Nudist Advocacy Organizations and AANR in the Wall Street Journal
The last post about defining the terms nudism and naturism has got me thinking. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the end result; the process and discussion is what I find far more important and fascinating.
It was obvious, from what the people said and the comments that came after, just how unorganized and weak the nudist movement is. But the question is, why? Why is something so basic as a simple definition of a nudist so difficult to answer? This is a new phenomenon for me, because in business, politics and so forth, the terms are clear and leave no room for ambiguity.
A business has a clear leadership structure. An organization has (or should have) a clear mission. A movement is something that comes about to address specific issues due to the lack of structured organizations advocating on people’s behalf (but since it is created to deal with specific issues, it has clear cut goals). So where does that leave the nudist world?
It is no great secret that YNA has had a difficult time trying to get AANR and TNS to be more responsive and supportive. This sends us a clear signal that they believe they are doing a great job and would prefer to maintain the status quo (basically continuing the same way they have been for decades). We respect their opinions but retain the right to disagree.
By now, most of you have probably seen the article about AANR that came out today in the Wall Street Journal. I sent the article to a few people just to get their thoughts and so far, I have yet to get one neutral party to say anything positive about it. The gist of the comments was that AANR came off looking like a small child who is desperate for attention as well as being an organization that does not know how to take constructive criticism (not to mention the fact that AANR gave the impression that they have given up on attracting the younger generation and now cater to the baby boomers).
Basically, the article said that none of the 100 or so companies that AANR approached saw any value of working with AANR. In addition, one of the top marketing experts, Karen Post, weighed in with a very interesting comment. (For those of you who don’t know her, Karen Post is a leading brand and marketing specialist who has been on every major news network, and the author of “Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference”). Ms. Post flat out said that AANR’s tagline — “The credible voice of reason for nude recreation since 1931″— has got to go. Susan Weaver, the current president of AANR, brushed off that suggestion saying that she was proud of it.
Now, I don’t know what others might think, but if someone like Karen Post says something like that, I believe it should be taken seriously. Just because we like something, it does not mean that it is the best option. At least AANR conceded that their website needs work, but that they will do it with the new funds generated from sponsors. I find this odd… AANR boasts about having a $1.5 Million budget and yet they don’t have the funds needed to revamp their site? Plus, from the way the article is written, AANR might have to wait a long time, so where does that leave its members who might want a better looking and more user-friendly website?
Another issue that got many nudists upset is the fact that the acting executive director of AANR, Jim Smock, is not a nudist. I see their point, but it never really bothered me till I saw the picture in the article today. Now, I might be mistaken, but from the looks of it, Jim just removed his shirt long enough to get the picture (you can still see it in the image!). What kind of signal does that send? Why the need to pretend? It made my heart drop when I saw it because it adds to the sentiment that the article is one big joke or a game (at least that is what some of the people said).
The “nudist movement,” as it is perceived by the general population is somewhat of an oxymoron. Nudists are seen as being an overweight and aging population that simply enjoys sitting around and sunbathing nude all day long. But from what I have seen and experienced over these past two years, the reality is completely different. There is no lack of interest but there is an image problem. Let’s face it, it is not perceived as cool to be a nudist. The article today did not help, and things like this make it even more difficult to change the public’s perception. I am not a believer that any press is good press. Sometimes it is better to say no, even if it is the Wall Street Journal.
In the US we have bigger organizations like TNS and AANR. But the fact that no one really knows why, when or what they do, is a major roadblock when it comes to getting support. Now, naturism is a different type of cause (perhaps because it is not generally perceived as a “cause”). Anyone on the street would probably say that if someone wants to be naked then they should go home and take their clothes off… Should a person want to participate in social nude activities then there are a bunch of beaches, clubs, resorts and home get-togethers. So no need for advocacy there. Therefore, support from non-nudists would be hard to get unless one promotes a different set of values that are currently not being addressed by any other organizations.
If you are a nonprofit or advocacy group, you need support and donations. Very few people will donate to AANR or TNS simply because they believe in “the cause” or “mission.” TNS has a good publication which is why most people become members. People join AANR because they want discounts (and some are basically forced to become members if they want to be part of certain nudist resorts or clubs). The fact that people ask, “What do I get if I join?” pretty much sums up the point. People who feel passionate about a cause or organization will donate regardless of what they will get in return. Since there is no true nudist advocacy organization out there today, there is nothing for nudists to rally support for or rally behind.
YNA is probably the poorest of all the naturist groups and yet we are the most vocal and active. Curating content that addresses specific issues takes a ton of time and dedication and while other groups can AFFORD to do this, none of them really do.
The closest thing that we have to a true advocate is The Naturist Action Committee (NAC). In my humble opinion, it is probably one of the best things to come out of the naturist / nudist movement. They have a great track record and are extremely effective when it comes to dealing with legal issues pertaining to public lands and beaches. Perhaps if they had more support from the other groups and organizations, they could be even more influential. But without proper funding and a growing network of support they will have a tough time raising the funds they need to deal with the legal issues as well as establishing a more prominent presence. All these things cost money and NAC can’t fight legal battles and still spend money on furthering their reach so they are left to pick and choose which ones they can and should take on.
