I have a vision of a community at the center of the most important experiment in human history.
That community is us, the residents of Teton County.
The experiment is how we meet our needs in a manner that preserves and protects the area’s ecosystem, community and economy, for this and future generations.
If we manage to do this, we will become a model for Aldo Leopold’s 1949 definition of conservation: “A balanced relationship between people and land.”
I believe there is no other community in the world currently meeting that definition.
I’m running for Teton County Commissioner to make sure we succeed.
The world is at a tipping point. Climate change, invasive species, the loss of habitat and population growth are contributing directly to the sixth mass extinction, a polluted environment, direct threats to our water and food and geopolitical disruption as people are forced to leave their homes just to survive.
Jackson Hole is at a tipping point. Unbridled growth to accommodate the insatiable desire to live here has contaminated our water, fragmented our habitat, and accelerated demands for housing, which in turn is pricing out many of our neighbors.
What will this magnificent valley be like in 100 years if we continue at the current pace?
Look no further than the rest of the world for your answer: increasingly urban, increasingly polluted, increasingly unable to handle the growing demands on resources, be they natural, social or economic.
We can do better. We must do better. And if we act now, we have an opportunity to draw from the power of this place and create a model community living in balance with its natural surroundings.
The world needs such a model if it is to navigate the challenges of the next 100 years.
I believe Teton County can become that model for a number of reasons.
Because our community exists at the intersection of the wild and the urban, we understand the fragility of the balance between the two.
Because we’re a small community, we’re well positioned to grow responsibly, in a manner that preserves that delicate balance between our needs and those of our natural habitat.
Our valley attracts millions of visitors each year. We’re home to influential full- and part-time residents.
By serving as a model of sustainability, we have a unique opportunity to influence the behavior not only of our residents and the people they affect, but also the behavior of our visitors.
Increasingly, decisions in Teton County are being made in the same manner they’re made anywhere else: as a way to address immediate problems, with minimal consideration for their long-term implications.
We are not any other community. We’re the most beautiful valley in the world (my humble opinion). We exist in the greatest (mostly) intact temperate ecosystem on earth.
If we can’t live in a balanced relationship with the natural world, who can?
And if we don’t start doing it now, when we will begin?
Yes, our housing issues are intense. They’ve been intense since the day I moved here in 1993. That’s nothing new, and it won’t change in the years to come.
We need to develop sustainable solutions to our housing crisis—ones that prioritize the thousands of units that remain undeveloped in Town before developing alternatives that will adversely impact Teton County’s carrying capacity in other ways.
Yes, our traffic issues are bad, and getting worse. We need to employ a combination of “carrots”—incentives that include dedicated public transport lanes, park-and-ride areas and traveler information tools that provide, at a glance, a snapshot of the current traffic—and “sticks” such as congestion pricing in order to optimize our current transportation infrastructure.
Jackson Hole has given me everything I love: my family, my friends, my livelihood, and the solace of these magnificent surroundings.
I understand that I am the recipient of great privilege, which comes with great responsibility.
I am running for Teton County Commission to honor this responsibility, and to thank this singular land that has provided such abundance for me and my community.
To address our problems in a responsible manner, our solutions will need to be just as inspired as our landscape.
Teton County is not Anytown USA. Teton County is one of our nation’s most iconic places. And I’m asking for your vote so I can fight for it, and fight for us, and fight for the generations years from now who will look back at our decisions and judge them for the ways they impacted the most important experiment in human history.
If not us, who?
If not now, when?
If you agree, please vote for me for Teton County Commission on November 3. Learn more about my candidacy and my positions at www.christianbeckwith.com.