Last week, I attended the inaugural Peak Design SUMM1T in San Francisco, a confluence of photographers, art enthusiasts and conservation organizations working together to benefit environmental causes. Planned to be an annual event, and held this year at SOMArts, the evening included an auction of large framed prints by outdoor photographers such as Chris Burkard and Ben Moon, and a keynote address from Patagonia staff photographer Jeff Johnson.
The headline for the event was to celebrate Peak Design joining 1% for the Planet, an organization co-founded in 2002 by Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard to encourage companies to donate at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental and sustainability causes. The organization has since grown to include more than 1,200 member companies in 40 countries and has raised over $150 million dollars to support conservation initiatives and environmental NGOs. As Peter Dering, founder and CEO of Peak Design empasized, this is one percent of sales—not profits—an admirable commitment from a relatively young, lean company that launched its first product in 2011 on Kickstarter.
Dering introduced the guest speakers for the evening, which in addition to 1% for the Planet’s CEO Kate Williams, also included representatives from the organizations that Peak Design has designated as beneficiaries of their contributions. Of particular interest was Gregg Treinish, founder and executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a grassroots organization dedicated to “recruiting, training and managing individuals with strong outdoor skills” to help gather environmental data that would otherwise be expensive or difficult to procure for use by scientists and environmental organizations—something many readers of Outdoor Photographer may be willing and able to help accomplish. If that sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to contact them.
According to Peak Design’s Annie Nyborg, who led the team organizing the event, the SUMM1T was attended by over 350 people and raised more than $12,500 for this year’s beneficiaries: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, Conservation Alliance and 350.org. Of the funds raised, $6,000 were from the photography auction.
“Joining 1% for the Planet and SUMM1T is just the first step of many that Peak Design will be taking to become a more environmentally sustainable company,” Nyborg says. “We strongly believe that success as a company is not defined by how much money we make or how quickly we grow. We're committed to taking a hard look at our environmental impact and doing what we can to grow sustainably.”
As for the future of the Peak Design SUMM1T, Nyborg adds, “SUMM1T will definitely be an annual event, and next year we hope to make it bigger and better! My hope is that in addition to the party and art auction, we'll also organize some ‘satellite’ events like panels, working groups and meet-ups to help provide more structure and action steps in bringing together environmentalists and creatives. We'd like to help facilitate some concrete ways that folks can work together and leverage each others' resources and talents.”
It was a big week for Peak Design—in addition to the SUMM1T, they also launched an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, with over $1,000,000 in preorders in 24 hours for a new line of bags based on their popular Everyday Messenger, including a backpack in two sizes.