Public lands are here for every single American to enjoy. In this time of huge division and polarity, the great outdoors is one place where we can all find common ground. With Election Day a month away, we are compelled to ask you to commit even more so.
There has been so much movement against Public Lands in the past 18 months, it is hard to keep up and even harder to know what to do or how you can make a difference. Before you get too overwhelmed and disengage, I would encourage you to pause and remember all the outdoors has given you and those who are most important to you.
For many of us, being outside is a way of life. It’s where we find our peace and connect with our spirits. There have been many studies conducted that prove what we have known all along… People who connect with nature frequently and/or live in communities with a healthy and thriving outdoor landscape are healthier and happier humans.
Kids who are raised with a connection to the outdoors have more confidence, improved sensory skills, increased attention spans and are more physically healthy than those children who do not.1 Books have made a clear connection that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of our children.
With so many big issues in the world today, protecting our public lands is not often recognized as an issue that drives voting decisions. Yet, I would argue that a lack of outdoor experiences by our youth is one of the biggest issues we face in the future. If we want kinder, more compassionate, happier human beings running this world, we need to keep the outdoors open and accessible for every single American and those who visit our shores to see the wonders of our land. This isn’t about Republicans, Democrats or Independents. This is about the future of our children and our children’s children.
So, where do you begin?
Step 1: Educate Yourself
I encourage you to educate yourself about the challenges facing our outdoors. There are a number of easily accessible resources that offer a wealth of information, including a number of Smartwool partners like:
Step 2: Know Your Politicians
It’s important to know where your politicians stand on Public Lands. The Outdoor Industry Association has made it easy with the OIA Voters’ Guide that launched October 1. Simply go to https://outdoorindustry.org/2018-voters-guide/ to learn about those running for office and the critical issues facing the outdoor industry.
Step 3: Formulate Your Own Opinion
Once you’ve done the research and know your politicians, determine where you stand on the issues. What’s important to you locally and nationally. Don’t take our word or anyone else’s word. Do your research and formulate your own unique point of view on the issues.
Step 4: Engage
Show up and let your voice be heard. I have been so proud of the way Smartwool has been leveraging its legacy of advocating the outdoors to be a leader in our industry and on the national stage. We marched for our lands in Salt Lake City. We’ve lobbied in Washington DC. We’ve been the keynote speakers at numerous rallies with thousands in attendance. We’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to those environmental organizations who are aligned with our belief of protecting the outdoors that gives us so much.
And, we need to do more.
Step 5: Make Time to Vote the Outdoors
It is my personal belief that we must use our corporate platform to help make the world a better place. With voter participation as low as 36% in recent years, it is even more critical that we have a community of engaged outdoor participants who are willing to vote for the outdoors. Those people who do not vote cite work and family obligations as the number reason they are not able to cast their ballots. As part of the larger Make Time to Vote initiative, Smartwool will be giving our employees paid time off to vote this year. If you own or run a business, I hope you do the same.