How an outdoor lifestyle brand is disrupting the industry, changing the way you view National Parks, and helping the homeless population in Denver.
The number of young people visiting national parks and the homeless population in Denver. One of these things is rising dramatically and the other is dropping drastically, can you guess which one is which? If you guessed that the homeless population in Denver was increasing you guessed correctly. According to the Point-In-Time Survey done in January of 2015, there were 6,130 homeless people the time the survey was conducted. That number represents the 7 counties in the Metro Denver area and is estimated to have risen by at least 400–500 people since then. The 2016 point-in-time survey has not yet been released but you can check here to see if they have updated anything. Now with National Parks, if you do a quick google search you will see articles talking about the rise in visitors to National Parks with a list of the top 10 visited parks, all with slightly different orders. At first this seems like a good thing but if you dig slightly deeper you may notice the reoccurring issue that is not getting nearly the same attention. Those visitors were primarily middle aged white folks or visiting from outside of the country. The parks are becoming more crowded, while the diversification of those parks is dropping. A study done at Yosemite concluded that 25% of the visitors at the time of the study were international visitors and 74% of the total visitors had visited the park before; we can address all of that later in this post. This is where we come in, we’re The Green Movement, a Boulder, Colorado based lifestyle brand representing a greener life and promoting others to ‘Be The Adventure’. We are here to help encourage the “millennial campers” to get outside and enjoy everything nature has to offer while giving back to the community. We personally hand out food and clothes to the homeless in the Denver/Boulder area for every item sold.
“Millennial Campers” are the 20 somethings that love spending time outside whether it be a quick hike or sitting around a campfire with some friends enjoying a joint or beer. These people love being outside, so of course they need clothes for it, but they don’t necessarily need a “$400 sub-nine-ounce waterproof-breathable shell with a single-point-adjustment-hood jacket”. When millennials see this, the majority of them just see a cumbersome ,overpriced, and ugly jacket. They’re not trying to climb Everest, they’re trying to have a good time with their friends in nature. Times are changing and these people want a company that fits their needs. The huge disconnect between larger companies like, North Face, Columbia, Marmot, and Carhartt with the millennial generation is driving people crazy. They don’t recognize that we want clothes that are still slightly functional, but we also want fashionable and affordable. None of these companies address this and are now spending millions of dollars trying to bring in this demographic.
The Green Movement solves the issues that these other companies are causing by integrating gear that maintains a streetwear aesthetic but that is meant for the outdoor community and everyday adventures. We believe that everyone should be able to afford the outdoors and we are doing everything we can to get each one of you outside and enjoying nature. Don’t feel like you have to go on a weekend camping trip to enjoy the outside, some of my personal favorite outdoor activities are things as simple as laying in my front yard and taking in the smell of the grass, the heat of the sun and the quietness and serenity that nature provides. So don’t let these big name outdoor brands discourage you from getting outside. Go for a quick hike, take a run by the river or visit a national park by your home, the important part is that you’re outside! It’s good for the soul and good for the mind.
The National Parks in America, “belong to everyone” but is everyone going? The answer to that question is no. With the parks having more guests than ever before you would think that this implies diversity, but it doesn’t. In 2014 the parks welcomed 292.8 million people in, but 72% of them were white and 20% of them were tourists from out of the country. On top of that, there are multiple parks where over half of the visitors are older than 60. To put those numbers into perspective to you, according to a 2015 census only 62% of Americans are white and 19.2% of are over the age of 60.The lack of diversity in National Park visitors is a very similar situation to the lack of diversity in the outdoor apparel space.
According to the National Park Service Director, Jonathan Jarvis, “If we were a business and that was our clientele, then over the long term, we would probably be out of business.” This is a problem that both industries are actively trying to address but with very little luck. In an attempt to attract a younger group of people the National Park system launched the, ‘Find your park’ campaign. This movement was intended to increase the engagement levels between millennials and National Parks through social media. Using a combination of celebrities and diverse National Park employes the park system is hoping to bridge the gap with age groups and ethnicities that is clearly missing from the current visitors. Bringing the “cool” back into National Parks has been an uphill battle despite the drastic spike in millennials who want to engage in outdoor activities. By utilizing the current momentum and launching strong on social media platforms, especially Instagram and Snapchat, the parks hopefully will see their visitors become more diverse.
The Green Movement is actively bringing the adventure back to these parks, we do this through a variety of mediums, one of the most prominent being blog posts. If you check out any of the blogs here you will see an array of posts documenting adventures at various National Parks. We have one for Arches National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, and there is even one specifically for National Park week/Earth Day at The Great Sand Dunes. Besides these blogs we have adventure videos documenting various explorations. The Green Movement takes all of this and uses it to create clothing that embodies all of these concepts and ideas. We utilize the simplicity that is embedded in nature gear while bringing streetwear concepts that millennials are familiar with to create clothing perfect for any elevated adventure. From a hot summer day in Moab to a snowy evening in Yellowstone, The Green Movement creates gear for explorations of all magnitudes.
Lastly, I want to cover a topic that ties into everything we have talked about so far in this article. The homeless population in Denver, Colorado. Like mentioned at the beginning of this post as of January 2015 there was roughly 6,180 homeless people living in the Denver Metro area and the number has only increased since then. According to a poll done by the Denver Foundation, 43.9% of the people polled had become homeless due to not being able to find a job/unemployment. Coming in second, at 31.9% is because of housing costs being too high to afford, in third is because of a family breakup, fourth is Mental illness and coming in fifth with only 18.9% is due to substance abuse. Public perception of these reasons though may be slightly skewed; when polled about why people think most of these individuals are homeless the numbers were drastically different than in reality. 57% of people polled said that they assumed that these people were homeless because of substance abuse, 53% of people said because of Mental illness and slightly more in line 59% said because of unemployment.
With a majority of the people living on the streets due to a lack of work and high housing costs there is an overwhelming number of people in support of helping these individuals. Denver recently passed a bill that announced as of March 8th 2016 they would be seizing all belongings and removing the homeless off of the streets around Park Ave/Lawrence/Broadway and the surrounding blocks. More than 75 people are known to sleep in this area at night and hundreds more call the streets of this area home during the day. The state is telling the homeless that they are welcome to go to shelters where no one gets turned away, but many of these people argue that the shelters are overcrowded and dirty with theft being very prominent due to the lack of space. An article from the Denver Post goes into more depth about these plans and how people are fighting back. While the majority of Denver residents agree that the homeless issue is out of control, almost unanimously the population argues that criminalization is the wrong way to handle it. Many of these people are living on the streets barely able to get meals for the day while the government is telling them to leave and go somewhere, but if not the shelters where will they go?
The Feed the People campaign was recently launched by The Green Movement, aimed at helping to get food in the hands of the growing homeless population in the Denver/Boulder area. For every item sold the company personally hands out food or a shirt to someone in need. So far the campaign has had incredible success in bringing more awareness to this ever growing issue. Housing prices are at an all time high, and the population of Denver is increasing everyday. There’s little hope of either of these things changing in the near future which means that the homeless population will only continue to increase. Handing out food every week is just a start to this campaign and we hope to extend the reach even farther. With ya’lls help we are hoping to make sure that not a single person in the Denver area goes hungry.
Most people at first would not think that these issues were all connected but they are more intertwined than ever, and are only getting worse. By combining the basic principles that have helped mold TGM we hope to bring the adventure to National Parks and the outdoor industry while helping to bring awareness to the homeless in Denver. At the core of TGM we believe that we are all here to leave a positive imprint on this world while making the most of everyday. We encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone, experience something new and to never forget to ‘Be The Adventure’.