CULTURE FRONT: Have stories, will travel

By on September 17, 2014
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The TravelStorysGPS app is available hands free, anytime, anywhere with stories, music and photos to engage us with our landscape.

 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming — I sat down for lunch recently with Story Clark, founder of the mobile app TravelStorysGPS. Though the app’s name sounds eponymous, it’s only coincidence. However, Clark is an advocate of storytelling, and that’s exactly why she created this new app that brings stories about Jackson Hole to people, wherever they and their handheld devices may be.

For instance, say you’re heading out to Wilson to get a quick run in on Glory before work. Turn on the TravelStorysGPS app and you can hear Travis Rice talk about Teton Pass, or get a history of the Hardeman Ranch.

“I’ve always loved innovation,” Clark said, finishing a bite of a turkey cran sandwich at Betty Rock. “I believe we get so stuck in what we are doing. I love to create a whole menu of new ideas.”

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A Jackson family on the road with old time wheels and new time entertainment. Photo: Teresa Griswold.

The idea for TravelStorysGPS came to Clark when she was driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina several years ago. She pulled over at an overlook to take in the acres of trees, but instead noticed all the cars whizzing by totally disconnected from their surroundings. “I wondered, ‘How do we get inside those cars?’” she said.

Clark started thinking about how to get stories from national parks to visitors, rather than the visitor having to seek out the story. “How do we tell stories their way?” she asked herself.

What Clark dreamed up – a mobile app triggered by GPS to tell the story of landmarks as a person drives or walks by – turns an iPhone or Android into a portal to a deeper connection with place. Rather than taking travelers away from the present, TravelStorysGPS draws them further into their current environment.

An outspoken advocate for conservation, Clark has lived in Jackson for 38 years. She worries that, globally, people are losing connection with a sense of place. “If people don’t care about natural places, how will we find the money to fund conservation?” she asked.

Fortunately, technology has evolved toward Clark’s ideas, as she likes to say. The TravelStorysGPS app not only enriches a traveler’s (or local’s) experience of a place, it also connects them with the local nonprofits that help make that place wonderful. Organizations like Jackson Hole Land Trust, Grand Teton Park Association, and Jackson Hole Historical Society are partners on the app.

The newly updated version of the app, just released this month, has updated story content combined with improved caching methods to minimize data usage, easy tour management for offline access, support for high-resolution images throughout, and integration with the listener’s own playlists.

Though she may not be able to coax tourists to stop the car and take in the fresh air, Clark found a way to get in the car with them and tell them a story their way. “Even if listeners never get out of their car,” she said, “They will now be able to connect with the land in a meaningful and unique way.”

Download the TravelStorysGPS app from iTunes App Store or Google Play.

 

 

 

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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