APPL – First Full Day

LV view

First full day of the APPL conference in Las Vegas. All I can offer you is the view from my room window.

Andy Goodman, the keynote speaker, talked about story telling as best practice. Telling stories is our best communication tool. Narrative is powerful because it is part of our history, identity and how we remember.

So Andy asks, “Why didn’t Peter Pan grow up?” Some answered because he was male and got a lot of laughter. But if you go back to the original story, when Wendy asks orphan Peter, why he never grew up, he says that he never had stories.

But when we grow up, we’re told that stories are soft and anecdotal. Instead facts should be presented as stories, not as straight facts. Numbers numb, jargon jars but stories get stored.

But there’s lots of jargon at the workshops. I settled on a couple of workshops talking about  fundraising. Associations and Friends groups are constantly looking on how to engage the public and visitors to give more to their Park. Frankly it must be exhausting. Here are some:

*  Olympic Association sells “Life is good” T-shirts with their Olympic Logo in the back.
*  Lecture series with researchers and authors dealing with their park for members.
*  Plein Air Artists set up in the Park and paint. Then they have a show and give part of the proceeds to the Park.

But the one that really interested me and frustrated me was the 734 club. It seems that this past summer a thirty-something man named Jake finished all the trails in Glacier National Park. The Glacier Friends group supported him. He put comments on Facebook and tweeted and is now giving talks about his experience.

Now Glacier Association wants to start a 734 Club to encourage people to hike the park and use this as a fundraiser. Point Reyes Association is also setting up a Challenge by creating a 50 mile challenge and a 150 mile challenge, which is about the number of trail miles they have.

I was stunned. Excuse me? Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 miles of trail. Over 300 people, including me, have done all the trails in the Smokies. Many have done it multiple times and the Park has never made a penny from them or the Challenge. By now, it’s such old news that you can’t even get written up in our local press for finishing. The 900 Mile Club is run by two men who just send out the certificate for $15. The Park doesn’t even get part of that $15.

The two women told me to look at www.alltrailschallenge.org.

This is what this conference is all about. I’ve learned about a program, a website there and an informal discussion with other park partners.  

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