Friday, February 21, 2014

A Blueprint for Progress

We all wish society was more accepting of naturists.  We all wish there were more opportunities for nude recreation, without the occasional social and legal repercussions.  We all believe that the lifestyle is healthy and natural, and we wish others could understand that.

Every naturist seems to have their own opinion of what the problems are and what needs to be done to advance our cause.  My opinion is quite straight-forward -- do what works.  And I look to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community as a good example of what works.

LGBT vs. Nudist Statistics

There are a lot of parallels between being a nudist, and being gay.  (Or part of the LGBT group, more specifically.)  There is a period of self-discovery, followed by a duration of keeping a secret, followed by a "coming out".  Although we live in an America which is more tolerant of some things, it seems less tolerant of others.

There are some important differences too.  First is that naturism is a choice, and being gay is typically not.  Second is that discovering and "coming out" usually occur at very different ages for each group.  The LGBT group typically "come out" in their teenage years.  Naturists often discover the lifestyle and "come out" much later.  Despite the differences, I think there is still a strong comparison between the two groups.

I previously mentioned a surprising statistic, and asked the obvious question:  8.2% of Americans have engaged in some form of same-sex sexual activity, yet most Americans think 25% of the population is gay.  Per the NEF poll, 25% of Americans have gone skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing in mixed company, yet many Americans think we're a fringe group.  Why are these statistics inversed?  For the sake of this post, let's assume that these two groups have roughly the same numbers of people, somewhere between 8.2% and 25% of the population.

Last summer, a publication caught my eye:  "A Survey of LGBT Americans" from Pew Research. In the back of my mind, I contemplated what naturists would say to those same questions.  (I wish a similar poll was conducted on naturists so that we have a baseline.)

92% of LGBT adults find America more accepting of them compared to 10 years ago, and expect it to be even more so 10 years from now.  Naturists might say the opposite, or say there has been little progress.

54% of LGBT adults say that all or most of the important people in their lives know that they are LGBT.  (Only 14% haven't told anyone.)  Do you think that many naturists are open about it?  Not only that, but 70% of LGBT adults believe that the biggest help to making society more accepting is "people knowing someone who is LGBT."

The LGBT adults clearly saw Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres as important public figures advancing their rights.  Although I once tweeted that Obama could fit in as a nudist, we really don't have any public figures that we can proudly point to.  LGBT adults also point to the entertainment industry, with 70% thinking it's friendly.  Most mainstream TV depicting naturists isn't so friendly, especially the news media.  And what do LGBT adults think of the news media?  Most think it's friendly or neutral.

The LGBT adults are active too.  52% have attended a pride event, 40% attended a rally or march, 39% are members of an organization, and 32% have donated to the cause.  For naturists, I'm betting these numbers would all be much lower.  (For attending an organized gathering or conference, participating in a protest, being a member of TNS or AANR, and donating to support naturist rights.)

The Blueprint

In order to:
  • Move America in the right direction for accepting naturists.
  • Make society more accepting to naturists.
  • Have celebrity support.
  • Have a naturist-friendly entertainment industry (TV, movies, news).

We need to:
  • Have at least 54% of naturists "come out" to most friends and family, with  another 32% or so telling at least someone else.  This would have the biggest impact.
  • Have at least 52% of naturists attending gatherings, conferences, or other similar events.
  • Have at least 39% of naturists be members of a naturist organization.
  • Have at least 32% donate to naturist causes.

I've helped all of those metrics, and I hope all of you will do the same.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Accidental Hiatus

It's been more than 6 months since my previous post.  Time goes fast!

This spring, I labored on a really good article for the blog, and then decided that it might be better for N magazine.  Recognizing significant differences in writing for the blog and writing for a magazine, I re-wrote most of it from scratch.  It's still a work in progress, and I'm targeting a submission date in the winter months.  The article would be ideal for spring-time publication.

While writing it, I stumbled upon another great article idea.  Again, it might be better suited for the magazine.  I'm collecting data this summer and through some of the winter.

Both articles are interesting and applicable for naturists, and academic-style with original research.  I plan to publish each here a while after they run in N magazine (if accepted).  No spoilers in the meantime!

My summer has remained busy due to a more personal reason too.  My significant other and I are finally, after nearly 11 years, getting married.

In other blog news, I've decided to stop (or at least significantly scale back) writing about trips and events.  I'm the only naturist blogger who has written about ALL of my social naturist trips for the entire 7 years I've been participating.  I don't think it has much value anymore.  (Unless someone can persuade me to continue?)

With that, expect the hiatus to continue for a while longer and for posts to be less frequent.  I'd like to shift more to quality instead of quantity.  Thanks for understanding.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Future Resort Summary

Since the Future Resort series is a good start for a business plan, I'll summarize all the best ideas from the Original series (O) and the Redux (R).  As I mentioned at the start of the Redux, I'm interested in a business partnership.  Contact me here if you'd like to play any part in opening a venue which satisfies this criteria.

