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More than 700 walked the planks at our annual awards gala … and lived to tell the tale, reports Communications Director Matthew King.

“And remember: Mermaids smoke seaweed!”

With that offbeat reminder, actress and honoree Sharon Lawrence brought Heal the Bay’s 26th annual “Bring Back the Beach” gala last night to a funny, fitting close.

Single-use plastic items were incorporated throughout the gala decor (Photo by Nicola Buck)

Over 700 guests joined us on the wonderfully funky deck of the historic Santa Monica Pier for a night of celebration and renewed commitment to the ongoing fight for clean oceans and inland watersheds.

Entertainers and artists featured plastic pollution that ends up in our ocean (Photo by Nicola Buck)

While a carnival atmosphere prevailed (stilt walkers, jugglers, popcorn, spinning Ferris wheel), the true spirit of the evening was one of resolve. Dr. Shelley Luce, our new president and CEO, earned rousing applause for vowing to thwart the new federal administration’s plan to downsize the EPA and weaken the Clean Water Act.

Shelley Luce (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Sharon Lawrence, a longtime board member and public ambassador for our work, received the Dorothy Green Award, named after Heal the Bay’s late, founding president. Gracious as ever, Lawrence recognized by name the long lineage of female water warriors – including mermaids! – involved in our work. Her mother and father, who had driven across the country to see Lawrence receive the award, beamed with pride. A very sweet scene.

Sharon Lawrence and Ed Begley Jr. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Local broadcast station KTLA 5 earned the night’s “Walk the Talk” award for its decades-long connection to Heal the Bay. Led by surfer and media honcho Don Corsini, KTLA has made space on its airwaves to promote our events and highlight ocean-related environmental issues. Anchor Courtney Friel accepted the award on the station’s behalf.

Courtney Friel and Stephanie Medina (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

In between speeches and presentations, a lively mix of surfers, politicos, water policy wonks, engineers, business owners and everyday ocean lovers mingled and schmoozed as the sun set over a calm sea. Event planners earned well-deserved praise for an innovative menu (roasted beet salad and Aussie handpies) and ocean-themed cocktails (blue margaritas and Golden Road’s kelp forest canned Heal the Bay IPA!).

Good times for a good cause at @healthebay Bring Back the Beach gala last night #lacarguy #healthebay

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Mike Sullivan, LAcarGUY owner and longtime boardmember, won the best-dressed award in a vibrant Wonka-like suit-jacket and matching Technicolor shorts. But even he was upstaged by a bevy of guest models sashaying down the catwalk in astonishing and truly beautiful dresses fashioned out of plastic trash commonly found on our shorelines. Kudos to designer Marina DeBris for raising awareness in such a creative way! View our Facebook Live video of the “Beach Couture: Haute Mess” fashion show.

Rachelle Begley is wearing "Castaway." The skirt is made from ropes that were most likely castaway from fishing boats. The corset was the ultimate farewell card - a canvas painting wishing someone a Bon Voyage found on Playa Del Rey beach. (Photo by Nicola Buck) Hayden Begley is wearing "Siren." She is sounding the siren with a top made of broken car reflectors from accidents and gloves fisherman leave behind.  (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "A Captive Audience," a dress made from netting found floating in the Pacific Garbage Patch by Captain Charles Moore. Beach toys are held captive and have nowhere to go. (Photo by Nicola Buck) This guest model is wearing "Bag Lady." We hope Los Angeles' ban on plastic bags puts an end to this overwhelming pollution issue. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Washed Up Saleman." Men's briefs, board shorts, hats and clothing tags are a frequent find on any beach. Not to mention the single-use plastic bottles on the inside of the jacket. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)  This guest model has been "Rescued" by chewed up tennis balls and unused doggie bags that have drifted away.  (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model has a flair of her own in "Cuidado!" She is a cautionary tale for all the construction materials that never "go away." (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing “white trash” made from the most commonly found single-use objects: plastic straws, plastic utensils, bottle caps and cigarette lighters. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Crustacea." These plastic bags were pulled out of an underwater pipe by divers during beach clean up at Dockweiller Beach. (Photo by David Young-Wolff) This guest model is wearing "Old Glory," constructed from the American flag and fireworks found on our beaches and streets. (Photo by David Young-Wolff)
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Rachelle Begley is wearing "Castaway." The skirt is made from ropes that were most likely castaway from fishing boats. The corset was the ultimate farewell card - a canvas painting wishing someone a Bon Voyage found on Playa Del Rey beach. (Photo by Nicola Buck)

The gala is designed as a gathering of the tribe, but it also serves as a critical fundraiser for us. Attendees dug deep this year, breaking our all-time records for our live and silent auctions.

Sarah Sikich, Meredith McCarthy and Matthew King (Photo by Nicola Buck)

Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer won a stand-up paddleboard and then realized he had no way to get it home. (He didn’t take our suggestion to paddle by sea back to his Ocean Park home.)

Funds raised from the evening directly support a number of our education and advocacy programs, from sponsored field trips to our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to cleanups and water quality monitoring at local beaches and streams.

Amy Smart, Carter Oosterhouse, Sharon Lawrence, Sasha Alexander (Photo by David Young-Wolff)

Among the other guests bidding and bubbling: actress, board member and new mom Amy Smart, getting a rare, free night-out with husband Carter Oosterhouse; Smart’s BFF and Heal the Bay ambassador Ali Larter; Oscar-nominated actress and new-to-us Marianne Jean-Baptiste; “Roxy Girl” and Heal the Bay activist Bruna Schmitz with husband and pro surfer Dane Zaun; KROQ brass dancing away to SoulCirque (Heal the Bay is longtime beneficiary of the station’s annual “Weenie Roast” benefit concerts); legislative environmental leaders Assemblymember Richard Bloom and former Senator Fran Pavley; skateboard legend Natas Kaupis; and kid celeb Heal the Bay ambassadors Chloe Noelle and Jax Malcolm, along with actors Carolyn Hennesy, Sasha Alexander, Gregory Harrison and Ed Begley Jr.

(Photo by Alvin Lam)


View photos from the 2017 Gala at Santa Monica Pier and the Blue Carpet.

Also, thanks to our sponsors The Energy Coalition, The John and Nancy Edwards Family Foundation, LAcarGUY, KROQ, and KTLA 5 as well as our brilliant volunteer photographers Nicola Buck and David Young-Wolff for making it a very memorable evening.


#BringBackTheBeach Instagram & Twitter

Just a couple of chicks trying to #healthebay @smarthouse26 #bringbackthebeach xx

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We're healing the bay tonight ✌🏼🌎🌞 @healthebay #healthebay #bringbackthebeach #gala #sm #smpier #wavemaker

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#healthebay #healthebaygala2017 #savetheoceans #votesyesonsb705

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Beautiful day supporting @healthebay #BringBackTheBeach fundraiser gala. ☀️

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Heal The Bay…rock on! #healthebay #conservation

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On the Santa Monica Pier #healthebay #bringbackthebeach

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Our 2017 #BringBackTheBeach Annual Awards Gala is groovin' and shakin' at #SantaMonicaPier!

