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Refuse to reinvent the wheel… as it’s already been created by another volunteer

October 12 2012 | Strategy, Chapters, Culture Shifting, Modern Activism, Plastics,

What bothers us more than most things is when we think we're wasting our time.

Have you ever put hours into creating something and then found out someone had already figured it out?

I think this issue... wasting our time... is an even larger issue when we think about our volunteer time. That time is already hard to find. It's super valuable... and the last thing we should think we're doing is creating something that someone else has already done or figured out.

Surfrider's network spans 83 domestic chapters. We have about 25 high school and college clubs in the US, and we're now in nearly 20 countries. These numbers illustrate that our network is large, but it doesn't really suggest our value or strength. In my opinion the value and strength of our network is directly related to how well information and best practices flow across our network.

As a network we must share what is working. We must be open to learn what is working in other places. We must be willing to apply those lessons and utillize tools locally. Share, learn and apply. And never stop doing so.

As I flipped through a few Facebook postings this morning, I came across the one to the left. Rob Nixon is an activist maven in South Texas. Gaston Caminata is the leader of Surfrider in Argentina. They met each other two weekends ago at our West Coast Summit in Ventura.

One of the messages stressed during that gathering was the simple point that activists should not attempt to reinvent the wheel... they should seek out others who have already created best practices, or have already created something (even a sticker in another language). By leveraging what others have learned, we're able to apply maximum focus on local beach issues... which is what our mission is all about.

The Facebook post above offers a simple illustration of a network... optimizing. Gaston in Argentina created materials in Spanish. Rob in Texas will use those assets and direct them towards the South Texas region. Bill Hickman, our staff member who oversees our campaigns to keep plastic trash out of the ocean, is along for the ride and will grab all the materials and offer them to the rest of the network.

If you need something... anything... to protect a local beach or a wave, chances are that it has already been created. Share, learn, apply. Never stop.

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