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Value of a beach?

January 02 2009 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

The wild economic ride we're all on is causing us to adapt a new set of lenses to look at the world; this is perhaps the single largest positive result to come from the global economic crisis.

Just a few years ago a dollar (or your local currency) didn’t carry the weight it does now. For example you were probably more willing to buy a car or a $4 cup of coffee than you might be today. Consumer spending seemed to be on an endless upward trajectory. Spending seemed live outside the laws of gravity and (looking back with 20/20 hindsight) common sense. Over the last six months, the prices of housing, gas and other goods have fluctuated to the point of confusing us.  This brings me to the subject of value.

Value [val-yoo] –noun
1. Relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.
2. Monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.
3. The worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.

In simpler terms value is simply how we measure an object's relative worth.

Time is the most valuable thing in my opinion. It outweighs money, status, worth and everything else. Nothing is a scarce as a minute of our lives.

An extension of this idea is what we do with our time and the value we gain from doing it. Here is where Surfrider Foundation comes in.

What is the value of going skiing or going to the movies? How do those values compare with the value of walking along your favorite beach or surfing your home break? The challenge to these questions is that the latter examples, many times, are assigned a value of zero since they are offered for “free.”

I was reminded of this comparison the other day when I was helping some out-of-town friends with options for their family in Southern California. The family of four could buy a 3-Day Disneyland pass for for $640 or they could spend a day at the beach “for free.” I spent a few hours with them doing the latter, and watched the entire family come together, have an absolute ball in the water, and leave with sand in their toes and smiles across their faces. 

The truth is that nothing is free. Everything has a cost. Sometimes that cost equates to currency, sometimes it equates to our time or resources.

All of us, including you, that support Surfrider Foundation believe that our oceans, waves and beaches should be able to be accessible for all people to enjoy, and should be protected. All of us invest some part of ourselves in that idea. You may be a member and invest your money in this idea. You may also invest your time, energy and expertise in your local chapter. Whatever your investment, yo make it because in your mind, our coasts hold value.

We all appreciate those contributions as it enables us to keep the lights on and make a difference all over the world. More than that, we appreciate the fact that you have associated real value in this idea, in our mission. One of the crispest examples of the value we offer can be found in the more than 100 victories we’ve won over the last three years (list available on homepage at The collective value we associate with Surfrider is literally the power of this entire effort.

So as we continue to weave our way through these murky and squishy economic times, let’s keep it in the front of our minds that our coasts have a value that is very near priceless. That is, they don’t have a “price tag.” They should not be marginalized or purchased. Instead they should be appreciated for their pure, natural beauty.

Let’s also remember that the return (enjoyment) on investment (protection) equation is among the strongest in our lives. Now stop reading this blog and get some sand in your toes. Go experience “free” in more ways than one.
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