A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post offering to compile and coordinate fly-fishing business voices and perhaps bring a little organization to a network of engaged business folks. It was prompted by a call to action on Moldy Chum.
The purpose was to gauge interest within the fly-fishing business community to speak up for conservation. I know the connection is strong and I was hoping to help direct that interest in such a way that the collective voices could help the cause of conservation. My follow up conversation with folks in the fly-fishing business has been both positive and supportive, the industry really does understand habitat = opportunity = economic activity.
I am still looking to recruit more businesses, so lend a hand, the more the merrier, (you can leave a comment or shoot me a note and I will follow up with you).
There were also some thoughtful comments on both the blog and Facebook that deserve a response.
The question of whether the conservation discussion should be a political one got some attention.
To me it depends on what “political” means.
Experience has taught me that extremes on both sides of the conservation and environmental debate are easily marginalized and in both cases can prevent progress on important policy from taking place. Labels and litmus tests rarely work.
To my way of thinking “political” means using your standing in the community – whichever community you belong to – to influence the discussion and more importantly the outcome on these critical policy issues. Going political without making progress doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and may even be counter-productive.
In the case of the fly-fishing business community their economic standing has significant influence. What needs to happen is for them to exercise that influence.
Outdoor recreation dependent businesses like fly-fishing need to carry the fight themselves and not rely on others to do it for them. Making a financial contribution to conservation groups is important but adding your voice to the conversation is critically important as well.
It is in our economic self-interest to do so. To quote Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard “We are a part of nature and as we destroy nature we destroy our selves. It is a selfish thing to want to protect nature.”
The same holds true for our nature dependent businesses. Support for conservation is a good business model but to pound the point home, YOU need to be directly involved in letting policy makers know it is important to your business!
Conservation advocacy as a marketing advantage.
I bet you can think of examples of when a business speaks up as an advocate for clean water, healthy habitat and responsible use of our natural resources they enhanced their brand reputation. Why not do the same thing?
Think about it. If the reaction to AFFTA’s award provoked such an outcry then it seems to me our customers see conservation as a pretty important element of the sport.
Letters to the editor, radio interviews or blog posts about a conservation topic can be become free advertising. They help define your business as part of the community that cares about the future and is a good steward of land and water.
What are you doing to show you conservation street cred?
Need some suggestions on how to shine a light on what you are doing on the conservation front? Drop in a comment or shoot me a note. I will be happy to offer some more ideas.
The take away
Whether it is politics, altruism or economic self interest the fact of the matter is the if we don’t make our voices heard either directly to our elected officials or in the court of public opinion then we only have ourselves to blame. The opportunity to engage in the discussion is easier than anytime in history and I will be delighted to help in any way I can, just let me know.
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