While some Patagonia employee internships take place in remote locations around the world, others happen closer to home in front of a computer screen. It all depends on the skills each of us possess and how best we can help the group we choose to volunteer for.
Drew from Patagonia’s I.T. department here in Ventura chose to help the Nevada Wilderness Project for his internship. They put his computer expertise to good use by asking him to help enhance their Web site. Check out Drew’s story here and make sure to visit the Take Action! page he integrated into the new site. Taking action today may help protect Nevada’s still-wild Gold Butte area for the future.
“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.” – Marian Wright Edelman
It’s Labor Day and I find myself considering the meaning of work. Real work – our life’s work – not the neglected chores I have about the house this holiday weekend. I’ve always felt that my work should be more than a job, and for most of my adult life, that’s been true. Our work here at Patagonia is much more than making our sales quotas, or increasing profits. Don’t get me wrong, these things are indeed important to Patagonia, but they aren’t the bottom line in all senses of that term. Here, we are fortunate to work for a company that puts values ahead of profits.
One example of this Patagonia “work ethic” can be found in our environmental internship program. This program allows a Patagonia employee to give muscle, talent and time to an environmental group for up to two months, all on Patagonia’s dime. The program has been going strong for over ten years and in some cases has led to an employee leaving the company to pursue their environmental passions that were kindled by the internship experience.
John Wallin, founder of the Nevada Wilderness Project is one such former employee. While working at our Reno facility, John took part in an internship that involved about 25 people. They participated in an internship with Friends of Nevada Wilderness with the task of doing an inventory of potential wilderness in Nevada. Using GPS units, cameras, and topo maps, employees mapped portions of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). In a state with 48 million acres of BLM-managed land, the undertaking was massive. The job was so big, in fact, that John felt more needed to be done – he quit his job and started the Nevada Wilderness Project in May of 1999. Patagonia provided him with a desk and a phone. Since founding of the project, 2,530,188 acres have been designated Wilderness, with another 500,000 acres of National Conservation Areas. Talk about work good for the soul!
Almost three years ago, I was fortunate enough to get to work for the NWP for a few weeks on an internship of my own. I’m a web developer working in our Ventura headquarters and my task was to help the NWP by revamping their website from the ground up, giving them a content management tool and many other new resources so that they could more easily share their story and successes. (If interested, check out the open source project Joomla, the foundation of their new website.) Two months ago, I completed another internship with them as well. Truth be told, my first internship never really ended as I’ve donated many hours of my time each month for the past three years.
All of the many hours spent on the Nevada Wilderness Project have never felt like work to me, either. This past July, I spent a week in the Reno offices with the NWP working on a new design template for their website, creating a new private area where they could post and share documents for the Nevada wilderness coalition, and building an advocacy tool that they could use to create email or letter writing campaigns. Long hours, late night talks and work sessions while sleeping in John’s basement – time passed all too quickly during that very productive week. If I could, this is the work I’d do all the time.
Nancy Hall, Gold Butte Organizer for the Nevada Wilderness Project, has just launched their first email campaign with the new advocacy tool built in July. If you are looking for a way to make your work more than a job then go checkout the Take Action! section of the Nevada Wilderness Project website. When asked, “How much do you make?” Your answer can simply be, “I make a difference.”
For more information on the range of environmental efforts Patagonia undertakes as a company, download the PDF version of our Environmental Initiatives booklet.