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Activist

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Lauren Hill: SeaKin Founder & Activist

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Lauren Hill is one of the most inspiring and stylish people we have been able to talk with. She is an incredible role model for young women and pursuing a passionate and meaningful life. Lauren is a sponsored surfer, who could have chosen the competitive pathway with commercialism, hype and fame. However she chose to align and collaborate with the alternative surf culture as the founder of 'SeaKin' which is focused on improving and maintaining our beautiful environment, promoting and being active with women's rights in and out of the ocean and allowing a platform for surf adventures and positive experiences which encourage positive life choices.

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ROAR: Where have you lived most of your life and where do you call home now?

Lauren: I lived most of my life on Anastasia Island, a barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. I now live in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Australia. 

ROAR: Who inspired you to be a surfer and environmentalist and in what ways did this motivate you to become the person you are today?

Lauren: I’m not sure that there is a definable “who” that inspired me. The relationship between surfing and environmental activism was cyclical for me: I loved the beach so I started surfing. Surfing taught me to love the beach and my surroundings even more deeply, and I realized that I needed to do my best to take care of the places that gift me such joy. I can say with 100% certainty that I would not be who I am without the relationship that I’ve developed with the ocean. 

Surfing in particular, something that I was always told was superfluous and trivial, has turned out to be one of the great barometers of my life. It has guided me into the most incredible adventures and the deepest feeling experiences that I’ve had. 

With that said, lots of people have inspired me along the way: my mom and dad, Alice Walker, Dave Rastovich, Linda Murphree, Gloria Steinem, Tom Robbins, Rell Sunn…and many more. 

ROAR: Seakin is one of our favourite websites to explore all things associated with the ocean and the eclectic community who revolve their lifestyle around it. How did this idea come about and what would you say is the main purpose for Seakin?

Lauren: I started a blog fresh out of university called Mersea Beaucoup when I couldn’t get a job amidst the global financial crisis. Since I couldn’t fulfill the role that American culture expected of me post-university (get job, climb work ladder, get mortgage…etc)  I decided to just do what I really wanted to be doing anyway: surfing.  So I wrote about my passions for surfing and environmental science  and vowed to surf every single day during that experiment. I ended up getting a number of writing gigs and new surfing sponsors because I was putting what I loved and cared about into the world. 

Anyway, Sea Kin is the product of many experiments in doing what I love. It’s  a place to share stories about the ocean from different perspectives than what I tend to see in most surfing media. Sea Kin is about creating culture for ourselves. 

ROAR: How can everyday people contribute and get involved with Seakin?

Lauren: The ultimate dream for Sea Kin is to have lots of people contributing from all over the world about their own bubbles of surfing and ocean culture. I’d love to have more contributors. If you feel compelled, please send me an e-mail at MerSeaBeaucoup@gmail.com. 

ROAR: What are the latest projects you have been a part of and how have they changed your views on the world and humanity?

Lauren: The most recent project that I’ve been working on is a film called Beyond the Surface. We traveled through south India searching for surf with India’s first recognized female surfer and working with an NGO called Beyond the Surface, which was founded by a very inspiring young female surfer, Emi Koch. It really felt like a culmination of so many things that I am passionate about--- women’s surfing, sustainability, activism, yoga, adventure and connecting with other surfers. It was so incredible and certainly changed me in ways that I haven’t even really processed yet. You can read a bit more about the project through the link below: 'One in a Billion'

Just before I went to India I helped to organized a conference about The Economics of Happiness with an amazing woman, Helena Norberg-Hodge. While there I had the pleasure of getting to hear Charles Eisenstein speak (and take him for his first surf lesson!) and his message has been profoundly changing my worldview. 

He reminds us that our purpose on the planet is to find out what our gifts are. That is our purpose and what will nourish us. And then, our task is to give those gifts abundantly. 

