People of the Bow Valley: Zach Baxter

Living in the Bow Valley for a year, I have come to the realization that most people come for short periods of time then go. So, it is hard to get to know people below the surface. Most people come with a pre-planned identity to be the snowboarding guy that does cool tricks, or the party person who is always a good time. I have thus taken it upon myself to get to know these people better and write about them, hear their stories and allow others to relate to what they have to say. This week is about the one and only Zach Baxter.                         

Source: Zach Baxter

Name: Zach Baxter

Age: 22

Hometown: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Favorite color: Pastel blue

Favorite country: Bolivia

What makes you unique?

Honestly, I think a lot of my uniqueness comes from growing up in a very diverse town. People didn’t really speak English where I grew up because there was a lot of poultry plants, and so you don’t really need to speak [there]. I have always had a desire for community and seeing people come together. With studying psychology as well, I have just seen the benefits of community and what it can do for people to have that togetherness. Here I help co-lead an organization called CYAN (Canmore Young Adult Network). We help advocate for young adults, because they want to make sure that [they] can stay in this town and afford to live here.

Who do you look up to?

There are definitely two spectrums to it. I am trying to think of someone alive, but then also I follow [Christianity]. It’s interesting to use the term Christianity today because it has different views and it is a misconceived notion. It is almost like the term love now in the way that it is used and overused and people don’t really know what it means.

However, maybe Jim Elliot, [who] is a guy who went to the Amazon and he was killed for his faith; he’s dead too though so alive. I would say my biggest inspiration might be my old roommate Greg Delano. He is this really calm, collected guy. I have learned so much from him because he is so level-headed and disciplined, while I am someone who can kind of get sporadic or [go] with the flow.

Most Memorable Moment?

I was doing research when I was in Belize and I was taking a team of Belizeans and we were cutting a new trail throughout the jungle. And we were doing this to study jaguars. We got really far into the jungle, maybe 20 km and the car just stopped working. It gets dark at 6 p.m. there and at this time it was around 4 p.m. It took us about an hour to fix it and finally started driving back and our vibes went high again thinking tomorrow we were going to come back and finish this trail and get the work done. And on the way back, we had to move this tree that we had cut down previously and there was still a long road ahead, so I clipped it with the back right tire, and the tire blew up. We then found out that the jack didn’t even raise up the car and so we ended up having to hike like 14 km and probably 10 km of it was in the pitch black. At one moment we were like if we live, it will be a funny story to think back to.

 Source: Zach Baxter

What is the best life lesson you have learned?

Probably love selflessly but have a foundation. Because too often, it is good to be self-sacrificing and seek the needs of others but sometimes you pour out so much that you don’t pour any into yourself at all. You’ll just become very drained and so there needs to be some self-care. People, myself especially, can sometimes be very co-dependant and worry too much about actions affecting others, but you need to be able to have a foundation and trust your actions and decisions.  

Biggest regret?

My biggest regret would be, I would never say I wasted any time in my life thus far but I wish I had gotten more involved in my freshman and sophomore year. Eh, freshman year doesn’t count, but my sophomore year in university I wish I did more research. The university I went to had such amazing opportunities to be involved in, for example they had a black bear research centre I got to work at in my junior year, but [it] would have been good to work at it [even earlier]. However, I was also developing myself in those years so I don’t regret it too much.

Any future achievements you’re working on?

One, well two, one being Canmore-related. I would love to see CYAN grow into an organization that really caters to the needs of people. This town is marked by diversity and its what makes it so special. I am also planning to start a church in town.

What made you come out west?

Starting a church—I have a student visa and so far have been here 8 months. There is a couple that invited me to come with them because they had introduced [me to] the idea of starting a church in a town that people do a lot of the same things that I love to do. The masters program I am in is two and a half years, I am supposed to go back next semester but I am unsure if I will as I have a lot going on right now.

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl

Ski or snowboard?

Snowboard

Burger or pizza?

Burger

Favorite word?

Colloquial

Last book you read?

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo

Dogs or cats?

Dogs

Mini golf or real golf?

Mini golf

Best pick up line?

Bananas or blueberries? [Me: Blueberries] Just trying to know what you want for breakfast in the morning.

We ended the interview with him asking me what I wanted him to take from this about me, but what I took from him was a very different perspective on people living here. From being used to living in a town where most people come to party, he really wants to have an impact on the town and make a difference. I wish you the best of luck Zach and hope you accomplish everything you want to.

 

Source: Zach Baxter