Recent sessions have asked participants questions like, “What do you feel you and your community need right now to help you cope with and recover from COVID-19 and its impacts?” and “What can The GNAR Initiative do to be most helpful to you and your communities now and going forward?”
Through one GNAR listening session, Emily Friedman, a 24-year-old coordinator with the Zion Regional Collaborative, learned about a grant available through the CARES Act that her organization is eligible for.
“I wouldn’t have known about it if it hadn’t been for a GNAR supported one-on-one discussion with someone from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation,” says Friedman. “Springdale is a template of a classic gateway community. It’s isolated but has incredible natural resources that draw in some 4 million people through a town of 600 residents. It’s comforting to know that a lot of other towns like Springdale are facing the same challenges. Other communities have tools they’re willing to share.”
Friedman is enrolled in a GNAR course this summer that brings together professionals from non-profits and government agencies to take an academic approach to strategizing about natural resources management.
Kaitlin Myers, a 26-year-old project manager for the City of Moab, also appreciated hearing other perspectives from gateway communities around the West. “The biggest takeaway was a conversation that sparked me to think about how one-industry economies, like ours in Moab, can diversify and become more resilient.”
For all gateway communities, a return to normalcy depends on a return to tourism and related revenue. By leveraging research, education and capacity building, The GNAR Initiative hopes to help these places not only recover from COVID-19 but also respond to planning and public policy challenges they face today and tomorrow. As an outdoor brand, we want to help gateway communities maintain the things that make them special places so they can again host exploration.