Snorkeling for lures.
That’s how I describe my childhood.
I grew up near the McKenzie River in Walterville, Ore. That’s just upstream from Eugene/Springfield area. Every summer my brother and I rode our bicycles to the “beach” on the river a mile from our house. (Yes, I did just call it the beach. You see, in Oregon, going to the beach means playing at the sandy swimming hole on the river). We’d lock our bikes to a tree and head upstream for about a half mile with our snorkels and fins. Just before the little trail hit private property, we’d balance our way out on a fallen tree from which we’d launch into the river. We snorkeled left and right, deep fishing holes and shallow ones too, collecting every treasure we could find.
Occasionally we’d see sunken beer cans and one time we found a wallet with a wedding ring in it. And we’d always see lures. New ones too, that some unexpecting fisherman just bought from the tackle store up the road, only to snag it on a boulder or branch caught underwater.
We’d carefully collect the lures and when we had enough, we’d have a garage sale and sell them back to the same fisherman heading down our street to the best fishing holes in town. What a business model!
It’s because of memories like these that I’m proud to celebrate the Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary–this federal law helps organizations across the nation keep America’s waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.
Today, the Waterkeeper Alliance joins to celebrate swimmable waters. Today, I will swim in the ocean.
Here at San Diego Coastkeeper, we work tirelessly to protect and restore fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego. We want you to create your own memories about swimming at La Jolla Cove or surfing in Imperial Beach that you can carry with you wherever you live. Because these are the moments that matter in life and will be the stories that we share over a cup of coffee or during a long walk on the beach.
Go jump off a boat. Kayak into the sunset. Shred a wave. Train for a tri. Today we celebrate the Clean Water Act and San Diego’s swimmable waters.
About two months ago, I went to Portland for the annual Waterkeeper Alliance conference. This year, we joined the folks from River Network for one big happy 700-person celebration of all the things that make fighting for our waterways fun, challenging and important. The Hurricane Creekkeeper patrols a 32-mile creek and spent four days railing against coal ash and rallying people to fight The Dirty Lie. The Long Island Soundkeeper has spent 25 years crusading against pollution that robs him and his community of the fishing industry that forms the backbone of that area’s history and future. And in Tennessee a young activist founded not one, but two riverkeeper organizations.
So many people, so passionate about their water. For most, that passion connects them to a place: The Hudson River; Lake Ontario; Humboldt Bay. Keepers from around the country, around the world even, have vehement passion for the patch of water in their backyard.
It left me wondering, what is my place? I have that passion, but how do I describe it? The belief in protecting our water is part of me, just as the water is part of my identity. I grew up fishing in Lake Hodges, boating in Lake Poway, swimming at Fletcher Cove and Moonlight Beach. Now I live in Ocean Beach, surf at Sunset Cliffs and 15th Street and Pipes, hike around the lakes and have the freedom to wander the county in search of sunshine and cool water.
How does that compare to being connected to a single, specific waterbody? What do I protect? Where do I draw the conviction and energy to fight day after day?
My “place” is everywhere. That’s why San Diego Coastkeeper is special and why I give up weekends and evenings to protect our waterways. All of them. I do not crusade for a single source. I declare personal accountability for a lifestyle built on an entire, interconnected county full of water. It’s my home; it’s your home. We can all “keep the coast clear;” we must. This is our place and we are the only ones who can do it.
I don’t wear brands. (I’ve got nothing against them, but it’s not me.) Brands and labels give a sense of identity, loyalty, “in-ness.” They tell people something about you. I just don’t feel that sense of belonging to most companies. And don’t want people assuming things about me based on a label.
Enter The Breaks. This is different. This is local. I actually feel like I need to earn the right to wear these shirts. They might inspire more questions than assumptions. Why do I belong? Why do I care? Did I just read about it in some blog and figure I should bring my log out with five friends and bomb the lineup? What am I doing to protect the culture and the wave and the water?
That’s a lot of responsibility wrapped up in a couple yards of fabric. So I’ll wear the Cliffs shirt. And I’d better take responsibility for that declaration.
San Diego native Bird Huffman has brought surf culture and local pride to San Diego for 40 years. All you have to do is visit his Quonset hut on W. Morena Blvd. to talk story and check out the baddest collection of boards in the county to get a sense of his local pride. You can even buy a tide calendar to help him photo-document the more than 400 boards in his collection. When he chose a print shop for the tshirts, he went local with Strong Screen Printing in Barrio Logan. Taking care of our planet and our neighbors. That’s local.
San Diego Coastkeeper is all about what’s local. We work here, we live here, and we do what we can to protect the water here.
