Outdoor clothing and gear brand Patagonia have launched a series of Virtual Reality (VR) films in the aim of protecting the Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County, Utah, USA. The monument is currently under under threat after a resolution was signed and passed by the Utah legislature asking President Trump to rescind Barack Obama's recent designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument. The area is a sacred home to five Native American tribes, important archaelological sites and is a popular destination for climbers - in addition to being of high interest to the fossil fuel industry.
Patagonia responded by withdrawing from this year's renowned Outdoor Retailer Market trade show in Salt Lake City and urged other brands to do likewise. Show organisers later announced that the annual event - after 20 years of taking place in Utah - would no longer be held in the state, in light of its Government's opposition to the Monument. The story has been widely reported in the mainstream media, including The Guardian.
In an open letter to Utah Governer Herbert in January, founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard wrote: 'Governor Gary Herbert and his buddies have spent years denigrating our public lands, the backbone of our business, and trying to sell them off to the highest bidder. He’s created a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk.'
The new series of films 'This Is Bears Ears National Monument' was originally released by Patagonia as a celebration in light of Obama's designation, but within weeks their purpose turned towards bringing the plight of Bears Ears to our attention as the Monument faces an uncertain future in the hands of the new US Government. The interactive videos are VR-compatible and feature Google Street View visuals and immersive audio telling the story of those who live in and respect the Monument, including appearances from prominent climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kitty Calhoun.
The final chapter of the media asks the viewer to contact the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke and 'urge him to keep our public lands in public hands and defend Bears Ears National Monument.'
Use your mobile, tablet or Google Cardboard headset to get the most out of the videos.