I recently got my hands on a copy of N 12.1, from fall 1992. It contains a brilliant opinion article by a relatively unknown author, Gene Caywood, about "Changing Culture". The intro to the article shows a quote from Fred Foldvary in N 9.1:
"It's more important to change the culture than to change the law. Judges and legislators will find ways to bend law to their culture, but once the culture is changed, the law will follow or become mute."
Caywood notes that if this statement is true, then naturists may not have their priorities straight. The highest priority should be to change culture's attitude towards the body. This doesn't mean that we should abandon the legal battles. NAC, and AANR when they poke their noses in, should continue to fight the legal battles. Changing attitudes is a much bigger goal that TNS, NEF, and grassroots naturists (like us) should focus on.
It's interesting how Caywood's article has played out over the years. There were a lot of predictions made, and whether he inspired them or not some have come true.
Prediction 1: Periods of culture change happens, like a pendulum, where gains are partially lost until the next swing. In the last century we had the following swings with repression and body freedom: Victorian era, roaring 20's, World War II, hippy 60's, 80's repression in the arts. (Remember this was written in 1992, so that's it.)
It's fair to say that we may have had a body freedom era in the 90's and early 2000's, and we're swinging back to repression as we speak. Caywood's point to drive home is this: "...when the next wave of repression strikes...how will culture have 'permanently' changed? The answer, I believe, lies in how well prepared we are, in how much we influence culture in the meantime." It's too early to tell what permanent changes from the 90's and early 00's will stick through the next wave of repression.
Prediction 2: Caywood very openly talks about the future: "I don't know what it will be, but some event may happen soon which will cause large numbers of people to consider going nude." Let's see -- the World Naked Bike Ride, Freemont Solstice Parade, Bay to Breakers, Burning Man, Spencer Tunick, and varies nude runs seem to satisfy his prediction on a small scale.
What was his point with this prediction? He continues: "Whatever it is, I believe Naturists ought to be prepared for an onslaught of interest. When it comes, the tendency will be to relax and say: 'Look at all these nude people. We've succeeded!' But we won't have succeeded unless and until they are not just participants, but educated participants. Otherwise, it will just be a passing fad..." In my opinion, TNS and AANR have failed to grab the naked people mentioned in the events above. Although a lot of naturists participate, a vast majority of the participants are not naturists. TNS and AANR have not been targeting these people as well as they could be.
Caywood predicts an "onslaught of interest", which I believe may never happen in the way he hopes. An onslaught is initiated whenever something bad happens in relation (no matter how weak) to a naturist resort, for example the recent FBI investigation of Jasmine Trail. There's also an onslaught of interest from people cruising porn. Both of these work against us. When people strip at the events listed above (2 paragraphs above), they get a taste of the naturist lifestyle but do not make any sort of connection with the naturist communication channels. They are just part of a passing fad.
Prediction 3: Caywood liked the idea of naturists speaking at classes, and recommended: "The Naturist Action Committee should coordinate the establishment of such classes in at least the top 200 metropolitan areas of the country. They should publish materials to train prospective class leaders as well as for distribution to class attendees. Obviously the national NAC cannot go around teaching all these classes...they must organize local NAC's..."
The NAC has branched out in to NACAR's (Area Reps.), the NEF (Naturist Education), and NEFAR's. They haven't quite achieved their 200 metropolitan areas. The NEF provides educational materials, including the often-cited Roper poll. They have a few other projects, publications, and videos. What's usually handed out at classes (the few that representatives speak at) is N magazine. From Caywood's prediction, the NEF still has a long way to go!
Prediction 4: Caywood's next suggestion is to "establish a marketing campaign. This should be done with the ASA [now AANR]. Nudists badly need a nationwide media campaign aimed at changing their public image."
