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SoCal activists, activated!

The Las Virgines Municipal Water District doesn’t immediately conjure up visions of light-hearted fun mixed with serious coastal advocacy, but that’s exactly what happened when Surfrider staff and volunteers met up Saturday, Oct. 24.

Inspired by an opportunity to meet, share and learn, attendees at the SoCal workshop informed each other of their own chapter’s successes and challenges. On hand, activists from the West Malibu-Los Angeles chapter as de facto hosts, plus hard-working volunteers from San Diego, South Orange County, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, South Bay and Ventura.

Attending staff included National Coastal Preservation Manager Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Ocean Friendly Garden Coordinator Paul Herzog, new California Policy Manager Jennifer Savage and Coastal Policy Coordinator Amanda Winchell.

The day began with chapter-donated donuts and quickly moved into even sweeter territory with Stef sharing Surfrider CEO Chad Nelsen’s presentation on Surfrider’s branding reboot and overall vision. It was a great reminder of Surfrider’s mission –

“We are dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network”

– and goal to protect 100 percent of our coasts within the next five years!

Exciting, right? And that’s not all: A significant part of meeting that goal means Surfrider is also aiming to ensure all chapters have the regional support staff needed to defend our coasts. (California chapters currently have Bill Hickman working in SoCal, replacing the beloved Nancy Hastings, and Sarah Damron coordinating chapters in Central and NorCal.)

Stef, Jennifer, Amanda and Paul followed up with an overview of California priority campaigns, a presentation by Stef on Surfrider’s climate change adaptation strategies, recent victories and new chapter resources (talk to Paul about your new Clean Water Initiative brochures!).


Denise and Rick Erkeneff explain how the South OC chapter is preventing the city of Dana Point from precluding access to Strands beach.

The highlights of the workshop were provided by the activists in attendance. WLAM’s Graham Hamilton talked about that chapter’s critical role in helping pass California’s bag and microbead bans. Craig Cadwallader shared many South Bay triumphs. Rick and Denise Erkeneff illustrated what it takes to stay dedicated to a cause for years in a presentation about South OC’s Strands victory. San Diego’s Julia Chunn-Herr and Mandy Sackett spoke to the multiple campaigns Surfrider’s southernmost chapter is actively engaging in. Huntington Beach’s Tony Soriano wowed the crowd with epic videos of the chapter’s events.

Overall, a great time and fantastic opportunity to connect. The workshop also served as a primer for next year’s California Chapters Conference, which will take place in San Luis Obispo from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13 – save the date!

Thanks to everyone who attended, to the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District for the space and to Freebirds World Burritos for the party platter!