” she said.

And the underlying theme of this year’s festival, diversity and cultural relevancy, really rang true for Schweizer.

“Environmental justice, social justice and economic justice are all tied together,” she said. “My desire for enjoying outdoor lands is tied to social justice in the inner cities of LA and Philadelphia, and we can’t ignore that.”

Contact Erika Dahlby at 732-5909 or

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