In this episode Patagonia’s Director of Environmental Programs for North America, Rebecca Goodstein, sat down with me to answer all my questions about the role B Corp plays at Patagonia, how to building lasting relationships with local non-profits that create meaningful impact, voting, and so much more.
To learn about who your reps are and about issues impacting your community, or to find out about bills and upcoming legislation on issues you care about, stop on over to OpenStates.org. If you are unsure whether or not you are registered to vote check out Can I Vote organized by the National Association of Secretaries of State. This site will direct you to your local state government’s website where you can check your voter registration. You can also head over to Headcount.org which will also help you confirm your voter registration.
The Intersectional Environmentalist
Vote the Assholes Out – Article from Adage, but google this one, there’s lots of fun press around it
MakeTimetoVote.org – If you’re a business owner, sign your business up and make the commitment to make voting accessible to your workers.
Power to the Polls – Help staff your local polling place
Pizza to the Polls – Making voting extra delicious
For The People Act – Learn more about it and why its important on common cause’s page explaining its importance (here’s a hint, it expands access to voting)
30 by 30 – A call to protect at least 30% of the earth’s land and ocean by 2030.
Rebecca Goodstein 0:05
I think that it’s hard sometimes to pause and think how can we give back to the community that we’re in. The benefits are multi fold. It feels great for your employees. It obviously helps your community. And whatever that looks like, which I think would be different for every business, I would just give it some thought and see if there’s a way to make it happen.
Benn Marine 0:29
From Dirigo Collective, this is Responsibly Different sharing stories of certified B corporations and our journey of joining them in leveraging business as a force for good.
Rebecca Goodstein 0:49
Patagonia. We’re big fans. I know you’re likely a big fan too, and all for good reason. What we all love about Patagonia is that they are so fearless in staking their whole business on their values. With transparency being core to everything they do. They are a great inspiration to many both in and outside of the B Corp movement. Through investing in other businesses that are solving for some of the biggest problems, people in planet face. Patagonia not only leads the way they are bringing others along with them, like selecting MiiR for their beverage containers. You might remember our conversation with the founder and CEO of near Brian Pape’ in episode eight, and how he talked about the various water projects and social justice initiatives MiiR is working on and over $1.5 million they’ve donated to projects around the globe, or Bureo in Episode 16, co founder of Bureo Ben Kenappers shared with us how they turn one of the biggest threats to our oceans, fish nets into quality hard goods like all the brims for Patagonia’s trucker hats preventing those fish nets from being discarded in our oceans. So today, I have the honor of sharing with you my conversation with Patagonia’s Director of Environmental Programs for North America. Rebecca Goodstein, we talk about B Corps and how Patagonia partners with nonprofits to build lasting relationships that create meaningful change. We also talk a lot about voting. feedback that we often hear from all of you is that you want to have an impact with your business. You’re just not sure how we’re Where to start? Or what nonprofits to support and how to have meaningful impact. Rebecca answers all these questions and more.
Benn Marine 2:39
To kind of kick us off. Rebecca, can you share with us a bit about yourself and your role within Patagonia? And what kind of drew you to the company?
Rebecca Goodstein 2:46
Sure, I have been a fan of Patagonia, everything for as long as I can remember. And I have a nonprofit background. So I graduated from college and just I started working in the Nature Conservancy almost immediately, which was another values driven organization. And I always just felt like you know Patagonia from afar looked great. And they seem to make a great product. And it seemed like their people were really happy. And it was a really values driven company. And I thought if I ever leave the nonprofit world, Patagonia’s word where I want to end up and so after almost a decade living, living the nonprofit life, I decided I needed a change. And Patagonia was gracious enough to hire me. I started at our Washington, DC retail store, actually, which was a lot of fun. Every store has a team of folks who focus on environmental work and community engagement. And I headed up that program with the team there. And then that role became a little more regional. I worked on the east coast. So I worked with all of our retail stores from Toronto down to Atlanta, engaging our community and for the last year I’ve been doing that but on a national level with all of our North America retail communities. So I get to work with a lot of different teams and people and nonprofits and it’s just a really fun way to get to know the communities the hosts the retail stores.
Benn Cohen 4:13
That’s amazing. That’s awesome. Speaking of Patagonia, I think one of the things when I when I asked folks who some of their favorite B Corps are everyone’s like emphatically Patagonia is almost always the first one out of their mouths and rightfully so. I know Patagonia certified as a B Corp back in 2011 with a score of 107.3 and your score has only gone up every certification since and currently your B impact score is 151.4. Can you share with us the role that being a certified B Corp has within Patagonia and why it’s a certification you all value
Rebecca Goodstein 4:47
For sure and gosh I’m so proud of our B impact score. I think being now on the on the inside of Patagonia, I realize that there are so many things that go on behind the seens that we don’t even hear about us customers or community members. And Patagonia is such a values driven company. And it started by this group of friends who decided they wanted to do things a little bit differently. You know, if they had to be in business, they wanted to do it, right. But I think values are a really hard thing to quantify. And being a B Corp makes sure that every year we take a minute to just look at ourselves, keep ourselves accountable, not only to the folks that work at Patagonia, but also to our customers and our community members and our nonprofit partners to make sure what we’re saying that we’re doing, we’re actually doing so it’s a it’s a good opportunity to just check in and say these are the these are our core values. Are we are we holding true to that? And how can we quantify that, and that’s where B Corp is amazingly helpful. And the way they they help us look at that and actually translated into numbers.
