I had to rush to get to the beach cleanup on September 21st. I had slept in a little later than I expected and I still had to find parking. I noticed while puttering towards Harbor Cove that there was a Walk for Life event. Easy-ups lined the parking lot and folks with numbers on their back getting ready to raise some money. Some quick snooping on the web reveals that Walk for Life is sponsored by the Ventura County Pregnancy Center. A non-profit organization that offers guidance and services to expectant women.
I eventually found parking and approached the tents for the California Coastal Cleanup. I filled out a form, grabbed some swag (none of which was wrapped in plastic, thankfully), and listened to the safety seminar before hitting the beach with a classmate. As we cleaned up the beach, we both noticed that there was yet another event! The Best Day Foundation, an organization that helps children with special needs participate in water activities, were found up and down Surfer’s Knoll and in the water. Surf instructors cheered as they helped kids catch their first wave. Enthusiasm from parents and other instructors from the beach filled the salty air with good vibrations.
So while I and a bunch of other volunteers were picking up trash off the beach; there were surfers helping kids experience catching waves for the first time, and people raising money so pregnant women could get free exams and counseling services. The intersection of these three events on our local beach was heartwarming. The events on the beach led me to choosing lens that are community based.
Generally speaking, the beach has always been for the community. The beach is a space for families to spend time together; for friends to share a drink and catch up; and on September 21st, it was a space for different organizations within Ventura County to give back to members of our coastal community; and thankfully for the beach, the community gave back to it by virtue of the beach clean up.
My only hangup with the beach and its element of community is the anthropogenic impact that inevitably occurs. Many of the community members had to drive to the harbor; moreover, there’s the chance that some of the cars on the parking lots might be leaking something toxic. It’s also not guaranteed that all the plastic water bottles that were drunk that day made it into the recycling bin – or even a bin at all. We could even factor in eco-unfriendly sunscreen finding its way into our ocean via members of our community.
Despite the negative effects of our presence, it seems to me that the beach will always be a sacred space for people. In addition being a place to convene and create awareness and love for members of our community; I believe that we recognize the beach as a crucial part of the ecosystem and as a community we understand that we must take care of it.