Under Solen Blog
Mountainfilm 2011: Change Happens With Community

Where do I even begin?

Mountainfilm 2011: a whirlwind of old and new friends, inspiration, activism, blue skies, then snow, then blue skies again, and films, films and more films. It’s hard to even try to some it up. But this year the one word that sticks after the four day flurry in Telluride is “community.”

Whether it’s being reminded about the scientific reasons that we really are all connected, or thinking about the things that all of humanity can find solace in, throughout the weekend I kept thinking about the constant connections we have to the people around us and to the greater global community.

Terry Tempest Williams said something that stuck with me: “Change happens, I believe, through relationships.”

"Bikes are something that bind us together across our shared humanity" -Dan Austin

We don’t solve bigger problems on our own, we work together to find solutions. When there’s cause for celebration, we don’t rejoice alone, we rally those around us. Happiness, it turns out, is contagious. Every action we take, every emotion that we have, every choice we make, it all effects more than ourselves.

We come together to rejoice, to share our sorrows, build social movements and determine the best path for sustainable development. Across borders and cultures we find the things that connect us.

Sometimes it’s a bike.

Sometimes it’s a moveable garden.

Sometimes it’s the simple desire to be happy.

Whatever it is, there are things that bind us, no matter where or who we are. The more we focus on our differences, the more we separate ourselves, and the more detrimental that is to society as a whole.

We need our community. As Dan Austin of 88Bikes said, “happiness has value,” and most often, happiness is garnered from those around us. Issues far away in distant lands may intrigue us, but some of the most important impact we can have is building the community around us — assessing what we can realistically give and doing so on an everyday basis. It could be teaching a free yoga class, or making dinner for a neighbor, volunteering for a local organization or simply¬†encouraging¬†friends to get outside; everything has an impact, we just have to do it.

I think back to a dinner several weeks ago with Mountainfilm on Tour Director Justin Clifton when we discussed at length the importance of community. Justin took it so far as to make it his “Mountainfilm Inspired Me To…” statement. I didn’t know that this one simple word would come to define the festival for me. But it did.

We can all take more time to build community. Because there is significant value in a community that “stands together and defends on another,” as Tim DeChristopher put it. It works as a ripple effect. We do not make change alone. “My actions are a part of many actions,” said Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain.

We talk, educate and inspire those around us, that’s “Awareness Into Action.”

Celebrate your community. Make real connections. Talk to people. Take time to listen. And above all, be grateful for the connections that sustain you. It’s all part of creating change.