History of the Conference
"The original goal of our Annual Conference was to create a neutral place where ranchers, conservationists, scientists, public land managers and members of the public at-large could meet, talk, look and listen. We think of it as the epicenter of the radical center. The radical center meant action - a conservation plan signed, a prescribed fire lit, a workshop held, a hand shook.
The second goal of our Conference: to disseminate innovative ideas that work. We wanted people to meet, talk, and shake hands - but we also wanted attendees to take ideas home and try them out where they lived." - Courtney White
The title of our first Conference, held way back in 2002, was The New Ranch At Work and we knew we were onto something big when 300 radical centrists showed up!
Themes of the next Conferences were: Ranching at the Crossroads; Ranching in Nature's Image; Half Public, Half Private, One West; Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide; Fresh Eyes on the Land; Building Resilience; Living Leopold; The Carbon Ranch and New Agrarians.
Attendance has grown to 500, one-third of whom are argarians. People come from all over the West to attend. Some of the noted speakers have included; Wendell Berry, Bill deBuys, Peter Forbes, Wes Jackson, Christine Jones, David Kline, Richard Louv, Bill McKibben, Curt Meine, David Montgomery, Gary Nabhan, Allan Nation and David (Jonah) Western.
The Conference emphasizes hope - there are answers to the multiplying challenges confronting us, and often these answers can be found already at work on a variety of farms, ranches, and natural areas across the region. Too often, however, this good work remains isolated, and the people doing it, or who want to learn about it, too distantly removed from one another. The Conference has successfully bridged this isolation for many people and given many hope for a brighter future.