Thursday and Friday, REI will be closed. For #OptOutside, all of our 12,000+ employees will be paid to take time off and be with family and friends. We’re asking each to take someone they love who might not get outside as much with them. If we’re honest, these are stressful times, and we hope it will help bring people closer together.
If you aren’t sure what to do yet, we’ve pulled together inspiration and the knowledge of our amazing inspired guides at www.REI.com/opt-outside. Search by zip code or by the activity you want to try out.
I will be spending time with my daughter and son-in-law in Michigan. They are settling into a new home, and it’ll be good to enjoy time outside together as a family. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we will also offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the terrible fires in California, where we have more than 2,000 employees and millions of REI members. If you would like to donate, REI has given to the California Community Foundation.
When #OptOutside started four years ago, it was about reclaiming a day that was distorting a time to give thanks for what we have, and re-grounding in what we value most in life as an outdoor community. Back then, closing down on the busiest retail day of the year shocked the system. Now, millions of people have chosen to make a walk in the park part of their family tradition.
We have been inspired by the momentum. Being together outside has brought us together as a community. It’s unusual in today’s atmosphere to find a movement that unites rather than divides.
That’s why, this year, we chose to focus on the healing power of being outside. We have taken a series of steps to leave the world we love a little better, starting with prompting people to disconnect from our devices, which can amplify misunderstanding and discord. Instead, we are embracing our collective potential to leave a positive mark that will pay off in the decades ahead, for future generations.
- For #OptOutside 2018, we are providing $1 million in support to create the country’s first center of excellence on Nature for Health with an initiative at the University of Washington. Our intent is to build on the body of scientific evidence that being outdoors is good for your mind, body and spirit, so decision makers will prioritize access to the outdoors each day, which we consider a right for all to enjoy.
- With one of our 400+ nonprofit partners, the Trust for Public Land, we have revealed a new picture of the United States, analyzing the top 200 largest cities in America and listing the best 50 to #OptOutside, so mayors and governors who have prioritized outdoor access can be celebrated and those who want to take action have the evidence they need to push for more.
- We have announced a new commitment to invest in the Thrive Outside program run by the Outdoor Foundation, which is focused on helping young people’s social, emotional and academic development through time outdoors.
- And we have joined a number of outdoor recreation and advocacy groups in working to remove barriers for veterans’ access to the outdoors and have shared stories to raise awareness of our emerging understanding of the healing power of time outside.
These decisions reflect our unwavering belief in making the outdoors accessible for all. And in acting with this spirit, we can, as an outdoor community, move beyond the vitriolic tone of the national conversation with the help of some fresh air. I believe that we can and should be united as an outdoor community and this week is a good time to live that idea.
Thank you all—and have a restful break.
President and CEO, REI