That message really helped me to refocus which projects I’m putting energy into. And it always reminds me that everyone has incredible gifts to give, but that many of us have sideswiped ourselves off of the path toward finding our gifts with distractions. 

ROAR: So the readers can understand, can you explain what it means to be an ecofeminist?

Lauren: We live in a world where the scales are significantly tipped toward the masculine. There are embedded rules in our culture that make it easier for some people to get ahead--- and those people have tended to be white men. For example, men still make more money than women for doing the same work.

Our culture tends to value men more and we more readily reward the characteristics of masculinity. We end up with men who feel like they aren’t allowed to express emotion, much less cry. And we end up with women who feel like they need to become hardened “like men” in order to get ahead in their careers. 

So, we all lose because none of us are allowed to just be who we are. Feminism is about tipping the scales a little so that we can all reconnect with our feminine attributes, in order to create a more egalitarian world where everybody has a fair chance to thrive. 

The “eco” part of ecofeminism has to do with seeing how the attitudes that allow us to destroy our natural environment, our planet, are linked to the way we treat other people. 

When we collectively value domination, aggression, and disconnection and we choose not to listen or employ compassion for ourselves and the being around us, we are only then able to destroy the places and processes that literally allow us to live. The way we treat ourselves and our loved ones is intimately linked to the way we treat everything. 

So, for me, ecofeminism means working to have a lighter footprint on our planet and doing our best to protect wild spaces or to help clean them up. It also means helping to eradicate the mental, physical, and ideological “pollution” that a patriarchal system creates as it divides through oppression. 

ROAR: Without a doubt you are one of the most inspiring role models for young women. What is some advice you could offer them for the future? 

Lauren: Thanks so much, Jonny and Jess. That’s a really lovely thing to say. 

My advice is to find out what your gifts are and to give them abundantly. 

For me, the path to my gifts always revolves around connecting with wild nature, following my intuition, allowing time and space for being quiet, and ignoring the voices of self-sabotage that inevitably arise when I’m taking risks. 

Also, minding your own business is a full time job if you’re doing it well. 

ROAR: What are some exciting things happening in the future for you and Seakin?

Lauren: Personally, I’m really excited about planting a new veggie garden at my house. Growing food is one of the most magical and fulfilling experiences that I know---that the seemingly simple combination of sunlight, soil and water can create such diverse edibles is mind boggling. 

The SeaKin site is growing and I’ve been getting great feedback from people who’d like to contribute lately, which is a huge compliment--- so it seems like the concept is beginning to come into its own. I’d love to keep growing it, especially into print format. 

Life is incredibly sweet. 

Thanks Jonny and Jess for the opportunity to share a bit of my story.

 

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Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story.  To find out more and follow Lauren's adventures check out the link below.

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Hiromi Matsubara: Activist & Entrepreneur

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We met Hiromi Matsubara in one of her favourite places, Byron Bay, Australia. After surfing the pass together and eating tasty felafel wraps the awesomeness of this girl was obvious. She was bright, bubbly and high on life, a real pleasure to be around. We chatted about all the exciting things she has achieved and was aspiring to do. As the executive director of Surfrider Japan, radio DJ, ocean & surf activist, macrobiotic caterer, yoga instructor and all round gypsy, this girl has got the world at her feet. We would love you to meet her so check out our interview with Hiromi Matsubara below. Cheers!

Hiromi's beautiful home.

Hiromi's beautiful home.

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ROAR: Can you tell us about your upbringing and where you grow up?

I spent 5 years of my early childhood in London (1986-1991) and was very fortunate to have been exposed to different cultures, ethics and religions, which is the reason why I constantly question my identity, who I am and my purpose in life.

Growing up I was very energetic and athletic. I was involved in so many sports such as netball, swimming, tennis, ballet, lacrosse and badminton. I think this helped me to develop my competitive attitude and taught me to be brave and overcome challenges and obstacles, such as my family living in London.

