We couldn’t be more excited about our first-ever EVOLVE Summit: Uniting the Brightest Minds in Surf and Outdoors! We wish everyone could join us in person, but we’ve got the next best thing. A live webcast, starting at 2:45 p.m. PST. We’ve never done this before, so, apologies in advance for the things we’re about to learn in real-time, but we hope you enjoy, and the conversations with the world-class influencers leave you inspired. Thank you for tuning in. The schedule of events can be found below.
Watch the second half of the event HERE.
Welcome to EVOLVE
How to Build a Successful Nonprofit in Surf and Outdoors
Sean Swentek, A Walk On Water
Maricela Rosales, Latino Outdoors
Reece Pacheco, WSL Pure
Pushing Boundaries of Health and Wellness
Gabrielle Reece, XPT
Eric Goodman, Foundation Training
How to Build a Life around Your Passions
Mountains to Sea: Protecting Earth’s Sacred Places
Chad Nelsen, CEO Surfrider Foundation
Elena Hight, Olympic Snowboarder/Protect Our Winters Ambassador
Dr. Jess Ponting, Center for Surf Research
Alternativa World Premiere
The Future of Surf and Outdoors Is Female
Michelob Ultra Pure Golden Hour and Live Music by Jack Symes
Dinner Served by CAVA
Innovation and Sustainability in Business Advocate
Environmental Advocate Panel: How Athletes Can Protect Our Planet
World Premiere: Boycott the Gunston 500
Social Advocate: When Athletes Take Stands that Matter, Despite the Risks
Global Advocate and Keynote Speech
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Live Performance: Company of Thieves
About the Panels:
Building a Successful Nonprofit in Surf and Outdoors
From environmental protection to creating inclusive programming or raising awareness for cures to disease, nonprofits fight the good fight. They organize people, inspire rhetoric and elevate conversations. And building them can be a daunting task. That’s the subject of our opening panel at the 2018 EVOLVE Summit and why A Walk on a Water’s Sean Swentek and Latino Outdoors’ Maricela Rosales will speak to the triumphs and pitfalls of building a strong nonprofit platform in the surf and outdoor world. PURE’s Reece Pacheco will moderate.
Sean was born in Santa Cruz, California and the ocean has always been part of his life. He’s an accomplished beach volleyball player and has spent the majority of his professional career in networking and marketing. Sean came from a financially-difficult upbringing which has inspired him to work to improve the lives of those in need. He started his volunteer career 15 years ago with Special Olympics Southern California, also doing work for Children’s Miracle Network and Surfers Healing. Sean is now the Executive Director of A Walk On Water, which provides surf therapy to children with special needs or disabilities.
Maricela grew up in a working-class family in the heart of Los Angeles. She didn’t have true exposure to the outdoors until later in life. But she found her passion in climbing while attending UC Riverside. Playing in the mountains has helped Maricela fight through adversity—which included being diagnosed with scoliosis at seven—and made her want to share that love with others. As the Latino Outdoors Brand Coordinator, Maricela connects under-represented communities to their local State and National Parks and organizes monthly hikes, climbing events, and expands accessibility to different types of outings, connecting Spanish-speaking families with the outdoors everywhere she possibly can.
Moderator: Reece Pacheco
Reece is from Falmouth, MA, and grew up working in his family restaurant business where he says he was schooled in hard work, customer service, community building, personnel management, and creating something from nothing. He sold his Shelby.tv app, a consumer video discovery program he co-founded, to Samsung and went into nonprofit work. He has an extensive background working with conservation groups like the Surfrider Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute. He’s now the Executive Director of the World Surf League’s non-profit environmental arm, PURE that works to educate, motivate, and empower global water enthusiasts to engage deeply in the fight to protect our oceans.
Pushing the Boundaries of Health And Wellness
Health in the modern world can feel like a moving target. New diet fads, workout routines, gadgets, and shifting food trends conspire to muddy the view on good health. And that’s all before one chooses whether to look at health through the lens of traditional medicine, or a more holistic one. But maybe our health should be more focused on the individual, with a push towards listening to our bodies in the search for what works—and what works most likely involves a little bit of everything mentioned above if it jives with the individual’s physiology. Health guru and former pro volleyball player Gabby Reece and Foundation Training’s Dr. Eric Goodman will discuss health in the modern world and looking for the sweet spot when it comes to feeling good.
Gabrielle Reece is a world-renowned athlete, TV personality, New York Times bestselling author, model, wife and mother. At 6’ 3” the former professional beach volleyball player, and Nike’s first female spokeswoman, Gabrielle Reece is the definition of both athleticism and feminine beauty. Gabby’s commanding presence, passion for healthy living, and fitness expertise makes her a popular leader in the world of health and wellness.
