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This new Patagonia film brings the fight for public lands to the Arctic

Fort Yukon native communities are fighting not just for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling, but also for their way of life.

This new Patagonia film brings the fight for public lands to the Arctic

Patagonia has helped financially support grassroots environmental organizations and causes since its founding more than 45 years ago, and it turns out the answer to these challenges may be a bit more complicated than just “fall in love, get married, and have some kids.”

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The company’s advocacy and support for public lands protection has been unabashedly loud for the last two years, calling President Trump a liar, and even taking the administration to court over its policy to drastically shrink the size of both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

Most recently, Patagonia has turned its attention 4,000 miles north to Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Gwich’in native community. It helped fund and launch a new short film called Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee that illustrates the similarities between the fights of indigenous people for public lands protection. Produced by conservation nonprofit The Wilderness Society and Patagonia, our narrator and guide throughout the 13-minute film is co-director Len Necefer, a native Navajo and University of Arizona professor of Indian Studies. Necefer talks to the Fort Yukon Gwich’in community about their way of life, and the serious implications that bringing industry into the wildlife refuge will have on their sustenance hunting and fishing.

The film is Patagonia’s latest amplification of its social mission. In December, the company announced it had a new mission, to “save our home planet,” and creative content is a major tool in that mission. For example, Blue Heart, which came out last September and chronicled the fight to save Europe’s last wild rivers, is credited with helping to convince the governments there to act. Talking about Blue Heart back in September, Patagonia’s VP of marketing Cory Bayers and I talked about the impact of using creative marketing and film to raise awareness for issues like European rivers. It’s “a good way of making the connection that we’re all in the same fights,” he said. “There’s power in that.”

The same idea can easily be applied to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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