Kim Stravers is the co-founder and community engagement director for the Mammoth Lakes Trails & Public Access Foundation (MLTPA), a nonprofit that advocates for and actively participates in the planning, implementation, and stewardship of outdoor-recreation opportunities in Mammoth Lakes, California, and neighboring areas. Within one year of moving to this small ski town, and in light of the then-boom private-development climate, she and fellow citizen John Wentworth successfully brought much-needed attention to local issues regarding the protection and enhancement of access to the public lands that completely surround their town.
The pair officially co-founded MLTPA in 2007 and has since accomplished, with their public- and private-sector partners, an incredible amount of work, including the update of the Town’s 18-year-old Trail System Master Plan; the creation of a historic trail-system Memorandum of Understanding, which now has the support of 10 signatories that include the U.S. Forest Service; the development of the region’s first-ever recreation geodatabase; the passage of Measure R, a local sales-tax initiative that collects nearly $800,000 per year for the sole benefit of parks, trails, and recreation; the founding of Mammoth Trails, a unique coalition of diverse outdoor-recreation user groups; the facilitation of numerous community-driven, multi-jurisdictional, collaborative recreation-planning efforts; and the co-establishment of the annual Mammoth Lakes Summer of Stewardship program.
Through her work with MLTPA, Kim has given a strong voice to her community at the local, state, and national levels and has helped to put critical measures in place that will enrich and preserve the Eastern Sierra’s beloved recreation experiences for the long term.
At this year's Passion Into Action Conference, Kim will lead a workshop on "Igniting Communities Around Green Issues." Attendees will learn how to reach, invigorate, unite, and celebrate a wide spectrum of community members in pursuit of social, environmental, and economic sustainability initiatives. You’ll also learn how to:
- Communicate effectively with your known audience and attract new supporters
- Work collaboratively with diverse agencies, government entities, nonprofit organizations, private enterprises, and the public
- Leverage your community’s passion into grants, donations, and in-kind contributions
- Create efficient and effective pathways to channel community energy
- Identify, understand, and react and adapt to your partners, emerging opportunities, and a fluid political environment
- Develop and deliver a clear, consistent, reliable message that moves people to action
Even if attendees have never before entered into community activism, they will come away from this session with tips and tools that will help to place her intentions on a results-oriented path and set her work up for long-term success. Your mission begins with you!
In Kim's interview below, we will learn more about her passion for the environment, social justice, and how the one-time editor of a women's action sports magazine became the glue to igniting her community around a green issue.
1. What is your personal mission or passion that is helping to re-shape the future?
My passion is helping my community enrich our way of life, secure our economic future, and maximize our potential by creatively, collaboratively, and constantly improving and sustaining our outdoor-recreation resources.
2. Describe a significant moment or experience that inspired your personal mission or passion to make a difference?
The Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA) grew out of a highly charged conflict between local skiers/snowboarders and private homeowners over recreationist egress from public lands back to town via a neighborhood that borders a well-loved front-country skiing area. While writing an article about the issue for Powder magazine, I got to know the two men who were leading the local charge to challenge a Town Council decision that had vacated the public right of way on a road that enters/exits this neighborhood, effectively permitting the homeowners’ association to erect a private gate blocking non-residents from driving into the residential area and parking there.
Having collected hundreds of signatures on a petition to force Town Council to reconsider their decision, this pair of passionate skiers—who had no previous experience in politics or advocacy—were able to convince the councilmembers to rescind the vacation and to work with the developer, the homeowners, and community stakeholders to gain permanent public pedestrian egress around the gate itself. This meant that the homeowners no longer needed to worry that recreationists would use their driveways and streets as a staging area and that the skiers and snowboarders could legally get from their ski experience back to their vehicles along a direct, safe route—truly a win for all parties.
I was amazed that just two previously uninvolved citizens could reverse a landmark political decision by relying only on their passion for skiing and their ability to motivate their friends, neighbors, and total strangers to sign onto their cause. After I submitted the article, and despite having moved to town only six months earlier, I immediately offered my help to these men in the event that they took the public-access issue further. Their energy was positive, engulfing, and focused on directly improving local relationships and resources, and I wanted in. I cofounded MLTPA with one of those original two community activists in 2007.
3. What do you hope will be the biggest take-aways for the attendees who participate in your workshop?
I hope that attendees will come away from my workshop with renewed spirit and purpose for their particular cause and with the information they need to rally their fellow community members together into an effective, cohesive team. I hope also that they are inspired to pursue the unknown and to see inexperience as a chance to grow rather than a reason to quit.
4. How do you see women and girls in the local and global communities affecting the future?
I find that women tend to band together with relative ease once they discover a commonality among them, and that this shared experience or interest often becomes the cornerstone of broader, long-term, trusting relationships. It is this type of natural solidarity that will enable groups of women to stand up for and take action on what matters to them most. That their devotion ripples out and positively affects others locally, regionally, nationally, and globally is a sometimes unintended, but always welcomed, consequence.
5. Why is it so important to participate in groups and events that connect women and feature their talents, ideas and solutions right now?
In addition to being instant team-builders, women also are great communicators—as both speakers and listeners. Bringing them together in groups and events provides opportunity for women to broaden their networks, recruit supporters, and impart their messages in a friendly, positively energized environment. Whether an attendee comes seeking help with a project or seeking to provide assistance and insight to another, she becomes part of an ongoing conversation that benefits every other participant exponentially. Sharing stories of triumphs and lessons learned leads to the formation of vital partnerships that can reinvent themselves to suit opportunity.
6. What is your message to women around the world?
Not knowing how to do something does not mean it cannot be done. Rely on your passion to propel you toward others who can help you achieve your goals, and embrace your ignorance as a blank canvas on which you will learn to paint something beautiful and new.