Last May, with the revival of the Black Lives Matter Movement across the planet, Los Angeles-based shaper Ryan Harris was already keeping busier than usual, as stay-at-home orders pushed more people into lineups, creating a refreshed demand for surfboards he estimates equaled about six month’s worth of orders in two month’s time. Ryan’s Earth Technologies is a leader in environmentally-friendly board building techniques.
But with some nudging from his friend, Selema Masekela, Harris moved his platform and influence outside the shaping bay. He helped launch 1 Planet One People, a platform for social and environmental justice. And as an African American man running a business in an industry with few black voices, his became one people turned to for insight. Media started shining equally bright spotlights on his business and his new social advocacy work. It was a lot of change in a couple of months’ time.
“The amount of people involved in just talking about (social justice) — I think in sheer numbers — is bigger than what was going on in the sixties,” he says.
This year thrust Ryan Harris onto a bigger stage as both an environmental and social advocate. Even if he didn’t ask for the role at first. Nonetheless, he’s embraced it knowing they aren’t mutually exclusive. “Doing the different fundraiser things we do, we’re literally using our channels and connections to help.” Our own Zach Weisberg spoke with Ryan about his ever-expanding roles in the surf industry.