Patagonia is donating $1 million to help support Georgia voting rights activists
via Black Voters Matter / Twitter and Yukiko Matsuoka / Flickr

While major Georgia-based companies Coca-Cola and Delta fought back against the state's new voting rights law with strongly-worded opposition, Patagonia is putting its money where its mouth is and funding activists.

On Tuesday morning, the outdoor apparel maker announced it will donate $1 million to grassroots groups pushing for increased voter access in the state. Half of the money will go to the New Georgia Project, which works to register Georgians to vote.

The other half will go to Black Voters Matter Fund which works to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities by fighting for voting rights.



Patagonia's CEO Ryan Gellert called on fellow CEOs to go beyond public statements and to take a more activist role in the fight.

"I call on fellow CEOs to join in denouncing these attacks on our democracy and to do more than make a corporate statement," Gellert wrote. "The strength of our democracy depends on every vote being counted everywhere, and we must protect access to the ballot box."

Gellert gave three specific ways that corporations can join Patagonia in the fight. First, they can fund "the activists working to challenge the recently passed laws," and provided a list in a press release.

Second, they can call on senators in the states where they do business and ask them to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). This bill would make it easier for people to vote in federal elections, end gerrymandering, and overhaul campaign finance laws.

His third request was to commit "to reaching out to business partners to facilitate speaking out against further state laws that would restrict voting access."

Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202, formerly known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, into law. The law was passed in a party-line vote and backed by Republicans in the statehouse.

The law is seen as a response by Republicans to push back against big Democratic inroads made in the state in 2020. Democrats won two Senate states and the presidential election in a state that was red for 30 years.

The new laws are seen as an aggressive attempt to suppress minority votes in the state. The laws do so by giving people less time to send mail-in ballots and by only making them available upon request. It also mandates that voters provide some form of identification, a move that will disproportionately affect Black voters.

It also limits the number of ballot drop-off boxes in the state.

One of the most controversial aspects of the set of new laws is the ban on handing out food and water within 150 feet of a polling place, or within 25 feet of any voter. Republicans say it's a move to stop outside people from influencing voters. Democrats see it as a way to make sure voters are uncomfortable while waiting in long lines.

American democracy is the backbone of a system that allows for us to live in a civil society where businesses such as Patagonia can flourish. When states such as Georgia work to disenfranchise voters, it's a direct attack on the basic foundations that allow our society to thrive.

Patagonia is right to call on other business leaders to stand up and support the systems that are crucial in allowing them to exist in the first place. Let's hope that they heed the call.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Did you know that the simple act of smiling can trick your brain into feeling better, improve your health, and even help you live longer? It's true. Science says.

If you're looking for a reason to smile, here are ten of them.

1. The way this grandma says, "I'm so happy to see you!"

A young woman shared that her grandma always comes to check on her when she hasn't come out of her room for a while. "You want some food???" This is just too wholesome. Watch the whole thing.


2. These two geese were mesmerized by a man playing harmonica in a Taipei park.

Qiqi and Fanfan are into it, y'all. Listen to them try to join in a few times.

3. Ryan Reynolds and a special guest singing six-part harmony? Yes, please.

The Grace Kelly TikTok challenge had people singing the chorus to Mika's 2007 song "Grace Kelly" with various harmonies. I won't give away the cameo here, in case you haven't seen it yet. So fun. Read more about it here.

4. This dad knew his daughter was a prankster, and yet she managed to trick him anyway.

Aryanna's got skills. Dad knows she's got skills. The way he immediately looks all around for traps and still gets surprised. That grin on her face, too. So dang funny. Read the full story here.

5. Norm MacDonald's heartwarming advice to a fan who lost his mother.

The iconic comedian's passing at 61 came as a surprise, but his advice for how to handle grief is a lesson for us all: "Take all the love you have for her, Pablo, and give it freely to all that you meet. Your mom will look down upon you, happy and proud."

6. A Portland cat cafe reopened, and all the cats up for adoption got homes in less than a day.

First of all, the cafe is called Purrington's. I mean, come on. Second of all, it's a cafe where you can hang out with cats that need homes, which is awesome. The cafe had hit some snags in recent years with COVID restrictions and whatnot, but on the day of its reopening, every cat got a home. Yay for the kitties. Read the full story here.


7. This is seriously the greatest "walk of shame" I've ever seen.

At first, you're thinking, "Why is that guy walking into a park pond?" Then it's, "Ooooh. I see." Then finally, "OMG that right there is what living life to its fullest looks like."

8. The U.S. is reportedly buying 500 million more vaccines to donate to the rest of the world.

We're all in this together, literally. The only way we're going to get the pandemic under control is to make sure everyone has access to COVID vaccines. The need is great, but we're stepping up to help meet it. Love to see the U.S. taking leadership on this front.

Read the full story here.

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash


9. New Zealand firefighters offer a Haka to honor the first responders who perished on 9/11.

Okay, this one might make you smile and cry at the same time. Such a beautiful offering and reminder of how connected we all are.

10. Watch this street photographer help an elderly Italian woman see her own beauty.

Dino Serrao's TikTok channel is the place to go when you want to be reminded of the unique beauty in every human being. All of his videos are great, but this one is so heartwarming. Their interaction is so sweet, but her recognizing her own gorgeousness after initially telling him she didn't want her picture taken is just wonderful.


I hope that brought a little joy and hope into your day! Come back to Upworthy again next Friday for ten more reasons to smile. :)