Grassroots naturism I

People who’ve already had positive experiences with social nudity – even something as simple as visiting a clothing optional beach or being naked with others in a backyard swimming pool – may start to think about how they might find other opportunities for it. The chances are they haven’t seen the term “naturist” and may confuse it with “naturalist”. But they’re certainly familiar with the term “nudist”, though without a clear idea of what that actually is. (I’ll use just the term “naturist” here, as there’s little consensus on the distinction.)

In this post I want to describe a process that could lead to many more people understanding what “naturism” is – and perhaps even become personally involved in it. I’ll use the term “grassroots naturism” to refer to this idea. The term certainly isn’t my invention. It has been used by The Naturist Society (TNS), though not frequently, and I’ll discuss that in another post.

The idea of “grassroots” organizing in general – not just as applied to naturism – deinitely isn’t a recent one. It goes back centuries, when certain individuals in a community felt a need to recruit others who shared beliefs that they felt deserved to be communicated more widely in their community in order to gain increased respect from the community, and usually to advocate for social changes.

More recent examples include things like labor unions, the women’s suffrage movement, tolerance for nontraditional lifestyles, and so on. At times in the past century nascent efforts of this kind have arisen to advocate in favor of naturism and to provide opportunities for individuals who enjoy social nudity to organize naturist activities.

The majority of grassroots organizing has had the objective of influencing social or political policies. On many occasions, naturists have also gone this route – for instance in order to promote clothing optional use of a beach. As a byproduct of such activity, the people who become involved in it become acquainted with each other and recognize their activity as an opportunity for socializing together to enjoy the interests they have in common.

It’s quite possible that this byproduct may become the primary objective of the organization. For instance, people interested in amateur sports like softball or soccer may organize to persuade their community to develop a park area that can be used for their sport (as well as different activities of interest to others in the community). Once that objective is achieved, the focus of the organization may become primarily to engage together in their particular sport.

The parallel of this example with naturism should be apparent. While it may be unrealistic in most communities to have public areas designated for clothing optional use, there is a wide range of activities that naturists can enjoy on private property and in individuals’ homes. So the primary purpose of organizing need not be changing opinions in the general community in order to change specific policies. Instead, the purpose may simply be to make contacts with others in the community who may be interested in non-sexual social nudity in order to plan and arrange for suitable activities. Doing that will usually require enlightening open-minded people of the pleasures of social nudity, but the ultimate purpose is to make naturist activities more readily available to anyone who might enjoy them.

There are plenty of naturist activities that may be facilitated. For example:

  • All kinds of parties at individual homes: dinner parties, costume parties, body painting parties, birthday parties, etc.
  • Group hiking and camping trips (in suitable places)
  • Use of swimming pools or other recreational facilities owned by group members
  • Group visits to established naturist clubs and resorts or clothing optional beaches
  • Joint activities with similar naturist groups in nearby communities
  • Group lunches and dinners at local restaurants willing to provide them (in private spaces)
  • Making arrangements (if possible) for clothing optional events at nearby places, such as museums, art galleries, theaters, tourist attractions, etc.
  • Work days helping other group members with gardening work on their property

And anything else group members can think of for enjoying non-sexual social nudity.

So how would this actually work? The first step would be for a small group of perhaps just two or three naturists who know each other and live near each other to prioritize finding open-minded people among their friends and relatives, and make a personal effort to educate them about social nudity and invite them to try it. The effort could conceivably even start with a single person (or family). But there’s no “group” until additional people get involved.

This doesn’t mean the initial people need to tell everyone they know that they’re naturists. Instead, it means educating only other people who are most likely to be receptive to the idea of naturism. Members of the immediate families should, of course, probably be at least tolerant of naturism – that’s just fair to them. Ideally, the initial people should have overcome feelings of shame or embarrassment on account of their interest in social nudity, because at some point it might be difficult to avoid others learning about it.

Members of the initial group should be prepared to do more than just talk to other people about naturism. When they find others who seem to have some interest in the idea, they should invite the others into their homes to demonstrate the naturist lifestyle. In case others have been more than casual acquaintances, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to be naked when they visit. It’s important to set a good example and demonstrate there’s no need to feel any shame or embarrassment about nudity. But others shouldn’t be pressured to become naturists themselves. Let them get used to the idea at their own pace – if at all.

Eventually, the initial group should host gatherings for others, in which some who choose to can be naked in a “safe” environment. The next step is to encourage others who become involved to start spreading the word themselves. The objective is to have regular naturist get-togethers in the local area, at the homes of whoever wants to help. And also, begin having activities, such as group trips to naturist resorts or camping places, and other ideas suggested above.

This process should be a “viral” thing, but one that spreads via personal contacts instead of using the Internet. It will require lots of personal effort by people who want naturism to succeed. Anyone who wants to become more involved in naturism should ask themselves: Why should I remain limited to non-naturist social activities, when I could be spending some of that time in naturist activities I organize myself?

The solution is to take the initiative to identify other people one already knows and who are potentially open-minded enough to become interested in naturism. Don’t expect others to make the effort for you. Be low-key about it, but try to recommend naturism to others. Personal recommendations between friends are known to be a far, far better way than mass advertising to promote many kinds of products and ideas.

In a later post I’ll try to add more details on how this kind of “grassroots naturism” could work.

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