This had been happening for 18 years already by the time the article was published. TNS established "Nude Recreation Week" (NRW) initially on their own, and AANR eventually joined in (not sure when exactly). The idea was to promote nude recreation with a new theme every year, and offer this to the press. In recent years, AANR started claiming this event as their own, to the extent of modifying the TNS-designed logo (against their wishes) to proudly show AANR instead. AANR broke away from NRW this year , and did their own thing with a Skinny-Dip world record. They did not invite TNS to help out, despite it clearly being TNS's domain. It's often been said that TNS and AANR should work together with their advertising campaigns, and I completely agree. TNS is always open to collaboration -- it's AANR that thinks they are better on their own. They could be right, and they've gotten a lot of success on their own thus far, but I've proven before that if they achieve a monopoly it will be bad for naturism as a whole.
Was NRW the type of nationwide media campaign that Caywood wanted to see? Maybe not. He should've been more specific in his article.
It is my opinion that a simple nationwide media campaign can't solve the problems of naturism. It's well beyond what the organizations can afford. There is a more targeted media campaign that I mention later which should be utilized.
Prediction 5: This is a big one from Caywood: "Hit and run guerrilla tactics. Naturists should realize that we are in a war against our culture. [These tactics] can and should be adopted by Naturists. Under the coordination of NAC, local naturist groups should organize hit and run nude teams." He then details that teams of at least 2 men and 1 woman should do guerrilla warfare weekly. They would engage in brief nudity, looking normal except for their dress. This would desensitize people to nudity, in a way that is too quick (30 seconds to 2 minutes) to call the cops about. The goal is to not be arrested as this would cast negative publicity. Instead the events should desensitize and plant the seed in peoples minds to try it sometime.
The NAC has never gone in this direction. Instead, a man named Mark Storey has attempted to fill the gap. (OK, so he's one of several.) In 1996 he was running through Martin Luther King Jr.'s and John Rawls's checklist on civil disobedience and if it was appropriate for naturism. In 2001, him and others (Daniel Johnson (activist), Shirley Gauthier (from AANR)) formed the Body Freedom Collaborative, which promised things similar to what Caywood was hoping for. They got front page exposure in 2003. He wrote a few essays on the topic, the latest of which is 2004.
In 2004, Mark stated that "The future of naturism is on public lands. To gain naturist freedoms on public lands will require getting naked in public." The BFC site was last updated on August 03, 2007. In Spring of 2008, N (27.3) featured an article from Michael Cooney stating that "The future of naturism may be in the backyard." Mark seemed to second this in his N 28.4 editorial, "Getting Back to the Naturist Future." He describes a future where people safely hide in their backyard, or secure privacy in public venues, or stay far off the beaten path in parks out West (like he does) all the while public beaches are eventually inevitably closed. [UPDATE: I have a published response to this in N 29.2.]
The latest several issues of N lack any serious naturist activism outside of traditional or privatized places. In the latest (29.1), Mark Story is relaxing at a hot spring with just his wife, and Daniel Johnson is seen making compost tea and gardening. They are both also seen at a private skate party, secluded from the public. What happened? When did their primary goal go from changing culture to avoiding it in favor of personal happiness? It seems that the promising activists of the previous decade have turned into softies within the last couple of years.
Correction: Daniel Johnson helps to organize the WNBR in Seattle and other places each year, and is a main contributor to the whole WNBR event. Good for him! He's exempt from being a softie, as long as the event keeps growing and he keeps his page and wiki up-to-date. The event still seems fairly disconnected with naturism, but that might be a good thing.
Modern times have made the activism of yesteryear more risky. Everyone carries a cell phone, with a good camera and always-on connectivity built in. Being naked for 10 second in public is enough time for a picture to be snapped and sent to police. And if you succeed a couple times, the police and news agencies become willing to launch a full-on sting operation to catch you. Caywood's suggestion was under the assumption that activists would not get arrested. Now, it's likely to happen, so the hit-and-run nude teams are increasingly out of the question. We need new tactics!
We're still at war with culture. The big-names had a great thing going initially, but things have fizzled. That leaves us, the grassroots naturists, to do what we can. This is my list of ideas and ideals for cultural warfare.
What people think about us is important. It doesn't matter how many laws we can fight, or how many beaches we can designate as clothing-optional, or how many resorts we have. If the general public doesn't like us, we have a tough road ahead. (Currently, they don't like us.) I believe that the primary reason that people don't like us is because they don't understand us, followed by the opinion that we are a rare group. The solution is to educate. We need to show that there are a lot of us, that nudity itself isn't bad, and that we are good people just like them.
