08 • 11 • 2021

Activist Spotlight: Diya Heal with the Newport, Oregon Chapter

By Surfrider Foundation

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

I became a member of the Surfrider Foundation when I lived in Aptos, CA in 2009. Many surfers in the area were Surfrider activists involved in the campaign to save Trestles and protect local beaches. Their passion, dedication and positivity had a huge impact on me and although I was a member by donation only, I vowed to become actively involved when I had more time. Four years ago, we moved to the Oregon coast and I suddenly had more time! I reached out to my local chapter in Newport, Oregon and have been involved ever since.

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

Plastic pollution is a major issue. At first glance, our expansive white sand beaches and beautiful blue sparkling ocean look pristine. But walk along the tideline on any beach in Oregon and you will see the truth - millions of pieces of microplastic and nurdles are choking our ocean, harming our marine life and threatening our health as well. The good news is, we can all make a difference by trying to: Refuse what we don’t need; Reduce purchasing single-use plastics and unsustainable items; Reuse and Repurpose what we already have; Repair rather than throw away; Recycle what we can; and Rally elected officials to pass legislation that protects and preserves our ocean, waterways and environment.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I served as co-chair on the Ban the Bag campaign in Newport, Oregon and helped out on the Ditch the Straw campaign in Lincoln County. I also serve on the Blue Water Task Force, which is super fun! Every time I’m out on the beach collecting samples, people always ask me what I’m doing so it’s a great opportunity to give a shout-out to Surfrider while raising awareness about ocean conservation and protection. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light a need to update the health code regulations to include and support the use of reusable bags and containers. I’m stoked to be a part of the Health Code Regulation campaign that kicks off on July1st! Lastly, Surfrider is working with the City of Newport and local businesses to adopt a polystyrene ordinance which will be pretty cool! For me, the most rewarding aspect of participating in the Surfrider campaigns is the opportunity to positively impact and serve my community, knowing everything we’re doing is making a difference. Together, we are improving the quality of life for all species and beings who are fortunate enough to call the Oregon Coast “home.”

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

Oh, the highlight was definitely having the opportunity to serve alongside Olivia Schroeder and the fifth grade students (members of the Sam Case Elementary Surfrider Club) who campaigned with so much heart, asking the Newport City Council to pass the Ban the Bag ordinance. Their awareness, determination and passion for protecting what they love was such an inspiration and gave me much hope for the future of our ocean, waves and beaches! They really inspired the council members as well because the ordinance was passed in April 2019.

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

Surfrider is an organization that absolutely leads by positive example. I have been so impressed with Surfrider’s ethics, integrity and spirit of inclusion. Their ability to inspire and empower people from all walks of life, all over the world, to act on behalf of our ocean, waves and beaches is really remarkable. I also tell people how much I’ve learned and grown personally by being a member of this incredible organization… and I encourage them to join!

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)? 

Because I value my next breath and the breath of all beings. Mother Ocean is responsible for approximately 50% of the oxygen we breathe, is home to some of the world’s most magnificent creatures, provides income and employment for many industries, shares herself freely and selflessly while offering peace, enjoyment and refuge for the entire world, and she’s dying. If we aren’t willing to stand for and protect what we love and value, we risk losing it. Through my involvement with Surfrider, I’ve experienced first-hand, the power each one of us has to make a positive difference, locally and globally. Long Live the Beach!