We recently had the opportunity to interview Erich Schutthauf, Executive Director of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).
What are Your Responsibilities at AANR?
Erich: As Executive Director, my chief job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the AANR Office staff and headquarters, carrying out the policy directives of the Association’s Officers and Trustees. As a licensed Florida attorney, I also provide legal guidance to members and the Association. From tracking membership information, to producing each monthly issue of The Bulletin to AANR readers, and our Government Affairs functions, the staff and I appreciate the opportunity to serve the Association’s members and clubs.
Why is AANR Still Important?
Erich: AANR is currently making some modifications to its mission statement that do a great job of capturing why AANR is still important. Summarized, AANR continues to Promote nude recreation, Protect nude recreation, Provide enhanced opportunities to enjoy it, and Preserve what we have enjoyed as Association members since 1931. These days we are doing more of those things than ever. Our office and professional PR team helped coordinate a half-page story appearing earlier this year in The New York Times about nudist weddings occurring in three different clubs from three different AANR regions. This Sunday The Boston Globe will explain the tradition for family-oriented nude recreation at Solair Recreation League to millions of readers in a story appearing in the travel section.
By far, the most rewarding part of my job is helping to protect members and clubs who encounter difficulties when enjoying simple nudity in their homes, club grounds, and public lands. Make no mistake, there is still a battle raging for nudist rights. Thanks to hard work from a lot of volunteers and nudist-naturist organizations, the “front” of this battle has moved from federal and state governments for the most part. (Our booth at the National Conference of State Legislatures where we educate lawmakers has more prominence than the NRA these days!) It has moved to your own home, backyard, and your family. In the past six months, for example, we assisted two sets of AANR members in two different states when their ability to adopt children was challenged over nudism. We won the first. The second is ongoing.
What’s Exciting at AANR Right Now?
Erich: We’re currently implementing a new membership database that will help us to track memberships and renew them, but those who have been honored with past awards, our participation in trade shows, convention planning, and much more. In the not-too-distant future pulling up an electronic backup of your membership card (as many drivers do with insurance information now) will be the kinds of enhancements our members will enjoy.
And speaking of electronic innovation, we’re excited that more and more members are opting to receive their member news and information in an electronic version of The Bulletin. Among the benefits of receiving it this way is that the email and web links provided may be clicked directly. Issues don’t get lost in the mail or misdirected when members move from a summer to winter address. We do a “good turn” for the environment by saving the trees for paper and gasoline for shipping that hard copy requires. We also can direct more resources into member services and the Association mission rather than paying more to the printer and postal carrier.
How is AANR Different Today Than in Years Past?
Erich: We could spend pages answering this one! If we had to summarize, it is that we enjoy more credibility with government officials than, perhaps, at any time in the Association history. This makes it possible for AANR, working with many in the nudist and naturist community, to win more opportunities to enjoy nude recreation. The Canaveral National Seashore in Florida is a prime example. For decades nude bathers risked tickets for federal violations. Today there is signage letting beach patrons know that they can expect nudists on the beach adjacent to North of parking lots 12 and at parking lot 13 in Brevard County, as well as parking lot 5 in Volusia County. The official state tourism arm, at www.VisitFlorida.com prominently lists nudist locations in its Beaches section in a way that promotes them to families every bit as much as Disney and Seaworld. That would have been unheard of just a few years ago.
The second key difference is the internet age and the significant role of social media. If you’re reading this right now, you understand this. You may get nudist news several times per day. Leveraging these communications capabilities (and being able to respond to circumstances that can quickly spiral) presents opportunities and challenges.
Thank You Erich!