One of the major hurdles that nudism faces today is nudists. There are far too many egos in this industry and too many people believe they know what is best. “We” (as in the nudist movement) have no real dialogue let alone collaborations.
Some say that I have a “pie in the sky” approach because I believe that TNS and AANR should be working together more often and supporting other like-minded groups and organizations. If Democrats and Republicans can see eye to eye every now and again then why can’t “we”? (Not the best example but I think you get my drift.)
This seemingly simple suggestion is not as viable as one would hope. For this to work, a decision must be made to share information and work on structuring a collaborative effort. Since most of the issues seem to revolve around money, here is an example of the immediate financial benefits that could be had – tracking of legislation. The biggest company that offers this service would probably be LexisNexis, and the service is not cheap. I wonder if each organization pays separately for using this type of service? If that is the case, then wouldn’t it make sense to have one account and share that information? Perhaps even dividing the responsibilities? For example, NAC has a great track record when dealing with legal issues that involve public lands – let them spearhead that department. AANR has a good record with lobbying? So let AANR focus on that.
San Onofre is a great example where NAC and AANR got involved, took different approaches and probably did not have a clear plan of how best to deal with the issue (as a collaborative effort). The end result? No clothing optional or nude beach in San Onofre. I can’t help but wonder if having a partnership in approach might have yielded a better result. I can’t say exactly what happened because as of yet, AANR has not made an absolute transparent statement as to what exactly happened (at least none that I have seen). NAC on the other hand has been quite helpful with making information available and for that I would like to say thank you :)
I understand that negotiations are kept quiet while they are going on. But we see no harm in doing a postmortem analysis whereby information could be made available, lessons could be learned and maybe such a fiasco could be avoided in the future.
But that is a monumental task and we need to start somewhere. So I propose settling the basic issue first. I would like to reiterate that for me it makes no real difference but just for argument’s sake, let’s try and come up with a basic definition for what nudists and naturists are.
As far as I could see from the discussion online, a sweeping broad term that I feel everyone can agree on would be something like…
Nudist – A person who enjoys nonsexual nude recreation and social nude activities in sanctioned public locations and / or in private ones.
Naturist – A person who enjoys nonsexual nude recreation and social nude activities with a major focus of interest on those activities that take place outdoors and in nature. This group also believes that Naturism and environmental issues are intertwined.
Since we are already at it…
The definition of a YNA Nudie – A person who believes in the benefits of nonsexual nude recreation as it pertains to the broader issues of acceptance and social responsibilities. For this group of people, nudity is not the main focus but rather a tool that is used to teach people about acceptance, tolerance and compassion. Some causes that a nudie would be advocating for are: body acceptance, prevention of online and offline bullying, working to end body shame and tackling censorship of “innocent” or simple “nudity.” (These are just a few examples.)
Once we could get a majority consensus on this basic issue, perhaps it could be a starting point for more discussion about other issues. At least we can hope! (And we do need a starting point where we all could agree.)
Category: Naked News
About the Author (Author Profile)Jordan Blum is a lifelong nudie and co-founder of Young Naturists America.
There are really two issues being discussed: 1. what AANR's mission is, and 2. does its actions and publicity effectively further that mission.
Point two has already been exhaustively discussed, as relates to the WSJ article and the sponsor program. My view is there is nothing wrong with the effort to get sponsors, difficult though that may be for a small organization. Here AANR rightly tried to point to surveys indicating its membership is only a small part of those interested in nude recreation. All other discussion relates to incidentals like the picture of Jim Smock and parsing the text of the article, as the WSJ reporter and editors presented it, something not entirely under AANR's control.
On point one, AANR's mission is to promote nude recreation. One cannot disagree with Paul Rapoport that this first means the promotion of its member resorts...as a trade organization. However, I believe there has been an evolution from an earlier attitude some years ago of pure arrogance toward and dismissal of naturism outside its closed circle of resorts. (For example AANR has a web page on clothing-optional beaches, which is something you probably wouldn't have seen 20 years ago. That change involves AANR's members' acceptance and use of c/o beaches and nude travel outside the AANR resorts.) This attitude was as unproductive as the attitude of those who say we don't need any naturist/nudist advocacy organizations at all. Aside from advocacy & promotion, there is legal defense.
For every disagreement on tactics (the San Onofre debacle and the Youth Camp issue of 2003), one can point to areas of cooperation (AANR's cooperation with other national [NAC] and local [SFFB] organizations on the Playalinda Beach issue in FL going back many years). Unfortunately cooperation may sometimes still be marred by jockeying for precedence. One should remember AANR (and similar organizations) are guided by the attitude of its board, which will evolve in membership and outlook.
Putting up a naturist website with nice content is good, but at some point you run into specific local issues, and then it comes down to what a naturist organization is going to do to assist local groups and individuals.
@MichaelKush Thank you for that comment. If I understand correctly, you agree that AANR is basically there to support resorts (firs and foremost). If this is the case then shouldn't the resorts be the ones to flip the bill? Why are they even charging membership dues?Legal defense - I assume you are not referring to individuals here. I say this because there is a misconception that AANR will assist individuals with legal issues. We get a ton of emails from people who were not even able to get the time of day when they called about legal issues.The sponsorship idea is great! I dont think it was a bad idea at all. The implementation of it is where I have an issue.