Make it an everyday thing. One of the big problems we have is that we try to keep our naturism secret. In general, any secret means you've done something wrong. The mere act of keeping naturism a secret implies that it's wrong. The best thing to do is treat it like an everyday thing. If you treat it like no big deal, others will eventually think that it's no big deal.
Be a tourist. If you're at an information booth, ask if there are any naturist opportunities in the area such as beaches or resorts. You'll probably get an "I don't know", which is a good time to explain the correct answer. (Or you'll get an answer about parks, in which case you describe the difference between naturist and naturalist.)
Make it seem like we are everywhere. The problem right now is that people think nudists stay in little colonies. They think there's maybe a couple hundred of us in the country. If people see one thing related to naturism every day, they'll think it's a common thing. We may be a minority, but if we each hold up a couple dummies we may give the impression that we're not. Be vocal and be everywhere.
Establish new sites. If a piece of public land is great for clothing-optional use, and it's technically legal to use it, make it known. Make it sound like it's been used forever by lots of people for such a purpose. (See Geocache below for an example.)
Be more generous, friendly, and a better person than others. Get people to really like you. They will make a positive connection that naturists are good people.
Make it known that you are a naturist. The easiest way is to wear a naturist-related shirt. There are hundreds to choose from at zazzle (do some searches), and most resorts sell some too. (I like my brown nude beaches style tshirt, and my girlfriend likes her Adam and Eve and Rags shirts.)
Go naked by wearing clothes. What am I talking about? Clearly you've never seen david shorts (please don't get the XXL version). They look fairly real at first glance. For shirts they have a fake chest, hairy chest, and bra top. A better guys one is here. I haven't seen any good tops or bottoms for ladies, so post in the comments if you know of any. There's also the classic naked suit. Either way, you get the idea.
Challenge social norms by wearing less. (This is suggested as part of Caywood's strategy.) It really doesn't take much fabric for men and women to be legally covered. During summer, wear a little bit less than everyone else does. This will slowly adjust what people consider normal. Or, you can just wear the bare minimum. Morley Schloss is great at that -- the most I've ever seen him wear is a pair of shorts. During our week at Eastover, he was nude the entire time. After we left, we saw him at one of the service stations in New York. He was waiting in the parking lot and was only wearing some gold colored underwear. I'm a naturist, and he was even challenging my social norms!
Secure the area. When we freehike, we post very informative signs at the trailheads. This allows us to hike naked safely on trails that may see a few other visitors. After thinking about this, I've considered securing an area but not actually going naked on it. (Call it an experiment.) How would people react if it were a busier trail? Or a secluded park? Would people try the radios to make us get dressed? If not, we may be clear to freehike some much busier trails using this method. No matter if naked people are seen or not, the sign still plants the seed of naturism and makes them consider if they would actually be offended by simple locker-room style nudity.
Geocache -- it's a fun sport! Geocaches are hidden containers all around the world. The website gives the coordinates, and you go find them. Some are in the middle of little-used public lands, so finding them naked is possible if you're safe. We've done this naked, and logged it. If you find a cache naked, make use of it by educating and promoting naturism.
Follow the church. Want to know how sailboat racers win the race? They play monkey see monkey do. The wind is always the same between boats, so copying the sail position will ensure that both travel at the same speed. The person in first place almost always copies the person in second place to ensure that the person in second can't get ahead. While naturism isn't quite like sailboat racing, and the church is in first place for influencing culture, copying what the church does will at least ensure that we are not left behind. Their methods have been thriving for centuries, so they must be doing something right.
Advertise everywhere. The church is quite good at this. There are a lot of places where businesses and people can advertise. Although most billboards and TV channels are fairly expensive, there are other options. Be creative. Advertising in the middle of the night on lesser known stations is cheap. Billboards in the country are cheap. Radio advertising, depending on the station, can be cheap. Participating in conventions and expos often includes advertising. Sell stuff at flea markets. If your resort has a community garden, sell stuff at farmers markets. Classified ads are cheap and can say just about anything, as long as you blend in with the section your targeting. "Nude resort seeking game coordinator" might raise a few eyebrows, too bad the position was filled already. Advertise events and fundraisers in public places. If you find an opportunity to advertise, do it! By staying quiet, people will think we don't exist. If you see a church advertisement, consider it a challenge to put yours there too.
