An Public Lands Advocacy Project
Across the United Sates, a movement has grown to sell off our public lands. Despite strong public opinion, legislators and lobbyists continue to work with unprecedented eagerness to transfer public lands to private interests. Without engagement and action, our commons may soon disappear.
In the summer of 2017, three friends set off on a week-long journey from Bozeman to Red Lodge, Montana. This journey spanned 240 miles across the largest intact ecosystem in the lower forty-eight. Traversing this landscape drew attention to the importance of the common spaces surrounding Yellowstone National Park.
The goal of this run was twofold: to empower the community to act in defense of our public lands and inspire adventure across the places we call home.
A Multi-Dimensional Media Campaign
To raise awareness of this issue, at a community and national level, the Common Ground team enacted a multi-dimensional media campaign.
Social Media was the foundation from which the team started. It was easily shared and gave them a platform to craft their voice. As the project evolved they had the opportunity to spread their story on larger accounts to reach a wider audience and targeted demographics. One partnership they greatly appreciated was the opportunity to tell a weeks worth of stories on Trailrunner Magazine’s social platforms to share their adventure and their concerns surrounding public lands.
The team worked hard to find outlets at both the local and national level. They wrote features and shared photos in three diverse magazines to help spread their story. This work all targeted the outdoor adventure community and was designed to inform this user group while encouraging them to speak up for the wild lands of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The team’s work stands out for its intimate narrative and spectacular photography.
The team’s short film was the backbone of the campaign. In this eleven minute film they actively targeted young runners to engage in the public lands debate and advocate for the landscape’s continued protection. This film was shown locally to contribute to discussions in their community. It then went on both a national and an international tour to encourage conversation and spark further engagement. After extensive touring, it was freely released online and shared widely through outdoor media.
Missing the public lands debate was the voice of a younger generation - the politically disengaged and disenfranchised. This project’s goal was to target the outdoor community to speak up for the places they value. Common Ground achieved spectacular results. Through film showings and events it solicited hundreds of comments for Forest Planning and public processes, recruited young members to two non-profit partners, and drew in volunteers for a handful of local trail projects. Near it’s conclusion, the team won the Keep it Wild award from one of its nonprofit partners for their outstanding work in engaging younger audiences and sharing the Montana Wilderness Association’s mission.