@jblumyna Well, or course, since AANR is made up primarily of resort members that is its basic concern. This shouldn't be controversial. Saying that AANR is an organization of "resorts, and their members" might better balance the concerns. This is not intended to be negative.
AANR, and the other organizations, have a very limited budget for legal defense, and nudity issues run a very wide gamut. A judgment must be made if a legal defense is practical and sane. There is a big difference between defending a traditional clothing-optional beach and defending someone who wants to go nude anywhere. Like it or not, we have to work incrementally within an established legal system and established prejudices.
Charging individual member dues seems an equitable way of funding for both small & large resorts, and I don't have a problem with it. Otherwise you'd wind up with some pro-rata scheme distinguishing between resort contributions based on their membership anyway. Six of one, half a dozen of the other...
We're all going to argue the implementation, because everyone thinks they could have done better...
@MichaelKush "...and then it comes down to what a naturist organization is going to do to assist local groups and individuals...."
As Hamlet opined: Aye, there's the rub.....
@TwoMetreMan @MichaelKush Well, I guess we have to make sure we all know what an organization does and promises. If they promise support and dont give it, that is one thing... but if they make no such claims then people should not expect them to do anything. Did AANR make any claims of support that they have not followed through on?
@jblumyna "...Did AANR make any claims of support that they have not followed through on?..."
In fairness, no. At least, none that I can remember. I did not keep the membership paperwork from back then.
I guess in those days (early 90's), I naively assumed that by paying them a membership fee, an organisation (AANR in this case) had some moral responsibility to me (since they accepted my money) and would therefore speak out on my behalf. They are, after all, ostensibly an advocacy organisation to at least some degree - yes?
Such was not the case, however, and I learnt a valuable lesson concerning whom AANR actually represents. Thus, I voted with my dollars and left AANR, never to return.
After having read this article, I then did a search to see what had been written in the Wall Street Journal. I do find the article to be positive in the aspect that AANR is trying to make it publicly known that they are looking for sponsors. Having this open publicity will hopefully help with receiving more sponsorship in the future. The picture that had been used for Jim Smock was a nice photo, especially so others may see who is sending the letters out requesting for sponsorships. Yes, there may have been a shirt in the photo, but honestly it could have easily been a towel, we are nudists you know. Jim is a nudist as well, so I don't know where this source is coming from stating that he is not, because he is and you know just as well as myself that he is a nudist. In regards to the comment made by Susan about the slogan, she had stood by it as it stated and she does feel that the website as well as the branding could use some work. I believe that as well and as we get more into the future, everyone is constantly on the internet or on their phones so we will need something that would be more user friendly and appealing. I remember when the main age range was younger kids about infant to 15, then there would be a gap and it would be 30 and older. The age range has started to shift some, however we are still maintaining the younger crowd. AANR does advocate body acceptance, prevention of bullying, as well as family unity. I, myself have gone to youth camps put on by AANR, and then as I grew older I have gone through the training to become a Nude U youth camp counselor. Body acceptance is one of the main things that we teach to the youth by different workshops we put on throughout the week that we are at camp, along with how to deal with bullies, to feel more comfortable with yourself and who you are as a person.
Yes, the different groups don't always work together, however when they do, it turns out well for the most part. The political reference was kind of off, but that's besides the point. Each group does have their difference of opinions and they still work together from time to time in order to help with the forward movement of the nudist or naturist lifestyle. As you had been a part of the Summit that was put on, and thank you and Felicity for both suggesting this to Susan Weaver, you had seen they (AANR and TNS) were trying to reach out to the youth in order to get ideas about where they could go in the future, because we are the future of the nudist or naturist lifestyle. I am sorry that it had not gone exactly as you had planned, however they are trying to come to all of us with ideas. In regards to you being kicked out of the group, you had politely offered to remove yourself as there had been quite a bit of hostility going back and forth amongst the members. I believe it is because you do have a strong personality and it tends to come off as more harsh than it does as a genuinely curious person who has strong beliefs. I do hope that we can all get together again in the future, hopefully in person this time, in order to come to more of a forward movement rather than a stand-still with the issues of youth in the nudist or naturist lifestyle.
@Jessica5 About Jim, there's a very good chance you got that wrong. If you ask Tom about it, I'm sure he will be honest with you. (He also says in his comment below that it IS his shirt.) Anyway we don't have a problem if he is or isn't a nudist if he does his job well and doesn't pretend to be something he's not.
Where does AANR advocate for body acceptance and prevention of bullying, other than in within a couple of youth camps?
There's not enough of a track record to say whether it generally works out well or not when the groups do collaborate.
Yes, Jordan offered to remove himself and the response was 'yes, you should leave.' There was no attempt to resolve anything. He may be perceived as confrontational, but at least you always know where he stands. He was flat-out called a liar who can't be trusted, and nobody said anything to counter that, so the perception is there is no trust there. So what basis of communication can we have if there's no trust?
@nudist_resortsI had spent a weekend with Jim and I have seen that he is a nudist. In regards to the photo, I do see that it had been previously stated by Tom that it was a shirt. What I was stating is that it honestly didn't matter if it was a shirt or not, seeing as most people that looked at the photo would not know for sure, that it could just have easily been a towel, and it is irrelevant to what the article is stating.
