This year's 2016 East Coast Chapter Leadership Conference was held between October 7-9 at the Stony Brook Southampton College in Southampton, NY. Core volunteers from Georgia to Maine, as well as Chicago, and all points between, attended with key Surfrider staff for a weekend of networking, learning, sharing and pure stoke!
Despite a couple months of the "best laid plans", Mother Nature tossed a big curve ball at our event ... of the best variety, though. With big NE winds and seething white water inundating Montrose Beach, Kayak Chicago (event partner), made the executive decision to cancel the paddle-out portion of the first ever Pipe Out Paddle Protest - Chicago event in the best interest of safety (and preservation of their rental gear). Instead, the big waves & wind would be available for the hard core to partake. And we did. With 72 degree water, beautiful Mayfield Parrish skies, and unrelenting swell, the Lake filled up with surfers, bodyboarders, kiteboarders, stand up paddlers, and body surfers – a watery playground of the highest order, and an unexpected prelude to our gathering.
As result, the actual event went off in a much drier manner. With Patagonia tabling in support of their FLOW clean water charity, a crowd of about 40 assembled, and listened as SF Chair, Mitch McNeil, welcomed everyone, then described the challenges the weather conditions posed, and exhorted all to gather by the water in formation (and get their feet wet). Surf side, Dan Sloboda of Patagonia outlined the Line 5 campaign basics, and an action plan going forward (and, indeed, another event looming on the near horizon @Patagonia Oct 7 - more on that later).
Sans the paddling action of the Paddle Out, we were left to make the best of a great night, feeling the strength of community and numbers, lined up against the entrenched power of Enbridge and the State of Michigan. They may think that an oil spill is an acceptable risk of doing business, but we disagree.
The meek response by Michigan’s top leaders to clear violations of Enbridge Energy Partners’ easement agreement with the state deepens concerns about a lack of leadership in protecting the Straits of Mackinac from a catastrophic oil spill, Great Lakes advocates said today in a letter to the state.