Obviously, I've published all of these ideas already.  Anyone can open a venue.  I'm not looking for profit from a business partnership.  I'm focused on the long-term benefit of having the venues in place.  I'm hoping that profits from the venues get wisely reinvested into nudist causes, instead of pocketed for lavish lifestyles.  And I'm hoping that anyone who may copy my ideas also copies my philosophy.

The word "should" indicates a goal to strive for as a best effort.  The word "must" indicates the venue needs to have it to earn my support.

Summary of ideas:
  • The venue must be one of the following:
    • Castle-style, with building(s) surrounding an open lawn. (O2)
    • Commercial building. (R2)
  • The venue must be located in a city, and should be located in one of the largest cities in the states listed in (R4).
  • The venue must provide privacy/seclusion and access control. (R2)
  • The venue should be spacious and able to support a crowd. (R2)
  • The venue must provide access to sunshine for sunbathing. (R2, R3)
  • The venue must be easily accessible, and within range of a taxi.  It should be along a main road. (R2)
  • The venue must be comfortable. (R2)
  • The venue must provide food through an internal restaurant, snack shop, groceries, or selection of delivered food. (R3)
  • The venue must provide both hostel-style lodging and hotel-style lodging. (R6, R3)
  • The venue must allow more granular "grounds fees", such as charging by the hour. (R7)
  • The venue should evaluate the green technologies listed in (O3, O3.1, O3.2, O3.3) and implement any which would be profitable as soon as they can be afforded.
  • The venue should diversify using my crowdsourced evolutionary model. (O4, O5)  Note: Initial projects will likely be a pool, hot tub, games, fitness equipment, and other things nudists like to do.
  • The venue should do iterative development. (O4)
  • The venue should specialize in one or more specific events. (O4)
  • The venue should consider all ideas from guests, and track the decision making process for transparency. (O4)
  • The venue should offer chores in exchange for credit, so people can have a cheaper stay if they help out, using the framework in (O5) and the suggestion in (O-Recap3).
  • The venue should encourage fundraisers, both to fund internal projects (O5) and to fund community projects (O7).
  • The venue should implement ideal resource-sharing methods as described in (O6).  Avoid the main example, however.
  • The venue should make use of regulars with specific skills who are willing to support side-businesses, fundraisers, and community involvement. (R3)
  • The venue must be open and involved with the community, such as attending meetings, fundraising for community efforts, offering textile "open house" days, and doing good whenever possible. (O7, R7)

Of course, there are other good ideas outside of the Future Resort series.  For example, I cover effective use of markerboards here, might inspire a venue name and marketing ideas here, and might offer a few event ideas here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Future Resort Redux (p7) - End Effect

The venues described in the series aren't entirely revolutionary.  There are numerous venues which already fit in to the urban nudist oasis category.  N magazine 31.4 talks about Fawlty Towers in Cocoa Beach, which is a hotel that recently turned nudist.  Another recent addition is Clover Spa in Britain, which is more like a bed and breakfast.  A commenter pointed out his "Clothing Optional Home Network" of bed and breakfast venues.  (There are many more, including some traditional nudist venues which happen to be at the city's edge.)

The existing venues basically market themselves as hotels.  You go there, pay a substantial sum of money, and enjoy a room for the night.  Some go a step beyond and allow guests to enjoy the facilities for a day fee.  This is often a substantial sum of money and they feel like they need to stay all day to make it worthwhile.  With these policies, the venue attracts vacationers and people who have the day off from work.  It becomes a tourist destination and a hotel.  Although this can be profitable, my venue would focus on a different market.

My policy for an urban nudist venue would be to also take the next logical step: charge by the hour.  With this policy, the venue would provide dual roles.  It can still be a tourist destination and hotel, but it will also become an entertainment establishment.  It would compete with things like bowling alleys, skating rinks, gyms (both workout facilities and classes such as yoga), theaters, arcades, restaurants, and bars -- all of which you pay a small amount of money and have some small duration of entertainment or use.

Think about how much time you spend at vacation destinations.  Perhaps a week or two each year?  Now think about how much time you spend at the entertainment establishments I listed above.  Likely a few evenings each week and most weekends the rest of the year.  When people want to get out of the house for a while, or have time to kill in town, they can stop in.

If anyone is curious, a small fee and an hour of time is all it takes to give nudism a try.  (An hour is usually all it takes to become hooked, too.)  As people drive by the venue, many will be curious.  They'll think about it and talk about it even if they never go.  And this would be good for nudism.

