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02 • 17 • 2021

Activist Spotlight: Christopher Warren with the Outer Banks Chapter

By Surfrider Foundation

This Black History Month we are celebrating our activists, friends, colleagues and like minded organization’s from within the Surfrider network. Throughout the month we will recognize people and organizations who inspire us and celebrate the achievements they've made to help protect our ocean, waves and beaches. 

Q: What is your current job or role in your local chapter?

I am currently a volunteer and an executive committee member with the Outer Banks Chapter in the role of Chapter Treasurer.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I became involved with Surfrider Foundation in early 2019, after living in the Outer Banks for several months. I have always been passionate about marine biology, along with ocean and beach preservation. When I was in the third grade, I completed a project on dolphins, different species and how they are impacted by ocean pollution and tuna fishing. The No Drill, No Spill campaign also caught my attention and I wanted to get involved, because oil pollution would be extremely devastating to marine life, preservation, and the livelihood of the community.

Q: How has your experience as a Black American framed your perspective as an activist and as part of the Surfrider network?

Being a Black American raised in a very diverse community in Silver Spring, MD, right outside of Washington D.C., my friends and I were influenced by our parents and teachers to take action on what inspires us. Living in large populated cities, I never thought to be involved with an organization like the Surfrider Foundation because I wasn’t educated about it or exposed to the network or similar networks in my communities. Traveling throughout the United States, worldwide, and volunteering with international communities gave me a different perspective on what and how I wanted to get involved as an activist.

Q: Do you have any experiences where social justice and environmental movements have intersected?

I have not had any experiences where different movements intersected, but believe there are opportunities such as Flint, MI. Getting the message of the Surfrider Foundation into urban and suburban communities can be a progressive impact to our campaigns and programs for support, not just relying on beach communities or beachgoers.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Water quality is questioned in our community as more cases of illness or skin irritation arise, and there is not enough data collected to pinpoint the source or cause. The Outer Banks Chapter will create a Blue Water Task Force program to support water quality for all communities within Dare, Hyde and Currituck counties affected from the ocean, sound, rivers and waterways. No Drill, No Spill has been placed on a brief hold, but a complete and permanent ban for offshore drilling is still an opportunity for our state. The Outer Banks Chapter is also working on a balloon ban campaign, partnering with the local government representatives who strongly support Surfrider Foundation.  

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

A: I’ve been involved from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and setting up tables and tents at local events to educating and informing the community about the No Drill No Spill campaign. I support and help organize beach cleanups, fundraising opportunities for campaigns, projects or community outreach programs.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

The new bill recently signed by the president to halt offshore drilling has been a great highlight result of the No Drill, No Spill campaign. Work still remains to permanently suspend all offshore drilling throughout the United States, but this gives us time to regroup, educate more, and reform a larger presence to influence new and future administrations to end offshore drilling as a threat to our ocean, waves and beaches.

Q: What's been your experience being a surfer and/or ocean enthusiast as a Black American?

As a Black American and ocean enthusiast, I always tell people “It doesn’t matter where you currently live or where you were raised.” If you believe in something, get involved because the cause is always bigger than yourself. Being a firm believer in ocean preservation and life, I took the opportunity to get involved when presented. I’ve learned that everyone involved has a passion for the ocean, whether they surf, beach, fish, etc. I didn’t grow up on the beach, but have always enjoyed water sports, swimming or just relaxing on the sand. The best experience with the Surfrider Foundation is the support of the community. Just being visible to your community no matter your age, race, gender or orientation, brings everyone together for a similar cause.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

The Surfrider Foundation is a power activist network of individuals that believe in the protection and preservation of our ocean, waves, and beaches. If you love to surf, kayak, beach, marine life, etc. this is the organization to join and let your voice be heard.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share with our network about your journey?

From volunteering with the 4H international program, Surin Project (Thailand), protecting turtle nests with Network for Endangered Sea Turtles and National Fish & Wildlife, planting beach grass and sea oats for preservation, and now a committee member with the Surfrider Foundation Outer Banks Chapter, getting involved always creates perception. Everyone is not raised, exposed or taught to engage in conversation and discussion with others equally, but common interests and goals help change interaction and perception. That perception is you being seen as a great individual no matter who you are, what you look like, where you’re from, or who you know. Do not become discourage to get involved because you do not see many people that look like you. We’re all human and more alike than we know.