Dr. Eric Goodman
Dr. Eric Goodman developed the Foundation Training exercise program and continues to improve the quality of the work he shares with the world. Surfing is among his greatest joys in life and he feels fortunate to offer health advice within such a unique and inspiring community. He teaches Foundation Training workshops and certification courses while maintaining a small patient base.
How to Build a Life Around Your Passions
This panel features two of the most multi-faceted individuals impacting surf culture today: Kassia Meador and Cyrus Sutton. They’re here to speak about the simple but evasive art of building a life around their passions. Both have managed to craft a life (and livelihood) that revolves around the things they love without, ostensibly, making many ideological compromises. They’ve built a life around the ocean and championed causes they believe in with integrity and optimism. We want to know their secret. The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg moderates.
Kassia Meador has become synonymous with style and grace in modern longboarding. She’s also revolutionized design for women’s wetsuits through her brand Kassia+Surf. At 17 years old, Meador became one of the most recognizable faces of women’s surfing by joining the Roxy team. After more than a decade of representing their brand, she forged her own path – building her business and pursuing her muse, which has most recently led her to offering sound baths for the local community.
Cyrus Sutton is surfing’s modern day iconoclast. He responsibly questions everything, and he respectfully shares his own refreshing take on how to improve not only surf culture, but culture at large. He’s an Emmy-winning filmmaker er and storyteller, most recently tackling modern agriculture through his documentary Island Earth. He tells stories for Guayaki. He created Korduroy TV and Manda, and he surf professionally for Reef.
Zach Weisberg is the founder of The Inertia, a platform built to foster a more inclusive and diverse global community for surf and outdoors enthusiasts. Weisberg was an editor at SURFER Magazine and has written for the New York Times and Esquire. Originally from Virginia, Weisberg fell in love with surfing as a child during summers spent in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When he discovered it was possible to make a living by surfing, meeting interesting people, and documenting those experiences for the world to consider, he knew he would explore that to its end.
Mountain to Sea: Protect Earth’s Sacred Places
This panel features Elena Hight, professional snowboarder and environmental advocate, and Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. It will be moderated by Dr. Jess Ponting, Director of the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University and co-founder of Stoke Certified, a sustainability benchmark certification program that works with resorts and tour operators around the world. The goal of the panel is to better understand the most pressing environmental issues in surf and mountain culture, and to examine key moments in the speakers’ lives that spurred them to become activists. It will also focus on strategies fellow surfers and outdoor enthusiasts can employ to push the needle in a tangible way.
Elena Hight is a professional snowboarder based in Lake Tahoe, California (and Southern California) who has been pushing the women’s game since she turned pro at 14. She’s a two-time Olympian who in 2017 won her first X Games Gold medal in Superpipe to go with the five other X Games medals she’s captured during her career. Elena uses her platform to push for environmental protection and is an ambassador for Protect Our Winters.
Chad Nelsen is the CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, a post he’s held since 2014. Prior to becoming Surfrider’s CEO, Nelsen served as the organization’s Environmental Director for 16 years. Nelsen received his Doctorate from the University of California Los Angeles, a Master’s of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Brown University.
Dr. Jess Ponting
Dr. Jess Ponting is a professor at the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University and specializes in the use of sustainable tourism for community development. He has been particularly active as a researcher/consultant in equatorial Asia-Pacific, most recently as member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, and as a consultant for Fiji’s Tourism Master Plan. He is also the Director for the Center for Surf Research at SDSU and co-founder of Stoke Certified.
World Premiere: Alternativa
Alternativa stars Kassia Meador, Leah Dawson, and Lola Mignot, and documents three outstanding women on a trip to El Salvador who are inspiring the next generation of ocean lovers through their alternative approach to surfing and life.
Directed and Produced by Zach Weisberg
Edited by Ryan Trautwein
Shot by Connor Guest and Ryan Trautwein
The Future of the Outdoors Is Female
In today’s world of surf and outdoor sports, women are taking bigger roles in shaping the pursuits and subsequent lifestyles we love than ever before. From equipment and competition to filmmaking and thought-leadership, highly skilled women are paving a new future with a refreshing take on the places we love. Ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich and freesurfer/filmmaker Leah Dawson discuss today’s climate, their respective roles and vision for the future. Renowned filmmaker and San Francisco State professor Sachi Cunningham moderates.