So join the (only slightly branded) movement. Pick up some trash next time you’re on the beach. And let everyone know you have local pride with a limited edition t-shirt from Bird’s Surf Shed that declares you’re part of the crew at Blacks, Cliffs, Jetty, Scripps, Tourmo or Windansea.
Bird says that local pride means we take care of our own. I agree. I’ll wear that brand.
Every time someone shows their local pride and buys a t-shirt from The Breaks collection, Bird will show his by donating a portion of the profit to San Diego Coastkeeper. Thanks, man.
Do you want to win a free surf sesh with the local legend? Bird partnered with Coastkeeper in a one-time-only contest. The first ten people to donate $100 to Coastkeeper by midnight Saturday, May 5, 2012 will be entered for a chance to win a free surf session with Bird to go on the hunt for the best waves in town. All six winners and anyone donating will receive one of “The Breaks” T-shirts. Check out other styles:
Today is my last day at San Diego Coastkeeper. I am packing up my desk and re-organizing my files, taking down my Coastal Cleanup Day posters and my world map with the subtropical gyres and my travel spots outlined. It’s a bittersweet departure for an exciting career move to the Port of San Diego’s Environment and Land Use Department. Embracing this great opportunity to expand my skill set surely does not make it any easier to leave this engaging organization (which, by the way, is hiring).
I am eternally grateful for every inspiring experience and interaction with my coworkers, the board, donors, sponsors and dedicated volunteers of Coastkeeper over the last three years. San Diego has a close-knit environmental community and it’s been an honor to grow as a professional within this network of knowledgeable, action-oriented individuals. I am blessed to be able to continue my work in this field and to maintain a role in the finest city – especially now that I will be able to join the ranks of the volunteers!
One of the most important things I’ve learned here is how difficult, yet important, it is to inspire individuals to write or call their elected officials and agencies about a topic they care about. Get involved and speak your mind. And support organizations like Coastkeeper who are in the trenches every day by donating or volunteering – the ocean will thank you for it. See you on the beach (or bay).
You know how sometimes you find a five dollar bill in your pocket? Or discover one last piece of pie on the plate? I spend most of my day making sure San Diegans know about the work Coastkeeper does and how they can help. Sometimes, though, I go into the kitchen…and someone else already did the dishes.
That happened a lot to me last week. And all I have to do is tell you about it.
Sprinkles La Jolla: They’re back with the vanilla Earth Day cupcake, giving 100% of proceeds from April 16-22 to San Diego Coastkeeper so we can keep the ocean as pure as the sugar in that frosting. Go ahead, have two.
Cariloha: Turns out, you can make anything from bamboo. And the entire week before Earth Day, Cariloha makes its commitment to a sustainable San Diego even bigger by donating 5% of in-store profits to keep our water healthy. This is one time I’d rather you didn’t shop online.
Strong Screen Printing: When it comes to clean water, they made a strong statement: 10% of everything, all month. Cool screen printing with non-toxic dyes, homemade in our town, plus a little something extra for the water. That’s community.
And the guys at Raglan Public House pretty much told us “whatever you want” for our Earth Day trivia night on April 19. So we’re throwing a big party with City Beat, doing trivia, giving away prizes. Bring a team, have some beers and grass-fed burgers (or veggie patties) and feel the local vibe.
It’s pretty simple… These companies put a virtual five dollars in our pocket. Now we can do more for clean water. Check them out.
This tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.
It’s a battle. Every day I watch people guzzle out of single-use plastic water bottles, throw cigarette butts out their car window, fail to pick up after their dogs and nonchalantly opt for plastic bags at check-out at the grocery store.Things are getting better. We recycle. We bring our reusable bags to the store more often. We use water filters and “bottling our own” (a favorite Coastkeeper saying). And these “green victories” are incredibly rewarding.
This article claims that 98% of American toilet paper is made from virgin forests. In other words, only 2% of toilet paper in this country contains recycled paper. But this study from Natural Resources Defense Council claims that “If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.”
In those terms, it’s a pretty simple decision to make. Switch just one roll of toilet paper to the recycled stuff and save hundreds of thousands of trees. And imagine if people switched out more than just one roll.
Back to the victory: the next week I went to that someone’s house and, to my surprise and delight, found the bathroom well-stocked with post-consumer recycled toilet paper. Looks like my message hit home, and now one more person is doing their part to save some trees. The Seventh Generation brand (Grist’s top pick) is available at most grocery stores. You can find a comprehensive list of recycled brands and how they measure up to each other here.
But why stop at toilet paper?! There are all kinds of paper products that are made with recycled content. Take a look at your options the next time you go to the grocery store. Switching paper products is a small, simple step toward sustainability.
As Hillary Clinton famously noted in her 1996 book, “it takes a village.” Regardless of views on education reform, the message about the power of collaboration and the significance of a chorus of voices in any conversation rings true for me.