Benn Marine 5:57
Is it something that comes up a lot internally, like throughout the whole, like, from top to bottom structure of Patagonia?
Rebecca Goodstein 6:05
That’s a good question. I think what I realized that it comes up internally, but sometimes you don’t even realize it. And to give an example of that kind of confusing answer, sometimes I’ll be talking to folks and we’ll say, you know, this just feel like the right thing to do, or because this is something at Patagonia, we really value we’re gonna move forward and X, Y, and Z. And if you take a step back, those are all things that come from us being a B Corp that we we do lead with our values. And we do always think you know, is this something that’s aligned with our, our mission, our purpose and our core values, and that’s what being a B Corp allows us to really do use it as a touch point. So even things like, you know, having onsite child daycare in our Ventura campus and our Reno campus, I think it seems tangentially related. But it all has to do with making our employees happy and supported. And that’s part of being a B Corp. So if you look at any kind of random thing of Patagonia, ultimately, all roads lead to B Corp.
Benn Cohen 7:11
That’s great. That’s awesome. You know, I think when a lot of consumers think of Patagonia, they’re super familiar with your environmental stances and advocacy work, but are maybe less familiar with your efforts in strengthening democracy and supporting underserved communities. Can you share with us about how environmental work and social justice are so deeply interconnected?
Rebecca Goodstein 7:32
Yes. And and I’m glad you asked, because the more I think we’re all learning about this, this is this is lifelong work. And to be better environmentalists, we have to look at how climate change and environmental degradation affect frontline communities. So it’s, you can’t have one thing without another and we’re looking at intersectionality. And how, you know, we we nothing exists in a vacuum, we can make an environmental decision as a country. And it’s often the folks who are closest to the problem, but have the, you know, don’t have the opportunity to speak out who are affected. And so we feel like it’s our responsibility to help support these organizations to have them dictate what kind of support they need, maybe they don’t want us, you know, maybe they just need a gut check. Or maybe they really want us involved and speaking for them. So we’re making sure that we’re we’re really looking at it from a community perspective of environmental justice perspective. And a lot of these big systemic problems like big oil and things that are made on such a national decision. The decisions are made on such a national level, trickle down and affect some very small local communities. So we, if I can give a shout out to not Patagonia, but there’s an amazing personally Leah Thomas, who used to work with us, but she’s gone on to big, huge, amazing things. And she has a started as an Instagram account called the Intersectional Environmentalist. And I think you can think she’s coming out with a book next year. She’s just amazing. And I’ve learned a lot about environmental justice and what intersectionality means from her. So it helps me apply this in my work everyday and figure out how we can continue to amplify the voices of communities that may not have a lot of voices we do
Benn Marine 9:24
What was something when you were learning from her that was kind of the most eye opening but you think folks might also benefit from?
Rebecca Goodstein 9:30
It seems kind of simple but the concept of intersectionality to me was a real eye opener, the fact that everything is really related and you can’t be you can’t call yourself a feminist without also being someone who focuses on environmental justice and social justice and it is all related. And that was both comforting in a way because it allowed me to identify to take all of my different hats that I wear in all of my day. And identities and unify them. But at the same time it was it was very overwhelming because I thought, not only am I, you know, liberal and environmentalist and a feminist advocate for LGBTQ friends, but you know, I’m all of these things together. So, you know, it’san important thing that we look at our work through that lens
Benn Marine 10:20
That makes a lot of sense. Can you share with us a little bit about Patagonia’s make time to vote campaign kind of what it is when it started? And what that work looks like now?
Rebecca Goodstein 10:29
Oh, gladly do we have like six or seven hours where I can talk about voting? How long have you been charged? So I’m really proud of Patagonia is make time to vote campaign. It’s a business to business initiative, where we’re asking other businesses to make voting a priority for their employees. So we believe that workers shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and voting. And we’re asking other businesses to come aboard and go to make time to make time to vote.org and sign on. And we realized that we’re really lucky at Patagonia, we’re closed for election day. And it’s a paid holiday for us. So we can go and work at the polls, and we can vote and we can do all the other amazing things that we’re able to, and still get paid. But we know that’s not realistic for every company. So we just asked them to make some sort of accommodation for their employees so they can easily vote, whether it’s having a meeting free day, or allowing folks to kind of have a flexible schedule on that day, just a way to lower the barrier of entry to voting as much as possible. And we’re just trying to get every business to sign on whether it’s your local coffee shop, or, you know, a little company called Levi’s,
Benn Marine 11:44
How has the reception been?
Rebecca Goodstein 11:45
Pretty good. Yeah, in advance of the November election and 2020, we had, I think we had almost 1000 or 1000 businesses sign on, which was huge for us. And to think that there’s all these companies across the country who are allowing their employees to vote just it’s very heartening. And it makes me feel like it’s a hard time for voting these days. So it’s good to know that there are businesses out there who are looking to make sure that their folks can vote.
