We are so excited to execute on our promise to help our friends in the Caribbean. Our sea sister, Sarah Brady, has taken the lead and will be heading to St. Thomas on January 29 for several weeks for phase 1 of our project to distribute our relief supplies in the wake of the 2017 hurricane season, which is still affecting so many in the Caribbean islands. Sarah will be spearheading this effort, coordinating and raising her own travel funds and documenting her efforts to distribute our sustainable relief supplies to the VIMSIA Montessori School and to the USVI Community Foundation. Supplies include several solar mobile refrigeration units from SOULR Carts, lighting and solar supplies from our friends at Goal Zero and water filters from Sawyer Products.
Before she departs on her journey, we asked her a few questions to get a better understanding of what lit the spark for this beautiful volunteer effort.
Name: Sarah Brady
Location: Leucadia, CA
Where are you from/how did you get where you are now?
I am from in Leucadia, a cozy surf town in North San Diego County, CA. My dad was pushing me into waves on a longboard as soon as I could walk, and my mom was taking me rock climbing outdoors by age 5. My parents took me all over the world at a young age, and I inherited my passions for surfing, traveling, and exploring the outdoors from them, as well as my determination. It is through these passions, and through my respect and awe for the natural world that I began to pursue sustainability both in my own life, education, and work. After graduating high school I took a summer to backpack through Europe and then moved north to UC Santa Cruz in the fall. Moving to Santa Cruz made me work harder to surf than I ever had to before, but it pushed me to become a better surfer. Because surfing up there offered a variety of waves and conditions, I fell even more in love with the ocean’s sheer power. At school I began studying cognitive science because of my interest in the human mind, consciousness, perception, and the relationship between the human brain and the natural environment. I was particularly interested in how this relationship had changed over the course of evolution, across time and cultures. In my sophomore year, I began pursuing a minor in Sustainability Studies, which has allowed me to take courses related to sustainability from a variety of departments. So far, this has given me a really interdisciplinary view of sustainability in the modern world.
Tell us something people generally don’t know about you?
I love to learn and I take my academics pretty seriously. I am interested in anthropology, ecopsychology, environmental conservation, environmental safety, politics & legislation, and sustainable technology & design. When I am not in school I find myself missing those stimulating conversations with my peers, and learning new things on a daily basis. Now I am digging deeper to find my own resources for information & learning, and I find that equally empowering.
How do you like to spend your free time?
When I am not surfing, I’m usually shooting film photos. Sometimes I do both at the same time, but only when the waves are small and when I am surfing with friends. Recently, I have been experimenting with double exposures, film soaks, and hand painting on printed photos. So, I would say that film photography my biggest hobby right now.
What inspired you to get involved with Changing Tides Foundation?
I serendipitously met Becky and Leah at a time when I was beginning to incorporate sustainability into my education, and my life in general. I met them last May at The Mexi Log-Fest in La Saladita, Mexico. I thought it was so cool that they were installing water filters in the local area, and selling zero-waste travel gear at the event. The three of us got to chatting about their work with Changing Tides Foundation and our shared goals of giving back to young women, pursuing sustainability and environmentalism, and how we are connected to all of these causes through a shared love and and respect for the ocean. I had already decided to take a leave of absence from school during winter quarter of my junior year to pursue my interests, and it lined up with the timing of Changing Tide Foundation’s goal for starting a project in the Caribbean. It really just worked out perfectly, and we made a plan to put a project together that I could go facilitate!
What are your top 3 favorite places to travel to and why?
I would definitely have to say Fiji because the water is some of the clearest water I have ever seen, there are tons of beautiful reefs to dive, and the waves are insane. I had the privilege of staying on Namotu Island last year, a tiny blob of sand and palm trees off the coast of the main island, close to many famous breaks like Restaurants and Cloudbreak. It’s a dream there, and I am going back again in March.
Central America is a favorite of mine. I am fond of Latin culture and I like practice my Spanish as often as I can. I grew up spending a good amount of time in Costa Rica visiting extended family, and I have lots of good memories there. I would love to go back again soon. I have also had so many great camp trips to Baja where I scored fun waves with barely anyone out. I also spent a bit of time surfing in mainland Mexico, most recently La Saladita and previously I went to Sayulita.
Last but not least, I would say the California State and National Parks are a favorite for me. Yosemite, for example, is such a magical place and I am grateful to have access to in my home state. Other gems include Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Big Basin Redwoods, and Wilder Ranch. I love feeling like I am in the middle of nowhere, completely surrounded by nature. It is good for us to take time to escape from our fast-paced lives.
What advice would you give travelers who want to add an element of service to their trip?
Figure out where you are going and start looking into what people are already doing there. Reach out to them. Even if it starts with a google search, look for organizations or people who are already established in their community and ask them how you can help. Try to be flexible with your plans when you get there. Start telling friends and family about your travel/service plans and you will be surprised how many connections you have, and how many people want to help you achieve your goals. If you need financial help, set up a fundraiser online for yourself and reach out to family and friends about it. Oh, and buy carbon offsets for your flights!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing something meaningful and still enjoying time to surf and spend with loved ones. I hope my career can one day become a way of supporting not just myself, but also the causes that I care about. I always want to push myself past my boundaries of what I think I can accomplish, while maintaining a balance of taking care of myself and not taking life too seriously.