I'm delighted to report that, last evening in Minneapolis, I was lucky enough to be part of a group of charged-up volunteers that held our first formal get-together to plan a local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
This is a wonderful, worldwide volunteer organization, with more than 50,000 members -- here's the home page, www.surfrider.org, and here's what it's all about. As a lifelong member since it all started in 1984, I'm really, really stoked that we now have so many interested potential volunteers here in the Twin Cities and Duluth, especially -- considering there's a growing clan of surfers now active on Lake Superior! A new crop of volunteers, along with many existing Surfrider members already living in our state who have not previously had a local chapter affiliation, are now coming together to form a great nucleus that will become what we hope will be called the "Minnesota Chapter" (once we get officially set up with the headquarters folk in Southern California).
In addition to the increased local interest in surfing on the Big Lake (and, of course, the already strong communities we have in our state in windsurfing and wakeboarding), you might wonder, so what was the spark that ignited the recent coming together of Minnesotans interested in forming a local chapter? Well, it was none other than...the recent Jack Johnson concert! That's right -- where the Surfrider Foundation had a strong presence as one of the sponsors of Jack's current tour. Many people signed up to show interest and support of the Surfrider's cause at a booth they set up at the concert. And every single person at last night's formative session had attended the concert...but me! :-( I did blog about it, though, just after the fact (see Jack Johnson Made Me Do a Post About Surfing).
In the photo below, here's the crew that gathered last night at Stefan Ronchetti's residence in Richfield. From left to right, it's me, Amanda Jansen, Nate Clark, Keely Gerhold, Stefan Ronchetti, and Ryan Buus. Not pictured are Ryan Schroeder, who had to leave just before this, and a whole bunch of others who I know were there in spririt.
(A particular hat tip to Dr. Jim Perry, a fellow Surfrider member who had previously helped form the Connecticut chapter before moving here, and who met with Stefan and myself last year in what was really our first meeting to discuss...what if? Jim charged us up and convinced us it could be done. I know Jim was also at the Jack Johnson concert and would have enjoyed being with us last night if he could have. Thanks, bro! And another hat tip to all our brothers who surf the Big Lake, including Greg Isaacson, Bob Tema, Brian Stabinger, and, well, you know who you are....we salute you all!)
The group you see pictured here is just the beginning -- the core or nucleus -- of what I'm convinced will become a strong local, grassroots organization that will work toward monitoring and taking action on local issues relating to the quality of our water resources, shorelines, and beaches. And, here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes -- and home to the largest freshwater lake in the world -- everyone will benefit.
Rock on, Surfrider -- here's to a great future in Minnesota!
And to all of you out there: to indicate your interest in becoming an early "charter" member of our local chapter, please say so in the comments section below, or email Keely at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don't have to be a surfer, windsurfer, or wakeboarder, you just have to like us :-) ...no, seriously, you just have to believe in the causes of Surfrider, and that individuals taking action together can make a real difference in this world! Everyone is welcome. Cheers!