Benn Marine 12:14
I think a cool extensionof that, too, is that it also reminds people to vote because I know we have a whole initiative here to do the same thing. And every there’s always somebody who’s like, oh, shoot, I totally forgot that like that’s today. And it’s like,
Rebecca Goodstein 12:26
Yeah, yeah. All right. benefit when you’re like, Oh, we have no meetings today. Oh, right. It’s because I should be at the polls. So it has a lot of a big ripple effect. Absolutely.
Benn Marine 12:37
And you all were doing I don’t know if this was part of that campaign or not. But you had some really fun tags sewn into some shorts. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Rebecca Goodstein 12:45
Sure. Is this? Do you have a warning on this podcast for young listeners? Sure. Well, the founder of our company Yvon Chouinard always talks about voting the assholes out, which is just his way of saying, you know, the climate deniers and the folks who aren’t advocating for some of the folks that can’t advocate for themselves, you know, we don’t want them in office. And so we have some stickers made that said, vote the assholes out. But our really fun product team was making this pair of stand up shorts, which are some of our iconic shorts. And they’re made out of regenerative cotton this year. And so they decided to on the back of the label, it said, both the assholes out it’s kind of this this fun secret, which, I mean, we didn’t. I don’t know if we knew people were even gonna notice. But I think somebody posted it on Twitter or something, and then you know, yada, yada, yada. It went viral. So it was really fun.
Benn Marine 13:43
That’s amazing.How do Patagonian please get involved in that campaign? And what is kind of the community engagement looked like around it?
Rebecca Goodstein 13:50
And voting? Yeah, yeah. Well, it all started with us having election day off. So at a minimum, we know that our folks will have a paid day to go to the polls on election day. But even backing up from that, we realize we have this huge group of of engaged employees who could have a big effect if they go out and help register people to vote and help talk about some of the the things you need to do to vote in your state. And to work at the polls. And you know, just get involved in voter advocacy and awareness, wherever they are. So Patagonia gives every employee about 18 hours every year, we call them activism hours. And it’s a way that we can go and support an organization while getting paid by Patagonia. And so leading up to the 2020 election, that was that program, just they blew it out of the water. So we had people who are taking time, you know, in our retail stores, they would take a paid hour off the sales floor and write letters to folks encouraging them to vote in certain states or they would To have paid time to work at the pole, to work for nonpartisan organizations that were just trying to support voters. That was a really, it was really exciting time at Patagonia. I felt like no matter what our feelings were about the upcoming election, we were all rallying for a common goal, which was just to make sure voting was a priority. That’s great. And we do a lot of this work through our nonprofit friends. I don’t know if we’re going to get to that. But and that’s why make time to vote is mainly a business to business initiative. Because there’s so many amazing nonprofits out there who were doing this work that we we end up supporting in other ways. So we want to, we don’t want the focus to be on us with the nonprofit’s we want to just like support them from the sidelines and make sure that we’re able to help them in whatever way theyneed.
Benn Marine 15:43
Are there any nonprofits that function on kind of a national level that you all work with? Or is it more the individual stores working with their local nonprofits?
Rebecca Goodstein 15:52
It is both. We worked a lot with Power To The Poll this year to help get our folks working at the polls, which is a pretty cool organization. I think they may also work with another very important organization, Pizza To The Polls, where you can log on, and order pizza for people who are waiting in line to vote, which is very fun on many levels, voting and pizza. And then we also are so proud of our local partnerships and our retail community. So there’s a lot of organizations who were just doing many different things. And it kind of depends on the area. But whether it’s trying to pass an environmental rights initiative in their community, or just getting out and driving people to the pole, there’s, through a lot of ways that that folks could get involved, which is great. That’s awesome.
Benn Marine 16:43
I’m curious, what are some of the other advocacy programs that Patagonia is involved with,
Rebecca Goodstein 16:49
there’s a lot, which is great. A lot of them are local, which is which is very fun, because it’s the voice of our retail employees who say this is something that’s happening in our community, and we want to get involved. And so we help them connect the dots to different ways that they can support them. on a national level, we’re actually we’re actually working on a huge environmental justice issue right now, that’s happening in Ventura where our headquarters are, there’s a gas company that is trying to expand a natural gas compression compressor, right in downtown Ventura across the street from an elementary school. So a lot of our colleagues, including our CEO are just, you know, opposing this in every possible way that they can. And we closed our retail store there. So all of our employees could go join a protest a few weeks ago, and we’re trying to help them out with some of our grants and our social media amplification. So that’s something that we’re working on nationally, but it happens to be very local. On the Westside Clean Air Coalition is the nonprofit that we’re just really driving our support to to oppose that.
For folks listening who might be in the Ventura area, is there a website or a way that they can contact or get involved in engaged around that particular issue?
