Whistler connects with Verbier for World Mountain Forum 

Economic, environmental and cultural challenges lie ahead for mountain communities

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It's time for the people of mountain communities to rise to the challenge of climate change.

So says filmmaker Dave Mossop who took his message to an early rising audience during the World Mountain Forum (WMF) at Millennium Place on Sunday. And his words weren't just heard locally — they were heard simultaneously at the WMF in Verbier, Switzerland at the end of the three-day Green Pioneering Summit.

"Mountains have taught us everything we need to know," said Mossop.

"We've learned how to navigate unknown terrain and cooperate with each other and make group decisions and have fun along the way. We need to turn around, take the wisdom we've learned from the mountains and apply it to a global scale problem."

Mossop favours the film medium to communicate his message; the recent release of All. I. Can. by Sherpas Cinema has been resonating with audiences around the world. Social media has played a helpful role in increasing the audience with J.P. Auclair's urban skiing segment in All. I. Can. receiving over 500,000 views.

"Film has this unique and unbelievable ability to transcend barriers, to capture all these emotions, tell great stories and move people," said Mossop.

"It can inspire, educate, provoke and bring people together."

Mossop was one of three speakers at the WMF. Newly elected councillor Jayson Faulkner and pro-skier Mike Douglas also addressed the audiences in Whistler and Verbier via live stream. Faulkner, in his first public address since being sworn in to Whistler Council, focused on the issue of maintaining cultural values in growing mountain communities.

"There's a lot of pressure on mountain communities in North America right now to explore other forms of employment, other industries to diversify the economic base," said Faulkner.

"We need to decide which of these new forms of work to support and which to resist," he said.

A casino is an example of new industry that would immediately stimulate the local economy, but some see it as having a long-term negative effect on local mountain culture. The balance of these socio-economic factors represents an ongoing challenge as Whistler grows as a community.

"Our work will affect our culture, it will either enrich it by either being consistent with our existing mountain culture or it will dilute it," said Faulkner, speaking in reference to his hometown of Whistler.

"If we dilute our mountain culture, we dilute [the] attraction to our customers. We risk our futures by changing our values, which I think is a dangerous thing."

The future of mountain resort towns such as Whistler is coupled to economic, cultural and environmental changes, and all must be addressed. There is no simple solution for any of these issues but it all starts from the individual, the household and the community.

"(The people behind) mountain culture (have) the potential, the energy, the motivation to become leaders in the environmental revolution," said Mossop.

"If we're not going to do it, then who will?"

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