As Tom had stated below with the link about how AANR promotes body acceptance, it is also shown in the following link: http://www.aanr.com/about-aanr Please view the bold line of AANR Principles and Standards. This has been ongoing for years, that they have promoted body acceptance.
I understand that you may feel there is no trust, however we do still trust the both of you. It is nothing to do with trust. We were all brought together for one purpose which was to come up with ideas to help move the nudist or naturist lifestyle forward and show that we could get more youth into the lifestyle. We want to move forward and gather those ideas, however with the conversations that had been going on in the online chat group, it appeared to be a lot of negativity that had nothing to do with the forward movement of youth in the nudist or naturist lifestyle. I do hope that we could move past this so we may come up with some great ideas for the future.
Felicity, if you are talking about From a Women's Perspective it's been around a long time, At least 10 years probably longer. What I don't see is where you think AANR is against body acceptance?
Jessica, you know that we were running in and out all day long and people tend to get upset when I leave my house and dont put on clothes.
Now that I think back, most people were not wearing any clothing other than Jim. Also, based on your definition I dont think he fits the profile. But you might know something that all the people I spoke with dont (I mean that sincerely it is by no means a dig).
What you say about AANR does not mesh with the reality on the ground. I could go into further detail with you but that might take a while to type ;)If I understand your comment correctly...
You are saying that some resorts would not be around if it were not for aanr and the membership money that individuals pay for goes to support resorts. If that is the case then I for one would rather support resorts by paying them when I visit. I expect a membership driven organization to put the needs of its members first. That is just my world view and you are more than welcome to disagree. But that said, if AANR advocates pretty much only on behalf of the resorts and they dont claim to be anything else, then we would not have any issues.$1.5mil is a tiny budget but at the same time, if used wisely, it can go pretty far. It is all a question of priorities. As for what happened in the group... I dont agree about the website issues playing any real factor in any of it. People find excuses and use whatever is going on at the time to try and sway people's opinions. If it would not have been the site it would most likely be something else. Also, by the time that issue happened, a good number of days went by with absolutely no support from anyone in the group. By the time any comment was made it was all water under the bridge and made absolutely no difference. The issue was that someone from a different young naturist "group" crossed the line and everyone agreed but yet remained quiet. I expect people to do what they feel is right and to stand up for their beliefs. If we dont have morals and ethics to guide us then what are we doing here?As for stepping in... you should have. In my opinion you should have said something or at least mentioned that you would like to know more info before commenting. I dont recall you making any attempts, but again I might be mistaken. At least you could have commented on the original post which everyone agreed was ugly and upsetting. By not doing something or saying something we are by default condoning it. For better or worse you will always know where I stand :)I wish you lots of luck and I truly hope you create something amazing! I truly do :)
I believe being a nudist is someone who is free to let themselves be nude and enjoy other activities with fellow nudists. That they have accepted theirself and body in order to feel free and happy. In regards to Jim wearing clothes at the summit, as you may have seen as well, most of the people were wearing clothes there. This was of course due to the weather being in the 20's and 30's. If I recally, both you and Felicity had been clothed as well. Therefore, that comment was irrelevant and the dispute should not be about his being a nudist or not. What you had posted this about was to ask if people felt that there should be organizations? Of course there were many other disputes within this article, however the main title is asking if we should have these organizations. I believe that we should, because they do help and have been struggling for years now to get the word out more. They have dealt with many legal issues, but they can only fight so many battles. Yes, we have to pay membership fees which gives us the perks of discounts at clubs and so forth, but without that growth then some of these clubs wouldn't still be around. AANR has helped members in the past and even to this day with legal issues having to deal with custody battles due to parents going through a divorce and the mother or father uses the "they are a nudist" against them to say they are not fit to be a good parent. They give the person guidance through these battles and sometimes even have their lawyers come to help. Of course they can't help fight all battles, they do not have enough expendable income which is where the membership fees come into play. Having the income in order to help build a stronger organization which can then help the people and clubs more is what they need. If you do not feel this way about them, then that is fine. Each person has their own opinion.
In regards to the conflict that had occurred in the group, I had put my comments and thoughts in where I could. However, I was not about to step in when there was the constant back and forth, due to the fact that I wanted to get the whole story from both sides. I am sorry that you had been called a liar. It was not necessary, however the circumstances of the website issues had not been in your favor at that time, as we both know. If you would like to discuss this further, you can always contact me through Facebook. I will try to get back to you in a timely manner. I do wish the best for you and Felicity and hope to hear more from you both in the future.
@Jessica5 @FelicityJones @nudist_resorts Hi Jessica ... This goes back to the discussion we had about what a nudist or naturist is. Say Jim did participate a handful of times, does that make him a nudist? At the young peoples meeting, I noticed that he was fully clothed. It did not bother me... but if he were a nudist then why would he not just enjoy the nudist aspect of that weekend. As far as me feeling that there is no trust.... I never said that I dont have trust in the other people. But I was flat out call a lair and the same person said that I was not to be trusted and that I am misleading people in some way. After she posted that I made a public comment asking if I should leave the group. Halsie suggested it would be best so I am no longer involved. But did that solve anything? Did anything get resolved? Did we talk through our issues and work them out?I judge people by the actions the decide to take (or dont take). In this instance, not one person stood up and said a word. If these individuals are leaders then they should be willing to stand up. They should have agreed with accuser or say something to her about the spiteful comments that she made. Since none of that happened, I really dont see the point in having the group or calling the people in the group leaders.