Today, San Diego Coastkeeper runs on the power of our own village, specifically the people, organizations and companies in America’s Finest City and beyond. In 2011, individual volunteers put over 25,000 hours of time into protecting our waterways. More than 20 businesses and community groups joined the collaborative Water Reliability Coalition to advocate for a safe, reliable, sustainable and cost-effective local water supply.
Our water quality monitoring and beach cleanups depend on those 25,000 hours that volunteers contribute. And we do our best to make it a positive experience. We commit to their safety and to the sustainability of our practices. That’s why when Magid Glove and Safety called us up to offer a donation of their product, we thanked them enthusiastically. Their donation of lab gloves and reusable cleanup gloves helps us meet our quality assurance protocol in the lab, “Bring Your Own” goals for sustainable practices at 2012 beach cleanups and provide comfort and safety for our volunteers.
This week, Coastkeeper staff will participate in the Regional Task Force for the Homeless “We All Count” homeless census. We are part of this village and we like to add our voices to the chorus… you might mistake our office for the Singing in the Rain clip from Glee, we’re so enthusiastic. Yesterday I worked with three different interns, one in high school, one in university and one a retiree. They all “sing” for clean water every week. What’s your song? Tell us about it in the comments and email us if you want to volunteer or have resources to donate. Thanks for being part of our village!
Yesterday, I toured San Diego Bay with the CEO of Stone Brewing Company (soon to be a neighbor in NTC Promenade) and the developer of what will become a new LEED-certified hotel on Harbor Island. Tuesday I attended The Maritime Alliance awards dinner where I sat with Slow Food Urban San Diego to hear Dr. Sylvia Earle talk about our Planet Ocean. And tomorrow I’m off to meet the new community relations director of REI. It’s been one of those weeks that I love.
A local beer company, a developer, a maritime technology group and an outdoor recreation company…it’s a week that makes me think about collaboration. According to the expert opinion of Wikipedia, collaboration means working together to achieve shared goals. Collaboration does not mean convenient partnership. It means communicating and sharing knowledge and building consensus to achieve an outcome that might not otherwise become reality. San Diego Coastkeeper received the Maritime Alliance award for sustainable seafood to recognize our soon-to-be-launched webpage that tells people where to find seafood that they can eat with a clear conscience.
Why would Coastkeeper get into the web page game? We want people to make choices about eating seafood that leads to yummy dinner and also doesn’t harm our ocean life. But when we started to think about all the ways to spread the word, we realized that we had nowhere to point them to get the answers they would need. Seafood Watch provides guidelines about what to eat. I have the app on my phone. I know what to buy, but where to find happy fish at stores and restaurants in San Diego remains a black hole.
So we set out to fill the need. Our first step forward caused us to take a step back. We had to define sustainable seafood. Local? From robust wild fisheries? Environmentally friendly aquaculture? We talked to fishermen, chefs, retailers and others, including the Fisherman’s Working Group, who also received an award from The Maritime Alliance. (The award was for alliance building. Yep: collaboration.) And then we kept talking until we came up with a definition that made sense for San Diego. You’ll see it when the web page launches. Have thoughts about this? Join the conversation with a comment below at our Twitter feed (@sd_coastkeeper) on Facebook or just give us a call at 619-758-7743.
Many thanks to our 300 registered guests and dozens of Ocean Gala sponsors who helped us raise $100,000 this weekend. And congratulations to this year’s Coastal Champions Ashok Israni, CEO of Pacifica Companies, and David Alvarez, San Diego City Councilmember. Leaders like you give us hope that we will have fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego!
And big kudos to all of our volunteers who helped make the event a success.
We’ll post more photos soon, but for now, here’s a short photo recap of the evening thanks to our volunteer photographer Jackie Loza.
Have you ever been standing on the beach, looking at the waves and thought, should I go in? Did it rain yesterday? How do I know if I will get sick or not if I go surfing or swimming today? If you answered, you are certainly not alone. The quality of water along our shores and in our creeks remains a significant concern for recreational users. Parts of our county, like beaches in south county, are notorious for having consistent closures.
That is why the annual South San Diego Water Quality Workshop: When is it safe to swim, surf? was developed. Tijuana River National Estuary Research Reserve, the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observatory System, WiLDCOAST, Surfrider San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper invite you to come out and hear some of the details about how our local agencies monitor water quality at our beaches, how decisions are made to close beaches or post advisories and ways you can help monitor in the watersheds in South San Diego.
The workshop is free but registration is encouraged. The workshop will be happening at the TRNERR Visitor Center on Wednesday October 12 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. And because we know you want more than just good information, we will also provide some snacks and raffles! Come out, meet some new people, learn a few things, and share some yummy food. For more information check out the event web page.