Yes. So I would definitely start with the Westside Clean Air Coalition. I think it’s westsidecleanair.org I will give a spoiler alert or a plug to something I’m sure we’ll talk about later. But you can go to the Patagonia action work site, which is patagonia.com/actionworks to find ways to, to take action. It’s been all over the news. I mean, it’s something that I felt like was was so local, and now I’m hearing about it. I’m based in Washington, DC. So it’s a really, it’s a big issue that I’m probably been able to get behind and support communities there. Yeah, on a more national level, we have a lot of, you know, we’re always looking at voting. So we’re trying to support the For The People Act and rally other businesses, to join us, including your friends, Ben and Jerry’s. So a lot of our B Corp friends are signing on to help with that, of the founders of our company are very interested in restoring wild fish and taking down some of the dams that prevent the fish from you know, prevent free flowing rivers and prevent fish from breeding and living their natural lives, including Atlantic salmon. So we’re working on trying to take down some some dams and restore while fish passage. That’s a long ongoing work 30 by 30. We’re, we’re getting some of the nonprofit’s that we support who are involved in this protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030 initiative, kind of gathering them together, and just helping to support their work as a campaign. So it goes on and on. But we have a whole team who works on national campaigns and tries to figure out where Patagonia can be most additive and make sure that we’re we’re helping the nonprofit’s that are working on the issues and not not making us front and center.
Question about the program around taking down the dams. So we actually are based in a mill that has a dam right across the way and we’ve been in there has been like little talks about like bringing the dam down or like for getting involved that what would that look like? Or how, you know, who can we reach out to for that? Do you have any advice for us or other businesses or even just listeners who might have a dam in their neighborhood? And they’re like, you know, it’s not really serving a purpose? Like, how can we move forward in getting that removed?
Thank you for asking. That’s a it’s an interesting question. Because there’s the big dams, like on the Kennebec River, you have four big dams that are preventing Atlantic salmon from migrating and breeding that we’re, we’re actively working to take down. But there’s also little dams, like you said, and they all have a huge effect on the ecosystem. So I bet there’s a nonprofit in your community that is or just a group of engaged citizens that are working to take down that dam, I have found that there are some that people have strong feelings on dams, which is something I wasn’t really clear on before. So we’re working in Patagonia. And it always seems like even if it’s just one or two, engage folks who are who are looking at that dam and realizing the benefits of taking it down. So I would I would find that group of engaged people who are trying to take your dams down.
That makes sense. That makes is that is there a national concerted kind of connection where people are connecting with others?
Yeah, American Rivers seems to have a really great overview of rivers and dams. And Patagonia Actually Works, if I may. That’s a great way to kind of you can like geo locate where you are. And then you can filter it by water issues. And it’ll show you all the organizations in your community that are working on fish passage restoration and bringing back wild fish. But it kind of depends on the dams are such a local issue, which is a sentence I never thought I would hear myself say. So often it is is a very local group that’s working on it.
Benn Marine 21:50
That’s cool. And actually, so I feel like this is a great segue. So what exactly is Patagonia Action Works.
Rebecca Goodstein 21:56
Patagonia Action Works. So Patagonia Action Works. It’s a website. And we launched it in 2018. And I like to affectionately call it our dating website, because we launched it to connect the Patagonia community. So customers, employees, people who live your Patagonia stores with the nonprofit’s that we support. So every nonprofit that we support through a grant has a page on Patagonia action works for two years after they received their grant was kind of like, imagine a Facebook page or know where people date match.com. I don’t know if that’s still relevant, but they have a profile page. And they can post petition, they can share articles that have been released about them, if they’re have an event coming up, they can post it on there, there’s a donate button that goes right to the organization. Patagonia doesn’t touch a cent of it right now is actually I mean, it’s always an exciting time for Patagonia Action Works. But July and August, we have a campaign going on to highlight our skills based volunteer, which is something that you can engage with through Action Work. So we know that a lot of the organizations we support are very small, grassroots groups, they often don’t have a lot of staff or a lot of funds. And so we want to be able to connect them with volunteers who have a specific skill that the nonprofit needs. So it’s all kind of brokered through Patagonia action works through this third party called Catchafire. And people like you and me can go on to patagonia.com/actionworks and say, you know, I’m I’m really good at copy editing. And I love organizations that are working to protect land in Montana, you can really, like customize it to your interests. And our groups that are on Patagonia action works. Hopefully, we’ll have posted an opportunity where they need somebody to donate six hours of their time to proofread their annual report. And as a volunteer, I can go on and kind of, you know, put in my profile, and they ask a bunch of questions. And then that gets sent to the organization who looks at my skills and who I am. And they say yeah, you know, we want to meet with this person and catchafire.org really conducts it like it’s a it’s a job interview and a great way. So the organization has a lot of agency to be very clear about what they’re looking for. And the volunteer has a lot of, they’re able to say this is exactly how much time I can dedicate, this is my background, this is what I can do. And there’s something for everyone, which is very nice. It’s a very, like inclusive way to help. There’s a lot of different organizations, you can donate an hour of your skills, or, you know, go up to like there’s many like ongoing volunteer opportunities. So we’re really it’s been a huge help to our nonprofits since we started this program. In 2018, and we just wanted to both show the benefit to the nonprofit organizations and to let our community members what a huge help that they can make. You know, maybe they’re not in a position to donate a lot of money, but they have the skill that’s really helpful to an organization, which is equally if sometimes not more valuable.
