The Next 100 Coalition National Summit

The Next 100 Coalition is dedicated to creating an inclusive vision for the next 100 years of conservation and stewardship in America. Here at Big City Mountaineers, we’re proud to be a member of the coalition. At the beginning of May, Next 100 hosted their National Summit and Big City Mountaineers’ Director of Programs, Bix Firer, attended representing BCM as an organization and as a community. Here’s what he had to share upon his return:

Photo credit: courtesy James Edward Mills of the Joy Trip Project

I was very grateful to have the opportunity to represent Big City Mountaineers – a proud member of the national coalition at the two-day gathering focused on “advancing a diverse and inclusive public lands system” by moving forward with policy and programmatic work that supports diversity in the workforce on public lands, increasing access and accessibility, and recognizing the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of our public lands to all, including acknowledging the deep and complicated history of our public lands.

The wide array of voices that came to the table and spoke to their experience was astounding. Members of tribal organizations, large conservation NGOs, educational organizations, media, senators, and grassroots advocacy groups all shared the room.

Photo credit: courtesy James Edward Mills of the Joy Trip Project

The weekend began with an articulation of shared values, they guided the rest of the conversations. By acknowledging and holding to these shared values of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice in our lands, the collaboration towards action flowed easily. From these initial conversations and working groups, it became clear the theme of the weekend would be relationships. These relationships would, over the course of the weekend, morph into actionable policy items and collaborative projects.

Photo credit: courtesy James Edward Mills of the Joy Trip Project

The process of building relationships and partnerships is natural to our work here at Big City Mountaineers, from our relationships with our partner organizations, to our students and families, and our volunteers. While unifying around a vision for the future of our public lands that includes all people, it also became clear over the course of the summit that the key to getting to this future is building these relationship, coalescing around shared values, and making strong partnerships based in a vision of a more just future. As was clearly stated by several panelists, as soon as we shift our vision of relationship building from transactional to transformational, we as a community can truly change the future vision of our public lands to be more equitable and inclusive to all.

I am entering our summer season energized and excited by the work we and our partners are doing to transform the Next 100 years of public lands in America and I can’t wait to introduce our summer’s cohort of students and mentors to these inspirational landscapes, so they can take on the role of advocates for and future leaders of public lands.