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How we will change the world in 2012

December 13 2011 | Victories, Chapters, Campaigns, Activism, Culture Shifting,

Surfrider Foundation's 250,000 supporters, activists and members will change the world in 2012. I know this with certainty. I'm confident because that's what they've been doing every year since our inception in 1984.

This is how we will change the world in 2012.


We are a loosely-coupled, tightly-focused network of people around the world. What we do, our mission, is coastal protection. How we do it also has a strong focus, engaged activism. We know what we love, healthy coasts. We know how to keep them that way, engaged activism.


Our network has grown to include 84 chapters in the United States and we now have international representation in 18 countries on 5 continents. That said, we don't have goals oriented around those numbers. We don't aspire to have a chapter network of 100 chapters in the U.S. Instead our emphasis is on making sure each and every region with local Surfrider representation is strong, engaged and a force to be rekoned with. Success isn't hundreds of thousands of people connected to us on Facebook, it's engaged activism. If you like the coasts, we like you. If you act to protect the coasts, we love you. When we think of scaling we think of investing to enhance the potency of our chapters over simply having more chapter dots on an infographic.


A network becomes stronger, more valuable and more potent when it consistently learns from itself. We've been measuring 12 ways a person can engage with our mission and we've been doing this across our entire domestic network. We know that the raw data in these kinds of measurements is near meaningless, we must transform the data into best practices that can be shared across our network. Having one chapter know how to turn out 1,000 people for an event is good, having a dozen other chapters embrace those best practices is great.


The smartest person in the room no longer matters. What matters is sharing intelligence, connecting coastal activists together, fostering the transition of best practices moving from one location to all locations. One of the central themes behind the internet is its inherent ability to make sharing easier. But to be clear, we're not interested in sharing for sharing's sake. We are interested in one thing above all others, healthy coasts. We want results and we want those results to be packaged and understandable by regular people. Our coasts won't be protected by a few smart people, they'll be protected when we all know how valuable they are and we don't have to fight to protect them in the first place.


I estimate that more than 90% of our success is fueled by volunteers. Since we've all volunteered for something over our lives we know that the last thing a volunteer wants is to have their time wasted. If they aren't making a difference then they will be the first to leave and find something else to do with their free time. I love this tension. It ensures that the very core of our network is highly focused on making a difference... or they'll leave. Since 2006 this network has netted more than 175 coastal victories. These people are mavens. They are the very essence of "think global, act local."


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We are beach lovers. We're surfers. We are coastal dwellers. We don't want to put a velvet rope around the coast to protect it. We want to protect it so we can enjoy it. If you've ever paddled out and caught a few waves you'll know what I'm talking about.

Surfrider isn't simply another organization thinking they will change the world in 2012. In many ways we're not an organization at all. We're an idea. Surfrider Foundation is the idea that our coasts are worth protecting and the best way to protect them is via engaged activism.

In 2012, just like in years past, we WILL change the world and we'd love to have you join us.

Two ways you can join that movement right now. Become a member here. Find a chapter near you here.

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