By Misty Newman
Having a focus on outdoor recreation and activities creates a healthy and vibrant culture in communities. Culture includes the beliefs, customs, ways of life and behaviors that exist in a place or organization.
An outdoor culture has a direct correlation with the types of recreation offered, the number of active people, mental and physical health, conservation, social aspects and even the types of restaurants and businesses in the area.
Take Sedona for example. Uptown is lined with tour companies, jeeps running everywhere and cyclists riding up Oak Creek. There are many bikes shops, like Bike & Bean, where you can stop for coffee and buy a bike and bike parts. Now, I fully realize the terrain of an area can be a natural draw for tourism and outdoor exploration. We don’t have to be a Sedona or Flagstaff, though, to still embrace an outdoor culture.
From my experience, Maricopa is a place that has already implemented a variety of activities and events throughout the years that contributes to a culture geared toward the outdoors.
We have fun runs, farmers markets, and festivals that provide residents with opportunities to be active and eat healthy. As Maricopa grows, it’s important to cultivate this culture so we’ll have even more chances to bring in businesses and recreation that contributes to this culture.
An outdoor culture also creates a social community. For example, the Salsa Festival is rooted in Maricopa’s culture; I could not imagine having a year go by without this festival. I’m sure many residents would be disappointed if this event no longer took place. The Salsa Festival provides opportunities to have great food, spend time with family, meet new people and see to top-notch entertainers.
Also, the Outdoor Recreation Program at Copper Sky established and operated by Josh Bowman, has set a high standard for how outdoor recreation programs. This program provides accessible, fun and affordable ways for residents to see our great state. The trips include camping, hiking, caving and even museum visits. Participation in these trips contribute to a healthy, active and engaged community.
We are setting the stage now for how we want our city to operate 20 years from now. Establishing outdoor-related businesses, implementing trails that meander throughout the city and creating more outdoor-related events will be influenced by how residents perceive the importance of outdoor activity and recreation. Like many of you, I want my kids active and outdoors as much as possible.
I strongly believe having a community focused on the outdoors creates a place where people are proud to live and sustains a healthier and happier community overall.
Misty Newman is the owner of Maricopa Outdoor Adventures.
This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.