The words we choose create the stories we tell, and just like every critter is critical to a verdant ecosystem, every word in a story matters–and sometimes it’s the smallest words that mean the most.
“Fun,” surmised big-wave world champion Greg Long when asked about how he stays inspired both in his surfing career and in his work tackling the plastic pollution problem in the ocean.
“Love,” said climber Timmy O’Neill.
Ideas and inspiration were in abundance at the first-ever Coast Summit presented by A New Earth Project. A new addition to the Coast Film and Music Festival’s already stellar program, the summit endeavored to bring athletes, activists, filmmakers, writers and organizers together in Laguna Beach for a day of storytelling, idea sharing and problem solving.
“At the end of the day, how we tell these stories and the stories we tell are what drive change,” explained Josh “Bones” Murphy while moderating a panel discussion on protecting the land.
Words make up stories, and the day started with a talk by snowboard legend and Protect Our Winters founder Jeremy Jones. He opened by sharing a poem he wrote.
“Snow is 90% air,” starts the poem, eventually concluding with, “My art is sharlpenism.”
Jones goes on to explain the codependence of shredding and alpinism—essentially protecting and fighting for what you love. His book is even titled as such: “The Art Of Shralpinism: Lessons from the Mountains”
“Ego is not your amigo,” smiled Jones before delving into the differences between good fear (the fear of dying) and bad fear (the fear of failure).
Next on the program was a conversation about protecting the ocean. Hosted by Surfrider Foundation CEO Dr. Chad Nelson, the panel featured big-wave surfer Long, filmmaker and iMax creator Greg MacGillivray and WildAid program director Dr. John Baker. All four speakers brought eloquence and passion to the conversation, but it was Long who had the mic-drop moment at the end of the chat.
When asked by a young person in the audience what’s the most important thing to keep in mind when trying to save the world, the always thoughtful, Zen-like Long answered, “Make sure you have fun along the way.”
Long’s point was echoed by all the speakers throughout the day: find what you love, love what you do, and help along the way.
“There’s always something to be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I don’t ever feel like it’s work. It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing and what I was put here to do,” explained Hallie Jones, the Outreach Director for the Crystal Cove Conservancy.
Sitting on the panel about protecting the land, Jones was joined on stage by Bones, O’Neill and writer/naturalist Obi Kaufmann. A brilliant orator with a vocabulary that would make Thoreau smile and Steinbeck’s eyes roll, Kaufmann’s presence on stage loomed large.
“It’s like having Obipedia on stage,” smiled O’Neill.
The two speakers had some brilliant comedic chemistry together, but it ultimately was O’Neill who simplified the message, “It’s about love,” he explained. “The love for the environment and place, the love for people and humanity, we’re all here today because of love.”
And like that, up next was the athletes delight. Moderated by A New Earth Project founder Wes Carter and anchored by big-wave hellman Kai Lenny, the panel featured Waves 4 Water founder Jon Rose as well as snowboarder Kimmy Fasani. And while Lenny and Fasani spoke glowingly about their lives lived out of bounds, Rose is a hardened, frontline realist.
For over a decade Rose has been on a mission to bring access to clean, drinkable water to impoverished and disaster-hit areas. “Solving these problems doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as simple as one person traveling with a few water filters in their backpack,” Rose told the audience. “We all have that power, we can all be an agent of change, it’s about finding what you love and helping along the way.”
From start to finish, every speaker at the Coast Summit had something illuminating and inspiring to say. But even more than that, the power and passion of the group as a collective, as a force for positive change in this world, was a testament to a brighter future, a better tomorrow and a healthier, happier world.
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