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Ex-chief of Environment Now Foundation to broaden our reach and impact.

Affirming its commitment to science-based advocacy, Heal the Bay today named Dr. Shelley Luce as its new president and CEO.

Luce joins us from the Environment Now Foundation, where she served as executive director and helped fund innovative clean water and forest protection programs throughout California. During her tenure, Luce became a widely respected voice throughout the state on how nonprofits must reshape themselves to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Before that, she held executive director positions at state agency the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and its nonprofit partner, The Bay Foundation. The work of those organizations dovetails closely with Heal the Bay’s traditional mission.

An extensive nationwide search culminated in the hiring of Luce, who has been tasked with re-envisioning the scope of our advocacy and education programs. While focused on the core mission of clean water and healthy watersheds, she will implement strategies to better engage Southern California in battling the broader, intertwined environmental risks facing our region.

Formed three decades ago as a grassroots all-volunteer organization, Heal the Bay successfully led the fight to keep Hyperion from dumping sewage into Santa Monica Bay, thereby reclaiming Southern California shorelines. But the region now faces much bigger threats, from global warming to an uncertain water supply.

“The environmental landscape in greater L.A. is changing dramatically, and so Heal the Bay must transform,” said Craig Perkins, board chairman. “As a trusted partner in the community, people are counting on us to provide leadership locally to help solve problems that are increasingly national and global in scope.”

Luce, who holds a Doctorate of Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA and a B.S. in Biology from McGill University, began her advocacy career at Heal the Bay. She served as a staff scientist from 2001-05, spearheading the successful fight to implement the state’s first zero-trash policy in L.A. River.

“Heal the Bay is at the heart of clean water advocacy in Southern California. I’m so proud of our legacy of science-based activism and I am honored to lead Heal the Bay in the next phase of growth,” Luce said. “Protecting our water and our larger environment is more important – and challenging – than ever. And I’m confident we’ll find innovative ways to get the job done, bringing in new practices and new partners.”

The board has given Luce a mandate to re-examine policy priorities, form smart strategic alliances, and grow public participation across the entire swath of greater Los Angeles. In the coming months, we will extend our impact with these key initiatives:

Building a world-class aquarium: We’re now engaged in a visioning process to drastically expand the physical footprint and programmatic offerings at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. A re-imagined facility would be part of a long-gestating Pier construction and refurbishment project, which the city of Santa Monica will likely begin in 2020.

Fighting federal government backsliding: We’re mounting a spirited campaign to protect local safeguards historically provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has seen its proposed budget and staffing levels severely slashed by the new administration. Fundamental work related to climate-change research and enforcement of the Clean Water Act is now in jeopardy.

Replumbing L.A.: We’re playing a lead role in helping build a more resilient water future for greater L.A. Heal the Bay staff is helping to drive the newly formed Our Water L.A. Coalition, a consortium of influential nonprofits working to place a ballot measure before voters in L.A. County next year. The measure would fund increased recycling of treated wastewater and capturing of stormwater and other runoff for reuse, which will reduce water pollution and increase local water supplies.


Luce formally joins Heal the Bay on May 8, taking the leadership reins from Stephanie Medina, a longtime board member who has served as interim president and CEO since last July. Read more about Luce’s vision for Heal the Bay’s future in an exclusive sit-down interview with communications director Matthew King.



Heal the Bay has found a unique way to draw attention to the new administration’s attack on climate change science – a sea turtle with a ninja star.

The inspiring March for Science at cities around the nation has concluded, but the fight for rationality and reason lives on.

Many scientists and researchers working in the environmental field around the country feel as if they have a bulls-eye painted on their back – from the very government that has funded their important work for decades.

The new federal administration’s plan to curtail climate change research and to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency has stoked deep concerns in the nonprofit world.

But Heal the Bay isn’t sitting by quietly. We’re getting quite animated about the issue – literally.

Today, we launched a 60-second PSA to rally digital advocates across the country to petition their Congressional representatives to oppose proposed budget cuts to EPA programs and staff. Public dissent is critical to ensure that essential air- and water-quality safeguards and habitat protections are not abandoned by climate deniers sitting in positions of federal power.

Heal the Bay’s partners in the advertising and animation industries shaped the spot, dubbed “Nature’s Revolt,” as part of a new creative coalition called Our Next 4 Years. Ironically riffing on over-the-top TV cartoon violence, the video offers a humorous take on marine animals fighting fire with fire.

Sarah May Bates, a veteran creative director in the advertising agency world, served as writer and art director on the spot, working with Matthew King, Heal the Bay’s communications director. Scott Graham provided animation, storyboards and character designs. (Full credits are below.)

“Climate change is a huge downer, but the EPA plays an essential role in sustaining this planet in the face of it,” Bates said. “To make a dire message more palatable, we imagined a scenario in which nature could fight back. At the very least, a crab with a rocket launcher can make an important message more engaging.”

Heal the Bay asks “Nature’s Revolt” viewers to take action and add their name to the Change.org/ProtectOurOceans petition seeking continued funding for climate programs at the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To date, nearly 75,000 ocean-lovers have added their signatures to the Heal the Bay-sponsored petition, covering every state and major overseas territory in the United States.


 

 


Bates previously collaborated with Heal the Bay on “The Majestic Plastic Bag,” the BBC-style nature mockumentary that has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube, and featured in environmental conferences and classrooms around the world.

Our Next 4 Years is a collective of nearly 300 animation professionals (Emmy- and Oscar- nominees among them) who are donating their creative talents to produce animated PSAs for progressive causes that will be negatively impacted by policies put forth by the current administration.

“For each attempt to roll back hard fought social and economic gains won over the past 70 years, we will fight back with messages to help stem the regressive tide,” said Mike Blum, owner of boutique animation studio Pipsqueak Films. He is one of the co-founders of Our Next 4 Years, along with veteran animation producer Carolyn Bates.

Production teams are matched with other nonprofits to create virtual animation studios in order to tackle causes, including the environment, immigrant rights, affordable health-care, government reform and religious tolerance.

“So often, animated PSAs are out of reach of charities and community organizations, because we move fast and don’t have the long lead time that many animation houses insist on,” said Jayde Lovell, director of film and video for March for Science. “But working with Our Next 4 Years was incredible. They really brought our ideas to life in meaningful, funny and emotional pieces in a week’s time!”

The coalition has debuted eleven videos to date, including “Nature’s Revolt.” In just a few days, the four videos they released in time for Earth Day and March for Science have a combined reach of more than 600,000 people on Facebook. You can watch other videos here.

Full Credits: “Nature’s Revolt”

Animation, Storyboard & Character Designs:
Scott Graham, ScottGraham.carbonmade.com

Creative Director/Writer:
Sarah May Bates, SarahMayBates.com

Backgrounds:
Carolyn Arabascio

Animal Character Designs:
Regie Miller, MyNameIsRegie.com

Text Animation:
Daniela Fernandes Smith

Music:
Jeremy Simon, FurnivalMusic.com

Producer:
Carolyn Bates

Production:
Our Next 4 Years



UPDATE: On May 8, Culver City’s City Council voted unanimously to adopt the single-use polystyrene ban. The ban goes into effect on November 8, 2017.


