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Unplug Yosef: There’s an App for that



Article Published: Nov. 29, 2012 | Modified: Dec. 1, 2012
Unplug Yosef: There’s an App for that

Students and community members take part in last year’s Unplug Yosef event, held at Appalachian State University as part of the National Day of Unplugging, in which participants leave their electronics behind for a day of ‘unplugged’ fun.
Photos submitted



Watauga County is spread over 313 square miles of mountain peaks and the bowls beneath.

The county is framed by untamed Grandfather Mountain, the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yet the average American child spends 44 hours a week in front of a screen, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and college students access much of their education online.

To draw more people outdoors, Appalachian State University’s Outdoor Play and Health Humanities Research Cluster has brainstormed an idea, titled “Outdoors, there’s an App for that!”

The group entered the idea into a national challenge, “Discover the Forest and Get Your Community Outdoors.” The idea with the most popular votes in the challenge wins its group $1,500 to host a community event.

Currently, ASU’s event is ranked fifth place out of 87 entries. The contest lasts only until this Friday at 3 p.m. EST.

In order for the Watauga community to win the $1,500, ASU is asking that members of the public vote for the idea at http://discovertheforest.maker.good.is/projects/outdoor_app.

Joy James, co-facilitator of ASU’s Outdoor Play and Health Humanities Research Cluster, generated the “Outdoors, there’s an App for that” idea.

She said the idea branched from a Discover the Forest post on Facebook and last year’s “Unplug Yosef,” an event thrown on campus on the National Day of Unplugging.

For the last three years, ASU has been awarded a Humanities Council Grant to promote discussion between different disciplines around the same topic. The first year’s $1,411 funded a retreat, books and research into nature’s effect on health. The second year’s $600 afforded several books on the topic. The cluster then decided to hold a small volunteer event on campus, called “Unplug Yosef.” The cluster is receiving another $600 this year and will again hold the “Unplug Yosef” event.

“We decided to try this competition, because we figured we have nothing to lose,” James said.
If they win the $1,500, James said it will be used to fund a bigger “Unplug Yosef,” which would span a few days, rather than a few hours.

The event would be hosted by community partners, which could include Appalachian State University student groups, local biking and hiking groups, area health care centers, the community recreation department and local land trusts.

“We’ll have several groups to host several different activities, so anyone can be a part of what they like,” James said.

Mountain biking, hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, community picnicking, geocaching on the greenway, yoga, art and trips to the theater would all be a part of the event, she said.

From the contest award money, $1,000 would be used for event promotion; providing T-shirts for volunteers and community partners and supplies for the various outdoor activities. As incentive to participate in the event, a free raffle will be held. Some of the $1,000 would be used to purchase raffle prize items, like a public land pass and nature books. The grand prize will be a $500 plane ticket to visit America’s public lands and National Forests.

The six organizers of this year’s event are university faculty members Rebecca Battista, James, Pia Albinsson, Diane Waryold, Anna Ward and Tatyana Ruseva.

The challenge, “Discover the Forest and Get Your Community Outdoors,” is sponsored by The Ad Council, The U.S. Forest Service and The Wilderness Society. The nationwide challenge prompts organizations and individuals to “inspire your friends and neighbors to escape their stress and discover the great outdoors.”

For more information, visit http://discovertheforest.maker.good.is , or call James at (828) 262-6322.

Additional Images

Students and community members take part in last year’s Unplug Yosef event, held at Appalachian State University as part of the National Day of Unplugging, in which participants leave their electronics behind for a day of ‘unplugged’ fun.
Photos submitted

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