Benn Marine 25:17
Oh, my gosh, it’s brilliant. And I feel like that’s also such a great way for the organization to engage with volunteers in a really meaningful way. Because I think that’s so important in in also retaining volunteers that it feels meaningful to them.
Rebecca Goodstein 25:29
Totally. Yeah, that’s such a good point, I think it feels really good to volunteer. And sometimes it’s hard to find a group that you’re a real fit with. And on the flip side, sometimes I think, for a small, underfunded nonprofit, it’s sometimes hard to like, negotiate that volunteer relationship. And so it just, it makes it so that, like, we try to do it for them. So at the end of the day, we can just say, here’s an amazing person who is a perfect fit for what you’re looking for, go forth and edit your annual report. Yeah, it’s really fun.
That’s amazing. That is super cool. I noticed on the Patagonia action work site, you can actually search for grantees, who are the grantees and are they all recipients of funds directly from Patagonia? Or does it mean they’ve been selected to be in partnership with Patagonia in some way,
for the most part, it’s a 99.9% of the organizations you see listed on Patagonia Action Works our grantees of Patagonia. So, that means within the last two years, they’ve gotten a grant from us, they’ve applied for a grant, we mostly fund environmental work. And we’ve given them a grant, which not only is a nice, you know, financial contribution to the organization, but it comes with a lot of benefits. Being a partner with Patagonia, we want to make sure that, you know, we’re not just saying here’s a check, and then good luck. But we really want to make sure that we’re we’re in relationship with these organizations. And we can continue to learn about their successes and their challenges. And to focus on a lot of this capacity building to say, you know, we’re not only like a quote unquote, funder, but we really want to do we really want to be in partnership with you. And so what are some other ways that we can help? And that’s actually where Patagonia action works came from, we took a survey of all the organizations we supported and said, you know, we give you we’ve given you a grant check, and we’ve given you some product donations, and you have access to our staff through activism hours, what else can we help you with, and they said, We really want to be connected with your community in a meaningful way. And so Patagonia action works was kind of born out of that to make that relationship easier for for both our community members and our nonprofits. And we’re really proud of our grants program. It comes from our membership in 1%, for the planet, where we’ve pledged to give 1% of all of our sales to environmental organizations. And there’s more information on our website, Patagonia comm slash grants, if you’re a nonprofit, and you’re curious about what we find, when we fund what we fund, it’s a really wonderful program. And our retail staff are actually the ones that make the decisions about which proposals to fund, which I think is amazing. Yes, it’s this beautiful democratic process where the folks there in our communities, that our retail staff, they live there, they participate with these organizations, a lot of them are already volunteering with them. Some of them are affected by these horrible environmental justice issues that are happening right in our community. So they know much better who the groups are to fund that than I do, or, you know, the folks who are sitting in Ventura. So they walk through the process, and they decide, these are the organizations that we want to support in our community, which I think is a really a really beautiful way to have this participatory grantmaking in our communities.
Benn Marine 28:50
That’s incredible. I’m socurious about that. So is it that is there like a monthly I’m just so careful the logistics of that, like and especially if there are other businesses are looking to find ways to engage with their employees and in give back kind of in that same way, is there like a monthly meeting where it’s like these are the organizations that we’re considering? Or is it like a subcommittee that that employees sign up for? And they’re like doing? Like, I’m just so curious, how does it work?
Rebecca Goodstein 29:19
Yeah, it’s a good question. Like, like so many things. Everything’s a little different this year. So all employees and our retail stores are eligible to participate in the grant making process. If they want to read the proposals that come in and present them. That’s great if they just want to be kind of a, you know, a quiet participant and listen, in the grant review process. That’s great, too. We welcome all levels of participation because it’s really important that our staffs voices heard in whatever way they feel comfortable engaging. And there’s a right now it’s an annual meeting. We have a big process where we we actually invite organizations to have By this year, we wanted to lower the burden on organizations in our communities, knowing that it takes a lot of time and mental energy to apply for a grant. And because grants are just one way that we can support organizations in our communities, we were pretty targeted in the types of groups that we invited, the ones that we felt like had a good chance of getting funded, and were aligned with our grant guidelines. So we invited a handful of organizations, they apply, and they answer what I think are pretty non traditional questions, we asked a lot about their justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work, we talked about, you know, how they are kind of making a difference in their community and working in partnership with the community, we are really proud that we’re giving out general operating support grants, which we find this the best way and the most effective way that we can support organizations. And sometimes that goes to things like keeping the lights on at organizations, which is, you know, that’s, that’s real, especially right now, you know, so we really want to know, what they’re working on and what their plans are, for the future and how they’re strategic with their money and their programs and how they’re working with other nonprofits. And then our retail staff sit down and read them off and talks about them. And we have a scorecard. And we look at different things. And it’s a pretty, it’s a pretty special thing, I tried to go to all of the grant meetings for all of our retail stores. And it’s just wonderful to see the way my retail colleagues are so engaged in this work and take it so seriously, because it’s a really fun thing. And our grants. I mean, they’re, they’re modest in size, they’re between $10 and $15,000. But for a really small organization, that makes a huge difference. And that’s our goal. We feel like that’s where some of the real change can get made. So, yeah, I’m really proud of our grants program. And it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.