Earlier this week, the City of Culver City took the first step to join other local municipalities to pass a ban on two types of plastics which wreak havoc on marine life and are often used by food providers: polystyrene foam (commonly known as Stryofoam™) and oriented polystyrene.

Polystyrene foam is frequently used in take-out food packaging like cups and to-go boxes. It’s very lightweight and often flies away from trash bins and landfills. Oriented polystyrene (aka solid polystyrene) is used to make items like utensils, lids and food packaging.

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Polystyrene is seldom recycled due to its low quality and value, even though it’s designated with recycling code 6.

As a result, both types of polystyrene are ubiquitous at beach and watershed cleanups. According to Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database, our volunteers have picked up 504,832 Styrofoam™ items from beaches in L.A. County in the last 10 years. Banning these specific plastics is a big win for our coastal environment, especially considering Culver City is situated within the watershed of Ballona Creek and its downstream wetland habitat.

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Santa Monica started banning polystyrene ten years ago, and there continues to be talk of a ban on a state-wide level. But now Culver City has the bragging rights. This local municipality courageously chose to adopt some of the most stringent policies in the area by banning polystyrene coffee lids and straws from businesses as well.

The Culver City ban will begin on November 8, 2017, giving local businesses time to run through their current stock and prepare for the changes. According to the Culver City ordinance, no food provider shall use, distribute, or sell any single-use foam polystyrene or polystyrene service ware, denoted by recycling identification code 6 (PS).

In an additional and welcome caveat to the ordinance, Culver City businesses now must first ask if you want cutlery before simply throwing in plastic utensils with your take-out food. This idea works hand in hand with Heal the Bay’s Rethink the Drink campaign—coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

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Ballona Creek Renaissance lead the charge on this effort, with multiple Surfrider chapters reliably showing up in force over the nearly year-long endeavor. Our own Gnarly Beach Cleaner, Michael Doshi, was consistently there for the countless council and sustainability sub-committee meetings, while recent Heal the Bay Super Healer award winner, environmental science educator, and Team Marine leader at Santa Monica High School Benjamin Kay was present to seal the deal on Tuesday, April 11 right before midnight.

If there was one loser in this endeavor it would have to be impromptu beach parties.  Starting in November, “No [Culver] City business shall sell polystyrene coolers.” So in light of this, Heal the Bay recommends you simply do not procrastinate in the planning of those.

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The waves curl and crash ashore before slowly bubbling back to sea, a potion of water, foam and sand. The light of the full moon grazes the sandy beach at its feet while a bright Pacific breeze wanders through the night. There’s an air of romance. Thousands of wild fish certainly got the memo as they flop and dance around on the beach, performing one of nature’s most exceptional reproduction rituals.

If you’ve never witnessed a grunion run, you’ve been missing out on a classic Southern California beach tradition! Tonight and over the next few weeks you will have the rare opportunity to spot grunion coming to spawn.

Heal the Bay’s Marine Scientist Dana Murray answers some common questions about these special fish:

What are grunion?
Grunion are a sleek, silver fish that are most well known for their unique spawning behavior. These charismatic 6” fish surf the waves to shore, flop onto land to lay and fertilize eggs in the moonlight on our local beaches. Grunion are found in California (including Baja) and nowhere else in the world!

Why do they come to shore?
Grunion come to shore to lay their eggs at high tide. Spawning on sandy beaches, their eggs remain buried in the sand where they incubate for about two weeks until the next high tide comes and they hatch and return the ocean. The premier grunion expert in the world, Dr. Karen Martin, has written a book, “Beach-Spawning Fishes: Reproduction in an Endangered Ecosystem,” where you can read all about these fascinating fish.

When is the best time to try and see them?
At nighttime high tides during the spring and summer. Grunion may run as early as March on into September but peak season is from the start of April through June. Runs typically occur for a few nights after the highest tides during full and new moons. Your best chance to spot them is to plan ahead and stay out on the beach for an hour or so on either end of high tide.

Consult this grunion run 2017 schedule for the best times to observe these “silver surfers.”

What So Cal spots are best to try and spot them?
All you need is sand and a very high tide at night during grunion season! In the greater Los Angeles area, good grunion run locations include Surfrider in Malibu, Cabrillo Beach in Santa Pedro, Santa Monica State Beach, Hermosa Beach and Venice Beach.

What can I expect to see?
Although grunion sightings are never guaranteed, with a keen eye you can increase your chances. Look for predators such as black-crowned night herons or raccoons waiting for the surfing silversides along the shore. Some grunion runs are just a few scouts flopping onto the beach, whereas other runs involve thousands of fish, covering the wet sand entirely!

What should I do to prepare?
Bring warm clothes, your patience and a friend to walk the shoreline with. Leave your dog at home, and come knowing that as with any wildlife it’s a chance and not a guarantee that you’ll see them.

Are there things I shouldn’t do?
Do not to touch or interfere with spawning – especially during closed fishing season (April and May). Also, don’t shine lights on the water or grunion as it can interfere with their spawning, as can loud talking and noisy crowds.

Are grunions doing well? Are they in danger in any way?
The grunion population is believed to have decreased, so it’s important to protect them during spawning for the future population. Leaving domestic predators like dogs at home is advised, as canines may devour the eggs or disturb the fish. Also, not disturbing the buried grunion eggs along the high tide line after a spawning event helps ensure that grunion remain around into the future.

Dr. Karen Martin from Pepperdine University regularly works with and trains beach groomers to avoid the high tide line in grunion season, so as not to disturb eggs. Beach grooming operators now follow a specific protocol during grunion season to avoid disturbing sand where grunion eggs incubate.

How can I help grunion?
Observers of grunion runs are urged to report the time and location of the run for scientific purposes for Grunion Greeters.

Try not to disturb spawning grunion, and encourage others to do the same. During open season, follow the Fish and Game Regulations (which include not using any form of gear, nets or traps – only bare hands) and encourage observation or “catch and release.”  If you observe poaching or any violations of grunion fishing regulations, such as use of gear or nets, please advise the California Department of Fish and Game or call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.



Annual Awards Gala 2017

Advocates form the backbone of our work at Heal the Bay. Where would we be without passionate people and organizations rising up, speaking out and taking action?

At this year’s Bring Beach the Beach: Annual Awards Gala on Thursday, May 18 at the iconic Santa Monica Pier, we are excited to honor two of our most authentic and vocal supporters: KTLA 5 and Sharon Lawrence.

Our Gala honorees continue to generously open up their trusted platforms to evangelize Heal the Bay’s mission, going above and beyond the call of duty to protect our local ocean, rivers, and watersheds. These incredible advocates don’t wait for change to take place they’ve taken the lead to spark change right here in L.A. County.

Please join us in recognizing this year’s Gala honorees:

KTLA 5 is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

KTLA 5

As the trusted news source for millions of Southern Californians since 1947, KTLA 5 has also been a generous media supporter of Heal the Bay.

The dynamic team at KTLA 5 continues to elevate and celebrate our efforts to protect the environment. Their deep involvement spans across the media organization from Don Corsini, KTLA’s President and General Manager, to the news team and staff. They can always be counted on to help us spread the word about the complex environmental issues we face here in L.A.

From special broadcasts about our ocean and watersheds to year-round coverage of Heal the Bay’s milestones to covering events on KTLA’s award-winning newscasts, the KTLA 5 team has created a more informed and aware public, fostering deep connections between our community and the environment.

KTLA channel 5 is a CW television station located in Los Angeles, California. Follow KTLA 5 at ktla.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sharon Lawrence is Heal the Bay's 2017 Annual Awards Gala Honoree

Sharon Lawrence

For more than six years, Sharon Lawrence has served on Heal the Bay’s board, championing the vision of clean and thriving oceans both locally and nationally.

Whether it’s on the red carpet, a podcast, on social media or at a Heal the Bay Board meeting, Sharon speaks about our mission from her heart. She’s catalyzed peers, colleagues and fans in the entertainment community to become environmental stewards. Her thoughtful messages about caring for the environment and living a green lifestyle instill a real urgency to take action.

We thank Sharon for her strong advocacy and support of Heal the Bay for nearly a decade.

Sharon Lawrence is an Emmy Award nominated actress and an illustrious, longtime member of the entertainment community. You may know her from leading roles in NYPD Blue, One Tree Hill, Rizzoli & Isles, and Shameless. Follow Sharon Lawrence at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Don’t miss out! Reserve your seat for our annual awards Gala at the Santa Monica Pier. This exclusive seaside experience happens just once-a-year and goes a long way towards our mission of making Greater L.A.’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean.

 



Imagine what the rush of a wave looks like from underneath. The powerful pressure culminating, viciously spinning around you, and vanishing before the very eye.

Chris DeLorenzo, LA and NY based photographer, captures the essence of a breaking wave in his current exhibit “Breath of Disruption” at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica. His collection of moving, abstract photographs were taken just off the coast of Southern California.

“Many artists approach Gallery 169 to show their work, and many photographers have brought beach and water scenes,” says Frank Langen, Owner of Gallery 169. “It is difficult to find something new … a fresh perspective. When I met with Chris I was immediately intrigued by his statement coming from a sincere, unique connection to the ocean. From this sacred relationship he fosters with the ocean, its currents and waves, his eye provides a sensational, humbling, and original vision.”


“Genesis” by Chris DeLorenzo

Ocean photography serves many purposes, from scientific documentation to education to cultural symbolism. Photos and videos deepen our understanding of the complexities of marine life, and also help us reflect on our connection with water.

“I have spent my entire life in, on, and under our beloved Pacific. Living and working along the edge of the continent has been my good fortune,” says Brian Murphy, an architect and surfer who helped discover Chris DeLorenzo. “There is something unique in this young man’s connection to the ‘wet side.’ His work manages to capture something that few artists convey in their work. Special, magical, uplifting … are but a few words that come to mind.”

We recently sat down with Chris for an interview and chatted about how he got started with ocean photography, his favorite ocean in the world, and his go-to green traveling tips.

How did you get started with ocean photography?

Chris DeLorenzo: It’s kind of funny because I’m not a surfer or diver, but the ocean always had a huge place in my life. I didn’t even grow up near the ocean. It’s so crazy though, because I swear­ my first memory is from the beach in Florida. I must have been three years old … for some reason the ocean has always stayed with me.

I went to college for a semester and then dropped out and started working. Photography is not easily taught, and I’m not the best person to be told what to shoot in an academic setting. School is great, but it just wasn’t my path at the time. I did take some awesome classes, like entrepreneurship at Santa Monica College.

I spent a year and a half in Cali before I started landing professional work. Los Angeles is a photographer’s dream location; it has the city, sea, snow, and desert all so close by. I was able to build my professional portfolio in California in under two years. It’s a great place to launch a career.

As I was getting started, a few mentors helped me gain a strong base. I interned with Steven Lippman, renowned commercial photographer and former competitive surfer, for a year and put to use all this knowledge about how to work with clients and promote myself.

At first I thought I wanted to be a surf photographer. I do surf, but wouldn’t necessarily call myself a surfer — it’s the community I love. When I was swimming in L.A. one time about two years ago, I saw this incredibly clear water. I was maybe 50-100 feet out, very close to the shoreline. From then on I started to look for clear water. It was trial and error. And I really started to think about this: why is the water clearer on some days and in some locations than others?


“Venus” by Chris DeLorenzo

I began to discover that water’s clarity has to do with quite a few factors, including pollution and ocean sediment. Location matters too, like whether there are cliffs nearby. Most of the time the farther out you go, the clearer the water is. But after a certain point the waves stop breaking, so you have to stay relatively close.

From then on, whenever we go surf I always ask whether the water was clear. People will laugh. Whatever … these narrow windows of clear water … I am drawn to them.

For the “Breath of Disruption” series, I photographed some 50,000 images of waves in Southern California over the course of 40 days. 9/10 days the water isn’t clear enough to shoot in.

What does “Breath of Disruption” mean?

Chris: It’s me in the space with the ocean on the edge of violent storm clouds. It’s a quick breath, the ocean lets you see it, and then it’s gone.

It’s my favorite thing in the world, being under the water and looking at waves going over my head. No one sees what I see. I feel like other people need to witness this amazing world … the air, water, sand, and the ocean floor … it’s a serene space that we think we know; a sacred paradise juxtaposed with sudden, fierce forces.


“Aquatic Cumulus” by Chris DeLorenzo

Everyone says, “Let’s go to the ocean and relax on the beach.” But this series is not that tranquil, peaceful vibe. It’s moody, intense, and electric. Beneath the surface, the waves look like arteries and veins with severe momentum. There are deep tints as the water swells, big vast concepts of time, space, light, and energy.

It’s surreal and humbling to use the reality of waves to create thoughtful, self-interpretive abstractions.

Photography is so relatable because it’s actually real life and energy; by its very nature it’s not abstract. But there is a fine balance when you’re creating impactful work in an oversaturated market. I want to do something different in my personal work, and connect with a deeper purpose.

It’s very easy to take a photograph that means nothing. It’s very powerful when you get it right, especially as the internet, computers, and cell phones make it possible for tens of thousands of people to see your work.

Do you have any professional advice about how to safely take photographs in the ocean?

Chris: Don’t get hit by the waves. And … you only have one shot. [Chuckles]

Physicality is key. You have to be pretty agile, and quickly get your body in the right position to take the shot at the right angle; it’s a very physical approach to photography. The tricky part is staying under. I can only hold my breath for about a minute, but when swimming intensely underwater, I last even less time.

My ocean photography gear includes a wet suit, fins, mask, and an underwater case for the camera. The camera is strapped to me, but it floats as well. Saltwater destroys equipment, so you have to clean and soak it all after every swim.

Where is your favorite ocean in world?

Chris: Indian Ocean, Maldives – it’s the ocean as it should be. Perfect water, 85 degrees. You can find your own spot. Door to door from L.A. to Maldives is 30 hours … it’s totally worth it.

What are your go-to tips for staying green while traveling?

Chris: I carry a big 64 ounce reusable water bottle around, which I think is made for beer, but works just fine for water.

I’m obviously against pollution in water. If I am out by the ocean and I see trash I’ll throw it away right there on the spot. We really have to be aware of our actions.

I think people just have to understand that everything comes full circle. What you do has an impact. There’s the whole “I’m just one person” thing, but if everyone doesn’t think like that, we are going in the right direction. For instance, in New York, they used to plow the streets and dump the snow in the water, but they stopped it, which is great. But there are so many other actions happening that have to stop to make our oceans cleaner. Fortunately, people are more aware than ever before.


“Layers of Life” by Chris DeLorenzo


Come to our Featured Earth Month Event:
“Breath of Disruption” Exhibit by Chris DeLorenzo at Gallery 169
Gallery 169, the “hub + cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon, is hosting an exhibit “Breath of Disruption” by LA/NY based photographer Chris DeLorenzo. The collection features beautiful, abstract photos taken under waves along the Southern California coast. Gallery entry is free. Best of all, 10% of proceeds from artwork sales in April support Heal the Bay.
When: April 8, 5-8pm (Artist meet and greet with Chris DeLorenzo from 5-5:30pm)
Where: 169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
See More


 

Chris DeLorenzo is a 22-year old photographer based in Los Angeles and New York. When he’s not capturing waves underwater he works with top agencies and brands on advertising and editorial content. See his “Breath of Disruption” collection prints and follow him on Instagram.

 

Gallery 169 is the “hub+cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon exhibiting established and emerging artists drawing from a rich reservoir of residents. Gallery 169 is located at 169 W Channel Road in Santa Monica, CA 90402. View current exhibits at their site and see more art at Instagram.



california earth month and earth day with heal the bay

L: South Bay. C: Underwater in SoCal by Chris DeLorenzo. R: Rocky Point at Mugu Beach.

Our excitement for Earth Day can’t be contained to just 24 hours – that’s why we’re celebrating our environment all month long. Of course it goes without saying, every month is Earth Month at Heal the Bay, but April will be something else altogether.

This month, Heal the Bay is involved in over 40 different events and programs all over Los Angeles County. From an epic sandcastle competition to our monthly beach cleanup, to exciting new activities at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium — below are the best science, art, and educational events to celebrate a clean and thriving ocean this April.

So choose your path, have fun, learn something new, and make a wave with us all month long to protect what we love.

Featured Earth Month Events

Protect What You Love Sandcastle Competition

Unleash your inner architect! Builders are wanted for a friendly competition with Heal the Bay and the Boys & Girls Club to design some amazing sandcastles in celebration of Earth Month. Do you have what it takes to work on the sandy shores while curious beach cleanup volunteers stand by?
When: April 15, 8:30-11:30am
Where: Santa Monica Beach near Lifeguard Tower 1550
Sign Up


Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup

UPDATE: Amazing! This Earth Month event is totally maxed out. Lots more to sea hare… eh hem… see here:

-Hop on over to the beach cleanup at Ballona Creek on Earth Day.

-Help out Pacoima Beautiful at a cleanup in the City of San Fernando on Earth Day.

-Come to our volunteer orientation in April to learn more about all the opportunities to give back with Heal the Bay.

-Sign up for our beach cleanup in May.

Do you like dirty beaches? NO!? Then, one of these buckets has your name on it. In April, we’re gathering in full force to sweep Santa Monica Beach clean and leave behind Nothin’ But Sand. This is a great opportunity for families and friends to volunteer for good cause. Feel free to saunter on over to the nearby Sandcastle Competition and gaze upon the sandy constructions. Participants also earn free admission to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium that afternoon, and with it the chance to interact with the local animals that call our Bay home.
When: April 15, 10am-12pm
Where: Santa Monica Beach near Lifeguard Tower 1550
RSVP


March for Science on Earth Day with Heal the Bay

H2O is life! The rest is just science. As a science-based organization, we know that scientific literacy drives informed decision-making. That’s why on Earth Day we are marching for science in Los Angeles — joining hundreds of other locations worldwide and thousands of scientists and advocates — because the threats to our local waters and waterways are real and must be addressed scientifically.
When: Earth Day, April 22, 9am-12:30pm
Where: Pershing Square, 532 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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Earth Day at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Thanks to our friends at The Albright, admission to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will be free on Earth Day! It will be chock-full of eco-friendly activities down at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Make a biodegradable planter, enjoy a special Earth Day story time followed by live animal presentation, join in our interactive “Who Pollutes?” presentation, and check out the local fauna.
When: Earth Day, April 22, 12:30pm-5pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
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“Breath of Disruption” Exhibit by Chris DeLorenzo at Gallery 169

Gallery 169, the “hub + cultural generator” of Santa Monica Canyon, is hosting an exhibit “Breath of Disruption” by LA/NY based photographer Chris DeLorenzo. The collection features beautiful, abstract photos taken under waves along the Southern California coast. Gallery entry is free. Best of all, 10% of proceeds from artwork sales support Heal the Bay. See a fresh interview with Chris DeLorenzo.
When: April 8, 5-8pm (Artist meet and greet with Chris DeLorenzo from 5-5:30pm)
Where: 169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402
See More


Spring Break Camp at the Aquarium

In honor of Earth Month, our campers will have fun becoming Planet Protectors as they explore the ocean through games, crafts, animal interactions, beach investigations, and science experiments.
When: April 10–14, 9am–2pm daily
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Sign Up


Malibu Library Speaker Series Presents Dr. Sylvia Earle

The April 2017 Malibu Library Speaker Series has a special treat in store for Earth Month. Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, world renowned oceanographer, explorer, author, diver, and former chief scientist of NOAA (among many, many other brilliant things) will speak about her extraordinary experiences.
When: Wednesday, April 12, 7pm
Where: Elkins Auditorium, Pepperdine University
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Aquarium Volunteer Open House

Learn about all our amazing volunteer and internship opportunities at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, requirements to join our volunteer and intern teams, and Aquarium expectations, as well as all the great benefits the Aquarium has to offer our volunteers and interns.
When: April 13, 6-6:45pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
RSVP


The City Nature Challenge 2017

Even in urban settings the natural environment is all around us, sometimes hidden in plain sight. Exploring and documenting nature in cities is critical, which is why we rely on citizen science to sustain and grow our knowledge. What better way to celebrate National Citizen Science Day on 4/15 than to rep Los Angeles in the the City Nature Challenge 2017? Roll up your sleeves, whip out your cellphone or camera, and go for a walk outside to help Los Angeles get smarter about its natural environment. Over a dozen U.S. cities are competing to see who can observe the most nature from 4/14-4/18. PS – When you are documenting species, please be mindful not to disturb the wildlife and habitat.
When: April 14-18
Where: Everywhere in L.A.! No, really.
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Heal the Bay’s Volunteer Orientation

Get an introduction to Heal the Bay, our current issues, and how you can get involved in one of our many exciting volunteer programs. Founded on the principle that one person can make a difference, we’ve empowered thousands of volunteers to improve their environment and communities. Now you can make a difference too.
When: April 17, 7pm-9pm
Where: Heal the Bay main office, 1444 9th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
RSVP


Earth Focus: “Vanishing Coral” Documentary

Tune in for the latest episode of EARTH FOCUS, a television program that reflects on Earth’s changing resources and climates and how it affects people, animals, and habitats all over the world. This installment explores the story of scientists and naturalists who are working with local communities to protect coral reefs that are facing imminent danger from warmer seas, pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices. 
When: April 18, 8:30pm
Where: Your couch or on the go via: KCET in Southern California, Link TV Nationwide. Also streaming at KCET.org/Coral and LinkTV.org/Coral.


Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th Birthday

We’re thrilled to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s “would-be” 100th birthday at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. There will be Ella-themed decor and music, and the chance to feed some sea stars in honor of one of our favorite stars. The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation has been an amazing partner to Heal the Bay for the past 7 years, providing assistance in educating over 7,760 students about protecting the ocean.
When: April 25, 2-5pm
Where: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
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LA2050 #EarthMonthLA Pledge

Did you know Los Angeles has an ambitious goal of becoming the healthiest place to live by the year 2050? Metrics like sourcing local water, utilizing public transportation and reducing air toxins are all being tracked so we can see our progress and reach our target. What better time to reflect on creating a more resilient LA than Earth Month? Take LA2050’s Earth Month Pledge with us and learn more about our 2050 goal.
When: All Month Long
Where: Anywhere
See More


If you can’t make it to any of our events in April, you can still make your voice heard by signing our petition urging Congress to maintain EPA & NOAA funding. Keep the Earth Month party going in May, and reserve your seat for our annual awards gala at the Santa Monica Pier. Don’t miss out! This exclusive seaside experience happens just once-a-year and goes a long way towards our mission to make Greater L.A.’s coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy, and clean.



Our work at Heal the Bay wouldn’t be possible without our spectacular volunteers, which is why we threw a fantastic intergalactic-themed party to recognize our most dedicated volunteers: Super Healers.

It was a night filled with awe and wonder, as we flew to the moon and played among the stars, all in honor of our down-to-earth volunteers and partners.

Shout-out to Bodega Wine Bar for hosting the party in February; the food was tasty, the staff welcoming, and the atmosphere was perfect for a game of “Defeat the Death Star” cornhole.

We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge our volunteer party donors and participants, for the breathtaking photo booth, the liquid nitrogen ice cream, the awesome raffle prizes, and more. Much thanks to Allison SUP Race Fins, ChicoBag, ECOBAGS, GoPro, Ice Cream Lab, Lemonade, Life Without Plastic, Manhattan Stitching, REI, Rip Curl, Rockreation, Sidecar Doughnuts, Snapfiesta, StubHub Center, U Konserve, and Washed Ashore Adornments.

And of course, where would we be without our stellar 2016 Super Healers? These are our most dedicated volunteers, who continually go above and beyond the call of duty. Their commitment is commendable, their dedication and passion for protecting water quality and the environment undeniable.

We’re proud to honor the following outstanding individuals with the prestigious Super Healer Award:

David Coles (Speakers Bureau)

While David was getting his masters in Marine Biology, he came to realize that while he is passionate about nature, he’s not really a scientist (endless data analysis, tedious academic journals, etc. – bo-ring!). However, he learned he loved public speaking. Through Speakers Bureau, he continues to use his Marine Biology training in a format that fits his personality and interests. In fact, he has been a guest speaker at over 30 beach talks and lectures since first joining the program in March 2015! He uses his speaking talents to communicate his love of nature to a diverse audience- to inspire people to care about the ocean. Opening up with video footage of dives he did for his thesis research, he gets the room excited while breaking the ice. David is one of our most consistent volunteers to go into the classroom and educate students and adults alike. He reaches out on the regular to volunteer, and can always be counted on when we ask him for help. David is an exemplary reason that the Speakers Bureau program is so successful, reaching out to 40,000 Angelenos annually. Thank you David, for your passion and commitment, for inspiring ocean stewards for years to come.

Zeph Nowland (Beach Programs)

(Almost) Immediately after flying into LAX from South Korea in 2014, Zeph volunteered for his first Nothin’ But Sand cleanup at Dockweiler Beach, and nothing has been the same since. Although Alys Arenas was yet to be hired as HtB’s nefarious Beach Programs Manager, Zeph still knew in his heart of hearts that he wanted… nay, NEEDED!… to get more involved. One volunteer training later, he emerged as a newly-minted Beach Captain — capital letters and all (but, sadly, no cape or captain’s hat) — ready to help turn the tide (pun!) on pollution. Donning his super HtB t-shirt (because, again, no cape), Zeph tirelessly sets his alarm every 3rd Saturday of the month (except for December, of course!) and helps erect tents, build tables, and direct humans. Yes, he WILL take care of that needle you found. Of course he’s fine picking up that condom you simply cannot touch. But, no, that dead seagull must not be disturbed, nature taking its sweet time to reclaim it once more. Although Zeph mostly enjoys working the supply tent because of the power it brings him, he’s acquired other super powers over the years, assisting where needed, including packing/unpacking the truck at HtB headquarters, giving safety talks, harassing other HtB staff, and holding the coveted raffle jar! His favorite saying? It’s this: “Most of the trash at the beach is coming from somewhere else, so picking up litter in your own neighborhood is like doing a mini beach cleanup every day.” Copyright. Trademark.

Jeri Miller (Wednesday Warriors)

When you think of Jeri Miller, you automatically think of a Wednesday Warrior. Whether she’s inputting those tedious safety waivers or helping bundle cleanup supplies, Jeri’s outgoing spirit always brightens the Large Conference Room on Wednesdays. Her academic background, vocational interest and true passion center around the environment, particularly the marine environment. When she joined the Office Support team in 2015, she was on a break from work and wanted to contribute to an organization she felt was making a difference.  It was here at Heal the Bay, that she felt inspired by the variety of volunteer opportunities, the people and the vibe of the office. To her, the office is such a chill place to be at, yet there is still that buzz generated by a group of people committed to doing what they believe in.  When she’s not helping at HtB, you can catch her volunteering for Reef Check Foundation – she’s since been hired by them on a part-time basis! Her other hobbies include working out, working out, and working out — swimming, walking the beach, going to the gym, riding her beach cruiser everywhere and yoga. When its’ not Wednesdays, she also manages to find time to hang out with friends at any one of the many local Redondo Beach bars and restaurants!

Erin LaBrie (Street Fleet)

Erin was inspired to volunteer with Heal the Bay years ago by her mom, Lollie, who teaches at CSULA and has someone from the organization come speak to her class every quarter. Erin knew she wasn’t quite ready to volunteer in a formal classroom setting, so she decided to join the Community Advocates (Street Fleet) crew in 2014. When she’s out tabling, Erin enjoys the ability to reach out to people and teach them about the small, simple changes that can be made to help protect and preserve our ecosystem. Being part of the Street Fleet crew has allowed her meet other amazing and wonderful volunteers and staff that share their passion and knowledge of the environment with her. When she’s not volunteering with HtB, Erin spends some time with several animal rescue organizations and shelters with adoption events, humane Education programs, fostering, and mentoring new pet parents. She spent part of last year volunteering as a summer camp director working with kids 8-17 as well as mentoring young adults as counselors. Her other year-round volunteering activities include working with people in jails that are trying to get/stay sober. What’s her favorite thing of all when she’s not at work or any community service events? Snuggling and spoiling her 4 dogs.

Mary Billings (Street Fleet)

Mary is one of Street Fleet’s go-to volunteers. Having retired a couple of years ago, Mary knew she wanted to find something where she could make a difference, meet new people and learn new things. As a long-time Hermosa Beach resident, she feels very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and decided helping Heal the Bay would be a good use of her time. She began her journey as an HtB volunteer by helping phone bank for the campaign to stop oil drilling in Hermosa. Soon after joining the Street Fleet Crew in 2015, Mary realized that she enjoyed talking to all the different people who visit the HtB table at the fairs and events. The other volunteers she tables with are great too. Since becoming a volunteer, Mary has learned so much about LA water. More importantly, she loves that the Heal the Bay staff are always so welcoming. When she’s not volunteering with HtB, Mary also volunteers for an education organization called “Families in Schools.” Their mission is to work with schools to involve parents and communities in their children’s education to ensure lifelong success. She also recently started tutoring ESL through the South Bay Literacy Council.

Ben Kay (Community Leader)

As a high school and college teacher for Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College, Mr. Kay has acted as a longstanding advocate for and steward of the Santa Monica Bay. His involvement with Heal the Bay spans upwards of 10 years, in which time he’s steered his students towards the aquarium, beach cleanups, community eco-events, and youth summits, all while spearheading and mentoring Team Marine and partnering for programs such as Day Without Bag Day, No on O phone banking, STEAM Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, and RETHINK eco-artwork campaign. He’s taken student advocacy to the streets by participating in six SaMoHi plastic bag ban marches, and to the government by bringing students to testify for sustainable solutions at city halls all over LA County and to lobby in Sacramento on Ocean Day. For his unwavering commitment to inspire environmental stewards for over a decade, we are honored to present him with the Super Healer Award for an outstanding Community Leader. Thank you for your service Mr. Kay!

Alexandra "Sasha" Ivanona (SMPA Aquarist)

Sasha was a high school student when she first started as an aquarist intern, and now she is in the middle of her first year at UCLA. I knew she was very intelligent, and participated in 3,000 different extracurricular activities in high school, and that number has only increased, now that she in college. But what is surprising to me is her positive outlook on life. Even though she has gone through some hardships, she always looks on the bright side, like how she had curly hair for a while, how fun the children’s ward of the hospital is, and how she got to go to Antarctica and jump in the ocean afterwards. She is usually very cheerful (after a morning cup of coffee or tea), even when she has a terrible migraine, and may seem carefree, but she is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She is not afraid to take charge and be the boss (in her own quiet way), and I know she will do great things in the future. So, I want to thank you on behalf of Jose and I, for all that you do for us, my fellow lover of the oxford comma, Sasha. – Akino Higa, SMPA Aquarist

Grace Luis (SMPA Public Programs)

Grace Luis is like the Swiss Army knife of volunteers. She began her volunteer service almost 2 ½ years ago at the Aquarium, and since then has donated over 1,500 hours of time (even with her busy school schedule) in practically every program we offer at the Aquarium. Whether she is helping to train and guide new volunteers, introducing marine science to preschoolers, entertaining delighted birthday kids and their friends with animal presentations and fun stories, or helping to design fun new activities/displays for the Aquarium, Grace has always brought her friendly smile and incredibly funny sense of humor to any situation. We have all joked about locking Grace in the Aquarium after she graduates so she could stay with us forever—she not only donates so much of her time/service; she also shares her dedication, passion and kindness with everyone she meets. Grace exemplifies what we look for in a Super Healer, and we are so honored to work with her each week.

Juan Lopez (SMPA Education)

Juan loves cars.  He builds them, races them and fixes them when they break.  His other passion is the ocean and he matches his same love of cars with the watery world he surfs on, wades in and helps students understand.  This past year we have watched Juan grow from a volunteer, who devoted four days a week to help us teach students about the ocean, to an intern, then summer camp intern and finally as a Key to the Sea Naturalist.  He took the direction we gave him to heart, fine-tuned his deliveries and developed his own teaching style, making him an important part of our education team.  We have the great fortune of working with many wonderful education interns and volunteers, but Juan pushed himself to grow and learn, and always did it with his trademark smile and laugh.  He always steps up when needed and helps the other volunteers grow themselves. Juan has developed so much as an educator, he has found himself teaching at the Roundhouse Marine Studies lab and Aquarium three days a week, yet still comes in to work with us on his free days… a true commitment to educating others about a place that brings him so much joy, the ocean!

Michael Barnes (MPA Watch)

“I simply wanted to do some good and looked for a cause that I cared about. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors & nature so environmentalism was a natural fit for me. In searching for a volunteer opportunity, I looked for an organization that shared my passion, had a track record of community engagement, and who used the majority of their funds for actual programs rather than administrative and fundraising expenses. I found all of this in Heal the Bay. Being outdoors while contributing my small part to positively impacting our beautiful coastlines. I never get tired of the sun (remember I’m from the Pacific Northwest) so when I’m conducting an MPA survey its more than just a survey, its a walk on a nice sunny day 🙂 I also volunteer for Tree People and Habitat for Humanity when I have the time. In terms of hobbies, I enjoy surfing, hiking, and running.”

Brittney Mercado (Advocacy)

Brittney Mercado, a senior at Da Vinci Communications High School, has been passionate about the environment throughout her life. She knows that it is her future at risk and the only way to make a difference is to let her voice be heard. She did just that by coming to our advocacy training session, and then used her voice to spread information about the Yes on Prop 67 campaign. She organized her friends to call people across Los Angeles at our phone banking events and to walk door-to-door in their Hawthorne neighborhood to canvass for the cause. She wrote a fantastic article in her school’s newspaper to inspire her classmates to use their voices as well. She is certainly a great voice for the environment and will set an example for her generation and generations to come.

Ronald Fagan (Development - Donor)

10 years ago Ronald walked into the aquarium and struck up conversation with Nick Fash (Heal the Bay’s Education Manager) about the fact he had just seen a pelican on the pier tangled in fishing line.  This discussion on the impacts that fishing line can have upon our oceans and marine life led to the months long process of designing, constructing and seeking approval from the city and the pier to install 3 monofilament recycling bins on our pier.  He is a contractor who lives nowhere near the coast, and only ventures out to the pier a few times a year but his passion for this project drove him on through multiple design changes and safety checks with the fire department as well as working with the maintenance crew to get them properly mounted with signage.  Over the past 10 years, not only has he made the effort to make sure they are functional, but he continues to send donations for “fishing line recycling”.  Based on the amount of line pulled out over the years, it is clear he has helped save countless animals that would otherwise find themselves entangled in fishing line.

Beatriz Lorenzo (Spanish Outreach)

“I love the ocean and I had such a happy times with my elder son in the aquarium, it made sense to give back in both fronts. The sense of community and the fact that you can make a difference. I thrive by continuously learning new things and I like to surf. I love the ocean in all of its ways, I enjoy sailing, swimming, playing in the sand… going to the beach to stroll or just to look for little creatures (or big!) with my family. I enjoyed the sea salty air and the ever changing shades of blue.”

Patagonia (Business Award)

Patagonia believes in building the best product, causing no unneccesary harm and using business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. The brand donates 1% of all sales to grassroots environmental causes, and the 4th Street location in Santa Monica has been proud to partner with Heal the Bay all these years.

Erin Selleck (Board Member)

Erin Selleck was first introduced to Heal the Bay through her husband and longtime friend of the organization, Kurt Holland. Kurt is an environmental education consultant and former marine science teacher at Santa Monica Alternative School House. Both avid sailors with a life-long love of the ocean, they took a three year sabbatical and fulfilled a lifelong dream to cruise the oceans in their 41 foot sailboat. Kurt’s passion for the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium was contagious and ultimately led Erin to join the Heal the Bay Board of Directors in 2009.
Since joining the Board, Erin has served on various committees including a seat on the Executive Committee, and serving as Chair of both the Finance and Audit committees. She currently is a member of the Finance Committee, and the Aquarium Advisory Committee, along with Kurt. Through her deep connections and experience in the finance world, Erin has helped guide the organization through some challenging fiscal periods, proven to be an effective fundraiser and has helped us form meaningful, fruitful relationships with potential foundations and donors alike.
Since her recent retirement from a successful 30 year career as a top banking executive, Erin has pursued a portfolio career centered on her other passions, including mentoring and empowering young women. Her deep passion for the ocean and Heal the Bay’s cause, combined with her tireless devotion to motivate and uplift young women have proven to be a positive driving force for the betterment of her community.

Doug Wiita (Jean Howell Award)

When Doug first joined HtB he was working in an office, and was looking for volunteer work that was outdoors. MPA watch perfectly fit the bill. Wanting to spread the word, he later joined Speakers Bureau and started doing outreach. He’s favorite thing is talking about the ocean to kids. Doug retired a year ago, and when not spreading the word for HtB, he spends most of his time doing volunteer work for the American Red Cross.

Leslie Tamminen (Bob Hertz Award)

Leslie Mintz Tamminen is a consultant for Seventh Generation Advisors, a nonprofit environmental organization in Santa Monica CA. She is the Director of the Ocean Program, and in this capacity she facilitates the Clean Seas Coalition nationwide, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, students, and community leaders pushing states to strengthen laws reducing plastic pollution at its source. Leslie spearheaded Clean Seas Coalition efforts to create and pass California’s SB270 law to ban single-use plastic bags. Formerly, Leslie was a special advisor to Lt. Governor John Garamendi, and the Legislative Director and staff attorney for the California environmental nonprofit organization Heal the Bay, where she was responsible for development and implementation of statewide water quality regulation and legislation, including the first federal pollution limit for trash in an urban river (Los Angeles). Leslie also worked to pass and implement California’s Education and the Environment Initiative, a state requirement for environmental education principles and curricula development in all core disciplines in public schools for K-12. Leslie is currently appointed to California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s Environmental Literacy Steering Committee, tasked with implementing the 2015 Blueprint for California Environmental Literacy. Leslie is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Southern California Law Center, and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Terry Tamminen.

Check out a few of the many memories from our volunteer party below. Thanks again to our volunteers, and hope to see you there next year. P.S. Our photo booth gallery is available here, with password HEALTHEBAY.

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The environment took a big hit in Washington D.C. this week, writes Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Vice President. Today, we’re launching the first of three actions you can take to fight back locally. Stay tuned for two more actions in the coming days.

If you’re a scientist or a clean water advocate, it’s hard not to be concerned about recent developments in Washington, D.C. I’ve tried to remain positive. I’ve taken an observational attitude for overheated rhetoric about reining in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, hoping it would be more talk than action. I’ve hoped for the not-so-terrible, while preparing for the worse. Unfortunately, these threats are becoming reality.

3 Strikes & Clean Water Is Out

Three big blows have been dealt by the new administration to environmental and public health protections. These actions come from the White House, but their effects will ripple from D.C. to Santa Monica Bay:

Strike 1: Massive cuts to the US EPA budget and workforce.

The administration recently proposed the US EPA budget 2018 plan, which includes funding cuts of 25%, staff reductions of more than 3,000 people, and the complete elimination of funding for beach water quality monitoring across our nation. The impacts here in California will be felt deeply.

US EPA grants help underwrite the weekly sampling and testing of beaches in California, support public health protection against contaminated fish off the Palos Verdes Shelf for under-served communities, our local Santa Monica Bay Natural Estuary Program, and much more.

The administration has said it is committed to promoting clean water and clean air, but these actions demonstrate otherwise. It seems virtually impossible to maintain basic protections, given such deep cuts and job losses.

Strike 2: Weakening of the Clean Water Rule.

This week’s executive order directing US EPA to reevaluate the Waters of the U.S. rule has the potential to weaken clean water and habitat protections for countless streams and wetlands throughout our nation. The Obama administration expanded the definition of what water bodies are afforded protection by the federal Clean Water Act in 2015, safeguarding the drinking water of nearly 120 million Americans.

We have lost over 95% of wetland habitat in the greater L.A. area. With the threat of rolling back wetland protection at the federal level, it is imperative to bolster wetlands protection here in California. The California State Water Board is currently in the process of finalizing a statewide Wetland Policy. Heal the Bay scientists have been actively engaged in this process and we urge the State Board to adopt a strong policy that ensures wetland habitat is meaningfully protected and enhanced throughout our state.

Strike 3: Repeal of the Stream Protection Rule.

This law – enacted late last year under the Obama administration – protects waterways from being polluted by coal mining. The waste is not just toxic to aquatic life, but also poses major community health impacts. Many communities throughout the nation will suffer if these protections are repealed.

Take Action To Protect What You Love

These rollbacks jeopardize public health and economic vitality, both of which depend upon clean water and a healthy environment. But, Heal the Bay and its supporters are not going to remain silent. No matter what happens in D.C., there are concrete steps we can take in our backyard to ensure clean water and vibrant ecosystems.

Here is one simple thing you can do now to protect beach water quality monitoring and other critical environmental and community health programs:

Tell Congress to Maintain EPA Funding