We traveled all over Europe and I was always fascinated by the beautiful and untouched nature, the greens and the blues. My father was very stubborn, grumpy, close minded and I hated him when I was young. My mother was very humorous, generous, open minded and super active. She was a BIG influence on me, always letting me make my own decisions and allowing me to be accountable for the consequences.

We moved back to Japan and during my college years I spent a year on a 'study abroad program' in Miami US, where I continued to learn to study hard, work hard and play hard, to always enjoy life. I believe my upbringing has definitely had a positive impact on my personality, that its ok to be different and independent. I don’t want to fit into the Japanese lifestyle and culture, which has caused some struggles, but now I have confidence and an appreciation for my the life. 

ROAR: What projects have you been involved in the last 10 years that you are passionate about?

Hiromi: After graduating college, I joined a highly competitive leadership training program designed to develop leaders at General Electric. I worked for GE Capital where I held various positions in sales, marketing, public relations and community programs. After 5 years in the competitive, goal driven business world, I came across the concept and philosophy of permaculture and was so intrigued by such sustainable living practices. So in 2006, I left in pursuit of a new adventure and spent a month wwoofing in “off the grid” “self sufficient” communities in Australia. It was a mind blowing experience and totally changed my outlook. Since then it has been my dream to be able to live self sufficiently, simple, slow and small . 

Upon returning from Australia, I co-created greenz.jp a web media based in Tokyo dedicated to designing a sustainable society with optimism and creativity with its unique editorial perspective. While engaging myself in the sustainability sphere I started volunteering for Surfrider Foundation Japan and assisted in campaign building and media outreach. I got hooked to their mission and had the opportunity to attend their annual international conferences in California and Brazil. I feel blessed that I was able to meet a group of truly passionate, talented and inspiring people - the global Surfrider family, it got me motivated and engaged. 

After four years of entrepreneurship and establishing the foundation of greenz.jp, I decided to pursue a more down to earth lifestyle (and surf!). Once again I went on a 3 month trip back to Australia to regain myself, re-define myself, find my own path and passion in life. While in Byron Bay I took a permaculture design certification course and yoga teacher training course to learn the principles of living mentally, physically, spiritually, socially and environmentally well. 

During my trip on March 11th, North Eastern Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake, followed by a nuclear catastrophe. I was scared, frightened and didn’t want to go home. But something called me back and I came back home in April 2011. But made the decision to move out of busy Tokyo to a beach town in Chiba to live a more simple life and officially started working as the Executive Director for Surfrider Foundation Japan.  

The roles and responsibilities of being the head of Surfrider Japan was a lot harder and more challenging than I had imagined, especially in the midst of all the confusion, depression, conspiracy, sadness and anger caused by the March 11th earthquake tragedy. It was an unprecedented time in history, being the experiments of a nuclear disaster and as an environmental NGO we wanted to engage citizens and surfers to drive our mission, 'protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches'. The momentum was just not there. It was bad timing to do anything and even our water quality testing program monitoring radiation, took a long time to take off. It has never been easy to fight for our cause, which is an absolute major concern and priority for us passionate surfers but to the general public, our voices are often unheard and even ignored as surfing is perceived as leisure. But as all passionate surfers know, we have to act to protect our playing fields otherwise it will never be protected. And most importantly, as surfers we know intrinsically that surfing is more than just sport or leisure. We learn so much from our oceans and surfing, it teaches us success, failure, patience, freedom and powerlessness, if all surfers can take this wisdom and lessons learned back to the land, I think the world would be a better place. 

While working as the executive director for Surfrider Foundation Japan, my weekend job was a national radio DJ on J-WAVE. I had the privilege to talk about and promote inspiring ideas and stories about sustainability, which are often untold and unheard in the media landscape. Through my role as a DJ, I realised my passion for being an advocate, a messenger, a connector. To deliver other people’s stories and ideas in an engaging, fun way. I am passionate about connecting like minded people with each other and our cause. With our collective effort, we can create a more sustainable society. 

