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Nov 30th
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Buy Local, Surf Global

news2_KyleSurf activist’s new video makes a splash—just in time for holiday shopping
Unlike many 20-year-old guys who view shopping as an experience to be avoided at all costs, local surfer and activist Kyle Thiermann sees Black Friday and the weeks that follow as an opportunity to help the local economy and make his voice heard on issues like third world working conditions and environmental sustainability.

Since 2007, when he released his first short film, Claim Your Change, Thiermann has continued to focus on finding simple economic solutions to challenging environmental problems. Among other achievements, he received the 2010 Peter Benchley Blue Vision Youth Award and was the keynote speaker at One World Children’s Fund.

A look at Thiermann's new four-minute video, Buy Local, Surf Global, takes viewers from a Santa Cruz surf shop to a Sri Lankan clothing factory where Thiermann traveled in August 2010 to investigate the working and living conditions of the employees.

“I was surprised to learn that the factory I went to had improved a huge amount because of consumer pressure,” Thiermann says. “It was an eye opener to see how, as far away as Santa Cruz, we had the power to affect someone's life in Sri Lanka.”

Visiting the factory gave Thiermann a whole new perspective on shopping.

“Being able to choose where you buy your clothes is actually a privilege,” Thiermann says. “Most Sri Lankans are poor; they don't have that privilege.”

Instead, most of the Sri Lankans Thiermann met were more concerned with survival. The factory workers shared their life stories with Thiermann, who stayed in the country for 18 days. In between surf sessions at the perfect right point breaks Sri Lanka is becoming known for, the young surfer heard a mosaic of life stories, revealing an optimistic country recovering from a 26-year civil war and a devastating tsunami.

“Visiting the clothing factory was really cool,” he says. “Workers weren’t being treated like machines anymore, they were actually being treated like people. To me, that’s a lot more inspiring story than just another guilty sweatshop. We actually are making a difference.”

Supporting responsible companies is one of Thiermann’s “Three Easy Steps” for making a positive difference in the world, as listed on his website,.

“It’s not like you have to become a full-time activist,” Thiermann says. “But you can start becoming part of the solution.”

The second and third steps, he says, are to shop and bank locally. “These are the two most important things you can do to help your local economy,” he adds.

Back in California, Thiermann interviewed “The Story of Stuff” producer Annie Leonard and learned that for every $100 spent in a locally owned store, 45 bucks stays in Santa Cruz. That's compared to the $13 that stays local if consumers choose to shop at “big box” stores like Target, WalMart or BestBuy.

It's thought-provoking facts like these that have steered Thiermann's surf career toward global environmental activism, while keeping the focus on local action. His other video projects, BP, You and Me, and Claim Your Change, show how money kept in multi-national banks, such as Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase, is leveraged to finance environmentally harmful projects all over the world, like BP’s offshore drilling or the construction of a coal-driven power plant in Constitución, Chile.

Today, Claim Your Change, has been viewed by more than 9,000 people on YouTube and led to more than $110 million worth of bank lending power to be moved to local banks.

Money is power, and Thiermann hopes that his new video, Buy Local, Surf Global, will open people’s eyes to the impact they have on the world as consumers and as savers.

In his short film, a curious Thiermann takes a road trip to Southern California to chat with his like-minded sponsor, environmentally-conscious company Patagonia, about their responsibilities to the global community and the environment.

He interviews E.G. Fratantaro, the co-founder of Sector 9 Skateboards, who reveals that he was inspired by Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard to make sure that Sector 9 products were environmentally friendly. Today, Sector 9 skateboards come only from sustainably farmed trees. The company’s T-shirts, beanies and other clothing are made from organic materials, recycled plastics and hemp.

It's changes like these that give Thiermann the motivation he needs to continue to work at reaching out to the Santa Cruz community and beyond by sharing what he learns in his travels.

“You have a lot of power every time you buy something,” Thiermann says. “Every time you buy a T-shirt, you're sending a message to the industry that you do care or you don’t care.”

For more information on Kyle Thiermann visit
Comments (12)Add Comment
written by Bee, December 02, 2010
I love that the video is set to some sweet Sourgrass tunes--keepin' it local even with the musical support!
Retired Business Executive
written by Ray Gale, November 25, 2010
Great work Kyle! The simplicity, clarity, and actionability of your message is truly refreshing.
Boss Hog
written by Tanders CockTan, November 24, 2010
written by Will Szal, November 23, 2010
I wonder what Kyle will be working on for his next film project.
right on!
written by celia alario, November 23, 2010
so cool to see folks who are focused on sports and fitness also doing good for the planet. I really appreciate the reminder that this is the way to keep our communities strong! Go Kyle!
written by Stan Ketner, November 23, 2010
Kyle has made me stop and think before I through down my cash.
Thanks Kyle
written by Tom Haid, November 23, 2010
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Good job Kyle
written by Hans Kindt, November 23, 2010
Kyle is a dude on the move-and one of my current "heroes"- he sets the bar high for all of us- he has great ideas,he's agreat guy and I have a lot of admiration for him
Props to Kyle
written by Chris Proffitt, November 23, 2010
Kyle Thiermann is the future of our generation in social and global activism. It is heartening to know that not all of our peers are apathetic to the state of the world we live in. He is living the change he wants to see in the world and is showing us the means by which to effectively keep revenue in our communities and remain globally minded. Keep it up dude!
written by Matt mitchell, November 23, 2010
Go Kyle!! Great job making a positive change in the local market and surf industry! Keep it up bro!!!
Kyle is doing great work
written by Jack Heimsoth, November 23, 2010
He is a student at Gaia University and I met him at a permaculture design course at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt, CO.
written by Bill Farrington, November 23, 2010
Once again another well thought out subject by Kyle Thiermann.

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