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Investing 16 years into a campaign

March 08 2012 | Victories, Coastal development, Coastal armoring, Stories, Campaigns, Activism,

After yesterday's win at the California Coastal Commission hearing I posted a blog and pointed to Jim Jaffe's work in Solana Beach. Of course he immediately pointed to the many others that have supported the efforts in the fight. He was right to do that as many others devoted months or even years in this campaign. 

But... I felt myself continually circling back to Jim.

We use the phrase "constant pressure, endlessly applied" to encapsulate how we see our mission. We see coastal preservation with a long term view and know that IF we apply ongoing activist engagement over that period... things will work our well for our coasts. We also know the opposite is true. If locals become apathetic and disengage, what they love so dearly may be damaged or taken away from them.

Paul Jenkin is another activist with a multi-decade focus. I'll never forget the first time Paul showed me the campaign he'd been working on for over ten years. He is seeking to take down a 200-foot high, non-functioning dam in Ventura. He's devoted the better part of his professional life toward the single goal of taking down the dam and freeing massive amounts of natural sand and cobble to replenish local beaches, sandbars and coastlines. The first time I toured the campaign with him I literally thought (and still think) that Paul's story is worthy of a feature length film. It's that impressive. The dam isn't down yet and the last time I asked him how much more time he thought it would take he said "... probably another decade."

I posted a video of Jim Jaffee last night and he shared that he'd been at this fight for 16 years.

16 years.

Try and name something you've been doing for 16 years.

Now put the filter on your answer "was the benefit primarily for you or primarily for others?"

Now put another filter on the answer "were you ever compensated for your efforts?"

People like Jim are notable, priceless elements of our society. They work, most of the time in complete obscurity, for an idea that is much larger than them. They do it without accolades and without compensation... and we all benefit.

The Solana Beach seawall fight isn't just the fight to save the beaches in a small town in Southern California. It is a precedent-setting case that will no doubt be applied across California and beyond. His investment in this campaign is literally going to influence the coastline of California.

Also, Jim knows the fight isn't completely over. The seawalls are still there, legal battles will rise... and he'll be there. That... is notable.

It's people like Jim Jaffe that make me feel absolutely honored to be associated with Surfrider Foundation. The next time you go surf or go for a beach walk and you look around at natural settings and no coastal armoring... give a shout out to Jim Jaffe.

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