Patagonia Action Works

One of the world’s largest outdoor sportswear companies hopes to sync global environmental activism with local grassroots organizations through a new activist platform.

In a recent launch video for Patagonia Action Works, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc., says he’s created “kind of a dating site” that the company hopes “facilitates human connection.”

“Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems,” Chouinard says.

“If we could connect our community, our friends, our customers, directly with local groups near where they live, working on issues that they are passionate about, suddenly these organizations would have the capacity to achieve even more,” says Lisa Pike Sheehy, Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental Activism.

The Patagonia Action Works platform that Chouinard characterizes as “a dating site” was built “to connect committed individuals to organizations working on environmental issues in the same community,” according to the platform’s website.

Affiliated activist organizations involved with Patagonia Action Works focus on issues of land, water, climate, communities and biodiversity. Individuals can go to the website and sign up to be connected with affiliated organizations issues they are “passionate about.” Patagonia Action Works then matches people with events and volunteering opportunities in their area as well as petitions they can sign and ways to donate money.

The company made headlines when Chouinard, an outspoken critic of national monument revision by the Trump administration and a proponent of anti-fossil fuel policies, refused an open offer to share his views with members of Congress.

As Western Wire reported, Chouinard used a blog post to decline the committee’s invitation. On Patagonia’s website, Chouinard, called the invitation to testify before the committee “disingenuous.”

“Let’s talk about Bears Ears. You’ve got companies involved, like Patagonia, made in China,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told conservative talk show host Dana Loesch last month. “They manufacture things overseas, slave labor nearly. If they’re so concerned about the environment, why don’t they … bring it back [to the United States]?”

But as The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported, despite Patagonia’s claims that national monument reductions would lead to a rush to carve up the land, no one showed up. There have been zero claims or permit applications for the former Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, according to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining.

In the West, it’s Patagonia’s efforts to sway voters on hydraulic fracturing that has drawn more scrutiny.

Western Wire recently reported Chouinard’s company led an outdoor manufacturers’ revolt in 2017 to move a large retail show from Utah to Denver, based on public lands conservation concerns, according to Patagonia’s leadership.

“We will continue to support grassroots movements that are pushing local, state and federal governments to ban or strictly regulate fracking in communities across the country,” said Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan in a 2013 letter. “That starts with a statewide ban in Colorado in 2014.”

Sheahan hoped the efforts to ban fracking would “be replicated nationwide.”

Instead, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that efforts to regulate oil and gas at the municipal level—Patagonia’s goal—were “invalid and unenforceable.”

As Western Wire reported, top Colorado Democrats like Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) admitted to a crowd last fall at an Energy and Manufacturing forum in Denver that his “party has struggled on this issue [“keep it in the ground”] not because they have had a principled position.”

At the forum, Bennet called activists in his party who opposed natural gas and hydraulic fracturing as “anti-jobs” and “anti-science.”

But this spring, Bennet is scheduled to appear at a March 6 promotional event for Patagonia in Washington, D.C.

Greenwire reports one of the company’s Washington, D.C. allies, Bennet, will attend the company’s launch, touting the newly created activist platform.

In recently released video, Chouinard proudly touts the “nearly $90 million” the company has given to activists.

Chouinard and his company have backed state and local fracking ban efforts in Colorado as early as 2013. Chouinard, who recently joined the billionaire club in 2017, donated $500,000 to California billionaire activist Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action in 2014.

Chouinard has also donated prolifically to Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Senate, including two Western Senators, Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.). Chouinard also backed Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).