When was that article published, Tom?
An organization has to do more than state in their principles / standards that they promote a certain issue or ideal. Anybody can list body acceptance on their website. The question is, do their actions reflect their words?
It has everything to do with trust and human interaction. Leaders are expected to lead. There was an issue that we had to resolve, but people lack the basic skills it takes to debate things and work out the issues. If there's no trust, there's no basis for any communication. It's easy to duck for cover. We judge based on actions, not on words, in all aspects of our lives.
@FelicityJones @Jessica5 Hi Felicity, AANr has always promoted body acceptance. Look here: http://www.aanr.com/from-a-womans-perspective and the highlighted quote is "It feels fabulous to be judged by who I am and not by the physical condition of my body or the style clothing I'm wearing."
YNA has a friend in me, so don't give up. However I am a volunteer there, it is not my full time job, so I am not involved with everything that goes on.
I'd like to live in a world where nudists are more accepted and Nudist Advocacy Organizations aren't needed. It sometimes feels strange to be promoting something so simple.
@ChristopherJudson True, but that is not the world we live in. That's why even in Europe, there are nudist organizations like FKK, BN, and others working to expand or protect nudism. Tom
@ChristopherJudson True :)
Thanks for writing this article. It is always good to read people’s opinions about nude recreation and nudism. I learn a lot from reading columns such as yours and comments that nudists write here.
I am writing this comment in my capacity as the Public Relations chairperson for AANR. I am doing this to clarify some points.
The Wall Street Journal article has nothing to do with what is the definition of nudists or naturists. That is a completely different topic which you have done a good job writing about and which has received great comments for your readers. Personally I am surprised that you would bring it up in a column about the Wall Street Journal article.
I have to admit I was taken aback by the tone of your article. You are usually so positive and upbeat.
You sent the WSJ article to a few people to read and they had nothing positive to say about the article. I have heard nothing but positives. Not everyone agrees on any story or issue. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.”
I have already talked with a reporter at another major national media organization about maybe writing a story about nude recreation and it looks like AANR will have another interview with a major international media company later this week about nudism. These are major positives that resulted from this article. As you know, when dealing with reporters, they don’t want you to discuss their story ideas in public until the story is published.
Your friends may not have anything positive to say about the article, but that runs counter to the opinions of 2 big news organizations and lots of other nudists.
Why do you say “AANR gave the impression that they have given up on attracting the younger generation and now cater to the baby boomers?” The reporter did not say that.
When dealing with the press or writing columns, honesty is more important than anything else. We have to be honest with the press and AANR honestly told the WSJ about our demographics which are our typical members are college educated empty nesters who have disposable income and like to travel. We can’t lie about or demographics.
I personally told the reporter that we have members of all ages from their 20’s to 80’s. Just because the reporter chose not to print that we have younger members does not mean AANR has given up trying to attract the younger generation.
AANR sponsored the Young Nudist Leaders Summit and were pleased that you and Felicity participated by Skype. At that summit there were outstanding young nudist leaders like yourselves, who are reaching out and involving other young nudists in both AANR, TNS, YNA, etc.
The reporter contacted Karen Post the branding export for advice and she said the Association tagline “the credible voice of reason for nude recreation since 1931 – has got to go.” You then write “Susan Weaver, the current president of AANR, brushed off that suggestion saying that she was proud of it.” Where did she brush off that suggestion? The WSJ article said “”Ms Weaver says she is proud of that tagline, developed with the help of a focus group seven years ago, but conceded that the groups brand and website could use some spiffing up. She says it’s one of the things she hopes to do…” Saying you want to improve you brand is brushing off? I don’t think so.
Of course what the reporter did not print and was made aware of was that AANR did use a professional travel industry branding expert and a professional focus group to come up with the tagline and as the reporter told Susan when she was being interviewed “when you talk to five branding experts you get 5 different conclusions.” The whole point her is AANR is not staying static, and does want to improve its brand image and we are always working towards that goal.
On Sunday, the day before the article ran, I got a call from the reporter and she asked me to send some photos to her. And I had only 30 minutes to get them to her as she was on deadline.I submitted a number of photos.
The AANR office is in Kissimmee, FL. They are in a strip shopping center. The office has windows in which people can see in from the outside. People wear clothes in the office. Last week,Jennifer asked for some photos to use and was sent some. Then last minute she asked for a photo of Jim and Susan where they had implied nudity. Jim took off his shirt and a photo was sent. I didn’t notice the yellow shirt until you mentioned it. In the rush to get the photo to WSJ it was not cropped and no one at the AANR noticed the yellow shirt either Of all the photos that were sent, they liked that one the best. Jim is the Executive Director of AANR, so it’s logical that they used his photo instead of photos of me, Mary Clare, or Patty our manager, who is younger.
