AANR Convention

 
Each year at the annual membership meeting and convention, Government Affairs has a chance to discuss what we have been doing and where we hope to go in the year ahead. This year, I took my time as a presenter to ask attendees where do you want GAT to be in the year ahead? 
 
Free the Nipple, World Naked Bike Rides, and challenging local anti-nudity laws in the U.S. and Canada all came out in the discussion. Recovering access to our public lands came up a lot too! A few months ago, I wrote about the loss of Lighthouse and Mazo Beaches, and how the efforts to get them back is part of what makes GAT a marathon and not a sprint. Those efforts will continue. 
 
One of the highlights of the convention is awarding the annual Alonzo Stevens Jr. Government Affairs Award. This year, that award recognized another marathon effort – one with positive results. Bates Beach in Santa Barbara County, California used to be a nude beach in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was one of many Southern California beaches where the flower child and hippie movement followers found a place to relax in the sun au natural. The loss of nude use there was part of a string of beach losses we suffered on the West Coast. About eight years ago, Gary Mussell and the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) decided to spearhead an effort to reclaim Bates Beach. Part of their approach was coming to AANR-West with a proposal to fund a presentation to give to the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors and the City Council of Carpinteria where Bates Beach was in their sphere of influence. 
 
I was the AANR-West GAT chair at the time. Thanks to cooperative funding from us and the other naturist organizations Gary approached, SCNA produced a packet to give out and argued for the return of nude use. Gary’s efforts earned him the GAT Award a couple of years ago, but this was an ongoing effort. The need to support the newly formed Friends of Bates Beach long-term demanded a commitment of not only time but cash. 
 
The AANR-West board was approached each year and asked to continue their support of the effort. Sometimes it was by showing up to support the local group, and sometimes it was cash. SCNA was already committed and its leaders were fast becoming known to the local politicians in the Carpinteria area. Walt Stephens, then AANR-West Member Trustee, lives in the area and he was also down there supporting the effort. Walt’s contacts through his work with law enforcement as a local business owner, as well as his Rotary connections meant we were showing a local connection and regional approach to the effort. 
 
In the last two years the AANR-West board under President Walt Stephens and Vice President Gary Mussell continued to support the effort to return Bates Beach to nude use. Their support helped drive the ongoing support of the Board of Directors, which paid off when nude use returned this summer to Bates Beach. AANR-West’s long-term commitment demonstrates the power organized nude recreation makes to protecting and expanding nude use on public lands. For their commitment to nude recreation the Alonzo Stevens Award was presented to The AANR West Board, Walt Stephens.