Proust Nature Questionnaire – Rick Roberts

RICK ROBERTS is the Director, Hospitality Operations for Summit Powder Mountain in beautiful Eden, Utah. Summit Powder Mountain is a year-round destination for an ongoing program of events and activities – a home to the emergent culture of creativity and collaboration exemplified by the Summit community. Summit Powder Mountain is the largest skiable resort in North America and is preserving its magical skiing experience for generations to come and to save it from overdevelopment. Summit is now focused on building a new urban village at 8600 feet, showing that by developing a portion of the mountain responsibility, the entirety can be saved from overdevelopment.

Prior to joining the Summit family, Rick served 21 years in the Air Force as a dedicated and experienced thought leader and innovator with a history of delivering measurable results while leading teams of 500 in dynamic, combat and non-combat environments. He is a highly decorated veteran that possess a comprehensive background of managing large scale hospitality operations, fitness and recreation programs, human resources, and capital planning.

Additionally, he volunteers for Healthy Body Healthy Life, a non-profit educating individuals, changing families and growing communities. He is extremely passionate about outdoor recreation and the therapeutic effects it can have for veterans challenged with post-traumatic stress.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring, calming, pure

3 things Nature taught you? 

Humility, courage, determination

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Havasu Falls, Interlocken, Switzerland, Cliffs of Moher

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Vulnerable…it’s another world

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Curious

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Powerful

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Thankful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Anxious

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Attentive

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Mountain

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I was always fond of being out on a lake fishing with my Dad. After serving in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, fishing brought him peace and joy. I appreciate those special moments with him.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Charlene Winfred

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CHARLENE WINDFRED is a Fujifilm X-Photographer who captures exquisitely the byproduct of a life in perpetual transit. She was born and raised in Singapore. She lived for 15 years in Australia. In 2013, she sold everything and began the life of a nomad.

3 words to describe Nature?

Overwhelming, longing, life

3 things Nature taught you?

That life persists. That death comes for us all. That to be able to walk, to test my body against the earth, is one of the finest abilities I am lucky enough to take for granted (at the moment, anyway)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park. The open ocean. Any inner city park, being the closest I normally get to Nature… sad but true!

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Overwhelmed and calmed at the same time

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to go for a very long walk and look at everything. This very rarely happens, however.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I’ve never actually seen one, so I’ll get back to you when I do!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Sunrise – it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those. Next! Sunset – whenever I’m in a position to see an entire sunset vista, it honestly makes me feel like having a glass of wine.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Glad to be inside!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to be outside, running around like a crazy person.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Of the 4, the Ocean has been the only one I can say I’ve been to enough to be familiar with its many moods. I like to think I’d be a mountain person, because I find rocks strangely comforting to be around (and climbing is one of the things I’ve wished I could afford to do since I was a kid), but that could be me romanticizing both mountains and my affinity for them! Again, will get back to you if/when that actually happens.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10, because it’s everything. We can’t live without nature can we?

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

There are no maritime background, or lineage of proud/rogue sailors in my family’s runaway past. My father was a mad keen fisherman though, and that’s probably where my draw to the ocean started. Dad would disappear for days on these extended fishing trips in the South China sea when I was little, bringing back ice chests full of all sorts of fish and a bunch of awesome stories each time (he was a sensational story teller). I begged to go for years and kept being told it would happen as soon as I was old enough.

So that was my 8th birthday present. My parents worried for their small, sickly child out at sea during the onset of the monsoon season, but as Dad would recall about 20 years later, I’d positively flourished in those 5 days. That was the beginning of yearly trips in Malaysian waters.

The things I remember about being at sea: Stormy days – large approaching masses of angry water waiting to eat the boat, securing anything that would fly when being tossed around. Listening to the boat creak and moan woefully in the thrash. Afterwards, small fish roiling on the water as the clouds moved away, far as the eye could see in every direction; a lone marlin worrying a frantic ball of its prey in the water, the glorious still-frame of a sailfish in flight, a line of sunlight gleaming off its saltwater lacquered dorsal fin, down curved flank and flashing off its sickle of tail. The curious, heady mix of brine and diesel fumes (and in this case, old fish) that to me, will always mean “port.”