As far as an image problem, I agree many people perceive nudists as being older. AANR needs images of younger people enjoying nude recreation. We would love for YNA to send us photos of younger people enjoying nude recreation and we would send them out all the time to the press. However, as you know, just because you send a reporter a photo of someone in their 20’s or 30’s like Patty and a baby boomers photo, you have no control over what photos are selected for stories.
So please send us photos. Now we do need signed releases from everyone in the photo as they have to be aware that their image may be used by the press.
AANR through their legal defense fund does much advocacy work. They have hired lobbyists to defeat bad legislation. They have supported nudists in child custody battles and job firings. They support nude beaches. There is lots of legal defense work that goes on behind the scenes. Yes it is reported in the AANR Bulletin and people can see the work AANR does on their behalf.
TNS and AANR do work together. For instance, there is an influential TNS member on the AANR PR committee. Gary makes great contributions andf gives great advice. And for instance this year on July 13th, TNS and AANR will be jointly sponsoring the 5th anniversary of the World Record skinny dip.
Jordan, you have done so many positive things to promote nude recreation. Keep it up. Thank you for mentioning your concerns so I could clarify them. Tom
@nudist_resorts I wonder why these types of candid, transparent conversations aren't happening at aanr.com? Why aren't there daily blog entries, conversations, updates, etc. that cater to the members and the general public (both are important)? I agree that Jordan's comments might be vitriolic to some, but isn't that better than no one caring/talking or even knowing what's going on? The only info I seem to get from AANR are "after the fact" or self-congratulatory to some extent. That's fine, but I'd rather get requests for service opportunities, to sign petitions, to participate in parades, to write letters to Congress, to help out where I can...provide value.
Why is the site so outdated and and the brand for that matter? If you're trying to compete for sponsorship dollars, I would think having a modern image would be very useful. Frankly, it matters...a lot! I realize money is an issue, but isn't that where the members come in? And why is AANR so tied to "recreation" rather than looking at the bigger picture and reasons for people to get nude. Susan Weaver always talks about her experience of freedom and self-acceptance. It's effective. Why is the organization not broadening it's scope of conversation beyond "non-sexual nude recreation" and celebrity tag-ons, and start sponsoring and associating with other organizations?
I have always felt like there is a lot of desire from AANR for people to get involved, but no real way to do it...unless it's via a club or an elected position. Putting yourself out on the web in an open, sincere way can be scary, but it's the only way to connect with the younger generation and to restart what's always been a sort of grassroots movement. There's a lot of talk about getting people engaged, and the easiest way to do this is to literally get them talking and sharing. Sharing will go a long way to getting the message out about nudism and AANR.
I hate to say it, but this web conversation on YNA is probably the first time half of the YNA attendees have heard about AANR or even cared.
@phillywms @nudist_resorts Very interesting comment. Websites are not that expensive so the funding could be "found" if needed. I have gone as far as offering AANR help with online marketing and outreach but I got shot down. In fact, Felicity and I created YNA with no money and even less support. AANR are bigger and have far deeper pockets - they can and should be doing better! I am not putting them down but I am trying to give them a sense of much needed urgency. They need to start leading the charge and be a unifying figure. YNA has supported AANR and tried to work with them. We even had Jim Lane talk to our group about AANR when we had our event at Juniper Woods. A few people then signed up to become AANR members. I have been considered somewhat controversial and even hated within some AANR circles. But the fact that some people might not like me should not be the reason to turn down my help. If I did not care, I would not be doing this. Also, AANR is a very heavy organization with a ton of committees and titles. Their members need to start voicing their opinions. At the end of the day, AANR should be working for its members, not the other way around. It's up to the members to demand more and hold them to a higher standard. (Now that I think of it, perhaps they are. The declining numbers are a sign that there is a huge disconnect between AANR and its members.)
@nudist_resorts I like the saying .... if people are shooting at you, you must be doing something right. :)
@JordanBlum Thanks Jordan, If everyone likes you, you're not an effective leader. Colin Powell said "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off." Welcome to the world of nudism LOL.
Actually AANR is not a heavy organization with a ton of committees. It is a heavy volunteer organization and those committees to a lot of work that that saves AANR money in the long run. Tom
@phillywms People do comment at AANR's facebook page and I highly recommend it. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Association-for-Nude-Recreation/241237673869?ref=ts&fref=ts
I encourage every here to post comments on the facebook page. It is reviewed by Jim, Susan, and myself.
If I were you, I would cut and past this and put it under the WSJ thread on the AANR FB page. You have many good ideas.
@nudist_resorts Hey Tom :) Wow lots of points to go over...
I agree that no one knows what a story will actually be till it sees the light of day. But with that said... I would love to hear from people who thought it was a good piece. So far, I have not heard much positive chatter but I would be ecstatic if I am wrong! Regardless what people might think or say about me, I only want and wish the best for everyone.
I will try to address as many of the points you brought up and will keep my comments short.
