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Activist Spotlight: Lauren Nichole Londono With The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Student Club

Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?

I have been the president of the Surfrider Foundation Cal Poly Club, in San Luis Obispo, California since June 2020.

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

I got involved in Surfrider my first quarter at Cal Poly, attending beach cleanups, social events, and general club meetings. I was primarily interested in Surfrider because as a freshman it was hard to get to the beach without having a car on campus. Upon attending my first cleanup, I was welcomed by a kind, enthusiastic and passionate group of people who made me feel like I belonged!

Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?

Some local environmental issues affecting San Luis Obispo include the lack of adequate recycling and composting facilities, plastic pollution and the preservation of outdoor spaces and lands along the coast. The Oceano Dunes is an example of an area that is becoming a protected space in order to preserve native plants and species. Likewise, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is another space that has been protected to combat future destruction and damage. As a byproduct of urbanization and development, preserving the lands along the coast has been a key environmental issue of the central coast, and many people in and around the community have been working diligently to protect our vibrant nature.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

In the Winter Quarter of my freshman year, I joined Cal Poly Surfrider’s core team, where I was more involved in the leadership of the club. In the core team, I helped plan events, beach cleanups, the film festival, and general meetings. Since becoming president, I have worked on a variety of projects with every program. The Make Waves Earth Day Film Festival has been my favorite project that I’ve worked on, and finally will be in-person this year! Likewise, I have also worked with Blue Water Task Force to create a water quality sign in Morro Bay, Media Team to continue marketing for our social media accounts, and helped relaunch most of our programs post-COVID-19 such as Ocean Friendly Gardens, Rise Above Plastics, Ocean Friendly Restaurants, Beach Cleanups, Events, and Greeks for the Seas.

Q: Are there any specific project(s) that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?

A lot of the projects and activities I’m involved in within our club relate to outreach and education for our campus community, however recently I’ve been connecting with members of the greater SLO community. This year, the Make Waves Waves Film Festival is donating most of the proceeds to the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, to help support their efforts in conserving and protecting the central coast. This year, our festival's mission is to create a sense of community by sharing films that inspire people to protect, respect, and enjoy the outdoor places they love. Having this event on Earth Day this year will remind those of the importance of sustainability and conservation, as well as cultivating a sense of community.

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

The highlight of my Surfrider experience has been rebuilding and re-establishing Cal Poly Surfrider post-COVID-19. When I joined my freshman year, this club was vibrant in membership and leaders, however, once the pandemic hit it was hard to keep the stoke alive regardless of how much effort or time we put in. In the Fall of 2021, Cal Poly finally went back to in-person classes and our club was missing a solid leadership team and members. I worked diligently that quarter to recruit members and recreate our team of leaders so that this club could once again flourish as it did my freshman year. It was such a rewarding experience to see my hard work pay off and get others stoked about Surfrider. Now that my time as president is coming to an end, I’m happy and relieved that the club will continue strong.

Q: Do you have any personal experiences or campaigns/issues that you're passionate about where the social justice and environmental movements have intersected? If so, can you tell us about them?

I am very passionate about the intersection between public health, nutrition, and sustainability. I am a Nutrition Science major who is passionate about sustainability, regenerative agriculture, and the way in which food impacts the planet, people, and animals. The more I learn, the more I recognize its intersection with social justice because often there are barriers to food accessibility. Every person deserves access to healthy and affordable food regardless of their socioeconomic standing.

Q: What can Surfrider or continue doing to foster an inclusive and welcoming experience? 

Surfrider can continue being an ally and advocate for fostering an inclusive and welcoming space for all people to enjoy. The ocean is something that belongs to no person or group, and as a conservation organization must continue to reiterate the importance of inclusivity among all people.

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

By being involved in Surfrider, you are becoming a steward of the ocean and advocating for its protection. No matter how little or much you can contribute or be involved in, every action is important. I believe that change happens one person at a time, and Surfrider is an organization that exemplifies this through the work they do. 

Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?

I have always felt most connected to myself among nature, and the ocean is no different. I believe that as humans on this Earth it is our duty to appreciate nature and protect it so that future generations can experience the same things we have enjoyed. Ocean conservation is so important to me because water is such a powerful force that inhabits a majority of the life and mass on Earth. Protecting the environment that so many people rely on is extremely important to the longevity of humanity and all the flora and fauna within it.