Surfrider gala focuses on water quality, protecting Malibu’s beaches

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Starting with a Chumash Indian blessing and a surfer’s healing circle, and culminating in the evening with a gala fundraiser and silent auction, this Sunday’s day-long activities has become a treasured annual event for Malibu beach lovers.

By Vicki Godal/Special to The Malibu Times

“Making Waves” this Sunday will be the Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for its annual fundraising gala.

This year’s gala, taking place at Sunset Restaurant on Westward Beach Road, highlights Surfrider’s new Tidepool Protection Program, which teaches youth and adults about the importance of protecting Malibu’s tide pools and how to enjoy them without damaging their fragile ecosystems.

The Making Waves gala is the Malibu Surfrider Chapter’s most important fundraiser. Its funding allows the Malibu Chapter to continue its 20-year vigilance to help protect Malibu’s beaches and beach communities from Ballona Creek north to the county line. Gala festivities will include live entertainment, cocktails, dinner and a silent auction. A round-trip ticket to Australia, a one-of-a-kind surfboard airbrushed with “Dogtown & Z-Boys” style graffiti, a custom surfboard, and sports event tickets, spa getaways and a surf lesson with John Philbin will be auctioned. The auction will also feature several art pieces donated by local artists, including Malibu resident Myra Burg and former Malibuite Laddie John Dill. Other prizes include DaKine luggage and a full Hyperflex wetsuit donated by Safari Surf and Sport.

The gala tops off a day-long event designed to focus public attention on the need to improve Malibu’s near-shore water quality, protect beachgoers and restore delicate inter-tidal ecosystems, which are being destroyed by pollution, coastal development, poaching and human trampling.

Starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday, locals, surfers and beach enthusiasts will gather at Surfrider Beach.

Brief messages will given by area environmentalists, including Edward Albert, California Coastal commissioner, and Dr. Russ Kino, medical director of emergency services at Saint John’s Health Center and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Medical Center, who will speak about the human health risks that ocean and marine pollution poses to surfers. Kathy Kohner, better known as the “real Gidget,” will also speak.

Chumash elder and storyteller Alan Spirit Hawk Salizar will perform a traditional Chumash blessing. Salizar, whose family traces its ancestry back to the San Fernando mission records of 1797, is one of the Chumash nation’s leading spiritual advisors.

Afterward, world champion surfer Shaun Thomson will paddle out with other surfers at First Point to form a symbolic healing circle.

“The excitement surrounding this year’s gala is really something else. There’s the new ocean front venue, live performances by The White Buffalo and Kate Earl, and this silent auction, which may be our biggest ever,” Malibu Chapter Chair Alan Reed said.

During the evening gala, Randy Olson from Shifting Baselines, a group that describes itself as a “media project…a partnership between ocean conservation and Hollywood to help bring attention to the severity of ocean decline,” will show his new film “Shifting Baselines in the Surf,” which introduces the new term “shifting baselines” to denote declining standards for beach and water quality.

In 2004, the Malibu City Council issued a proclamation recognizing the Malibu Surfrider Foundation’s achievements over the past 20 years. These victories included the protection of Malibu Creek from Tapia Water Reclamation Facility’s harmful discharge, securing 31 miles of smoke-free beaches, protecting the Ahmanson Ranch from development and leading the way to securing the passage of the Beaches Environmental Assessment, Cleanup and Health Act, which set minimum standards for beach water quality as well as establishing nationwide beach water quality monitoring and notification programs.

Sunday’s Surfrider day events are scheduled to begin at Surfrider Beach in Malibu at 8 a.m. with the Chumash blessing, followed by the healing circle, ending at 9:30 a.m. The evening’s Making Waves Gala takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Sunset Restaurant on Westward Beach in Malibu. Tickets are $150.00 per person or $1,250.00 for a table of 10. More information about the June 12 Surfrider gala can be obtained by logging onto www.surfrider.org/malibu.