You must agree that AANR pretty much said that they are comprised almost entirely by empty nesters. No mention of other groups or outreach. I understand that it might have ended up on the editing room's floor but the impression is what it is. How could that be read any other way? Susan's reaction was that she was proud of the slogan. No mention of perhaps agreeing - pretty straight forward way of implying that she stands by it. Also, I am pretty sure the reporter did mention that AANR used a focus group to come up with it. But at the end of the day, does it really make a difference who came up with what? The tag line is there and I am by no means the only one who has questioned it. (would it surprise you to learn that comment originated by one of the people I shared it with and not by me?) Can we at least agree that the photo of Jim was not the best one? I understand that deadlines need to be met but don't you see the negative impact such a picture COULD have? Yes, AANR sponsored the "Young Nudist Leaders" "Summit" and yes, we did participate. As you probably know, the idea for a meeting was initiated by us (Felicity and me) and what we wanted was to have a YNA & AANR meeting. Susan had changed the focus and took over the plan and made it into something completely different.
The meeting did not include one active & current representative of any living breathing group (other than myself and Felicity).
You probably also know that since that meeting, I was asked to remove myself from the new group. So I am not a good person to talk to about this anymore. But I do wish them well and hope they become a monster with over 1,000,000 members! Nothing would make me happier :)
It is great that AANR & TNS are working together! I wish more partnerships will evolve as time goes on. But let's be honest here.... did you really think the article was good for nudism as a whole? Or was it good for AANR? Do you still feel the same way? I am only talking about the actual content and not the platform it was published on.
@jblumyna Hi Jordan, When I talked to her I said nudists are all ages. The reporter quotes me saying "It's a much bigger market than people really realize." I don't feel she was slamming AANR or nudists for being old, I just think she accurately reported AANR's demographics. She has limited space for her story.
I know many people have questioned the "Credible voice..." slogan. I myself just pointed out elsewhere today that Coca Cola has had 11 slogans since the year 2000.
I do not know why the WSJ chose that photo instead of others that they had. If I was the editor, I would have used a different photo. Also having taken photography classes I think I'm more detail oriented when it comes to photos (or as my wife says, anal LOL). But, I bet the WSJ demographics are similar to AANR's so that may be why they chose it instead over others.
I was asked to send implied nudity photos too. We have stock ones of Mary Clare, me and Patty, but they were not selected.
Actually I did not know that you aren't with the youth summit anymore.
Nudism is such a small industry. Anything that is good for 1 is good for all. The WSJ article was good for AANR and from that nudism. The reporters focus was corporate sponsorships, not nudism in general. However, this one reporter I've talked with this week is going to try to get approval for a national story on the mainstreaming of nude recreation, so overall, IMO it is good for nudism.
And being page 1 of the WSJ is phenomenal .
That was a business article in a business publication talking about advertisers and corporate sponsors. The reporter never meant it as a "feel good" article about nudism or first timers. There are plenty of those out there. For instance Terra Cotta Inn just had a feature 2/3 page travel article about my resort in the Sunday newspaper Dec 30th. Now what we will tell possible corporate sponsors or advertisers is our industry receives tons of great PR as they saw we were front page WSJ. That means a lot of eyeballs paying attention to nudism.
Tom - thanks for this. I didn't know you were the PR chair for AANR. This is great to know. Perhaps you could write a blog post for here about what AANR's plans are for the future:?
@ErikJakobsen Erik, I could say right now, try to get corporate sponsors, LOL AANR has a semi annual trustee meeting at the end of February, so I'll try to post about that.
Jordan has been very kind and has invited me to write a post here, and I keep meaning too. Just like everything, you need to find the time. Tom
@nudist_resorts "We can’t lie about our demographics." Various AANR numbers have been false for many years.
Tom, thanks for your note. You mean well and you run what I remember as a great resort. Whether AANR has changed to benefit the movement remains to be seen.
@Paul_Rapoport @nudist_resorts Thanks Paul, I do not mislead about our demographics when I talk to reporters. To me AANR's long term reputation is more important. My own personality is positive and upbeat, so that is how I come across. I like to think AANR is moving in the right direction. I invited Gary from SCNA and a major TNS supporter to be on AANR's PR committee. Feel that we need to be open to many good ideas. He was instrumental in getting TNS to jointly sponsor the 5th anniversary skinny dip with AANR this July 13th.
As an "older" nudist (but young at heart) for over 30 years, I think this article is quite accurate and intelligently written. Our CA non-landed, travel club has tried to get AANR to listen; however, they seem to emphasize signing up members over service (backwards). They need to make changes first before asking for sponsors. Otherwise they just look like they are raising $$$ rather than promoting the sponsors. The "Credible Voice of Reason" slogan has made us moan "enough" for a long time.
@sea3shore Wow... I have not thought of the sponsorship issue in that way... Very good point! Thank you for sharing :) (I will be thinking about it for a while!)
I think it's very obvious that nudism, or naturism for that matter, means something very different to each person you ask. And that goes for those people who practice it at whatever level they choose, and those who do not practice at all and are simply "observing." The former poses no problems, as it's a personal matter. The latter poses problems, simply because as an aggregate group, we want society to have a basic and positive understanding of naturism that facilitates our continuing practice of it. Of course, we don't mind if they want to join in either! This means we have to focus on what naturism is, and not just what it is not.