But what I retain most about those days is staring up at clouds puffing into existence, wavering shards of sunlight converging conical to a point in the water, or at a horizon that was never really still, the way it is on land. I never took to fishing, but it allowed me to spend days dreaming in any available spot on the boat, with or without a rod in hand.

charlene

The Destructive Nature of Subsidies and Tax Breaks

Subsidies are prima facie evidence that consumers would not buy the product at its market price. They distort markets, compromising economic growth, breed corruption and undermine social welfare by foisting inferior or over-priced goods onto the market” Kenneth P. Green

Cities and markets have historically been created under pragmatic realities. Towns, villages, or any other settlement existed in logical places: by a river, by the sea or close to a trading road. Farming was possible where the soil was rich. Fishing was productive and worth it only if the gains outweigh the costs. The logic was quite simple and fair – either you can or you can’t.   If you could on some times, and not on others, than most likely you would adopt a nomadic lifestyle, looking for certain benefits in certain places on certain times. In this system, the value on goods was equal to the realities of producing it or getting it. It was, at the core of it, the real definition of a free market economy, where supply and demand drive the development and expansion of societies. If a resource was to be mismanaged, abused, and consequently lost, then logically the market and the people would react accordingly. Lessons would be learned and laws would be put in place trying to avoid the same mistakes to be repeated. Then the modern world invented subsidies and tax breaks.

Different from credit – an extension to fulfill an obligation, subsidies and tax breaks are inflationary tools that create a false reality. They support unrealistically what should not exist. Interestingly enough, the etymology of subsidy comes from sub “under, behind” and sedere “to sit”. One could easily concluded that the word was invented to illustrate something that remains still and unproductive. The headline: “EU Subsidies – Millions for Doing Nothing” does more than simply playing on the words. It highlights one of the most dangerous economical inventions our societies have now so well become depended on.

On the conservation and management of natural resources, subsidies and tax breaks are the most destructive force  ever existed. They take away any sense of responsibility and desire to manage with a long term approach. They entice people to be rewarded for being inefficient and corrupted. Giant corporations, with legal and financial power to lobby politicians, themselves in charge of allocating subsidies and giving tax breaks, usually end up siphoning most of the money while the small producers end up being short handed (click here for more information). Our history is filled with examples of how these practices only prolong the inevitable and unfortunately stagnant innovation.

How long would the whaling era have gone on without the subsidies?

Would whaling still go on today in Japan and Iceland? (see more info here)

Would our economy be so oil dependent if we paid the real price for oil?

What would happen if the oil companies did not benefit from any tax breaks?

Would our consumerism be so high if not subsidized?

Would corn and soy be everywhere if their subsidies were taken away?

What would happen if the richest countries did not spend $106 billion per year subsidizing their own farmers?

Would the ocean’s fish stocks be depleted if no subsidies existed? (see more info here)

Does it make sense to fill groceries stores in polar regions with ice cream manufactured thousands of kilometers away? (see video here) The insane thing is not the price they pay but the fact that we have created and supported an economy that is illogic, nonsensical and ludicrous.

Does it make sense for countries to still subsidize families for having children? Isn’t 7 billion enough?

Would our lives really be miserable without these fiscal illusions?

Would the Arctic and polar regions development made sense if governments didn’t help?

Is it viable to sustain a lifestyle that without these supports, would crumble into pieces?

Some say that if the subsidies are taken away, it will hurt major industries and people will loose their jobs. Maybe it is, but everybody will adapt and manage. It is better to deal with reality than fiction. Right now, fiction is king. Financially the world is broken down. The planet’s resources are seeing the end of the line. Our population is unstoppable, and still we look at ways to continue its trajectory.

It is as if a person had spent his salary even before receiving it, eaten away his yearly supply within the first month, and borrowing more than he could even repay in his lifetime, and tell him not to worry, just continue doing what you are doing, the government will back you up, no strings attached.

If we want to grow “sustainably”, the first and most important step will be to stop all subsidies and tax breaks. Obviously it is wishful thinking that will most likely never happen but we must at least look into it. The exercise is crucial to understand the conundrum at play. Energy subsidies, social subsidies, science subsidies, consumer subsidies, environmental subsidies, farming subsidies, and fishing subsidies are nothing more than old and inefficient ways to keep a status quo on declining and obsolete practices. They lure the population and governments into a fantasy world and false beliefs, making people cling on what has already past. Most importantly, they take away any sense of responsibility and accountability.

“Thanks to farm subsidies, the fine collaboration between agribusiness and Congress, soy, corn and cattle became king. And chicken soon joined them on the throne. It was during this period that the cycle of dietary and planetary destruction began, the thing we’re only realizing just now.”  Mark Bittman