Benn Marine 31:49
Oh, my goodness, absolutely. That’s amazing. How if there is, you know, folks listening that might be part might be one of those small nonprofits and maybe haven’t heard of this process, what’s the best way for them to kind of get involved or throw their hat in the ring?
Rebecca Goodstein 32:03
Yeah, throw their proposal in the cyber grants portal. Sounds exciting. So I would first go to Patagonia.com/grants and take a look at the work we support. We right now, just support nonprofit registered nonprofits 501 C, three groups who focus mainly on environmental justice and environmental work. And there’s a few different different priorities that we have. So I would get to look, take a look at those and then get to know your your local Patagonia store, I think there’s grants of when we look at organizations in a way that we want to holistically support them. And sometimes grant a grant is not the most helpful thing, what they might find more useful as an event at our store, or to have five of our staff go out one day and help them pull invasive weeds. So we always want organizations to know like, we’re here to support them and intersectional in all different ways, and we want to know what, what their needs are, and just really get to know them and figure out what the best level of Patagonia support is. That’s great.
I know, in addition to Patagonia directly getting involved with advocacy work, you also do a lot to support the advocacy work of organizers and activists across the country, including creating resources to help community organizers be more effective in the work. What are some pieces of advice that you would give to any organizer activists listening to this podcast to help them be more effective in creating the change that they seek?
Oh, Benn. You know, I think you and I are very, we are probably surrounded by people who believe a lot in nonprofits and organizing and advocacy. And so I can only speak for experience and it’s really easy to, to get tired, and to burnout. And the world needs you and the world needs are all these different voices. So you know, take a nap, take care of yourself. I think that my my sister who’s very involved in working with nonprofits always says you can’t pour from an empty cup, which is true. So I think that’s something that we often overlook when we are feel especially passionate about something, that if we’re not here to do the work, you know, that’s, that’s one less person who’s able to advocate for causes. So that’s just my, that’s my soapbox, you know, take care of yourself. But I think that it’s wonderful to find my kind of formula is to find a cause locally that I believe in and find a cause nationally that I believe in. I think it’s very easy to just spread yourself really thin and think well, I’m going to be on that board and I’m going to run that volunteer day and I’m going to go to Patagonia Action Works and find 7,000 organizations. But I’ve tried to limit it to something local and something national each and just evaluate it each year. So it’s still I still feel like I’m serving my community dress They’ll feel like I’m serving myself and in an authentic way, and there’s just so many amazing organizations that are working on really huge important issues right now. So and I think Don’t be activism sometimes gonna feel like a scary word. But activism can mean so many different things, it can, you know, if you’re, if you’re introverted, it can mean sitting in a room and writing letters to voters, if you are feeling like you want to get out and do something radical, you know, it could be going to Vancouver and chaining yourself to an old growth tree to try to try to prevent logging there. So activism means a lot of different things. And don’t be scared to dip your toe in the water.
That’s true, annd I think just to kind of echo that sentiment, I think it’s so important for folks to know too, that to your point earlier with, like matching of skills and things that showing up can manifest in so many ways. Like it might not feel like a big thing. But the fact that somebody else doesn’t have to go and proofread that copy that you’re willing to volunteer to proofread. It might feel like an easy little lift for you. But it makes a huge impact for that organization or that cause So no, I think No, no action is too small.
Totally even if it’s just showing up, even if it’s just going to the meeting.
It’s true. It’s true. Awesome. How do you navigate building meaningful relationships with community partners, like your partnership with the Latin American Youth Center, I think, was really cool example.
Yeah, the Latin American Youth Center is this incredible organization right here in Washington, they work with all different youth in the community. And there’s, there’s a lot of different programs that they have, I would definitely check them out. They are incredible. I am inspired by them every day. And so we partnered with them on we had a hiring partner ship with them in our DC store where they had some really incredibly talented, hard working folks who were looking for different kinds of jobs. And we wanted to show them what the world of retail was, and the environmental company. And so we had a bunch of their folks to come and work with us for a year, which is amazing. And they just have a great way of supporting different different groups of young people in in our city. And what felt especially meaningful about our partnership with them. And this sounds very hokey, but it really felt like a true partnership. And I joked around with their director that we had unknowingly entered into a mutual admiration society, because I kept saying, we just love your programs, and all of the folks that come out of your programs are so amazing. And he would say we just love all the opportunities, you know, and all the mentorship and everything you’ve given our students. So it felt like we were learning from each other, we were supporting each other. It wasn’t like we were coming in and kind of like saving the day. It was this beautiful mutual partnership where we were able to to work together toward a common goal. And it was it was really fun. I think everybody, you know, had a good time getting to know each other. And the young folks that came to work at our store were so cool. And getting to share information about Patagonia with them was really fun, because it’s such a interesting company. So it was neat to show them the different way we do things sometimes. How did
Benn Marine 38:06
How did you and the Latin American Youth Center How did you all find each other, and how did that manifest?
