When Sen. John Edwards, running mate of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, is in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 14, outdoor industry leaders will be there too, invited to speak about issues that matter to the industry.
The event -- organized with the efforts of many, including Lee Fromson, president of Cascade Designs -- is an endorsement press conference with leaders of our industry similar to what the technology industry did in Silicon Valley when President Bill Clinton was running for office in 1992.
Michael Crooke, president of Patagonia, is one of a growing number of company executives who has already committed to attending. He told us that, "We need to take our place as the powerful industry that we are and convey the message during this election that our industry represents the earth and the environment and without that there is no other industry. We have to speak and we have to be heard."
SNEWSÂ® has been told that industry leaders will be able to talk on a number of points important to the Kerry campaign, including: manufacturing in the United States; strong land and water stewardship programs and how they are good for economic growth; and the importance of a healthy outdoor industry to the U.S. economy and why that means protecting recreational opportunities on public lands. Â
It is important to note that this is NOT an Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) sponsored event and OIA has made it clear that it is not in the position of endorsing politicians.
Fromson agreed that OIA should not be involved and told us, "This is a great opportunity to be counted as individuals important to an industry in such a very important election. I also fully understand that getting involved in politics is a sticky situation for many of us in the industry and I understand that in some cases, corporate policy prohibits willing industry leaders from giving a personal endorsement."
Crooke, who sees this event from a slightly less "endorsement" level added, "I am going to be there because the environmental degradation that is occurring on our planet right now is as bad as it has ever been in history and I feel like if I don't give one hundred percent of my energy and passion toward trying to change this, I would not be able to look myself in the mirror. It is not about individuals. I am not there to endorse any political party; I am there to raise awareness about what is going on in the environment and I would hope that by raising the awareness at the grassroots level, those that read about and hear about the event will themselves become more active."
All that aside, Fromson wants you. If you are willing to fly to Portland for the morning event on Sept. 14, contact him at 206-676-1440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.