Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Going to Kansas City

It was an eclectic weekend in the Kansas City area. With programming assistance from Greg Plumb, a longtime Leave No Trace Master Educator, Boy Scout volunteer, and Park University professor, we had a schedule of events and audiences as varied as any we’ve encountered on the e-Tour.

On Friday morning, we went to the campus of Park University, a serene setting on the banks of the Missouri River in Parkville, MO, just upstream from Kansas City. We met with several of the school’s student organizations for a lunchtime presentation and discussion. With active student participation and at the pace of “three-minute Shakespeare,” we covered everything from durable surfaces to respecting wildlife and from trail trash to recycling. This precipitated a discussion about the Leave No Trace approach, which focuses on gradually building consensus, understanding, and the practice of a healthy outdoor ethic, versus aggressive Monkey Wrench Gang guerrilla tactics. The students were both passionate and articulate, and they seemed to be like-minded in recognizing the need for a coherent, sustainable environmental ethic. The debate about methods of achieving such an ethic demonstrated the group’s capacity for critical analysis and reflective thought, and we encouraged each student to transform their personal convictions into tangible actions towards making a difference.

On Friday evening, we prepared for engagement of a different sort as we set up camp with a view of the full moon rising over teepees and legions of tent encampments at the Heart of America Boy Scout Council’s Centennial Campout Celebration at Camp Naish, Kansas. Greg Plumb and fellow Master Educator Kenny Long joined us at the Camporee to help respond to the Leave No Trace interests of over 11,500 attendees. It started out a fine a day in the expansive Kansas meadow, but later in the morning the skies clouded over and rain was imminent. Nonetheless, the Scouts were, of course, prepared.  Waste management and recycling efforts were well organized and paths for vehicles and pedestrians were clearly delineated to minimize the impacts of the massive gathering. Our campsite served as a demonstration area where Kenny and Greg talked with the scouts about gear selection, efficient planning and packing, traveling fast and light, and the camping practices that can best minimize impacts.  The high profile graphics on our Subaru proved an alluring marquee that piqued the interest of passersby in the Leave No Trace show. We parked it, and they did come… afternoon rains and wind did not dampen spirits or traffic, and we were busily engaged in dialogue with our visitors until the midway activities finally closed late in the day. On Saturday evening we departed, expecting that in a few days there would be very little physical trace of the leviathan scout camp in the Heart of America.

From Kansas City Misc
On Sunday, we shifted gears again, and took our traveling show down to the Kansas City’s Plaza Art Fair. This event, rated as one of the nation’s top five art fests, that has been held annually since 1932 in the historic Country Club Plaza. We were hosted by The North Face Store, and were able to set up our outreach booth on the sidewalk at the store’s entrance. It proved to be a location of strategic significance, as it located us along one of the main arteries leading pedestrians into the Art Fest. The day was pleasantly sunny and warm, soothing the already genial tempers of Kansas Citians as they strolled past our Leave No Trace display. Perhaps the mood was further enhanced by the irrepressibly sweet young girls in their plaid school smocks who established themselves nearby and were earnestly soliciting contributions for a school fundraising event. In fact, Peggy is seriously giving some thought to donning a plaid pinafore and sporting French braids herself at the e-Tour’s next urban outreach event, really...

All in all, it was a productive trip to Kansas City and great to meet and work with Greg and Kenny.  We continue to be impressed by the exceptional network of Leave No Trace Trainers and Master Educators that we meet in our travels. By the same token, we are deeply humbled by the energies and countless hours that so many folks volunteer out of a conviction that the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethic is right-minded and essential to the health of our land and our society.

Hoping to meet you down the road, whether in a classroom, at a Jamboree, or a cultural festival,

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-Word: “eclectic”

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