Rebecca Goodstein 38:12
that was an that was kind of a funny is like a Wizard of Oz story. Like they were always right there. Because they their office is actually a few blocks away from me in Washington, DC and I knew of them. But we Patagonia has worked with this, this wonderful group of vivid of advisors to figure out different ways to do hiring and to be more inclusive in how the way we hire to look at the people that we have in our retail stores. Are we giving them the right opportunities? are we reaching out to communities who may not traditionally cross paths with Patagonia and say, Hey, we have these opportunities? Does anyone do anyone you know, want to work at one of our stores? And I think the group was based in Seattle, they said there’s this great organization called Latin American new center, and they have a workforce development program. And it was really funny, because it was like, Yeah, I know that I can pretty much see their office from my house. So that, you know, I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. But, um, that it’s just been really fun. And I’ve kind of kept in touch with them just as community partners and I love talking about their work and supporting them. They’re, they’re a great group. So they’re just there’s just so many nonprofits that are doing great work in our communities and incredible organizations that think are often unsung or undiscovered or focusing on doing the work and not having a social media presence. So we don’t necessarily find them. So you know, it’s incumbent on us sometimes to go out there and find these groups.
Benn Marine 39:45
That’s amazing. It also sounds like a huge part of how that partnership was so great. It sounds like Patagonia did a lot of listening and not all that telling which I think, yeah, is maybe something that, you know, when people are thinking about like partnerships. I think sometimes there’s like oh, You know, you I think you even said like, we didn’t show up to save the day, like we entered into it with a mutual partnership, which I think is a really important point.
Rebecca Goodstein 40:08
Yeah, that’s the Thank you. I do feel like, I mean, I learned so much from them. And I think it’s a slippery slope between learning and you know, benefiting from some of their services and being extracted, which is something that we’re always keeping an eye on, like, are we properly compensating the groups we work with? If we’re asking them for advice? Or to do something in our store? Are we making sure that we recognize that even just an hour, you know, an hour they spend with us is a big, you know, it affects their bottom line? So I think being in partnership also means recognizing, like compensation and realizing the value of people’s time and thoughts and efforts, all of that.
Benn Marine 40:50
That’s great. That’s great. Good, good point. What advice? I think maybe you just touched on this a little bit, but what advice would you have for businesses that are interested in finding local nonprofits to partner with to your point, sometimes they’re hard to find, right? Like, they’re not as invested. They’re not that maybe don’t have as much bandwidth to like, talk about the work that you’re doing. They’re too busy doing the do.
Rebecca Goodstein 41:12
Yeah. It’s an sometimes I’m actually in the position of finding new nonprofits. And so I I’m definitely in it right now, whenever we open a new retail store, we like to use all any sort of publicity or communications to highlight a nonprofit, where we’re opening our store. So a lot of times, I’m just googling groups, and you know, trying to keep a list of who’s doing what and who can introduce me. And I think that I recognize the privilege of that, and that’s my job. And not everyone has the time to just, you know, sit there and, and research organizations, I probably sound like a broken record, but Patagonia Action Works is a great place to find groups. I also find 1% For The Planet, which is the organization that we’re involved with, they have this really nice directory on their website that it has. It’s a national list of groups that are members. I find that’s really interesting. Sometimes if I’m in a new community, and I’m just going to look in for a group to get to know, I’ll look there. But I would also, I find that the the nonprofit community is a group of givers. So sometimes I’ll talk to some of the groups that I already know in that city. And they’re often very open with introductions, or they feel it’s kind of this all boats rise mentality when they, you know, say, well, we we work on this watershed, and so did these other organizations. So it’s, it’s nice to, to see how organizations work together and how they’re so willing to make introductions.
Benn Marine 42:46
That’s awesome. Is there like a directory that you reference of nonprofits? Like I know, here in Maine, we have i think it’s it’s MANP. I think it’s like MaineAassociation of Nonprofits. And you can kind of search, you know, by topics or job search all the things, is there. Do you look for those, like on a state to state basis? Or or is there like a national one you reference? Or are you like, I don’t even know.
Rebecca Goodstein 43:08
It’s a good question. And I do find that there is speaking of nonprofits being givers, sometimes there are these websites for organizations and they say, you know, here are 10 other organizations that are doing similar work and link to them. I don’t know of a national one other than actual works, of course, but there’s I have found that there’s a lot of Coalition’s You know, there’s like organizations who work on clean air, and they just have a list of their partners. And I think it just kind of snowballs from there. When to find one group, you see them listed everywhere. And they often link to different organizations. So yeah, it’s hard. I mean, there’s so many wonderful, wonderful groups that are working on great things. I wish that, you know, we had so many more resources that we could just like, find these groups and share them out. But Patagonia afterwards is really my go to if there are groups that we support, otherwise, it’s a lot of researching and asking around.
That’s awesome. What are some ways that Patagonia would like to see other businesses take a stand as a force for good?
