The weather has gotten back on track with days of Southern California magnificence…so I stare agog at the Pacific, pinching myself and counting blessings. When we last lived in Los Angeles, I had such a different relationship to the beach and ocean–it was a trek to get there, but I regularly made the effort, laying out in the sun (ignoring all the warnings), swimming and body surfing, even frolicking with dolphins once of Will Rogers beach. I also had a friend who surfed regularly–and he and all his friends started losing their hair in clumps–they decided, whether verifiable or not, that it was from the pollution in the Santa Monica Bay. That was ages ago, but it is startling how after some moderate rain, red flags go up saying beaches are unsafe for swimming due to pollution and runoff. How fragile a thing that enormous body of water proves.
I’ve always been a fan of Heal the Bay, since those long ago days–early on I may have just been responding to their general mission and cool logo…but the work they have been doing for years is so important, and a true service to the rest of us. “When we heal the Earth, we heal ourselves” goes their tag line, and since 1985 they have been fighting to protect Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds. Some of the issues have changed–there is now a focus on over fishing since we are systematically decimating entire species–but the ethos is unwavering: we rely upon this amazing ocean for recreation and livelihood, so we must all take responsibility for its care. There are so many ways you can get involved, whether you’re in LA or not. Lifestyle changes (the fish we buy, the way we recycle and discard, the water we save), and advocacy about the oceans and local water sources–whatever your locale–are the start. Here in SoCal, join a beach cleanup day, volunteer in other ways, visit Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Aquarium, and support the hard work being done by volunteers like you.