Ethical Play

As some of you may know, I’ve been working on getting a non-profit organization off the ground – theCORgroup – and we’ve been getting some press lately. Madisonians, look for us in the Isthmus’ Recreation section this week.  Also online.

A little background: theCORgroup – Conscious Outdoor Recreation – started with conversations about the inconsistency between the outdoor recreation community’s very refined backcountry/LNT ethic, and all the driving we are doing to get to the backcountry. As outdoor enthusiasts, our passion for the outdoors can’t really be separated from our environmental consciousness – but striking a balance between hardcore wilderness experiences and minimizing transportation impacts is difficult… especially when we’re hurting for backcountry skiing, whitewater paddling, and multipitch climbing here in the upper Midwest. theCORgroup has grown out of these tensions to explore how we can continue to have meaningful experiences in the backcountry, while being attentive to the true costs of being there.

We propose a new wilderness ethic – a frontcountry ethic – that applies some of these Leave-No-Trace principles to our daily lifestyle. Folks should still go on that sweet Colorado ski trip… but maybe just once a year, and consider trying to bike to work a little more often the rest of the time. I’m still going to West Virginia this fall for the Gauley River Festival, but you can be sure we’re going to be packing my little Chevy Cavalier to capacity!

We’re not telling people not to go into the wilderness, we just want to promote more critical discussion of how to do it responsibility. As for me and the Pemba Team: we’re exploring opportunities for local recreation. There’s plenty of this in Madison, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by all the Rails-to-Trails, river corridors, and quality urban parks all along my clinic routes. Stay tuned for more on Urban Wilderness, but check out that Isthmus article in the meantime, and let is know what else we should be doing as an industry to promote Conscious Outdoor Recreation!

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