Oh, well, being a B Corp is amazing. So it is, it is a process. I mean, it is it is wonderfully labor intensive. And I can’t say enough about the folks at B Labs that you know, B Corp, they they really help businesses go through the process, even I think to find out if it’s if it’s appropriate for them. You know, I think that the it can depend on the size, it can depend on how much what your revenue is. But I think it’s a really great thing to look into. If you’re a business definitely go to make time to vote.org to sign on to our business to business initiative and help make voting more accessible for your employees. And I think that you It’s um, you know, I have some friends here who own small businesses. And I think it sometimes seems like the last thing in the world you can do to just, you know, in addition to like running your business and staffing and just trying to keep things afloat, especially after the, you know, the pandemic, I think that it’s hard sometimes to pause and think how can we give back to the community that we’re in, the benefits are multi fold, it feels great for your employees, it obviously helps your community, and whatever that looks like, which I think would be different for every business, I would just give it some thought and see if there’s a way to make it happen. And if you can join 1% for the planet. And even if you say, you know, for every humus lunch, we sell, we’re going to get one person to this nonprofit, or dinner to give away food. There’s so many people who’ve been used Oh, lift right now. And anyone can do it. That’s that’s, that’s real.
Benn Marine 45:54
Any other final thoughts or parting advice for listeners or things you’d like to say out to the masses?
Rebecca Goodstein 46:01
Ah yeah, well, I I love that you speak to the audience, I think there’s so many people who are interested in learning more about B Corp. And for me, I actually think that the whole concept of of a B Corp allows me to be a lazy, lazy, responsible consumer. Because I can just look at the website, find out who is doing good things, and go right there. And it saves me a lot of research. So I’m just such a fan of all things B Corp and all of the businesses who’ve really taken the time to to go through the process and to be introspective and think about what it means to be a values driven company, I would ask everyone to check their voter registration status. It is something we all think we have done, but it doesn’t hurt to just check again, it pays dividends.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I do have one more question for you. I’m curious what your favorite memory or most rewarding experience you’ve had with Patagonia has been,
I think being part of the the rollout of Patagonia at Patagonia Actually Works was was really meaningful. Not necessarily as a Patagonia employee, but as a former nonprofit person. Because I just remember being there and remembering how many competing priorities I had, and you have to raise money, and you have to, you know, get out there and update your Facebook and Instagram, and you have to go out and do the field work. And there’s just so many things that our nonprofit friends have to think about. And to be able to just connect them with this group of engaged people. I remember the first time I heard about it, it was like a light switch went off in my head. And I just thought this is such a gift that we can give to all of these hard working people who were gonna show up every day to try to change the world. So that was a I remember that moment. It was such a special revelation that we were able to be we were working on a quote unquote, products that we could help nonprofits with, but and on a on a more general scale. I think any of the grant meetings that I participate in and with our retail staff that’s really special. It’s really nice to see them, you know, sometimes get into really heated debates about these organizations and how we can best support them and I love it. It’s so meaningful to everyone.
Benn Marine 48:36
Time to level up through action and impact. This segment is meant to provide you with ways you can get involved in a local and global level. With one challenge mentioned in the episode. You can do all of what follows or choose your own adventure. If it feels overwhelming. I’m encouraging you to listen for one action in the following listed actions to give a try. If we all make even the smallest of changes, you would be amazed at how it can ripple out.
Much of the work Patagonia and their partners are doing whether it’s protecting public lands or making sure people have access to the voting booth and everything in between is impacted by public policy is impacted by public policy. The best way to have influence over public policy is to be an active voter that votes. Now, that is not the only way and it is certainly the most direct way that you can hold our elected officials accountable. It also makes the weight of all the actions I’m about to name that much more effective. Elected officials frequently check voting records of constituents that lobby them frequently through letters, constituent requests, calls and in person meetings. If they see that you are someone who votes regularly and consistently, they are more inclined to hear what you have to say. I also recognize that not everyone is eligible to vote. If you are eligible, be sure to vote in every election, not just the general election. Whether or not you’re eligible to vote. I also encourage you to do any and all of the following to get involved on issues you care about. Write a handwritten letter to representatives. Call your representatives and ask them to vote a particular way on a bill you care about. Be sure to mention why it’s something that’s important to you and tell them you are a constituent by stating your address that you’re registered to vote at in the message. write letters to your neighbors about why voting is important to you and urge them to vote in the upcoming election.
Volunteer the polls on Election Day. volunteer with an issue or nonprofit organization on election day to help get out the vote. knock on doors make phone calls, offer rides to those that transportation to the polls might be a barrier and vote early. Despite the best laid plans life happens and when life happens on election day. You don’t want it to be the reason you weren’t able to cast a ballot by voting early. If that’s available to you. You can skip the lines on election day and spend the day volunteering to increase your impact. For more tips and information, see the show notes at responsibly different.com forward slash podcast forward slash Patagonia next time on responsibly different I sit down with the President and CEO of Vital Farms, Russell Diez-Canseco what I started to see was the potential when you treated your suppliers, your employees, your customers, as co creators, that you could actually grow the pie in some way. And so there was actually more to go around you actually created more value. Till next time. Be responsibly different.
This is a production of Dirigo Collective Claire Closson is our Project Manager. Jeremy Glass is our writer. The music is an original score by our very own Kevin Oates, and I Benn Marine am your host and editor. To learn more about dirigo collective visit dirigocollective.com