When I hear the word 'hippie' I have flashes of images behind my eyes that stereotype the colourful movement of the 1970's, of loose parties my parents dragged us kids along to playing loud trippie music, and lots of hair! So you can understand my pleasure when I got to meet 'modern day' hippie, Lauren Hill ( free surfer, thinker and cool chick). Lauren is an educated, passionate person concerned about our Ocean and marine animals. Focused on treading softly on the earth and living a sustainable lifestyle while raising awareness and catching some waves.
Lauren is from Florida in the States and started out on the competitive longboard scene back in the day. Women s surfing was going through a boom thanks to Hollywood films like 'Blue Crush' creating a lot of mainstream interest in women s surfing, similar to what happened with the 1950's surf culture film Gidget. Which meant companies were putting more money into women's surfing. This is where Lauren shaped her surfing with influences of older women still passionate about doing something playful and fun. Grandmas demonstrating how to surf and how to be a graceful woman in the water.
After suffering a burnout in competitive surfing Lauren chose to leave the circuit and ended up completing two degrees, Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Bachelor of Arts in Social Science at Stetson University. Blending her two passions Lauren wrote her thesis on "Surfing and Environmental Activism" and "Environmental Ethics". Ideally Lauren wanted to work for a marine not-for-profit organisation when she left school. But by way of the USA finical crisis Lauren started her blog MerSeaBeaucoup.com, blogging her ideas out into the world because she wanted to communicate environmental issues and incorporate her passion for surfing.
Being inspired by the first TransparentSea voyage that travelled down the east coast of Australia. Lauren wanted to do something to bring awareness too, so she dreamed up "31 Days, 31 Ways". Riding a different board every day and surfed with a different person everyday and made a diary of the events, filmed it, edited it, for the month of October. Having fun no matter what the waves were doing and not judging the ocean if the waves weren't good.
Last year Lauren got to be part of TransparentSea 2011, being the only woman sailing for the entire month long trip she worked closely with communities in the USA that are already focused on making a difference in their local waters and beaches. By shining a light on their achievements and hoping to inspire others to make changes at their local breaks.
Surfers have traditionally always understood the relationship with nature and the sea, so it is our responsibility to be the custodians of our environment. Lauren's message is one of change and unity "Individually independent but collectively we can have such an impact". Challenging herself by making sustainable choices such as living off the land by growing her own veggies, composting toilets and having solar energy. Creating a lifestyle that is a symbiotic relationship with her surroundings. Hoping to inspire others to be passionate about their surroundings and being aware of ones beaches and embracing that sense of ownership, making personal everyday choices that will collectively make a difference.
Lauren's new project is TheSeakin.com, an environmental and cultural organisation of people interconnected by a higher sense of responsibility for the planet. Which has come from traveling and meeting amazing, passionate women and men taking responsibility for their slice of ocean. It is going to be a print magazine that is a focused on surfing, the environment and culture.
Lauren shared a great book for all SurfSister's that want to be enlightened about satainable living by author Jared Diamond, and the book is titled Collapse.
Words by Narani Henson
Narani Henson in Byron Bay
" My love for the ocean was installed at a young age. Surfing and my art is something that I can lose myself in, what can I say its good for my soul". Narani Henson has a diploma of Fine Arts from Meadowbank TAFE and a bachelor of Fine Arts from Curtin University.