Apr 10, 2012

What Would Buddha Do?

Tonight is the full moon. It is Buddha's Moon. The moon that he was born on, reached enlightenment, and died. Kind of cosmic.

What have we learned since his birth? Since his enlightenment? Since his death?

We now stand at the crux of our "civilization". We have made it over 2000 years since Christ and the Buddha were born. What do we have to show for it?

It seems that we are in the last grips of our separation from Nature. Collectively we are making every effort to take every last bit of valuable resource from the earth.

Tar Sands Devastation

Tar sands in Canada and the Keystone Pipeline. The 3rd largest hydroelectric dam ever in the Amazon. Sea bed mining off of the New Zealand coast. When will we learn?

After almost a month in New Zealand I can't help but be a little pessimistic about our path, our fate. NZ is supposed to be the last "100% pure" country left. It seems even they are struggling with staying pure.

Currently there are mining leases to remove over 5 billion tonnes of sand from the sea floor off of the west coast of the North Island of NZ. The black sands of the west coast contain high levels of iron ore, which is proposed to be shipped to China for processing, then likely sold back to NZ for huge profits.

Seabed prospecting areas off of NZ

Fish and Chips is one of the most iconic Kiwi meals. If seabed mining goes through you can take the fish out of that meal. Furthermore, the west coast is home to the critically endangered Maui's and Hector's Dolphin (called popoto by the Maori).

The Maui's Dolphin- the world's smallest and rarest-
lives off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

The popoto is the smallest and perhaps the cutest dolphin in the world, and is on the brink of being the third cetacean species to go extinct in modern times, after the Atlantic Gray Whale and the Chinese River Dolphin.

We came to NZ to teach a Permaculture Design Certification course at Solscape Eco-retreat in Raglan, Whaingaroa. This was an incredible experience and super inspiring. We had 15 graduates complete the course, and now there are 15 more people in the world who made the commitment to live more in balance with nature.

We were very fortunate to be here at the same time as the crew from Surfers For Cetaceans- Dave Rastovich, Lauren Hill, and our friend from home Chadd Koenig. They are true inspirations and leaders in the surfing world to bring awareness to issues beyond the next swell and the latest competition results.

Chadd Koenig, Dave Rastovich, Aubrey Falk, and Loren Luyendyk

Peggy Oki and her origami whales

The recycled raft race was a blast!

Together we participated in the Maui's Dolphin Day and a very moving "protest" with the group KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) where we met a representative of Trans Tasman Resources (the contract company to explore for iron sands) at the one lane bridge out of town.

Locals speak their mind

Over 200 people turned up in silent protest

We blocked his passage, and children escorted him across in silence with signs shouting our position on seabed mining. He had just come from the marae, telling the local Maori TTR's plans- not asking permission.

Folks, there are other alternatives out there. We do not need to mine the seabed for iron ore. Steel is so 20th century. We had a chance to tour a farm for the future that was growing a controversial crop of the past.

Dave Jordan

The Waikato Hemp Project and the Hemp Farm is the daring and visionary mission of Dave Jordan. Dave has seen environmental destruction firsthand, having been a wilderness guide for 30 years. He had a realization that the solution to our environmental and health woes were not to be found in a lab or a pill, but in the oldest cultivated crop known to humanity.

No THC means this is NOT marijuana

Field of dreams...

Hemp is renowned as one of the easiest solutions to the global crisis we have created. A complete crop, offering food, fuel, fiber, and shelter that is far superior to our current options.

This is what we were after- nutritious seeds

The seed may be the most nutritious food known, containing essential amino acids and oils. The fuel is a byproduct from the crop, an alcohol distillation of the "waste". The fiber is far stronger and softer than cotton, requiring a fraction of the chemicals to produce. And shelter can be made from the hurd, or central part of the stem, when mixed with slaked lime it forms hempcrete- mold resistant and fire proof.

We helped Dave and our friend Paul Peterson harvest the crop. This is a completely legal crop mind you- not the one your thinking. It was an amazing opportunity to participate in a potentially ground breaking event. It was the largest hemp harvest in the southern hemisphere this year.

Still we need to do more. We need to act now and fast. Perhaps the best way to act is by following the Buddha. Be here now. Be love. Be compassionate. Be.

Being includes being one with all things. Being includes respecting life and the earth as our mother. Being includes living more in harmony with nature.

The sun may be setting on our civilization, unless we act now

This is not woo-woo hocus pocus new age hippy ranting. This is reality. This may be our last chance to change course. Because what we do to the earth we do to ourselves. We need to stop the self flagellation in the form of mining, consumerism, rampant growth, and unconscious acts. We need to take care of the earth, and each other.

