THE PLEDGE: Newman’s Own Organics calls on the surf industry to help Save the Waves

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We had a couple of visitors yesterday. Two dedicated surfers offering a bag of organic oreo cookies, some whole grain pretzels and a request to get the following message out: Save the Waves needs your help. Thanks to Nell Newman, president of Newman’s Own Organics and daughter of the iconic actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, and Will Henry, founder of Save the Waves, we have someone to lean on next time your spot is in the crosshairs of a marina planning project. Newman is offering $150,000 to the organization over the next three years if she and Henry can get the surf industry to match the funds. Why is this such a good idea? We’ll let them give you their pitch.

SURFING MAGAZINE: How did you guys become connected in the first place?

NELL NEWMAN: Through mutual friends. We both live in Santa Cruz and Will started Save the Waves four years ago. I ran a non-profit for some time, which was involved in peregrine falcon restoration, so I remember what it was like to be a frustrated fundraiser for a small non-profit. I started Newman’s Own Organics because I saw what my dad was doing with Newman’s Own and figured we could spread the organic message. My dad has given more than ${{{200}}},000 million to charity over the past 20 years. Newman’s Own Organics has given between 6 and 8 million in the last 14 years, all to organizations that we feel can really make a difference. Will’s Save the Waves is one of those organizations. We helped him out on a trip to Chile and a trip to Madeira. And you know, Yvon Chouinard’s donated and SIMA’s donated a little bit, but you know, it’s just a little bit. So, I just said, “Hey let’s do a match.” Let’s donate $150,000 over three years and see if we can get some action.

Where would this money go?

WILL HENRY: There’s so much we’d like to do that we just can’t. Over the past few years, our organization has been run by only a few people and some volunteers. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish. But as our reputation grows, so do the demands to actually execute, as well as being more proactive in places with potential for problems and overdevelopment. We also want to have the resources to provide the data and research to back up our claims. And our basic argument in all of this is that waves are worth a lot of money and have a high social value. We need data to back that up. The other side of education is trying to do as much with the media as we can. Funding for a documentary in Chile about the pulp mills. Reaching people through entertainment. I have to have more help in the office. An environmental director. An environmental research director. Someone who concentrates on membership. I’ve gone the last year without salary so we can basically pay staff. The frustrating thing is that we’re a surfer-based organization. We’re protecting surf spots. There’s not a lot of funding options open to us, and the industry has to understand that. Surfrider does broad enough work where they’re able to get grants from outside the surf industry, but we’re really not. I do get the feeling from members in the industry that they think the Waterman’s Ball is enough. And while we’re totally grateful for what we receive from that event, it’s one night. It’s one event. I really believe in Yvon Chouinard’s philosophy – one percent for the planet – giving one percent of your net profit back to the environment.