Albino Rhinno/Activist

Photo: Blue Uprising

The Inertia

I was very lucky to be in the room during The Inertia’s Evolve Summit in August. From Tom Carrol to Tulsi Gabbard and Gabby Reece to Greg Long, the roster of legends in that room was off the charts. Along with the drinks, there were some real solid takeaways from the event. For example, equal pay is non-negotiable. And the conversation nobody in that room will ever forget happened between Sal Masekela and Tom Carrol, rehashing Tom’s decision in 1985 to boycott World Tour contests in South Africa as a stand against apartheid.

Each panel was inspiring and very unique but there was one common thread throughout the day: each panel addressed the importance of voting. The environmental movement means nothing unless you vote the right way.

Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, used his time on stage to encourage voting every chance he had. And he’s right–better environmental representation in Congress only helps Surfrider’s mission. Before Chad was at the helm of the organization, there was Rob Caughlin–the first president of Surfrider. Rob was also one of the leading forces behind saving Martin’s Beach, and most importantly to me, he is one of my mentors. His stellar résumé includes leading the EPA under Jimmy Carter, cleaning up the Clean Water Act, and founding Friends of the River. Rob (known to his friends as “Birdlegs”) is truly a living legend in conservation.

When I approached Birdlegs about launching a political action committee for surfers in order to create meaningful change, his enthusiasm was undeniable. Fast forward to the 2018 midterm elections and the Blue Uprising team knew we needed to talk to undecided voters in Orange County about the dangers of re-electing pro-drilling, Dana Rohrabacher. But when we looked into what other organizations, PACs, and campaigns were doing, it just seemed like everyone was screaming and pointing fingers. It was hyper-partisan politics to the max. We spoke to Birdlegs about what we saw and he mentioned that the voters in OC just don’t want to be screwed with. And ultimately, they really just want to elect a person who will help protect their hometown and their beaches.


Rob went on to tell me a story about surfing in a contest at Huntington during an oil spill. As he spoke about the experience, I knew that if the voters of Orange County heard this same story, they could never re-elect the self-proclaimed “Surfing Congressman,” Dana Rohrabacher. Dana has accepted over $100,000 from big oil companies and has consistently stated that he believes we should open up our oceans to more drilling. “Fifty-five years and a ‘few’ grey hairs later, stuck with another politician who wants to drill off our coast,” he wrote.

Who the hell wants the coves in Laguna Beach covered in oil? Nobody (except Dana, apparently). That’s when Rob and the Blue Uprising team got to work and created this postcard to send to voters in OC. We know that real stories matter, and that the best way to talk about the issues affecting our communities is to actually say things that people will listen to. We’re hopeful that the surfing community will chip in and help spread the message of this postcard so we can protect California’s waves, water, and coastline from future oil spills. This is our time to make a stand and follow in the footsteps of surfing legends. This is our time to vote.

Learn more about Blue Uprising and how to get involved here.


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