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Offline Daft

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New Naturists: Meet them where they are
« on: March 17, 2012, 01:45:55 pm »
New Naturists: Meet them where they are

by Mark Cornick

I’m really happy to see several strong, thriving organizations for young-adult naturists. I’m just about to hit 40, so I’m no longer the target market for these groups, but I once was. Historically, we (and I include myself in that “we”) haven’t done a really great job of attracting and retaining new young people to naturism, or retaining the kids that were raised naturists after they move into their college years. So it’s nice to see groups like Young Naturists America and Florida Young Naturists doing so well (and I think it’s great that there are multiple groups, instead of just one monolithic group; the competition between them has usually been friendly, and there’s no one right way to do it.) Kind of makes me wish they’d been around when I was their age.

One thing I think these groups are really doing right, and that the rest of naturism needs to emulate, is not sequestering themselves off in private naturist clubs all the time. Yes, they do go to clubs, but they’re also out in the communities they’re trying to attract. YNA is involved with a lot of events in New York. FYN gets involved with things in Miami. These aren’t necessarily naturist events where everyone is going to be nude, but things that are interesting to both their current and potential future membership. The important thing is that, as groups, they’re out there, their name is known, and people who are interested in naturism (whether they call it that or not; maybe they just want to “get naked”) find out that they have somewhere to go to get involved. And it seems to be working.

There’s safety in hiding behind an anonymous organization, a club gate, and a no-last-names policy. And it feels good to be safe. But sometimes you have to come out from behind the curtain. No one will join you if they don’t know where you are. If you’re happy to be all by yourself in your secret club, so be it, but I don’t want to hear any complaints about your lack of new blood, and I won’t have any sympathy when nature takes its course and your club literally dies out. Any vital organization needs to have new members from time to time to stay vital.

“OK”, you’re telling me, “we know that. Our club has an activity every weekend. It’s in our newsletter! It’s in N Magazine and the AANR Bulletin!” That’s great. Who reads your newsletter? Are there any copies of your newsletter outside your club? Is it on your web site? (Do you even have a web site?) N and the Bulletin are great, but aside from TNS and AANR members, and people who’ve already found these organizations but not joined, who reads them? This is all preaching to the choir, not reaching out to potential new members. Sorry, but it’s true.

Research and experience suggest that there are lots of people out there who would be enthusiastic naturists if they just knew that we exist, and where to start. Meanwhile, we have groups who want new members, but are hesitant to break out of the bubbles they’ve put themselves into. And on top of this, we have the fear of anyone finding out that we’re naturists, or that we’re interested in naturism. Someone’s going to have to take the first step to bring all these people together.

Let’s be the ones to take the first step. Let’s acknowledge that taking the risk of moving outside our self-imposed limits can reap valuable rewards in spreading our message. Let’s stay true to our naturist values and ethics as we do it, but let’s be willing to have our eyes opened as we open others’ eyes.

And to do this, let’s find our new friends where they are. Let’s be involved in things like exhibitions of nude art, discussions of body acceptance, environmental/sustainability concerns, spirituality, music festivals – even if they’re not explicitly naturist. Let’s go there and find people who get what we’re talking about when we tell them how naturism fits with what they’re doing. Let’s be positive and honest and not be afraid of being exposed. If they’re not finding us, we need to find them. Simple as that.
A nova geração.