Besides working for Surfrider and being a DJ I teach yoga. I have also started food catering, specialising in macrobiotic and vegan recipes. I also open my home to travellers, they come through couch surfing, AirBNB, friend’s of friend or sometimes just random guests. I like to share my tips of living healthy through cooking, surfing, and yoga in an effort to educate people to be environmentally and socially responsible. 

ROAR: What do you love about your lifestyle?

Being able to surf when the waves are good and having the freedom to live in the moment, appreciating the simple things life has to offer and occasionally traveling, which is a vital part of life. I love gaining new perspectives and discovering my new self as well as my limitations. I love living in a unique hidden cottage in lush tranquil forest and the community surrounding it. I love having visitors and travellers from around the world to share my culture, my life and my passion with and to also learn from them. 

On a professional level, I get to meet like minded people who are often very active and involved in protecting our oceans. Whether they are a musician, pro-surfer or artist, at the end of a day, we are all the same. We just love surfing and want to share the stoke and the responsible actions that we must take in order to preserve our oceans and continue surfing. 

ROAR: Where can we follow and be a part of your exciting journey?

Check out my blog  - http://www.hiromeme.com

ROAR: Who has inspired you along the way?

Personally... Yukari Desjardin, a Japanese macrobiotic chef and also permaculturist based in Australia. I stayed with her when I first went to Australia in 2006. She was the turning point in my life. She was such a beautiful women, wife and mom of three boys. She had a big open heart that accepted everything. But sadly she passed away in 2009.

Also Deco Nakajima, a Japanese macrobiotic chef and my neighbor. When I first read her essay and recipe book, I was still working in the corporate world. I was so shocked that people like her existed and could live off the land, raising five kids and be sooo happy. Never did I think I would be living so close to her. We became good friends and in 2012-13 we organised her Macrobiotic cooking tour in Australia. 

Professionally... Jim Moriarty, the CEO of Surfrider Foundation US and Stéphane Latxague, the CEO of Surfider Foundation Europe. They have been my motivation and inspiration, providing encouragement to continue doing what I'm doing. They are very intelligent and dedicated to our mission. They are hard working but love to surf and have fun. They are my gurus!

ROAR: What does the future hold for Hiromi?

Since my first trip to Australia in 2006, I feel a very strong connection to Australia, a lot of people who visit my house say it feels like Byron Bay! Every time I go back to Byron it feels like home and home is where the heart is. I hope to make this connection stronger and more meaningful by connecting like minded people, projects, ideas on a personal as well as professional level so that we can all enjoy, travel and  search for an endless summer. Specifically, one project in the pipeline is to start a guest house business in Japan and Australian surfing communities. I stopped thinking and worrying about the future so much because we can only live in the moment, we should not be tied to the never ending spiral of  materialism and over paced capitalism. We should stop and enjoy every minute of the now. I have learned from our March 11th tragedy that there may be no tomorrow. I believe, as long as you are open, flexible, giving, sharing and grounded (not by means of physicality), things will come to you when the time is right - as we say, what comes around goes around.

So I don’t know where or what will happen tomorrow or next month or needless to say a year from now but one thing I know for sure is that as long as I stay positive and healthy, live in the moment, be alert, follow my heart, score a good wave and share my dreams, happiness and these priceless moments with others, I think my future (and hopefully my small universe) is looking pretty bright.

Hiromi working her DJ magic.

Hiromi working her DJ magic.

Hiromi opens her home to travellers.

Hiromi opens her home to travellers.

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Hiromi and Kelly Slater

Hiromi and Kelly Slater

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Thank you so much Hiromi for taking the time to share you beautiful story with us.

If you have any question or want to follower her story, stay connected with Hiromi through the links below. You never know, next time your in Japan you could end up on her couch! xx

 ...and on twitter @hiromimatsubara

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