Please take action to protect NZ resources, even if you are not from there:

Take the visual petition to protect the Maui's Dolphin:

Sign the petition to be sent to NZ Prime Minister John Key to protect the habitat of the Maui's Dolphin:

Join KASM:

Jan 8, 2012

Message in a Bottle

6 R's of Responsibility

Above is a picture of a bottle I filled with bits of plastic pulled out of the kelp after a large swell this week. It only took 30 minutes to fill it.

a good swell...

Never before have I seen so many little pieces of styrofoam and bottle caps on the shore in our area of California. Or maybe this is the first time I have noticed, though I doubt that. I have been looking for a while now.

This is 2012 is folks. If this really is the last year of our civilization, how would we want to go out? With bits and pieces of plastic as our epitaph? Or do we want to create something different, and write a new story?

The message in the bottle tells the story of all the individual pieces and their journey. A bottle cap blown overboard during a fishing adventure. A shotgun shell casing fired into the air for a prank. Styrofoam packaging that carried the burgers on the grill to the beach barbecue. Balloons launched in the air to celebrate a wedding.

Some stories were cut short. A lighter that was consumed by a fishing bird will not speak of its journey to us until it washes up in the carcass of a starved cormorant. The floating bits of styrofoam that looked like fish eggs never made it to the bottle, but they made it to our plate in the belly of that Alaskan salmon we had for dinner.

What do all these stories have in common? We are all a part of it. Every one of us contributed to the message in this bottle. And we can all listen to the story and write a new chapter: one in which we choose not to use plastic if possible.

It's double time. We need to double the 3 R's of recycling.

Here are the 6 R's of Responsibility:

Refuse to use it.
Ask for no bag at the store, or no straw at the restaurant.

When you can't refuse it,
Reduce your use of it.
Buy shampoo not in a bottle.

When you can't reduce it,
Re-use it.
Take old shopping bags to the store to fill them again, or pull them out of the recycle bin in front if you forget.

When you can't re-use it anymore,
Repurpose it.
Make art with it!

When you can't repurpose it,
Recycle it.
Turn it into clothing or a Chico Bag!

When you can't recycle it,
Reclaim it.
Plastic is oil- it makes energy.

Did you get the message? The ocean did.

Nov 13, 2011

Baja Surf and Service

Baja California residents live a pretty good life, at least the ones who live outside the major borders cities of Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada. Overcrowding and poor sanitation plague these areas, along with violence perpetuated by drug cartels. It is not always a pretty sight…

Some pretty sketchy looking and smelling water after a little rain in Tijuana

Several hours south of Ensenada, away from the overflowing sewage systems and the shadow of drug lords, lies the peaceful ocean-side town of Ejido Erindira. A farming community, residents enjoy the bounties of both the land and sea, though tuna farming in Ensenada has impacted local fisheries, as baitfish are indiscriminately harvested for tuna feed.

Looking South from the hill over town

Erindira has a population of around 2000 people, and previously lacked adequate medical facilities to treat the locals. People needing treatment had to make the over 2 hour trip to Ensenada. This all changed several years ago when the Palomar chapter of the Flying Samaritans opened a medical clinic to service the local community.

The local constable with the ribbon un-tying ceremony

We were invited to join the Flying Samaritans for the inaugural opening of a dental clinic, the second part of a comprehensive health plan for the town. The clinic is the result of many years of hard work, and lots of donated dental equipment.

Oswin Schandera making last minute adjustments and clean-up before the big day

Our team was led by Verena Schandera, a medical student at UC San Diego, her parents Oswin and Kristina, and Ethan Fox, a practicing dentist. Verena’s fellow medical student and friend Tyler Morrison invited SWoBs Founding director Loren Luyendyk and practicing Chinese Medical Doctor Brian Falk to join them.

Saturday morning we dawn patrolled the clinic. People were already lined up to receive free dental care, and we proceeded to admit them. We processed 50 patients, but needless to say that was far too many for Ethan to treat in one day. Obviously dental care is a real need for this community.

Tyler Morrison taking pulses

Verena Schandera and Ethan Fox with a lucky patient!

While Ethan drilled and pulled teeth, Brian performed the less invasive work of treating people with acupuncture. The locals were very receptive to this kind of therapy, and found the results promising.

Brian Falk performing acupuncture

Loren Luyendyk helped to admit patients and taught children about dental hygiene

The night after the big day we were treated to a meal of local authentic Baja Fish Tacos. Local clinic volunteers Alonso and Linda prepared a meal fit for kings and queens, or doctors and dentists in this case…

¡Bien Sabroso!

