GOOD

How a Group of Surfers Give Back to Coastal Communities Around the World

Surf For Life is based on the premise that human development is all of our responsibility.

Surf For Life started as a group of surfers that decided to do something about the harm that sometimes comes from an international surf/travel lifestyle. People who surf often feed their obsession through world travel. The waves we're looking for are at times found in some very 'undeveloped' parts of the world. Through this, we have a chance to see what life looks like before new business opportunities and the first world comes crashing in. Many of us are also aware that surf breaks in developing nations are often exploited by corporate tourist industries that ignore the needs of the local population. Hotels explode around discovered point breaks. Sometimes, the most a local can hope for is a janitorial or maid job in this new boom town economy.


That is why a group of young friends on a surf trip in Mexico decided to take action. Surf For Life was born with a mission to fundraise and take teams of volunteers to go and build community development projects with the residents of affected areas.

When I first saw a flyer for Surf For Life, still in its infancy, I was captivated by being able to combine my passion for surf with a vehicle to give back. I joined the organization shortly after founders Alex Fang and Jonathan Sofer established it. I help lead trips, I developed some of the early systems and took the reigns in the media department.

Now in its fifth year, the nonprofit, supported primarily by volunteers, has completed several important infrastructure projects. These include new school buildings, school additions and renovations, community center construction and refurbishing, and footbridges that provide basic access to schools and services through wet seasons in the tropics. In February 2014, the doors of the very first high school in Manzanillo, Nicaragua will open a joint project realized between Surf For Life and Waves of Hope.

Most people who I hang out with belong to what is considered the middle class. However, none of us considers ourselves rich. Rather, we all feel as though we must work hard to pay mortgages, ensure our kids get educated, and create a safe and comfortable retirement. Very few of us see ourselves near the top of the food chain: apex predators with most of the world underneath us.

However, from a global perspective, my friends and I—average Americans—are, in fact, very close to the top of the vast pyramid of humanity—firmly established in the top ten percent of the world’s population. Computers, phones, TVs, cars and supermarkets with every type of food available year round—this is not the norm for the world, only our world. The group of surfers on the beach that day in Mexico had that insight to use their spare time, and even sometimes spare money, for good.

Surf For Life is based on the premise that human development is all of our responsibility. Seeing ourselves accurately to where we really sit in the world is key to understanding this, and the next step in both our personal and cultural evolution.

This year Surf For Life is raising funds for a long form documentary, “The Next Step,” addressing this topic and other socially conscious themes of activism, voluntourism and giving back. The film team is now gearing up for our final international shoot in the Philippines, where Surf For Life is partnering with Returning Wave to rebuild a school that was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan last year. Have a look at our teaser for 'The Next Step':

[vimeo][/vimeo]

Images in order of appearance: Surf For Life Team Rider, Holly Beck; First high school in El Cuco, El Salvador; Co-Founder Jonathan Sofer; Footbridge in Tempescal, El Salvador; Community center in Carbon, Costa Rica.

Articles

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture