…for coming to our night of inspiring films by Elizabeth Pepin Silva and community thoughts last night. Thanks Elizabeth for donating a portion of the proceeds to funding Issue 002 of Sea Together. Thanks to Leeward Surf for unending support and kindness, and thanks Halfcourt Studio for letting us host the event in your space. Thanks to Brew Dr Kombucha for providing kombucha for the lady sliders of our Pacific Northwest surf community & thanks to Crystal Stokowski for donating her creative talents and energy into making amazing upcycled t-shirts and goodies for Sea Together. This community is special and we are so grateful for each person and surfer who supports Sea Together, Elizabeth, Meade and others in our small global surf community!
Our panelists Olivia Schroder & Meade Krosby, who showed her incredible film preview of She Dreams of Cold Seas (by Erin Hogue), were unable to come due to snow. Thanks Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Sami of Babes on Waves for being on the panel with Founder/Volunteer Director of Sea Together, Brianna.
Inspiring Words from the Panelists
(If you didn’t get a copy of the zine tonight, read their words here below!)
Elizabeth Pepin Silva:
I was in the punk and mod scenes of the late 1970s and 1980s, and my time in those scenes later helped shape how I channeled my anger in the early 1990s over the lack of women being represented in surf media. The punk and mod scenes taught me that if you don't like the music on the radio? Form your own band. Doesn't matter if you don't know how to play, you will figure it out as you go along. Don't like what Rolling Stone is writing about? Make a fanzine and write about the bands you love. Don't see the bands you like at your local nightclub? Rent a hall and invite your favorite bands to play.
It's this DIY mindset - don't complain, do something about it - that I had when I saw more and more women taking to the water in 1994, but the surf magazines and surf industry were still showing women in small bikinis standing on the beach watching the men surf. I was pissed off, but realized that it wasn't going to change, so I was going to have to be the change that I wanted within surfing. This is why I started my WaterWomen photo series, and later began making surf documentaries. I recommend this to all women surfers who are also upset about what is going on within mainstream surfing. Provide an alternative. Be the change that you want to see. If you are unable to so something yourself, at least support people and projects that are providing an alternative narrative about womens' surfing. If enough women do this, eventually the alternative will become the mainstream.
Sami of Babes on Waves:
If I could sum up in one word the reason I started Babes on Waves it would be, inclsuion. Without the emphasis of inclusion we wouldn’t be able to create a community that can cultivate creativity, growth and success. I have seen the absence of inclusion where the destruction of self-esteem are at their highest. If we take a moment to accept someone for the effort they’ve made to rent a wetsuit, brave the waves, especially the cold ones, and be apart of a new community, we’ve potentially given them the courage to keep coming back for more. I want every female-identifying human to feel confident and comfortable communicating with her fellow lady surfers.
As we all know, mainstream social media is 99% a hoax. You know it and I know it, sandy beach butts and seemingly perfect “beach hair” is not usually the reality when we’re surfing. I for one feel like Ace Ventura coming out of the rhino when I’m getting out of my wetsuit. But that’s just me. It’s easy for us to get caught up in “the scroll” and begin to compare our lives to strangers online, but we need to remind ourselves that surfing can be tough and as may not always look or feel perfect. My goal is to deliver inspiring and real content to the members of our community. I want to encourage everyone to get out and surf, but at the same time I want to remind them that surfing isn’t always perfect.
Any community needs to support to be successful. Support comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you’re offering a ride to the coast for a friend without a car or a high five to someone in the lineup after they has a nice ride. When we go out on our surf days at Babes on Waves we are not teaching, we are supporting. I encourage all new members to seek lessons before coming to our event because it is more of a motivational meetup than group lesson. When we are all together we are able to break down any barriers we may have built before joining, and able to open up to each other. The community is activated and ladies are willing to feel vulnerable and ask questions they’ve always been afraid of asking out loud. In these moments we are sharing support. We support that someone is willing to learn more, challenge themselves or just come out and meet new people. I hope that this mentality is carried over to other aspects of our members’ lives and support is offered in all of their communities.
Olivia Schroeder (not present at the panel) of Northwest Wahines surf collective:
Navigating social issues and power injustices is a large theme in our movie. Something I keep coming back to in my everyday life is repeating the following three things, in this order: Witness, Forgive, and Encourage. Witness people for who they are, trying not to judge them in the process. They may be new to the sport, or make you feel uncomfortable because they look or sound different, and that's okay. Witness your discomfort, and sit with it. Forgive them for their mistakes (or for your judgements, since who are we kidding). They are only human, just like you, and are bound to make mistakes, just like you. Then lastly, Encourage the good in them. With a friend, we might say more when it comes to the encouragement piece. If it's someone new and unknown, we can be encouraging by smiling rather than scowling or noticing how much they are enjoying their time in the water or on the beach, and allow them to feel happy about that. We are trying to address these issues by offering free surf camps to underserved groups, like women of color and impoverished youth. By giving them more opportunities, we can level the playing field little by little.
Meade Krosby (not present at panel):
I also came of age in a DIY punk scene ('90s and early 00's Washington, DC), playing in bands and assuming that's just what you did - you did it yourself. It's an interesting time now where on the one hand there's so much technology available to create media yourself, yet that same technology can easily lead to passive media consumption and isolation. Where's the room for creativity and joy for the sole purpose of joy when social media encourages us to see our experiences (and selves) as commodities to be packaged and consumed by others? I think there's a real opportunity to promote social media as an active, community-building platform for expression and protest and justice rather than a passive platform for narcissism and commodification. I think Sea Together has been doing a fab job with this, and the more that can be modeled and encouraged the better. I'm also, frankly, tired of expecting and waiting for mainstream surf media to get women and diversity and inclusion right - how can it possibly when it's controlled primarily by straight white men? Until we fix that we need to create our own media, for its own value and joy but also to encourage that shift we want to see in mainstream surf culture.