Guest post by Erin Gaines, Advocacy Manager at KEEN, and an incredible partner to Outdoor Alliance since her time in D.C. working with Senator Wyden.
For years while I worked in Washington, D.C., I had heard about the Outdoor Retailer trade show. It attracts businesses and retailers as well as conservation- and recreation-focused non-profits, like Outdoor Alliance. While the trade show seemed like a cool way to experience all the new gear that outdoor brands were debuting, I was more interested in the policy discussions happening throughout the halls of the convention center. As the new Advocacy Manager at KEEN, I was excited to attend the show – the first one ever held in Denver – and to represent KEEN in those conversations.
During the show, KEEN collaborated with Outdoor Alliance on a “Policy Speakeasy,” a new forum for public lands policy discussions. The Policy Speakeasy would be an intimate venue for policy wonks and outdoor industry smarties to drink whiskey, decompress after a tough year, and build new energy for the year ahead. When Outdoor Alliance approached KEEN about co-hosting the Policy Speakeasy, it was a no-brainer. KEEN admires Outdoor Alliance and has worked with them in recent years on conservation and recreation priorities. We knew it would be a great partnership and a cool event.
The speakeasy was a fun way to end a busy day at Outdoor Retailer. We really packed the room and I was happy to speak for a few minutes about why I think public lands advocacy is so important. As a former Senate staffer, having worked on natural resources policy in D.C. for four years for Senator Ron Wyden, I can say with confidence that your voice matters. The voice of the industry matters. We can help shape the policies that support the conservation of public lands, improve access to recreation opportunities, and grow rural economies. The more voices we have joining us by forging new and diverse partnerships, the stronger our industry will become. And the stronger we are, the harder it is for policymakers to ignore us – especially when they’re receiving regular calls from KEEN’s Better Takes Action phone booth.
At the speakeasy, I noted how excited and proud I am to work at KEEN, a brand that leads with its values, and to be a part of this industry. And I gave everyone some homework – between now and the next speakeasy (yup, I’m signing Outdoor Alliance up to host another one), build a new partnership, start a dialogue with someone who might have a different viewpoint than you, and take action for a better future. Make a call. Write a letter. Register to vote (before mid-term elections on November 6, 2018). Learn from others. And make your voice heard!