It's very important for an organization to then set their core mission and and goals. There is power in a common "voice" and a consistent message. And it's a necessary part of structuring any organization or successful brand for that matter. A naturist organization should be no different. That said, it was great to see the YNA mission and core beliefs in writing. I'm sure many will disagree (and that's all right)...but for those who agree (or mostly agree), it's an opportunity to be actively engaged.
I believe that's the biggest issue with AANR, who has become quite anachronistic in today's society. There's very little to engage in, except for recreation. And while that is great, it's such a small part of most people's lives, even those who have retired! What's more, I simply don't care if celebrities are going naked, or that nude resorts or travel is growing, or that I can get a small discount to a club. It's such a consumerist outlook and provides nothing to advocate or truly "fight" for, except for a bottom line. To me, naturism should be more about self-worth, body-acceptance, tolerance, equality, positive/healthy sexuality sustainability, environmental awareness and freedom of speech. These things mean something to everyone and get people energized. They are a part of our daily lives.
As I think about it, I wonder why AANR simply doesn't become more of a business association, or chamber of commerce of sorts. @Paul_Rapoport made a great comment that they are good at publicity (and do have a budget, and insider status in some cases). They could also really provide support for their clubs by way of better websites, booking services, travel resources and cooperative marketing campaigns.
Finally, I do wonder why it is "young" Naturists America. I agree with @MoeSmith. I think the work you are doing deserves to be more inclusive of all ages...for those who do care about your stated mission!
@phillywms @Paul_Rapoport Great comment :) Thank you. I basically agree with your points. The issue here is that we, as individuals, have expectations. A non profit such as AANR should put the cause that they are advocating front and center. I had a conversation with someone, recently, who mentioned to me that they had a problem. They contacted AANR but since the individual was not an AANR member the issue was never fully addressed (not that this means that the issue would have been take care of if that person was an AANR member). In my world view, if a person contacts an organization about a problem they are having then that organization should not care if the person is a member or not. But that is not the case so far as I can see.I also agree about the name... this is something that we have been talking about. We are working on changing some things around. Mostly because we feel we might not really fit with current nudism ideals (or lack there of). So we hope to be able to get to this issue sooner than later :)
A lot of good stuff here, Jordan.
To answer the big question: yes, just about every movement has a need for one or more advocacy organizations.
That being said, I did feel a bit embarrassed for AANR when reading that Wall Street Journal article.
A budget of $1.5 million per year really isn't a lot of money. I was actually surprised to hear it was that small. I've worked for nonprofit organizations almost my entire career, and I can tell you that budget size is relatively small potatoes.
I was also surprised at the way they went about this corporate sponsorship effort. Just sending letters out to some businesses is not a particularly sophisticated fundraising strategy. It's really quite amateur. So it got me thinking - who on their staff is responsible for fundraising efforts, and how much of their revenue comes from donations?
A quick look at their staff list (which can be found here: http://www.aanr.com/contact-us) shows me that they do not employ a person with the title of "Development Director", which is the name of the position responsible for the fundraising efforts of a nonprofit organization.
The next thing I did was to look up the public copy of their IRS Form 990, which is an informational tax return most nonprofits have to file with the goverment every year (if you want to see it, you can go to www.guidestar.org, sign up for a free account, and search for American Assocation for Nude Recreation).
I was equally surprised to discover that for the 2011 tax year, AANR's total donation income was about $40,000. Not $400,000, but $40,000. That is only 2.6% of their total budget. The vast majority of AANR's income is from membership fees, with a bit coming from advertising as well.
These two things combined tell me that AANR's fundraising efforts are completely passive.
What's happening with AANR is the same as what happens with many long-running organizations - they are unwilling to turn things over to the next generation. The demographics of AANR's membership - the empty nesters with disposable income - are not what advertisers and sponsors want. They want everything in the 18-49 range before they want anything that's 50-plus.
AANR needs to decide if they are going to cater to nudists and naturists of all ages, or just the over-50 crowd. Assuming they want to do the former, here is what I would recommend (in order of importance):
1) Hire a Delopment Director to put a decent annual fundraising effort together.
2) Overhaul the web site and all other marketing material/collateral.
3) Hire a couple of younger people (one male, one female) to spearhead efforts towards the 18-40 demographic on their end.
Just those three things would make AANR vastly more effective.
@ErikJakobsen All good suggestions and ideas... but you need someone who is willing to truly listen. Without any real honest to goodness pure intentions, it is very hard to get anywhere.
@ErikJakobsen Thanks for your comment Erik :) I think everyone knows that there are core issues with the way AANR is being run / managed. Every company / organization has issues but it is how we deal with those issues that is important. AANR seems to "know" everything so it is very difficult to get any traction. I wish they would be more open to ideas and opinions.
"The credible voice of reason for nude recreation since 1931" is internal, self-directed and rather petulant. It suggests there is also a non-credible voice of un-reason. "The voice of nude recreation" would say enough without all the special pleading, although a better tagline could perhaps be found.
Yes, there are many "credible voices of reason" in the nudist/naturist world. I've always thought their slogan sounded arrogant.
@MichaelKush If one of the top branding specialists says that a tag line needs to go, then guess what??? It needs to go. I wish she would have offered advice for us! :)
Agreed. Something like "The voice for nude recreation and education" would be much better. No need to date the organization to 1931.