Surfing For Change: Buy Local, Surf Global

So many things wrong in the world.

Melting ice caps. Greenhouse gas emissions. Global climate change. GMO Frankenfoods. Depleted soils. Poisoned fish. Rampant childhood obesity. Unsustainable food systems. Horrifying school lunch programs. Unprecedented hurricanes. Insane tsunamis. Constant forest fires. And oh yeah – how about that Texas-sized flotilla of plasticized garbage goo floating out in the Pacific somewhere?

I could go on like this all day.  We all could.  Because in truth it’s easy to identify — and become despondent (if not just altogether passive and nonplussed) about the state of the planet, the environment, our citizenship and basic humanity when you take an honest look at the havoc we have wrecked upon ourselves.

F-it. I give up. It’s too late.

Then you meet a guy like Kyle Thiermann.  Pro Surfer. Filmmaker. Public Speaker. Environmentalist. Humanitarian. 24 years old.

Suddenly, all that despondency is replaced with hope – optimism for the future of the planet and humanity courtesy of the next generation.

I had never heard of Kyle until a buddy of mine posted an image on Instagram a few months back that promoted Kyle’s latest short film: Pro Surfers vs. GMO’s :

I immediately clicked to watch and was honestly moved. Sure, the film is informative and inspiring. But beyond the content, I was genuinely impressed to find such a young guy so passionate about our food system. Digging deeper I realized this doc was nothing new for this Santa Cruz kid, who was raised by documentary filmmaker parents and has been putting out short films on global health and environmental issues for years via Surfing For Change  — Kyle’s online YouTube series merging surf imagery & lifestyle with current global issues with focus on the power of individuals to create a better world through everyday decisions.

Kyle’s impact has already been substantial. Beyond speaking gigs at universities across the US and features in publications like  Outside Magazine  and  Surfer Magazine, one of Kyle’s first film projects took a look at global bank funding and suggested that people divest from the Bank of Americas of the world and instead invest in local communities  and credit unions. As a direct result of this specific project, Surfing for Change tracked over $110 million of lending power moving out of centralized banks and into local communities. That is serious impact. That is awesome.

If that’s not enough, Kyle gets extra cool points for being the only person I am aware of to ever deliver a TED Talk without a shirt on. That takes cajones.

Be honest: if you were a handsome pro surfer in your early 20’s whose job was to travel the world in search of the tastiest waves, how much time do you think you would spend on trying to make a difference in the world?

Kyle doesn’t have to do what he does. The fact that he chooses of his own volition to invest himself in serving a higher purpose makes his message all the more powerful and resonant.

The millennial generation gets a ton of flack for allegedly being entitled and narcissistic. But Kyle upends this presumption as misplaced, if not altogether false. My experience — as both a father of two millennial teenage boys and as someone who spends quite a bit of time with people far younger than myself — is that there are countless young people out there a lot like Kyle. Energetic young people committed to service, improving the planet and making a difference in a way I never saw in myself or my peers when I was of that age.

Let Kyle light the way and be an example of what can be done when passion and faith meet a service mindset and tireless commitment to blaze a new path to better the small world we share.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation.

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