We, the undersigned, write with respect to the recent news coverage of events that are alleged to have transpired at the 2018 SHIFT conference, in particular during its Emerging Leaders Program.
A group of SHIFT and Emerging Leader Program participants have called for SHIFT Executive Director Christian Beckwith to resign. Inflammatory and badly damaging allegations have been made with no concrete examples to support the claims.
We write in support of Christian and in solidarity with the SHIFT Board of Directors, which continues to back him.Christian envisioned and created the Emerging Leaders Program for the very purpose of amplifying and centering the voices of a new generation of leaders.
He recognized that in tackling the biggest issues of our time, from climate change to the connection between public health and environmental health, there was a clear need to broaden the community and deepen the conversation. We can state with total conviction that Christian Beckwith is not a racist. It is tragic and unfair that he is being maligned in this way for his efforts, and in spite of his laudable intentions.
The allegations threaten the career and reputation of a genuinely good and caring person who has for years worked hard to advance equity and justice. This is unethical and must be called out. No one is without flaws, including Christian Beckwith, as he would be the first to admit.
The relevant question for all of us is can we recognize when our flaws might give offense, and then are we open minded enough to apologize and try to improve, as well as accept apologies in good faith? Christian, as much as anyone in this community and in the outdoor industry, fits this bill. He is more than deserving of our support as community leaders, and we are committed to him, and to the importance of the work SHIFT is doing.
Christian is a fundamentally goodhearted human being who has dedicated his life to making a positive difference for Teton County, the outdoor community broadly, and the conservation movement — he has had a profound, lasting, and positive impact in all these arenas. Put simply, our world is a better place because of Christian’s work and passion.