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Uplift: The Power of Connection

Uplift : The Power of Connection

Uplift attendees, known as Uplifters, connect with one another through physical contact before a panel on "Thinking locally and acting globally"

As a research scientist, I have been to numerous conferences from small and intimate to large and sprawling. Many of the conferences have had a strong climate theme, and all of them have been a gathering of passionate, intelligent individuals who are committed in one way or another to better understanding the world in which we live. Recently, I was able to attend one of the most inspiring and powerful conferences I have had the privilege of experiencing: Uplift.

Uplift is the prodigy of a The Grand Canyon Trust’s, a Flagstaff, Arizona based non-profit, vision to create a more youth centric engagement in climate change and ecosystem management conversations on the Colorado Plateau. Its namesake comes from the geological phenomena that makes the southwest so special, the uplift of rock. The vision of the conference is therefore to uplift young voices from diverse backgrounds on the Colorado Plateau, and the event fell at nothing short.

Perhaps the most inspiring component of Uplift was the idea of connection and story. Unlike a conventional scientific gathering, this event brought scientists, social advocates, and outdoor enthusiasts together, united by a common love for the Colorado Plateau and its ecosystems. Each individual brought a unique story about their experiences and what led them to want to participate in the event. The selected speakers of the event created an open space that was comfortable for sharing stories. The event was also held outdoors in the scenic Animas River Valley north of Durango, Colorado which perpetuated the open emotional space created by speakers with a vast physically open space as well.

After attending and leaving Uplift, my spirits and perspective on climate issues in the southwest have been Uplifted. The event provided a space where problem identification became a small piece of the conversation. Individuals from all backgrounds worked together on conceiving solutions to the well understood and recognized problems. The connection of people at Uplift became a place where new bridges were being built – the gaps between science and advocacy were shrunk and obliterated as individuals connected and shared their expertise. The beauty of this constructive social environment is that it involved the leaders of today and tomorrow. The young people who attended Uplift are well on their way to being leaders in their local, regional, national, and global communities.

To those passionate about social, ecological, and climate issues I highly suggest attending Uplift. I can promise you that you will leave inspired and connected to a community of people who truly will make a difference in the world.

For more information, see –

The Grand Canyon Trust :


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