How Surfing for Change is Helping Save Surf Ecosystems and Communities


Kyle Thiermann is a professional surfer and journalist, who travels around the world to surf. While on his travels Kyle saw communities in distress and was disturbed by the fact that he did nothing more than surfing to help the communities. Along the way Kyle realized that the survival of the sport that he loved so much depended heavily of the prosperity of the ecosystem and the locals. He became a stakeholder to help some of the biggest issues they were facing.

“When I was 18 decided to make a short movie about a proposed coal power plant that was going to be built on the beach in a town called Constiticuion in Chile. The plant would destroy the local economy which was based on fishing and surfing. All of the locals were opposed to it. I did some research and learned that Bank of America was financing theproject. When you put your money in a bank it doesn’t stay there. Banks use your money to lend out. When you put your money in a local bank it’s also lent out, but instead of being sucked out of your community, it circulates within your neighborhood and supports your local economy. By shifting your bank account you have the power to stop funding the problem and start funding the solution, all in one move.”

So Kyle made a YouTube video about this problem and the movie spread. His friends took action and started moving their money, then surf companies took action, then people who didn’t surf took action. Because of this movie, he was able to document people throughout North America, South America, Africa and much of Europe, moving hundreds of millions of dollars of lending power out of B of A and other centralized banks into local banks and credit unions.

Activism Can Be Fun

After this project, Kyle was inspired to create the Surfing for Change, an organization dedicated to creating free online videos aimed at inspiring surfers to have a positive impact both locally and globally. Earlier this month, the organization released “SURFING FOR CHANGE: TRAVEL GUIDE TO NICARAGUA,” a 13 minute short film that illustrates the role that surf tourists can play in preventing the damaging effects that surf tourism booms can have on developing communities.


“SURFING FOR CHANGE: TRAVEL GUIDE TO NICARAGUA” is Creator and Host Kyle Thiermann’s sixth film in the Surfing for Change” series. Join Thiermann as he takes viewers to the fishing village of Gigante, Nicaragua to explore how surfers are working to create a new model, to benefit the local community while also meeting the needs of tourists.

“Thiermann illustrates the boom and bust cycle that typically occurs when tourists flock to these communities, otherwise known as Butler’s Curve of Tourism, which consists of massive, unplanned expansion followed by a decline in tourism and a devastated town. Although this model is shown through the lens of surfing, it is consistent throughout all kinds of tourist destinations. The film highlights the work of Project WOO, a group of surfers who recognized the need for change in surf tourism development and set out to make it happen. Join Kyle and Surfing for Change to see the positive impact that surfers and their allies can have in preserving the natural beauty and cultures of global surf destinations.”


 Are you an outdoors enthusiast? Are you concerned about conserving the places you love?

About the Author

Hi there! I am Priti and I specialize in strategy and communications for impact organizations that aim to create social, environmental and economic wealth for all stakeholders. Working from the ground up, I help these do-gooders craft effective programs for community engagement, outreach and profitability. Follow my work covering do-gooders, cleanweb, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses on Ecopreneurist and at Crowdsourcing Week. I enjoy traveling with my boys, cooking up a gourmet meal from scratch and entertaining! Join my community for Social Entrepreneurs on G+ Follow me on Twitter, on LinkedIn and Google+