We had the pleasure of staying at a super-chilo hostel by the sea called Coyote Cal’s. Overlooking the bay and the coast to the south, the hostel boasts super luxurious accommodations and awesome outdoor spaces.

Coyote Cal's at sunrise

Following the clinic day, we had a chance to explore the coastline north of Erindira. Miles of rugged cliffs punctuated by isolated and empty coves tempted us to jump in the sea. We found a promising little break and had a few waves to ourselves before our journey back home.

Brian Falk, Tyler Morrison, and Loren Luyendyk

Reflecting on the needs of the community, we realized that they may have all they need, now that the two clinics were operational. The challenge is staffing. Still, people seemed happy and healthy. One thing that struck us however was that only a few people in the town were growing food.

One house had some swales to catch water. They had mangoes, guavas, bananas, olives, figs, and nopales.

A California company leases the community land for vegetable farming, and according to anecdotal reports, they are happy to share the crops with locals as long as they don’t strip the fields. Though we also heard that they pay low wages and do not offer health care, hence the clinics.

Those are fields of cabbage headed to California

Baja is more of a desert than California, and wells are dug deeper every year. Furthermore, food comes in from afar and is not always during winter months due to poor road conditions.

Dudleya sp.

We are planning a rainwater harvesting installation at the clinic, coupled with a rain garden filled with edible plants. We hope to stimulate the idea of rainwater harvesting and home-scale food production with a simple system composed of parts that are inexpensive and readily available in the town.

Ephedra sp.. Medicinal plants were growing wild on the outskirts of town

Our next trip is on the 16th and 17th of December 2011. Please contact us at surferswithoutborders@gmail.com if you would like to join us on another journey for Surf and Service!

Oct 11, 2011

Save the Humans!

TransparentSea II
The Voyage of Surfers For Cetaceans (S4C)

Whales and dolphins are majestic creatures, no doubt. They are the romanticized elders of the ocean, teachers in silent ways to their human children. They are also indicators of our stewardship of the planet, showing us how we relate to the ocean and its creatures.

Trimarans at the ready for the TransParentSea Voyage

They are not immune to our influence. Commercial whaling and dolphin kills continue to this day in most parts of the world. Many people rely on whale and dolphin meat for food, and many other useful products come from them.

Dolphin-safe sailing with the S4C crew

They are other sources for these products, however. Much more sustainable and humane sources. Mainly from plants.

Did you buy anything on that ship?

In Southern California, the issues facing whales and dolphins are not from spear and harpoon, but from Chinese trinkets and giant ships. Due to the protection of these species in our waters, their populations have grown, along with humanity's use of their home the sea.

There has been an increase in whale strikes in recent years due mostly to the large container ships that transport goods in the global marketplace. California shipping lanes have become the feeding ground for an increasing number of blue whales, due to large populations of krill in theses areas.

Dave Rastovich and Kristi Birney, Marine Conservation Analyst with the EDC

A Santa Barbara organization, The Environmental Defense Center spoke at the recent launch party for Surfers For Cetaceans (S4C) about the issue of whale strikes in the Santa Barbara Channel, and what we can do about it.

Turns out the whales are being struck by the very container ships that bring goods to us from other lands. Four blue whales were confirmed killed due to ship strikes last year, though the number is thought to be higher.

Sandy Lejeune from SB Surfrider tells Dave of the development issues affecting the Gaviota Coast

So, the more food and trinkets we buy from overseas, the more whales are in danger from being hit. Seems like a good reason to buy local and grow your own?!?

In that vein SWoBs are launching a hands-on workshop series to address the issue of relocalization, and how sustainability can help the whales, oh, and the humans too!

The Crew about to launch from Gaviota State Beach

During the beach clean-up prior to launch we found tons of trash stuck in the bushes!

S4C embarked on the TransParentSea Desert Whale Voyage on the 1st of October from Gaviota State Beach near Santa Barbara. The voyage is a multi-media journey including sailing, surfing, music, art, and education about whales and the ocean.

SWoBs Founder Loren Luyendyk and S4C Crew member and pro surfer Chris Del Moro just about to launch

SB Local Chad Koenig has paddled the channel before, and is doing it again. All the way to Mexico!

Our buddy John Birchim of Jayawave SUPped along with us for a bit. He makes beautiful alaias.

SWoBs Co-Founder Aubrey Falk on the trimaran in the middle of the SB Channel

SWoBs represented and had the great fortune to join in on the journey for the first several days. We jumped on board the Hobie trimarans for a glide along side our ancestors the dolphins.

Chad being greeted by cetacean friends

We played music around the campfire, painted murals, and even caught a few waves. The crew continued on south, to Malibu, and eventually will reach the Mexican Border and the birthing grounds of the California Grey Whales.

Stay tuned for more!