Month: November 2023

My 2023 Trail Symposium Recap

The 2023 Trail Symposium was an immersive experience with multiple events over multiple days.

World Trails Film Festival, Tuesday

World Trails Film Festival in Connecticut

This is the second time that I have had the privilege of viewing the he World Trails Film Festival. The series of short films combines stories with scenery and music that together capture the power of walking and riding in places near and far. They beautifully expose healing, determination, honoring the past, and cultivating the future.

The series validates why I work to make it easier for others to have a trail experience.

My 13 year old accompanied me to the World Trails Film Festival in Torrington. She was resistant, but the stories from the films, plus the majestic Warner Theatre, changed her attitude. She loved the scenery and especially admired the perseverance of Quinn and Nimblewill, both overcoming hurdles to keep on going.

Wednesday held a variety of self-guided and instructor-led mobile clinics. I was not able to attend these but heard excellent reviews.

John Brown birthplace and "Why We Walk," Thursday

John Brown Trail

On Thursday afternoon, I attended an informative talk from the Torrington Historical Society and the Torrington Trails Network. They told the story of John Brown and the John Brown birthplace as well as the progression of the trail access from Five Points Arts Center, the former UConn Torrington Campus.

Next, the group walked the trail together. The newly completed section includes over 800 feet of boardwalk through a beautiful bog that connects to the loop and John Brown's birthplace. I enjoyed learning about the details of the work from the trail volunteers who have invested countless hours and simply being on the trail with new and old friends.

Boardwalk on the John Brown to Five Points Trail  

Back at Five Points Arts Center, we viewed the film "Why We Walk."


The Urban Hikers

The film features the three Cincinnati urban hikers, Vanny, Abdi, and Toure, and shares their story and the power of walking on both urban and nature trails. Vanny, Toure, and film director Eric Bishop were in attendance. I happened to have a seat behind them and enjoyed their laughs and reactions to the film as much as the film itself, which is saying something because the film is excellent! Afterwards, they took to the stage and answered questions about the film, their story, and thoughts about the power of walking. I wish I had recorded the statements, answers, and thoughts. It was a highlight of the trail symposium for me and truly inspiring. And I have to shout out the talented film director Eric Bishop. He masterfully combined the story, art, and themes and I suspect we will be seeing more from him in the future.

Trail Symposium, Friday

Friday was the main event and my last trip to Torrington for a while. It started with a panel and several talks about accessibility and inclusion in the outdoors. I was especially impressed by Nicky Wood from Outside Perspectives and her presentation about Barriers to Meaningful Wilderness Experiences.

We had a delicious lunch outside on the patio and then off to sessions. Aaron and I presented about the CT Trail Census and the CT Trail Finder. Our room was the former UConn Torrington library with cool windows and a variety of printing presses. I don't have pictures from Friday but I assure you that the program, attendees, and conservation were excellent.

Many Thanks

Emily and LaurieI was part of a small by mighty Trail Symposium planning committee. It is a tremendous amount of work to plan and coordinate an event like this especially over multiple days. The City of Torrington was instrumental in the event that could not have happened without their support. CT DEEP was the linchpin, especially Laurie Giannotti and Kim Bradley. I'm glad to be a part of a great team and am already looking forward to next year's event.