Jay Meehan: The world according to gorp
May 12, 2015
I must admit that, over time, I’ve become more and more smitten with Mountain Accord. Any organization that seeks input from even (way) left of center, anti-development, take it to the streets, gorp eating, climate justice, and wilderness activists such as I, can’t be all bad. I mean, that’s news!
I’ve totally bought into the notion that whatever it takes, including regular contributions from governmental entities, to keep this organization up and running and meeting on a regular basis will be worth it.
I suppose I first began to come on board after viewing a video titled "Central Wasatch Debate" online (http://mtnmeister.com/meister/mountain-accord/). The video, a live discussion that streamed in real time a couple of months ago, featured a cross section of "various stakeholders." To wit: Laynee Jones of Mountain Accord, Carl Fisher of Save our Canyons, Paul Marshall of SkiUtah, and Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond Equipment and the Outdoor Industry Association.
All were articulate and engaging and I came away confident that those issues in which I felt most invested were, in fact, interconnected and were receiving their just due in the discussions and comments from the public at large.
Even a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist like myself who usually sees a developer’s agenda behind every clear-cut stump would have to admit that those involved with Mountain Accord do have a grasp of a picture larger than the one they held prior to their involvement. They appear willing to do what it takes, short of selling their souls, to achieve a consensus.
That is not to say that, through their efforts, the ensuing reduction of their carbon footprint due to the efficiencies involved, will be anywhere near what is needed to combat global warming. However, it will serve to nudge it in the right direction.
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As I was reminded by Carl Fisher’s recent Op-Ed in this newspaper, it would do me good to reintroduce a bit of optimism into my belief system. He quoted Wallace Stegner: "One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope." How fair was that?
Remember, this is an opinion column, and as distasteful as it is to admit that, for the most part, the usual suspects who joined this endeavor, including SkiUtah and Utah politicos of the right, seem to believe a new, all-inclusive Master Plan for the Central Wasatch, is the answer.
The question, of course, is how do we go about solving the myriad of problems relating to transportation, environment, recreation, and economic considerations engendered by the patchwork approaches of the past.
I might be missing something here, of course, but, from my vantage point, the Mountain Accord process of digesting both public and "stakeholder" interests has a very real shot at reducing automobile traffic in the central Wasatch, putting much stricter controls on future development in the Cottonwood Canyons, and retaining a long-term, relatively uncluttered, backcountry experience.
I could possibly be viewing this world through rose-colored glasses, however. You’ll have that! It’s just that the status-quo is unacceptable and I have come to trust those members of the Mountain Accord Executive Board whom I consider representative of my value system to hang tough when push-comes-to-shove, as no doubt it will.
That being said, I must admit to experiencing negative knee-jerk reactions whenever the subjects of tunnels and trains come up. It seems to me that other public transportation models could perform similar services with lesser impacts.
What I’m basically in favor of here and what I believe in most is the process Mountain Accord has been following since its inception. Acquiring input from across the spectrum to come up with a blueprint for the future of the central Wasatch makes a lot of sense to this tree hugging, gorp eater.
I feel like I’m trapped in a "gestalt." Perhaps Mountain Accord is so integrated a phenomenon as to resist summation of its parts. Hopefully, my trust in the wisdom of those involved will prove worthy in the end. Protecting the environment, including the watershed, of course, is primary!
Maybe it’s time for another quote, this time from Wendell Berry. "The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it."
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.