How many nudists do you know on TV?  Probably none.  Is nudism a talking point in each political election?  The obvious answer is "no".  However, gay rights are a talking point and I'm sure you know several gay characters on TV.  Here are the stats: 8.2% of Americans have engaged in some form of same-sex sexual activity, yet most Americans think 25% of the population is gay.  Per the NEF poll, 25% of Americans have gone skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing in mixed company, yet many Americans think we're a fringe group.  Why are these statistics inversed?

I believe that the difference in attitudes is related to the difference in primary social frameworks over the last 50 years.  Nudist resorts are hidden away in rural areas, keep to themselves, and in general become forgotten.  Gay bars, on the other hand, are in the middle of town.  They are seen on a daily basis.  They are talked about among the community.  They are frequented by a lot of casual visitors, both regulars and the curious.  They are a social hub for tight-knit local communities who are actively pushing for change.

I'm not advocating that we open a bunch of "nudist bars" to mimic the success of the gay culture.  (Legally speaking, establishments serving alcohol and offering nudity are heavily regulated, so a "nudist bar" would be very difficult to open and operate anyway.)  But if similar facilities -- minus the alcohol and plus the numerous features I've mentioned in this series -- popped up around the country, I believe it would have a huge positive impact on nudism long-term.

In conclusion, my revised prediction for the future of nudism is within an urban setting.  Existing urban venues can be repurposed with casual nudists in mind, in cities which are already ripe with demand.  A healthy mix of people will give it a try.  Naturally, a strong sense of community will develop.  With the increased visual presence, nudism will become a topic of political debate and mainstream media.  Change is coming in the next couple decades, and I'm already looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Future Resort Redux (p6) - Targeting Youth

Follow the Trend

Many nudists acknowledge a declining trend in youth at traditional nudist campgrounds.  Although there is a lot of speculation for why that might be, there is one hypothesis which pertains to this series.

The National Wildlife Federation, citing several studies, presents this conclusion:
"In the last two decades, childhood has moved indoors. The average American boy or girl spends just four to seven minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen."

Youth don't go outside as much anymore.  (And when they do, I'd bet most of that play time is in urban playgrounds.)  As they grow up, they'll gravitate to the city and prefer to be inside buildings.  I don't think many have a desire to "escape to nature," especially since many find nature uncomfortable and maybe even a little scary.  Why would they want to travel hours away from the city to spend the weekend at a nudist campground?  This goes for kids, teenagers, college students, and young adults.  The younger generation just isn't interested in nature anymore.

By having an urban nudist venue, you'll implicitly target the youth.  When given the choice, I'm confident that many young adults would prefer a smaller local urban venue over a distant large rustic venue.  As time goes on, more and more will choose the urban one.

Additionally, according to the CIA World Factbook, about 82% of the total population in the US live in an urban environment and it's increasing by 1.2% annually.  Everyone goes to the city -- either by moving there or traveling there regularly.  It only makes sense that most businesses would prefer being in the city.  That's where the customers are.

Leverage Nudist Culture

In the USA, it's rare to find a hostel.  In Europe and Australia, they're quite common.  Backpackers are often young Europeans or anyone else who wants to take a year off from school or work and travel.  As the name implies, they travel with little more than a backpack full of necessities.

Hostels cater to this group by offering up a bed.  From my own experience, backpackers pay between $10 and $20 at a hostel.  In return, they get a bunk bed and sometimes a pillow and blanket.  The rooms are shared among many different people (mixed gender).  They typically aren't even locked.  They're dirty and often things are broke, but they're cheap.  And many backpackers love meeting new friends through the random room assignments.

The reason hostels aren't popular in the US, I believe, is due to trust.  We're a culture of locking doors and protecting our space with guns.  We Americans don't trust anyone.  Sharing a room with a bunch of strangers seems absurd.

Nudist culture is different.  At hotel parties, we don't always close/lock doors.  We trust leaving our stuff on a table while we make a trip to the room.  Everyone becomes a friend.  It's difficult to be a thief when everyone is naked, trusting, and friendly.  In addition, I'm willing to bet a nudist hostel area would remain cleaner than the textile hostels I've been to.  Offering chores to reduce cost is always a good idea.

I suggest including some hostel-style rooms in any urban nudist venue.  I believe cash-strapped nudists (especially the youth) would jump at the chance for a $10-$20 bed for the night, sharing a room with a new group of friends.  Most nudists don't care if they have a big comfy bed, a door that locks, or the seclusion they get with their own room.  Give them the option of their own fancy hotel-style room (at a price), or a cheap hostel-style bed.  Nudist culture makes a choice like this possible in the US, and I suggest we make use of it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Future Resort Redux (p5) - Casual Culture

In part 2, I said that "nudism would be casual experience instead of a planned vacation or second residence."  This statement can be broken down into three markets.

