The Powerhouse Community Center sits at the head of Powerhouse Park in Del Mar, an amazing location surrounded by green grass, palm trees, and sand. Just footsteps from the high tide line, The Powerhouse, with its vintage feel, sunset views and high wooden ceilings, is the idyllic setting for a congregation of ocean minded people, and on the evening of May 13th the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation convened there for their 5th Annual Art Gala, a live and silent auction of surf inspired art, photography, and memorabilia.
"We love this event," said Todd T. Cardiff, Chairman of the San Diego Chapter, "every year it just gets bigger and better. It's a celebration of surf culture, and it's an opportunity for people to come out, see some high quality art, and donate to the organization."
The Gala is an extremely important event for the San Diego Chapter as it generates approximately 1/3 of their annual donation income, money that's used to help fund projects such as water testing, beach cleanups and pollution monitoring. These efforts, among others, are integral components in Surfrider's overall mission to keep local beaches and waters clean, and a glance around The Powerhouse reveled a packed building of Surfrider members all ready to do their part. Delicious food and drinks made the rounds quickly, soulful live bluegrass tunes echoed in the rafters, and the volume and quality of the donated art and photography on auction was astounding. Prints by Grannis and Brewer, and original artwork by local painting legend Michael Cassidy were just a small sample of what was on hand for the silent bidders. "It's a great night to get out, and it's for a good cause," said veteran surf lensman Aaron Chang. "I mean this place is practically my back yard, and I have a photo in there tonight, so I'm really excited."
And while funding local programs was the ultimate goal of the evening's activities, a conversation with Surfrider's newly appointed National Executive Director, Jim Moriarty, reviled that countrywide and international projects are very much on the mind of all members. "My plan is to try to at least double the Surfrider membership in the next few years," he says between hand shakes and congratulatory pats on the back from friends. A Solana Beach local, Moriarty's appointment is big news within the Surfrider foundation as a whole and huge news within the San Diego Chapter in particular, and it seems his plan to actively court more members for the organization is a policy everyone can get behind. "The goal isn't to be big, just for the sake of being big," he points out. "Instead, we want to be big so we can get more people out there and active. There are train wrecks all over the place in this country, and internationally, we need to get to places like Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama before they're ruined as well. But we want to be very specific in all of this. For example, we don't want to just open 'Surfrider Costa Rica,' instead we want to open chapters in Nosara, Tamarindo, Dominical, and etcetera. We want to get people involved locally, and as we expand the numbers, it expands the number of campaigns and legal battles we can get into. You have to be out there in the fight and having more members will allow us to do that."
Strolling through the gallery of paintings and photos, with Andrew Kidman's Glass Love playing enormously and translucently on the back wall, it was hard not to feel compelled to whole heartedly support the responsibility the Surfrider Foundation stands for. As an organization, they've decided to do what they can to ensure surfing remains an activity that can be enjoyed by generations to come, and with Jim Moriarty at the helm have a man with a clear vision of how to achieve that. By attempting to tap into more surfers nationally and world wide, it seems that Surfrider might be on the path to building a network that will ensure no surf spot ever goes under again without a fight, and for ocean lovers, it's a noble concept. It's a concept that sold out the Art Gala well in advance, and it's why people graciously donate time and money to the organization. It's also why everyone at the 5th Annual Art Gala had a special evening and left feeling good about something they are a part of.