Thursday, January 13, 2011

For One Particular Career Altruism and Sense of Place Are Essential

It just might be that a sense of altruism and a sense of place may be the two most elemental indicators that community/destination marketing may be a good career fit for someone.  Yet I was always puzzled by the numerous peers I encountered during my career who appeared to have little of either.

It seemed to me that without these two elements, it would be just another job.  But for any young person who comes naturally to these two traits along with a serious dose of passion and determination, community/destination marketing is definitely a career to be considered.HF Panorama_Wildlife

As yet, I haven’t been able to put my finger on where or from whom I inherited the altruism trait that fueled so much to my success in that forty year career, but I know exactly what inspired my finely-tuned sense of place and quick grasp of what makes a place unique.

It is captured in one of Val Atkinson’s photographs of my birthplace, found rotating on the Henry’s Fork Foundation home page (I’m a member) and a snippet of which is posted with this blog and can be enlarged by clicking on it.   This image depicts nearly everything that is unique to that Fremont County nook of Eastern Idaho cornered just over those mountains by Wyoming to the west and over the horizon to the right by Montana to the north.

Atkinson captured perfectly the contradictions, the light, the cattle and meadow, the foreground river and fly-fisherman and the rolling hills and dales of the Yellowstone Plateau punctuated by forests and those unmistakable Tetons.  Background it with my sound-tracked memory of a Western Meadowlark and the smell of my beloved black quarter-horse Gypsy and you have the primary ingredients of my first and defining sense of place.

I’ll eventually pin down the source of my altruism too.  You know, a hundred years ago altruism was used as a term of derision by ultra-conservatives who used as a euphemism for  “socialism” just about the time my great grandparents and grandparents homesteaded in Fremont County.

That’s a tidbit gleaned from the excellent Edmund Morris book entitled The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, which covers the period of his life from birth up to the moment he. a Republican, took the oath of office as the 26th President of the United States.

“Teddy” was always very clear about where he inherited his altruism.   He was born into a wealthy upper class family, and while still in his 20s, his father, Theodore Roosevelt Sr. already one of the influential men in New York going well beyond the norm of the day in unpretentiously giving of both time (every 7th day entirely) and funds and fundraising from others to help the most unfortunate, especially children.

This President Roosevelt also had a very strong sense of America, as a place, not only what it had been but what it could become.   That sense of place, coupled with his altruism, inspired him to found the modern conservation movement and to stand up to corruption and anything else that inhibited the American dream from being realized by everyone.

Today, we need more people like “Teddy Roosevelt” of every gender and ethnicity in community/destination marketing.

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