The "nakation" (planned vacation) industry is a $400 million and growing global industry according to AANR.  There are a lot of opportunities for nude cruises and vacations at big resorts all around the world.  These take time from work and cost money, especially since travel is becoming increasingly expensive.  It's fair to assume that the majority of people taking "nakations" are retired, or middle-aged with the money and the time off from work to be able to do it.

Many stay at resorts and campgrounds either full-time or as a second residence.  Full-timers are almost always retired, or are lucky to work close enough to keep the commute reasonable.  The second residence crowd typically have a camper and stay at the resort on weekends.  It's fair to assume that these people have the money to buy a camper and pay for the site, which likely means they are middle-aged and have a career.  (Purchasing and developing their primary residence takes money and time first.)

The above two markets are currently the most profitable, and both are geared toward the middle-aged or older since they happen to be the primary customer.

Young naturists, and cash-strapped naturists, take a more casual approach to nude recreation.  They are the ones visiting the local free beaches whenever they have the time.  They are the ones bravely freehiking and skinny dipping on public lands.  They are the ones going to local hotel takeover parties.  They are the ones attending bowling parties, house parties, WNBR, and any other event that happens to be going on.  Perhaps "casual" isn't the right word since it takes a lot of work to organize these events, and sometimes a lot of work to participate in them.  But compared to buying a camper, membership, or vacation, and dedicating weeks or more at a time to being nude, these cheaper day-long or weekend-long activities are casual.

Both the Florida Young Naturists and the Young Naturists and Nudists America have seen a boom in numbers since forming.  FYN's Spring Bash went from 75 in 2009 to 200 in 2011 per N 31.2.  YNA claims to be "the fastest growing nudist organization and online naturist community based out of the NY / NJ / PA area".  The Chicago Fun Club has seen growing numbers of participants -- they've grown to more than 200 members in the 3 or so years they've been active.  These groups have popped into existence with a primary goal of having fun at whatever venues they can set up.  It seems that people of all ages are eager to participate in local events.

I haven't gone to an unsuccessful nudist event yet.  The hotel parties are always packed.  House parties always attract a crowd.  Public events like the WNBR have been growing.  Even the bowling group, almost in the middle of nowhere, has a good turnout each Winter month.  It seems that naturists are always looking for something local to do.

Just how much demand is in the market?  There were numerous people at the bowling party that didn't bowl.  I'm sure the WNBR gets it's share of people who don't normally ride bikes.  I haven't been to a nude skate party yet, but I'm sure some people attending can't skate.  (N 29.1 shows a group photo from a skating event, and a few people aren't wearing skates.)  Many people who visit nude beaches never go in the water, and some even avoid the sun.  It seems that people just want to be naked in social settings, even if they aren't interested in what's going on.  Markets are about supply and demand, and I believe there is more demand than supply for naturist events.

The Chicago Fun Club tested the limits of demand this year.  The club is one of only a few in the Chicago area, and the nearest resorts are across state lines several hours away.  One of the club's events worked out to be an ideal experiment.  When Naked Girls Reading was still new, I said: "Naturists would find this event to be one of the most boring things we could possibly sit through."  Then, later on, the Chicago Fun Club organized a nude viewing of this event.

How did it go?  Corresponding with one of the members, it was "well attended and much enjoyed".  I'd never go watch naked girls read.  But, with the opportunity to be in a social naturist setting with friends, I'd be tempted.

Even with nothing going on, people are still drawn to places.  Many like to stop in at the bars, just to see who's there and what's going on.  Many like to stroll through the mall even though they aren't shopping for anything specific.  People will be drawn to the urban nudist venue just to see what's new, who's around, and to kill some time while being social.  They might even bring their curious friends along.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Future Resort Redux (p4) - Location

Population map, from Wikipedia:

Modified map showing the number of nudist resorts in each state, based on the AANR club listings:

Analyzing the data in the above graphics, it's reasonable to conclude that the following states have a large population and a shortage of nudist resorts (compared to similar states):

New York
North Carolina
New Jersey

However, since this series is about urban resorts, one must also consider the population density maps.

Population density map from Wikipedia:

Many of the states which contain no nudist resorts have a low population.  But, the majority of the population is within cities.  States which have no resorts and have a high urban population density include:

South Dakota
New Mexico
Rhode Island
New Hampshire

If I were to create an urban nudist oasis, I'd put it in one of the states above.

Many of the states happen to be in northern latitudes as well.  Nudist resorts, for the most part, close down during the winter months.  Most only have outdoor facilities.  Bigger ones have a few indoor facilities, but it's often not worth venturing down slippery backroads just to swim in the nude.  An advantage of an indoor urban resort is that it can remain open year-round and provide the same facilities.