At the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Winter Show, Deanna Lloyd and Stasia Raines had the idea of gathering a group of young, inspiring outdoor industry folks for dinner and conversation. They called it The Futurist Project, and with the financial sponsorship of The Forest Group, rented a house and invited seventeen people to join them with the intention of creating a space for meaningful conversation. â€œWe didn't have a prescriptive outcome, but felt there was a groundswell of young people in the industry eager to connect on issues that we find to be important,â€ said Raines, co-founder of The Futurist Project and director of marketing and communications for The Outdoor Foundation.
â€œWe were excited to bring together our peers and define the future of the outdoor community in a way that was authentic to us,â€ said Lloyd, co-founder of The Futurist Project and director at The Forest Group. â€œWe wanted to discuss our collective experiences, share our stories and see what came from that.â€
In a just a few months, on the evening before the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, 100 Futurists will again be invited to attend The Futurist Project, for influential leaders in the industry - 35 years and younger. In order to expand the conversation, they've teamed up with Outdoor Nation and The Outdoor Foundation.
â€œWe want to facilitate a larger gathering where new leaders representing all facets of the industry can connect,â€ said Lloyd. Raines and Lloyd hope this will make waves in the industry by creating a unique space to discuss issues related to their generation, the future of the industry and their relationship with the outdoors. They hope these conversations generate innovative ideas; ideas that can turn into funded action.
â€œPartnering with Outdoor Nation gives us the ability to not only talk about good ideas, but to make them happen, which is truly a game-changer,â€ said Raines. Last year, Outdoor Nation gave away $150,000 in activation grants and this year plans to double that to $300,000. The organization intends to finance proposals that may result from The Futurist Project and understands the importance of letting younger people lead these efforts.â€
â€œOver the past two years, Outdoor Nation has been empowering a new generation of outdoor leaders -- providing a growing community with the platforms, infrastructure and resources to spearhead activities and activism, said Christine Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. â€œWith major support from The North Face, REI Foundation and other top outdoor companies, we're excited to work with young industry leaders and explore ways they can champion innovative ideas that increase outdoor participation.â€
Launched in 2010 by The Outdoor Foundation and a coalition of more than 100 organizations, Outdoor Nation is a Millennial-led movement that is working to reconnect a new generation with the outdoors. From bringing together thousands of young leaders at regional summits to investing in innovative on-the-ground projects, Outdoor Nation has emerged as a major force of thought leaders and change makers who are mobilizing thousands of young people to get outdoors and get active.
For information on how you can get involved in The Futurist Project or to nominate a young mover and shaker in the industry, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Futurist Project
We are a tribe with a rich and powerful heritage. We recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, who have created a path for the outdoor industry. With that in mind, we believe it is now time for us to tell our stories and determine our own future. In order to do this, we must identify, rally around and advocate for the causes and issues that define who we are and what we deem important. We see this transpiring through collaborative conversations. These help us define the purpose and projects our community believes in and will accomplish together.
About the Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and empowerment and effective grant making, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that empowers young leaders to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. To date, the successful initiative has engaged tens of thousands of youth and invested more than $200,000 in over 50 innovative projects spearheaded by young leaders and change-makers. For more information visit: OutdoorFoundation.org and OutdoorNation.org.