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Dear Friends,Well, 2021 was quite the year! Like many of you, we're looking back on what we've accomplished over the last twelve months and preparing for exciting things that will happen in 2022.As a small program, we kept busy and are excited to share some highlights from our work. Below you'll find an overview of our spring webinar series, a complete list of GNARly blog posts, links to our four new toolkit pages, and highlights from our recent research projects.Through your generous support, collaborative efforts, and offers of help and expertise, the GNAR Initiative has become a hub for communities, researchers, experts, and those passionate about helping GNARs preserve what makes them special and thrive into the future. As the year winds down, please consider donating to the GNAR Initiative so that we can continue to provide assistance to gateway communities across the West. Your organization can become an official sponsor of our work by donating here.If you would like to get involved in our work in other ways, please contact our GNAR Initiative Coordinator, Elizabeth Sodja ( We can't do it without your support, so thank you!
Spring Webinar Series
This past spring from April 22 until July 1, 2021, we hosted six-part webinar series called, "How to Shred GNAR(ly) Problems: Tools, Techniques & Resources to Help Address Epic Housing Challenges."Across all 6 sessions, we had 312 attendees from 21 states and provinces, representing 66 communities and regions. Interestingly, 14% of session participants were from large metro areas, and not GNAR communities. This speaks to the universal challenges caused by housing affordability and short-term rentals. Since the completion of the series, session recordings have received 450+ views on YouTube, and the full series summary report has been downloaded over 150 times.You can check out the recordings of each session below: Alternatively, to get access to recording links in addition to all session materials, including chats, Q&As, and poll results, you can also download the full series summary report here.
The GNARly Blog at a Glance
In April of this year, we also launched the GNARly Blog!The GNARly Blog is a new way the GNAR Initiative hopes to spur inter-community communication and share stories and best practices from GNAR communities addressing challenges and innovating on the ground. These posts can be about lessons learned, case studies, model ordinances, new programs, or opportunities for collaboration within communities.We are always looking for new topics and bloggers. If you have an idea you'd like to share, check out our blog guidelines and/or email's a complete list of all 2021 GNARly Blogs:
Four New Toolkit Pages!
The GNAR Initiative Toolkit is one of our most important and utilized projects. We are always striving to build new pages and update existing ones as we learn and become aware of new cutting edge resources and examples for communities to utilize.In 2021, we were excited to add four new toolkit pages:
If you have an idea for a toolkit page, or a resource you think we should be aware of, please email
Research Projects & Announcements
In 2021, our core team embarked on two large research projects in addition to the numerous smaller community-based projects they work on. These projects include:
THE GNARLY CHALLENGES, GNARLY SOLUTIONS STUDY: With initial funding from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, we have launched a flagship multi-year study to explore interconnected housing, transportation, and land use challenges and strategies in western gateway communities. The aim of this study is to explore the state of planning and development in western gateway communities, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to create tools, guidelines, and planning and policy recommendations to assist gateway communities and the regions around them in responding to current and emerging challenges and opportunities.We welcome involvement and support from:
  • Gateway communities that want to partner on a local case study
  • Graduate and undergraduate students from any discipline or university who want to assist with this study
  • Sponsors and other partners who want to provide funding or other resources to support this study
If you have questions or are interested in supporting or partnering in this study, please contact Initiative Coordinator Elizabeth Sodja at
With funding from the National Science Foundation we are developing predictive models of tourism flows and a respective decision support system that gateway and natural amenity region communities can use to explore and inform local policy decisions. In early 2021, we piloted our decision support system with San Juan County in Southeastern Utah.
Peer-to-Peer Learning with the GNAR Network
Finally, in we hosted two peer-to-peer learning sessions with our GNAR Network in 2021, engaging dozens of community leaders from GNARs across the West in learning together and from one another about: The GNAR Network peer-to-peer learning sessions provide a forum where representatives of gateway communities can meet, share ideas, and identify immediate and high-priority needs that would allow them to make more informed decisions to protect the well-being of their residents and their local economies. When asked about the value of the sessions, participants said things such as:
"We need more of these conversations to help and draw from each other in different communities all facing similar issues.”"It's amazing to hear what other communities are learning and trying. It really inspires me to take things back to my team to try!"
If you're interested in participating in future GNAR Network sessions and haven't already, we encourage you to sign up for our email list!