Follow up on issues. This one is Caywood's suggestion. An example is if top-freedom is legally granted in a state, run an advertisement in that state's paper to make people aware and to let people connect to exercise their right. If the arts challenge some body freedom issue, run a promotion in an arts magazine. Caywood also suggests to target any possible special interest magazine that can be related to naturism. We could do some great advertising during bikini-buying season, and we could promote cheap (or free) nude recreation during the recession.
Leaflets are often used by the church. They hand them out to everyone, and leave them everywhere in public. Driving back from Eastover, several of the service stations had religious leaflets left in every stall. I would do the same thing with TNS leaflets, but they always seem to contain nudity (this year including kids). We need to print leaflets that won't get us in trouble so we can leave them in places where we find religious ones. We can preach naturism without showing naked people.
More custom leaflets, specially crafted to be slightly shorter than normal ones and blend in with the surroundings. Why? So we can slip them randomly into the big tourist information racks. Tourists should learn about all of the area attractions, including naturist ones! The slightly shorter design will make it difficult to remove by workers.
Litter. Most people ignore it, but not all. Dropping a leaflet in a random place will probably be found by someone. Targeting an adopt-a-highway section of road is a better idea since the sign shows who cleans up that section of road. If you think they need to see a leaflet, drop one. It's typical that people in the cleanup crew will show it to the group. Note that littering is illegal in most places, so I'm not advocating it. See the next entry.
Earth-friendly litter. Dropping a leaf can't be illegal, because trees drop them all the time. So stamp a message on them and have fun. If it's winter, you can stamp or write messages in the snow.
Make videos. YouTube and similar sites are in need of videos that promote naturism! If you have a cheap camera and some software for editing, you have all you need to make a good video. Content is the only tricky part, but remember that you can promote naturism without showing actual nudity.
Make the news. It's a free form of advertising, so it's worth trying. However, make SURE that it will be a positive article on naturism otherwise it could be very destructive instead. We put in a plug for naturism recently.
Make a donation. Donating to local projects allow you to "buy a brick" or "buy a step" with a name or message on it. Donating to an event gives you advertising space. Donating to the local nursing home, animal shelter, or other community establishment usually buys permanent recognition of some sort. And what should that recognition say? Make it generic like "area naturists" or a local nudist club name.
The church has an advantage. They pressure all members to donate a small amount every week, and it adds up to be quite a bit of money! This is how they can afford all the advertising. There are ways that naturists can raise money. One way is to just ask for it by using a sign explaining where the money is going and a bucket for donations. (I'm amazed at how few places do this.) Another way is to ask to round up payments, with the extra going to the bucket. Internal fundraisers can work, but funding from the outside will be much more rewarding.
Put your clothes on. There aren't many ways to make money naked, unless you are a model. This helps with other forms of public relations as well, and leads me to my next point.
Fundraisers, which I've written about before. Having a fundraiser in a community building or public area is a great way for non-naturists to meet you and learn more about what goes on in those secluded acres. Around here, it's common to see small groups with a brat stand. It's also common for fire departments and churches to have spaghetti suppers, chicken-Q's, and pancake breakfasts. Why can't naturists put these on too? (They don't have to be at the resort either.) Once a year, have people donate extra stuff to a garage sale fundraiser. This garage sale can be advertised in the local paper.
--The Mighty Pen--
Help NAC. If they call for naturists to write letters, do it! You can always do this on your own as well, if there is an issue that you are concerned about.
Restrictive covenants. They may not be useful often, but over time they could have an impact. If every naturist puts a restrictive covenant on their property that states that the owner must be OK with neighborhood nudity, we'd eventually weave together legal clothing-optional neighborhoods. At one parcel of land that I looked at, the covenant said I couldn't build a pig farm or have a junkyard. I believe neighbors are able to place restrictive covenants on land if they all agree on the issue, which I think happened in this case.
