Nicole Benter
Nicole Benter
Senior Program Director

 

Balance and Connection

 

I value balance. Balance in life-work activities, balance when I’m rock climbing, and balance when I’m mountain biking. Balance also plays a role in in assessing environmental, economic, and social concerns and in devising solutions.  NDJ BlogImage 250x300 2013 08

Almost as much as balance, I value connections; I value being “plugged in” to the important stuff. What am I plugged into? Honestly, my iPhone constantly, whether it be texts, emails, or streaming fun music. But I work on consciously releasing that type of connection, and instead focus on plugging into what truly gives me joy and grounding – time with close friends and family, and connecting with our natural environment. Recently I truly connected while relaxing beside the Tuolumne River, basking on the warm granite slabs, surrounded by the sunlight dancing on the gentle rapids, admiring the balance of the moving river and the peaceful pools of clear Sierra water nurtured by our fresh snowmelt. It’s moments like these that enable me to truly connect with and appreciate the Sierra and motivate me to enable others to experience the power and benefits of that connection.

Through my work at the Sierra Business Council I am able to further put into action my values of balance and connection. Sometimes I joke that SBC’s name could be “Sierra Balance Council.” This is because what SBC truly does is work to bring balance to the Sierra Nevada. In assessing issues or concerns, we consider the environmental, economic, AND social factors and goals in order to work towards a solution. Our work is always collaborative in nature and we have a knack for innovative solutions. We strive toward solutions that will not only benefit the environment but also benefit the well-being of the people and the economy. In this way, SBC continues to demonstrate that vibrant communities, fair and prosperous economies, and healthy thriving ecosystems are not competing interests. When all three thrive, everyone wins.

This is part of why the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project, my main focus at SBC, is so important. This project empowers the community, and engages the locals in rediscovering and declaring what’s special about their place. The local community members create the Geotourism MapGuide and in doing so decide where they want to drive the visitors. In turn, the visitors have a tool that enables them to connect on a deeper level with the natural environment and the people of the Sierra. Using the MapGuide visitors connect with the unique attributes of the area, enjoy local cuisine, hike local trials, and support local businesses. Geotourism is “wise designation stewardship” in that it empowers the residents, and it targets visitors who value a clean and unpolluted environment, want to learn about other cultures and support local businesses, and who seek to preserve special places. Thus we work together to achieve a healthy environment and thriving economy, while keeping the Sierra a place with character.

Through facilitating experiences of connecting with the environment, others, and themselves, I hope that people are in turn are inspired to take care of the region – and more importantly that they feel balanced and connected.

Balance and connection . . .