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Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Season to be Grateful

The beauty of Surfrider Foundation, and the reason I’m involved with this organization, is its genuine “grassroots” nature. I don’t think there is another organization in the environmental community that can make a more compelling argument that “we have our finger on the community’s pulse.” We know what is important in our community because we ARE our community.

But keeping with the spirit of the season, we should also be thankful for our partners that share our passion and goals. It is rare when our victories to achieve restoration and protection of our coast and ocean don’t involve other organizations.

I want to share just one example. Just recently the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted regulations that will greatly improve water quality in the Santa Monica Bay. It was a huge victory, not only for our local coast and ocean, but for setting an important precedent for the rest of California – if not the nation.

Surfrider contributed by mobilizing our membership to support this major step toward achieving the goal of safe and healthy water quality. But this was a collective effort led primarily by Santa Monica Baykeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Heal the Bay. Watching Tracy Egoscue of Santa Monica Baykeeper employ her professional talents as an attorney at the final decision hearing was one of those moments when I was both proud and humbled to be a partner in the larger environmental community.

No doubt this example of our partnership with Santa Monica Baykeeper is a tale that every one of our chapters can tell about other organizations. The list of our partners and mutual victories is too long to even attempt. Sometimes we will lead the fight and get our name in the newspaper and sometimes we will play a support role. But behind what the media reports, we know the value of collaborative efforts. We all bring different strengths to these victories. Ours is the power of grassroots activists who volunteer their time freely to make a positive difference in our communities. Each chapter has different members with different skills – each member important to our success. When we lack a certain skill, or the challenge is too large to accomplish alone, we should all be thankful for all the Tracy Egoscues out there that are willing and able to lead the charge or carry the extra load.

I’m certain that in the coming year our chapters and membership will continue to grow – and our collective skill sets will broaden. It’s a season to celebrate our recent victories and plan for future successes and growth while simultaneously being grateful and giving thanks to our partners. Onward and upward – together.

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