Snail mail things to key people. Freelance writers, comic authors, and other people in the media are always looking for ideas. Why not spark a few by mailing a naturist magazine or brochure to them? If government officials or reporters don't understand naturism, mail some information to them. If you can think of someone who should really read a piece of naturist material, why not make sure that it happens? I've seen several comics in the paper that deal with nudity, an episode of Monk where he's at a nude beach, a Nude Beach beer, commercials, and a lot of other random nudist-related blurbs in the media. Spark more if you can!
Graffiti. Another illegal item, but less so if you use washable markers or chalk so it doesn't cause damage. Write your favorite quotes along the sidewalk in chalk. Or, write them in washable marker in the bathroom. Both will last until they get washed. The goal for any graffiti is to put out a short message that challenges the common misconceptions. People might be bothered by graffiti, but they'll still ponder the message that it says.
Reverse-graffiti. Also known as cleaning. This works very well in dirty places, and I can't see how it would be illegal.
Steganograffiti. A term that only I seem to be using (since around 2002). It means to do graffiti in a steganographic way, where the message is hidden in plain sight. One classic MIT prank was done this way, and the police didn't spot it. My hometown has a pedestrian road sign where the person is walking a snail -- it's been there for years, and people I asked who drive by regularly have never noticed it. Related to naturism, a brilliant idea that was implemented during election time was the Nude Beaches Yes! campaign. They put out political-poster-lookalikes that blended in well but still managed to catch attention. The goal for this method is to not be noticed for the most part, because then it'll last for a long time. Some people will eventually find it and admire the cleverness of it.
For those nudists who avoid clothing at all costs, or that want to stay anonymous. These things can be done from the comfort of your armchair.
Contribute to wikis. Do you know something that wikipedia doesn't? Add it. There are some sites for how-to's, add how to do things as a naturist. (For example, "How to cook bacon as a naturist" would be a good one.) Some sites are question and answer, go in and answer things as a naturist (body issue questions, bathing suit questions, etc.) Some travel wiki's are popular too, so add your favorite naturist destinations. Here's a big list of wikis, many of which are severely lacking in the naturist department.
Make naturism known on the social webs. Add events to facebook and myspace, join groups related to naturism, post your wonderful travel to clothing-optional destinations. OK, so this one isn't for the people who want to stay anonymous, unless they create a new anonymous account to do this with. (I'm an active member in a few different community forums.)
Leave comments. Post feedback to articles that are bad for naturism, and praise good ones. Reporters don't often get it right. If you correct them, there is a chance that they will get it right next time.
Leave unexpected comments. If you can wedge in a reference to naturism, do it! I'm guilty of doing this on occasion. Recently, the Worldchanging blog asked for lurkers to introduce themselves. I did, and included that the naturist lifestyle is very green and that we're talking about it at the gatherings. (I also recently posted here, and put in a suggestion for Cap d'Agde.) News stories about bathing suits, swimming, body issues, hot weather, public lands, and anything else we can relate to are fair game.
Link warfare. Search engines are all different, and it's everyone's goal to be at the top of the rankings. Google uses a PangeRank technology. A page's rank is calculated by how many other sites link to it, and the rank of the other sites. To get a good rank, you should link to yourself from popular site (like wikipedia) and have all of your friends linking to you as well. It's best to put all of your favorite links on every page of your site. Bing, Microsoft's answer to Google, uses a RankNet technology. People enter a search term, and click on what they are looking for. These two actions train a neural net that bumps those results to the top. (details) To get a good ranking, keep searching for yourself and clicking on your site.
Add naturist places to maps. There are plenty of map mashups out there, including adding things to google's own maps. People should know where they can go for clothing-optional recreation, right?
Any site with user-submitted content can advertise naturism for us. The more we add, the better.
If we can bend culture, then culture will bend the laws in our favor. We can't change culture by staying quiet. We need to be vocal, visible, and maybe even a little pushy. But, we need to be careful -- we can't get arrested or cast naturism in a negative light. The activists of yesteryear are slowing, and it seems to be our turn to lead the fight. We're all in this together. What will you do to help out?