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What Happens When an Outdoor Social Media Whiz Targets Climate Change?

The Outdoor Advocacy Project wants to give every hiker the tools to advocate for the environment—and today, on the last day of the US outdoor industry's biggest trade show, it's hitting the streets.

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Every backpacker wants to protect the outdoors, but actually figuring out how is a different story. A new project aims to make that a little easier by collecting all the information that outdoor lovers need to become outdoor advocates.

The Outdoor Advocacy Project aims to turn social media—long accused of commercializing the outdoors and contributing to overcrowding—and use it as a tool to connect recreationists and outdoor industry professionals with easy opportunities to advocate for the earth. After a successful launch last fall, the organization is taking to the streets today with a march to the Colorado state capitol in Denver, which is currently hosting thousands of members of the outdoor industry for Outdoor Retailer.

Writer and influencer Katie Boué is the mastermind behind the Outdoor Advocacy Project. Before founding it, she was the driving force behind the Outdoor Industry Association’s successful social media program over the past five years.

“Environmental action has always been built into the outdoor industry ethos,” she says. “But beyond our love of public lands is our deep responsibility to lead on environmental justice and climate action. If you’re an outdoorsy person you naturally gravitate toward stewardship, sustainability and conservation—it just makes sense to us. But, there is a huge disconnect between the resources, tools and expertise and the hands that need them.”

By creating a library of tools and resources and freely distributing them, the Outdoor Advocacy Project has the potential to turn any outdoorist into an activist. The Project’s digital advocacy library will compile information on everything from how to contact your senators to how to poop in the woods (correctly).

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Boué says. “We’re creating funnels and pathways which will guide us and make it possible to access the information that is already out there.”

Today’s climate rally coincides with the last day of Outdoor Retailer, and has a permit for up to 5,000 participants. Boué co-organized the event with ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich; other speakers include professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones, founder of Protect Our Winters. As they march from the Colorado Convention Center to the Colorado State Capital Building they will echo chants such as; “no more coal, no more oil—keep that carbon in the soil” and “climate change is not a lie—do not let our planet die!” The female-led and female-organized event will also feature a performance of the “Women Warrior Song” led by indigenous women activists.

The Climate Rally begins at 1:30 pm on Friday, January 30 at the Colorado Convention Center and will convene at the Colorado State Capital Building. Not in town? You can help spread the word by echoing @outdooradvocacy and @protectourwinters’ efforts on your own social media channels, or visit the Outdoor Advocacy Project’s website.

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