Memory and imagination. What power they have over us. They connect us to our surroundings. They give us a reason to get up in the morning. They push us forward.
And when they fail us, when memory and imagination abandon us, we are left feeling lost and disconnected.
But if you’re very lucky – and I do consider myself lucky – you can help supply some of that memory, some of that imagination.
I have had the honor to work with professionals and volunteers who have done just that, starting with Peter Morrill and Royce Williams, the creators of Outdoor Idaho, way back in 1983. I want to honor my colleagues here tonight, some of whom have been around since the beginning and some of whom continue our 30 year effort. Pat Metzler. Jeff Tucker. Sauni Symonds. Jay Krajic. Ricardo Ochoa. Al Hagenlock. Marcia Franklin. Joan Cartan-Hansen. John Crancer who couldn’t be here tonight. And those who support our efforts in other, important ways: Ron Pisaneschi and Megan Griffin.
We have indeed been fortunate to revel in the Idaho landscape, a landscape as unruly and complicated as exists anywhere on the planet. We have also been fortunate to profile some of the men and women who match our mountains.
While doing research for an upcoming show on the history and value of Idaho’s state parks, I heard former governor Robert Smylie suggest some 20 years ago that Idaho suffered from an inferiority complex. And it got me thinking, that maybe, when it comes right down to it, maybe that’s what Outdoor Idaho has done best of all... to help dispel the silly notion that Idaho has little to offer this complex world.
It is my fervent hope that Outdoor Idaho will always be there, to provide that sense of place that is so vital to each of us… to help connect the far flung regions of our state.
And who knows, maybe 30 years from now, there will be another Jerry Evans or an Eve Chandler, who will again nominate this public television series, honoring a new cadre of story tellers – producers and directors and videographers – with new stories to tell.
But today, we thank the board of trustees of the Idaho State Historical Society for looking favorably upon Outdoor Idaho.
Memory and imagination are always worth honoring. And that is something that everyone here shares... a commitment to memory and imagination... and a commitment to the state of Idaho.
Casting for Recovery participant Trina Murri with a quilt piece she made.
All our Outdoor Idaho programs have a working title while we’re producing them. Some of those titles end up becoming the formal name of the program; others are changed as the program’s theme evolves. Whatever title we choose, though, it generally isn’t more than three words, so that it can fit easily onto a schedule grid and not be cut off. So it’s a bit of a challenge to come up with a good one.
The working title for my latest contribution to the series was “Healing and the Outdoors.” I was never particularly attached to it, in part because “healing” connotes medicinal herbs to some people, and also because several individuals in the program had passed away, so they weren’t “healed” in the traditional sense.
I asked my coworkers for suggestions for different names, and got some really nice ones, including “Prescription: Nature,” “Nurtured by Nature,” and “Finding Strength.”
Reel Recover with Mark Foss.
Photo: Marc Walters/Reel Recovery
Ultimately, though, I circled back to the “healing” concept, not only because it seemed to resonate with several of my colleagues, but also because several of my interviewees had used that word to describe their experience.
Indeed, “healing” can involve many other aspects of one’s life other than just the physical. We can feel healed emotionally and spiritually by being in the outdoors, and that’s what they were saying. So the program’s title ended up being “Nature’s Healing Power,” and I think it fits.
It wasn’t an easy program to produce because of the subject matter: I was asking people with serious illnesses and injuries to talk with me about their experiences. I also knew that several might not be alive to see the program, which indeed is the case, and that I wouldn’t be able to put everyone in the show, always a tough issue for a producer. But it’s particularly difficult when you know that the severely ill participants and their families might want a record of the experience.
But putting together the program was also rewarding. I met some wonderful individuals along the way in the groups I profiled: Higher Ground, Reel Recovery, Casting for Recovery and River Discovery. I was inspired by the participants, who were all upbeat, despite their challenges. And I was moved by the volunteers for these nonprofits, who do so much for their clients to make sure that their experience is one they will be remember. For some, it will be their last major outdoor adventure.
I hope you find the program uplifting and even healing for you as well.
Higher Ground participants paddleboarding and kayaking on Pettit Lake.