As an optimist, passionate filmmaker, writer, and musician, Leah Dawson derives her passion in life from her love for surfing and her relationship with the ocean. She focuses on creating positive media that empowers, educates, and inspires viewers to recognize the influence of community and the importance of living in harmony with nature and each other. She feels responsible to nurture the female surf culture, and to encourage a growing community of women to express themselves. “It makes my heart sing when I see other women out celebrating the water and rejoicing,” she told The Inertia.
Caroline Gleich is a professional ski mountaineer based in Salt Lake City. As a hard-charging ski mountaineer, she’s the only woman to have skied the Wasatch’s toughest lines as documented in the Chuting Gallery, Andrew McLean’s iconic guide to steep skiing Utah’s preeminent mountain range. Caroline uses her voice as an athlete to advocate for social and environmental justice, working on issues such as climate change, clean air and cyber harassment. “The mountains aren’t just for one group of people,” she says. “The mountains are for everyone who wants to explore them. I want to set an example of what outdoor athletes can look like.”
Moderator: Sachi Cunningham
Sachi Cunningham is a documentary filmmaker and Professor of Multimedia Journalism at San Francisco State University. Her award-winning stories have screened worldwide in broadcast and online for outlets including FRONTLINE, the Discovery Channel, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. The Emmys, Webbys, and Pictures of the Year International, among others, have honored Cunningham’s work.
Artist: Jack Symes
Inspired by folk-esque artists like Ryan Adams and Mason Jennings, Symes creates a unique blend of acoustic and indie-folk ballads packed with lyrics that will have one laughing one minute and crying like a frickin baby the next. A singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, Jack Symes relocated up to Berkeley and dipped into the Bay Area folk scene until 2017 when he returned home to southern California. Symes released his debut EP Gargoyles in December 2016 and followed up with his single Roll Me Away in early 2017. His music has since garnered over 450,000 streams on Spotify in over 70 countries.
Symes is now finishing up his first full-length album at Spartan Recording in Carpinteria (CA) with all sorts of friends including singer-songwriters Gregory Ackerman and Nat Lefkoff, Tom Relling of Hibbty Dibbity, Theo and Mark Fedronic of More Fatter, and sister duo Brittany and Brooke Hanson.
Innovation in Business Advocate
This panel features Mark Price, CEO of Firewire Surfboards. Mark is dedicated to innovating surfboard design by using new methods and new materials. Firewire designs their surfboards with two main goals: to improve the surfing experience as much as possible while impacting the environment as little as possible.
In the early ‘80s, Mark Price was ranked number 17 in the world. Originally from Durban, South Africa, Price moved to California to work at Gotcha, eventually working his way up the ranks to Vice President of marketing. Soon after, he started his own label, Tavarua, then moved on to executive positions at a variety of surf brands, including Rip Curl and Reef. In 2006, he joined a new surfboard brand called Firewire, taking on the role of President of Firewire US before moving up to CEO. Now, he’s turned Firewire into one of the world’s most successful surf companies, and he’s doing it all with an eye on environmental stewardship and what the social responsibilities of a corporation are. At our inaugural EVOLVE Summit, Mark will speak about the challenge of making surfboard manufacturing at scale a sustainable practice and using business as a vehicle for good.
Environmental Advocates: How Athletes Can Use Their Platforms to Protect Our Planet
This panel pairs iconic big mountain snowboarder and Protect Our Winters founder Jeremy Jones with decorated big wave surfer Greg Long to discuss the platforms they’ve built as world-class athletes during their careers, and why they’ve used them for the good of the planet. Big Mountain snowboarder, avid surfer, and POW activist Forrest Shearer will moderate to explore the distinct (and often related) challenges each athlete faces in their respective environments (oceans and mountains), and how these two spaces relate to each other.
When it comes to big mountain snowboarding, there’s Jeremy Jones, and everybody else. Jeremy has ridden incredibly-steep lines all over the world from the Himalayas to the Sierras and South America, which makes him an expert on the world’s snow packs and one reason why he founded Protect Our Winters in 2007 to help reduce our carbon footprint. “Honestly, riding powder is the least of our worries,” he told The Inertia. “Climate change is happening faster than we ever thought possible. We need to act now or we’ll have a runaway climate catastrophe.”
Greg is considered by many to be the world’s preeminent big wave surfer as well as an expert on safety in the sport. The former Eddie Aikau and Mavericks Invitational winner is a longtime vegetarian, who chooses to eat that way for his health and to help preserve the environment. “Looking into the factory farming industry, which is where most meats are coming from, was something that really struck a chord with me in my heart,” he said. “The majority of local farms and markets have a smaller carbon footprint because there’s less distance to travel from where they’re grown to where they’re consumed.”
