Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Surfrider Foundation's 2013 California Conference

Surfers Make Waves at Paradise Point

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at 

The surfers gathered on Friday night in the beachside cottage at San Diego’s Paradise Point Resort were eager for Surfrider’s California Conference to begin.


As everyone was socializing…

and swapping stories about their favorite surfing spots…

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel noticed a beautiful quilt draped over the sofa.

Event Coordinator Nancy Hastings came over and said, “Let me show you what this is.” Holding up the quilt, she explained that her mother-in-law, Betty Hastings, had made it for her from 25 of her old Surfrider T-shirts. 

“There are a lot of moments here,” Nancy said, pointing to the earliest T-shirt from 1995.

It seemed fitting that Nancy’s quilt should have such a place of prominence in the room since quilts bring separate pieces of fabric together to tell a story and to create something lasting.

This is what the Surfrider Foundation does – bringing independent-minded surf activists together in a strong coalition to make a lasting environmental difference.

Surveying the room, host chapter San Diego Chairperson Roger Kube was stoked “to be surrounded by all the passionate and dedicated Surfrider volunteers. It moves and motivates me.”


The first morning of the conference after everyone had breakfast...

Nancy Hastings and Co-Chair Sarah Damron were ready to welcome the 123 conference attendees from around the world – Canada, Australia, Europe, Jamaica and Japan.

Coffee cups in hand, there was a buzz in the air that came from more than the caffeine.

Tony Soriano and Connor Chilcott, from the Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter, were both excited to be at the conference.  “It’s always an exchange of fresh ideas,” said Tony.

“It’s inspiring to see all the activism,” added Connor, an Environmental Science major at Golden West College.

For Craig Cadwallader, South Bay Chapter Chair, it was his fifth conference and he was looking forward to seeing friends again. “I love these conferences.”


Keynote Speaker, Surfrider CEO Jim Moriarty didn’t waste any time in outlining the organization’s mission:

“The protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches
through a powerful activist network.”

With the threat of eroding beaches, rising tides, polluted oceans, and endangered wave breaks, Moriarty made it clear that there is much work to be done.

To accomplish Surfrider’s mission, he said that we need to focus on five points:

1. Mission Impact – winning key environmental victories.

2. Network Evolution – building a field-based network. “Our goal isn’t to be big,” Moriarty emphasized. “It’s to be formidable.” His plan includes the development of a Chapter Advisory Council.

3. Deeper Connections – finding ways to connect with the public on multiple media platforms to tell Surfrider’s stories.

4. Metrics – Measuring and monitoring what supporters are doing and donating.

5. Complete Coverage – Determining where to put our resources in order to have the greatest impact. “Surfrider’s goal is to make a difference in all the communities where it has a presence.”


Stephanie Sekich, Surfrider’s California Policy Manager, continued this theme of targeting resources, noting “we need to determine which issues to fight or support.”

Sekich called on each state to set up a “network of responders” – people standing by to attend public meetings and speak out on environmental issues.

The Top Environmental Issues Facing California

Plastics Pollution Rise Above Plastics Campaign Coordinator Bill Hickman said 32 million tons of plastics are used each year in California. But, only 3 million tons are recycled.

Oil Drilling Sekich pointed out that there are 32 oil drilling projects off California’s coast, putting the state at risk of oil spills and other environmental damage.

Coastal Protection, Sea Level Rise, Climate Change Mark Rauscher, Surfrider Coastal Preservation Manager, warned that by 2100 California’s sea level is predicted to rise 3 – 5 1/2 feet. This would result in erosion and flooding. 

Wave protectionJulia Chunn and Amanda Vegter, of the San Diego Chapter, said their chapter uses video cameras to document the number of surfers, types of waves, and lengths of rides to analyze changes in the wave break. 


During lunch everyone talked about the different projects they’re working on.

Jeff Coffman announced that the H/S Beach Chapter started an Adopt a Channel program with Huntington Beach, OC Public Works, Disney, and renowned marine artist Wyland to focus on cleaning the Santa Ana River.

After lunch and some lively roundtable discussions…

everyone was ready to hear our Guest Speaker

Michael Blum, Stewardship Chair of the Malibu Surfing Association. 

Blum’s talk, presented against a backdrop of vintage Malibu Beach photos…

told about the “death of Malibu” and how water pollution and an altered wave break are ruining one of California’s iconic beaches.

Rallying conference attendees to take action to prevent this and similar occurrences in other areas, Blum said “a shared responsibility is needed to ensure that these places are protected.”


The day’s events gave SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti much to think about.
At the party that evening…

seeing all the different T-shirts people were wearing from their chapters, reminded us of Nancy Hastings’ quilt.

Like the fabric of the quilt, the Surfrider Foundation is strong because of our connections to each other.

United together, we are creating an environmental legacy for future generations:

a world of clean oceans and beaches

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Environmental Surf Activists Protect the Ocean

Behind the Scenes at Surfrider Foundation
Global Headquarters

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

Whenever you’re walking on a beautiful, unspoiled beach or catching a glassy wave there’s a good chance that the Surfrider Foundation has been on the spot first, helping to keep the beach and ocean clean.   

The non-profit Surfrider Foundation’s Global Headquarters in San Clemente is in the perfect location to accomplish its mission:

“The protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches

 through a powerful activist network.”

Just a skateboard ride away from San Onofre State Beach and the much-revered Trestles wave break, Surfrider’s headquarters is where the group’s environmental policies, strategic plans, and media strategies are conceived and coordinated.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel picked a classic California day, complete with sunshine and balmy breezes, to drop by for a behind-the-scenes look at Surfrider’s command center.

CEO Jim Moriarty greeted us at the door…

and invited us to “check things out.”  

 Before long, Surfrider Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter Chairperson Tony Soriano showed up.

Then we were ready for Marketing Manager Kyle Lishok to give us a tour of the facilities, starting with his own space.

Lishok told SurfWriter Girls that Surfrider’s Global Headquarters is a corporate role model for recycling and environmental sustainability.

The building in which it operates is Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)-certified – one of the first facilities in Orange County to receive LEED certification.

Its attractive, open space design encourages collaboration and keeps the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing energy usage.

There are recycling containers in the break room… and low-flow plumbing fixtures in the rest rooms.

Surfrider not only recycles paper and plastics, but when it moved into its San Clemente digs it brought along doors, fixtures, and tiles from its previous location and repurposed them. 

Along the way, SurfWriter Girls spotted a corridor art gallery of Nathan Paul Gibbs’ paintings – one of our favorite surf artists! 

Gibbs’ paintings really capture the essence of the marine world and have a strong environmental sensibility.

In looking at everyone’s offices, it was easy to see some of the things that inspire and energize them when they’re working – 

The membership team was busy adding new members and managing the data.

And, in the company store there was everything you could think of with the Surfrider logo on it, from T-shirts...

to water bottles…

stickers, and more.

With more than 60,000 members and 80 chapters worldwide, Surfrider is making the planet better for all of us through its core activities of Conservation, Activism, Research and Education (CARE). 

As part of SurfWriter Girls tour, Lishok pointed out a surfboard on display in the middle of the offices. Covered with stickers and decals, he called it the “Stickered Surfboard.” 

Lishok explained that initially it was blank. But, then whenever someone had a sticker it would end up on the board. 

So, next time you’re at Surfrider’s Global Headquarters, bring a sticker with you – and add it to the collection!

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.