Saturday, May 05, 2018

Patagonia v. Trump

David Gelles

...But on an unseasonably hot and windy Monday morning in early December, Patagonia headquarters were transformed into something that quickly resembled a war room. There were emergency conference calls with Washington lawyers. Court filings were prepared. Web designers remade the company’s home page. It wasn’t a business crisis that had mobilized the company, however. It was politics. Hours earlier, President Trump had announced plans to sharply reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. Patagonia was as ready for this moment as any company could be. For more than 45 years, the company has mixed business and politics to a degree unusual in corporate America. While companies are expected to weigh in on everything from gun control to transgender rights these days — and many do so uncomfortably — Patagonia has been unapologetically political since the 1970s. It bills itself “the Activist Company” and publicly advocates for environmental protection, fair trade and stricter labor standards. It supports thousands of grass-roots environmental activists, and has been involved with Bears Ears since 2012. But until December, Patagonia had never tangled with a president. That Monday morning, about 50 Patagonia employees gathered in a conference room to watch Mr. Trump’s speech. The mood was somber. Then, within an hour of the president’s remarks, Patagonia updated the home page of its website. Instead of promotional images advertising colorful products, there was a stark message against a black background: “The President Stole Your Land.”

 At the same time, Patagonia’s legal team set into motion a plan that had been in the works for months: It would sue the president. Working with a handful of local groups and the law firm Hogan Lovells, Patagonia filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Washington. The lawsuit named as defendants Mr. Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the secretary of agriculture, the director of the Bureau of Land Managemenfolkst and the chief of the Forest Service. And the argument was simple: The Antiquities Act of 1906 gave presidents the power to create national monuments. But it did not grant the power to reduce them...MORE

And that is not all folks...

That set the template. Patagonia would offer small grants to local activists, give in-kind support through marketing know-how and business savvy, and amplify their message with customers. Mr. Chouniard also resolved to give one percent of Patagonia’s sales to support environmental activism. Patagonia has given out thousands of grants. In Alaska, the company has supported efforts to prevent waste from mining operations from polluting Bristol Bay, a productive salmon fishery. In Yellowstone National Park, Patagonia has worked to protect grizzly bears. In Poland, the company has advocated for the protection of forests. And Patagonia has waded into national politics before, having opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.The company has produced feature-length documentary films, including “DamNation,” an argument against damming rivers. Every other year, it hosts a conference where activists share tips and best practices for protests, fund-raising and litigation. And in 2011, Patagonia famously placed an ad in The New York Times that read, “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” an effort to discourage excessive consumption.

 Also see this post from last year
Power play: How outdoor retailers are positioned as a political, economic and social force for change

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