Moderator: Forrest Shearer
Dana Point, California’s Forrest Shearer has become one of the most prominent big mountain snowboarders in the world. His fluidity and effortless style is a gift to the snow-riding world. But he’s just as concerned with the environment where he plies his craft. “We can’t afford to take a back seat anymore,” he told us. “In the words of Edward Abbey, ‘The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.’
World Premiere: Boycott the Gunston 500
Boycott the Gunston 500 documents 2x World Champion Tom Carroll’s decision to boycott pro surfing in 1985 to protest apartheid in South Africa. His stand was unprecedented for a surfer at the time, and revealed the potential for influencers in our sport to use their platforms for good.
Social Advocate: When Athletes Take Bold Stands, Despite the Risks
“There is no better example in the history of Australian sport where a champion has been prepared to put principles so manifestly in front of his or her own interests.” That’s what former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke had to say about Tom Carroll, the defending two-time world champion in 1985, and his decision to boycott professional surfing in apartheid-ruled South Africa until the beaches were free for all to access. His decision wasn’t widely supported in surfing. In fact, he was fined by professional surfing’s governing body and potentially lost a third world title as a consequence. Those were incidental consequences to Carroll, who was disgusted with the overt racism he observed while visiting South Africa. In this panel, Carroll will discuss this monumental moment in his career with illustrious announcer and producer Sal Masekela, who has a deep personal tie to South Africa. Sal, who grew up in New York and San Diego, has been addicted to surfing since he met the ocean; his late father, Hugh Masekela, is a South African jazz icon, and his music was inextricably tied to the anti-apartheid movement with songs like “Bring Him Back Home” tied to the unifying spirit of Nelson Mandela. Masekela once told The Inertia, “I dealt with a lot of race shit for a while. It took a long time before people just let me be. I long for a time when I don’t have to be asked the question, ‘What’s it like to be a black surfer?’ Because I’ve never thought of myself as a black surfer. I’ve just thought of myself as a very average surfer.’”
Tom Carroll has won three World Titles. He’s won a battle with addiction. He invented then re-invented power surfing and threw down the most memorable turn in the history of surfing – at Pipeline, no less. He lives his life with excitement, enthusiasm and curiosity. He is one of the greatest surfers in the history of the sport.
Selema “Sal” Masekela is a beloved commentator, journalist, musician, and Emmy nominated producer best known for his work presenting NBC’s Red Bull Signature Series; Executive producing and hosting Viceland’s VICE World Of Sports; ESPN’s Summer and Winter X Games, which he hosted for 13 years; his cultural reporting during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi; and hosting E!’s Daily 10. In addition to his hosting, producing, acting, writing and voiceover work, Sal offers his name and time to the charity he co-founded, Stoked Mentoring, a nonprofit action sports organization for at-risk youth and also serves on the board of the Tony Hawk Foundation.
Global Advocate and Keynote Speech: Tulsi Gabbard
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard first got into politics to protect the natural resources and beauty of Hawaii. “I wish more people in Washington surfed,” Gabbard told The Inertia “because I think they’d have a very different perspective on life and on their work.” As a veteran who served two tours in the Middle East, Gabbard has aspired to make an outsized impact on the planet, and she’s done so on her own terms. She’s the first Hindu member of U.S. Congress. She’s met with Assad to discuss foreign military intervention. She’s resigned as the DNC Chair when the position no longer matched her beliefs. Consistent through her entire political career is her unwavering commitment to the environment, and she’s in a position to make a big impact on behalf of the surf and outdoor community.
Tulsi Gabbard spent her life growing up in beautiful Hawaii. As a teenager, she co-founded an environmental non-profit called Healthy Hawaii Coalition, focused on educating children about protecting Hawaii’s environment. An advocate for environmental policy, Tulsi was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. A year later, she joined the Hawaii Army National Guard to serve Hawaii and our country. In 2004, Tulsi volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone.
Tulsi served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and also its first Hindu member.
Now in her third term in Congress, Tulsi brings with her a broad range of real world experience, a storehouse of personal strength, and tested leadership as she represents the people of Hawai’i and our nation in Congress.
Live Performance: Company of Thieves
Company of Thieves originally hales from Chicago, but now lives in Los Angeles where vocalist Genevieve Schatz and guitarist Marc Walloch launched their co-ed indie rock group. They recently released a new EP, Better Together, and have been supporting it with a nationwide “Peeled and Revealed” acoustic tour.
A Portion of Proceeds from EVOLVE Benefit
Protect Our Winters
Thank you to our generous partners for making this monumental gathering possible.
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
Pau Maui Vodka
Shannon Marie Quirk