Maggie Osdoby Katz
Fundraising on behalf of Transcaucasian Trail Association
Fundraising on behalf of Transcaucasian Trail Association
my heart – the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) and the Association which supports it across all three countries.
One of the great joys of my first summer in Georgia (in 1998!) were the random weekend hikes our Georgian colleagues and friends would take us on. This is part of the **magic** of the Caucasus -- that intersection of wandering through the spectacular, diverse nature and discovering the centuries old castles, monasteries, tradeposts, and churches etc. of its compelling heritage
BUT, it was also an adventure to actually get somewhere... to find the "secret" trailhead or path, that only my Georgian friends seemed to know about.
Six years ago, I met two former Peace Corps volunteers in Tbilisi who had a cool vision – to build a world class long distance hiking trail from the Caspian to Black Seas, and from the Iranian border to the Russian border – traversing the South Caucasus region, north-south and east-west. To build something like the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail. And to do it in a manner that
celebrates, protects and supports the diverse environments, cultures and peoples along the way.
For six years, I have had the privilege to be part of this journey – as a friend, a trail builder, and as of 2021, as a Board member.
And I write you today to ask you to join me and support this great vision at a critical time.
30,000 volunteer hours + a growing community of builders, hikers and supporters - along the trail and around the world - have showed us that the TCT *is* and can be a reality. We now know that people will hike it - not just build it; that communities can accept it - and benefit from it; that the nature can be protected and celebrated; and that it can connect people in new ways.
In 2023, the TCT Association – a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit - and the three teams it supports in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – need to move from “start up” phase to “scaled up” phase.
WE ARE READY -- Can you join me in supporting the TCT ? I am contributing $1/day ($365) through monthly installments of $31, along with other contributions.
Over the past few years, the idea of the Trail has blossomed into a dynamic reality – even in the face of the repercussions of COVID and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine - thanks to over 30,000 volunteer hours.
Most recently, the diverse multinational team has opened more than 1200 km (out of 3000) of trail. In addition, the community has
To sustain this great work, and to begin to expand how the trail is used, we need to support and expand our team. To do this, we need to raise 5x our previous annual goal -- $150,000.
I would be delighted to welcome you as member. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me – or check out our website: www.transcaucasiantrail.org. Some more information is below....
All my best,
Director, Board of the TCT Association
ABOUT THE TRANSCAUCASIAN TRAIL
In seven short years, the TCT has gone from being an idea to a vibrant reality - with trails, programs, and a community which spans all three South Caucasus countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. And as it's grown, the trail has created opportunities for economic growth, cultural exchange, and environmental education.
WHY THE CAUCASUS?
The Caucasus region deserves to be on any hiker’s bucket list. It’s a biodiversity hotspot. It’s rich in historical sites, unique cultural traditions, and dozens of indigenous languages. And it’s home to staggeringly diverse landscapes, including snow-covered alpine passes, red desert canyons, lush forests, peaceful meadows, and high volcanic plateaus. We're putting these hidden gems on the map to help ensure that the landscapes and heritage of the region can be enjoyed by future generations.
Simply put, hiking is one of the best ways to experience the Caucasus-- and it's one that has rippling benefits for the whole region.
For hikers, good trails make the rugged mountains accessible, expanding the areas that are possible to safely hike in-- and creating an unparalleled slow-travel experience through diverse landscapes and communities.
For rural communities, trails draw people to places they might not otherwise visit, creating opportunities to develop small businesses and revitalize villages.
For the environment, trails provide a platform for people to learn about biodiversity and develop a personal connection with the natural world-- an essential part of shifting broader attitudes towards conservation.
Over the past seven years, working together with a wide group of volunteers and partners, we’ve developed more than 1,500 kilometers of the Transcaucasian Trail.
Along the way, we’ve:
As the trail has grown, we’ve seen a large increase in the number of local and international hikers on these routes-- and a corresponding increase in economic activity in villages along the trail.
By investing in the Caucasus' outdoor infrastructure, we’re helping increase opportunities for small businesses in mountain regions, providing environmental education & professional development for trail crew members, and improving access to the region’s natural & cultural heritage for everyone.
WHAT WE'RE BUILDING TOWARDS
Over the next several years, we're working to set the trail on the path to long-term sustainability. We aim to ensure that the TCT will be a force that provides economic opportunities in rural areas, a platform for cultural exchange and conservation, and a gateway to discovering the magnificent Caucasus for decades to come.
The TCT idea has already taken a firm hold in the region. And our small team of staff and volunteers have become experts at leveraging a small amount of funding into bigger results for the trails and surrounding communities-- even in the past few years of turbulence.
Now, we need to build our core organization to invest in these partnerships and projects over the long term-- and to add new efforts that will help ensure the long-term protection of the trail and long-term benefits for the trail's communities.
The TCT's early supporters had the courage to believe in the vision that, together, we could create a world class long-distance trail across the magnificent South Caucasus mountains that celebrates and supports its diverse cultures and people. Now that the trail is real, it is vital that we expand our funding base.
That means we need more people who believe in its vision to provide the financial support that project-based funders cannot. We need people like YOU to become members.
Core support is what makes it possible for the TCT team to pull volunteers and partner organizations together and make all of our projects happen-- meaning your support is leveraged several times over.
Every dollar, dram, lari, and manat goes towards our priorities to benefit the mountain people and environments of the Caucasus. Our impact is growing-- but we can't do it without you!
As of summer 2022, the long-distance TCT is officially a reality that people are hiking. The only reason this has been possible is because of individual hikers, environmentalists, and Caucasus lovers like you-- who care not only about creating more hiking trails, but also building a brighter future across the Caucasus.
Thank you for joining the TCT community-- and we'll see you in the mountains!