Activist Spotlight, Ocean Protection, Marine Spatial Planning, Updates, Ocean Planning
April 04 2016

Empowering People to Take Action

Meet Barbie Clabots hailing from our Seattle Chapter in Washington. Working on proactive and comprehensive coastal preservation though an internship with Washington field staff, Barbie effectively communicated the importance of marine spatial planning (MSP), promoting long-term conservation and beach access to local stakeholders. Since, Barbie has become the Volunteer Coordinator for the Seattle chapter. She has built and led the chapter's Hold On to Your Butts program, reducing plastics and cigarette waste in the Puget Sound. Barbie has led a major local conservation victory as well as oversaw  the installation of cigarette canisters in iconic Seattle locations such as Pike Street Market and Alki Beach, growing and sharing the Surfrider mission, conservation and increased credibility in this vibrant city.

Q: When and why did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

Right out of the Marine Affairs grad program at the University of Washington, I became involved with Surfrider as an intern. In 2013 and 2014, I worked with Casey Dennehy and Brice Boland on a recreational use survey for coastal Washington. I wrote communications and performed outreach to recreation groups and businesses to gather survey responses. I also joined the Seattle Chapter in 2013, and became the Volunteer Coordinator in the spring of 2015.

Q: What issues are you most passionate about in your community?

I am passionate about engaging with the community to implement solutions that impact water quality. I’ve led Hold On To Your Butts with the Seattle Chapter from the beginning in 2013, and we’ve seen tremendous growth in the program. There are many organizations doing beach cleanups around Seattle, but we are the only ones taking a pro-active approach to prevent cigarette litter. In a region where people are often slow to buy-in to new ideas, we’ve had great success this year and installed 27 cigarette receptacles. I actually enjoy it when people tell us “no”- they’re not interested- because it’s an opportunity to talk through the global litter problem with people and figure out what kind of solutions we can take action on today. The whole idea of taking action instead of complaining about the problem is broadly appealing and very empowering to people.

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

I love problem solving and building leaders. It’s important to me to listen to what the community wants, to observe how our programs work, and to engage volunteers in finding the best opportunity to grow their advocacy skills. I really enjoy recruiting new members and partners, assessing their skill sets and interests, and plugging them into our programs and networks.

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

I tell people to bring all their ideas to the table- that this is a place where your experience is what you make it, and there is tons of room for opportunity to take up a project you are passionate about. The friendships are a great part as well- when you are a part of Surfrider, you are part of an authentic community where people love to play in the water as much as they love to take action on land. We are building a really strong network of leaders across the Pacific Northwest who are even friends and mentors for each other and I can’t wait to see what we can do together!

Q: Where is your favorite beach and why?

My favorite beach is at Camp Gallagher on the Key Peninsula, near a little town called Home, WA. It’s a summer camp where I worked- where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. The joy of sailing across the Puget Sound, kayaking with harbor seals, and camping at the water’s edge is made even better by the fact that it’s a really strong community that has deep ties to the land and water.