Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 2 in Portugal

From Tom, Surfrider Europe:

Here we are in Lisbon for the first show. Before the concert Jack came to say "H"i to all the volunteers and have a chat with them. Lots of t shirts signings and photographs before going backstage again. All the volunteers are really enthusiastic and motivated.

During the concert, the Surfrider booth is great success; the Portuguese audience is nice and enthusiastic and we got tons of pledge signings. Many Portuguese people are asking where they can find the Portuguese Surfrider chapter in order to commit to the environmental cause. Looks like there’s room to increase the number of Surfrider volunteers to come and help us clean the beaches and enforce our organization.

Joao has invited some of the most influential personalities of the Portuguese surfing industry: Joao Valente editor of Surf Portugal magazine, Antonio Fonseca editor of Vert Bodyboard Magazine, Joao Santos Vice-President of the Portuguese Surfing Federation, Catarina Esteves general secretary of Rowing Federation, and 6 surfrider members from 6 different places in Portugal.

All the volunteers have made a great job on the Village Green and made this first concert a success, thanks to them. Portugal has a long coastline and many areas that need to be protected. It’s rewarding to see that so many people are now aware of the environmental problems, and more than that, ready to take actions.

Being on Jack Johnson’s tour definitely helps us to bring that message and promote our actions, as his performance on stage moves the crowd when he shows images of the ocean and more generally shows a great example, being a surfer, a father, a husband and more someone who’s committed to be respectful of our environment.

After the show, we hit the road to Barcelona, while Jack is gonna be singing in Madrid for the Rock and Rio (featuring Neil Young). Thanks you to Joao and all the volunteer crew. This first concert was a perfect start.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dispatch from Portugal

Hello everyone,

I’m Tom, the lucky guy who’s given the amazing opportunity to follow jack Johnson over the European leg of his world tour. From now on, I’ll follow up Elizabeth’s reports and I’ll do my best to share my experiences and impressions on tour through regular updates.

But first I’d like to thank Jack Johnson and all his crew for having me on board, and of course Surfrider Foundation for giving me a chance to follow these guys on 12 European venues.

I hope you’ll enjoy those reports as much as I’ll have fun writing them (in advance Sorry for my French)

DAY 1: Pavilhao Atlantico, Lisboa, Portugal

For the first venue, I have the chance to be driven through old Lisbon (with a special mention to the famous barrio alto) by Joao Zamith, Portuguese chapter rep and also member of Surfrider Europe’s board. Joao renowned activism on environmental concerns and profound knowledge of water pollution management will be a precious help on the Surfrider’s booth.

Our board member is currently working on an original project, aiming to gather together different federations from different nautical sports in one event, in order to get more people involved in the nautical areas preservation. To do so, Joao will soon meet the Portuguese minister of sports and youth. Let’s wish him luck and success on this exciting project.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heading Home

Said goodbye to the crew today at Chicago's O'Hare airport as they departed for Lisbon, Portugal and I headed for a different terminal to fly back to San Diego. I was bit said to be missing the European Adventure, but the campaign will be better served by Surfrider Europe. I will be re-joining the tour in Ontario, Canada in early August to do the remainder of the North American leg. It will be a bit different since there will be chapters at most of the stops, and I will have 3 volunteers at each one.

I will relate any stories from the tour in Europe, but otherwise this blog will be on hiatus until early August.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Minneapolis Chapter!

We had the best show yet in Somerset, Wisconsin (River's Edge, which is the venue for Minneapolis). It was all festival "seating" (no seats, just a big lawn), and the Village Green had high visibility. My volunteers were Ryan, a Surfrider member from Minneapolis, and his girlfriend Bethany. They did a great job for their first booth event, and fielded more RAP inquiries than any other concert. Keely, my volunteer from yesterday stopped by, and we had a number of other Surfrider members stop by the booth who are fired up to get a chapter started in Minneapolis/Lake Superior. I am going to help them connect and get organized over the next 6 weeks. I think we could get 2 new chapters out of this leg of the tour! I had the opportunity at dinner tonight to thank Jack for bringing Surfrider on tour and he asked how it was going. I was the most excited to tell him that we may have 2 new chapters come out of this Midwest leg. New chapters mean outreach and awareness events and actions in areas of the country Surfrider has not yet reached. Yay!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


We woke early this morning to drive from Chicago to East Troy, Wisconsin, home of Alpine Valley, a famous concert venue between Chicago and Milwaukee. The venue attracted people from all over: we met people from Minneapolis, Cedar Rapids Iowa, all over Wisconsin and Illinois. I had 2 volunteers: Keely, a college student from Minneapolis who has been a Surfrider member for 5 years (she joined after seeing a piece in Surfing Girl mag), and the SD Chapter's own Kristian Gustavson, who was in town preparing for his trip down the Mississippi River (see Keely drove almost 6 hours to the venue, but was very happy to finally be able to do something for Surfrider. She knew all about the RAP pledge, having received the email from Global HQ on it just a few days ago. My camera failed to get the photo of Keely and Kristian with Jack, but I did get a photo of him proudly showing off the belt buckle from Andrea Holeman made from leftover resin. He put it on and wore it the rest of day (including during the show, I believe, but his shirt was covering it). Jack and Zach Gill then played a couple songs for all of the Village Green volunteers, something they hadn't done before, and the volunteers were all thrilled.
Unfortunately the place we were provided to put up the Village Green saw little foot traffic, and our outreach suffered today. It's too bad since the venue seemed at capacity at 30,000. We had about half as many people come by as past shows. Still, the message was well received and again it seems that many people are already familiar with the problems with plastics. I met one high school teacher who wanted more information and I gave him my card to assist him (I always try to do that with teachers since they have the capacity to reach so many).
Tonight we drive to Minneapolis for the last show of this leg. The crew is excited to go to Europe and I am a bit sad to not be going with them.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Windy City....

...was not that windy after all. We arrived from cold and damp Michigan to warm and dry Chicago in brilliant sunshine. I think our crew breathed a collective "ahhhhhhhh" when the bus door opened in downtown. It was a day off, good for doing some laundry and catching up on some sleep (the overnight on the bus was brutal). Last night Hillary (a Chicago local) guided us to a local tapas restaurant, Cafe Iberico, which was fantastic. We then headed over to a pool and game party with JJ, family and crew at Dave & Buster's.
One cool thing that has happened is that people with whom I have interacted have become a lot more conscious of plastics in everyday life, especially the caterers. That is the goal - to get people to think about the use (overuse!) of plastics in everyday life, and I think they will start taking actions on their own to reduce. Certainly everyone touring with Jack for the first time has become more environmentally aware because of his directives for greening the tour.
The discouraging thing again is finding out about the lack of recycling programs in the states I have visited. I heard last night that Chicago does not have a recycling program - something about a conflict with the teamsters union.
We have another day off today so I am catching up on Surfrider and RAP emails. Then back to back shows before I fly back home on Monday. It's gone so fast!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oh Michigan!

Tonight we had no rain! We drove overnight from Blossom (bumps and detours; sleeping on the bus has its challenges) and found ourselves in 57 degrees, overcast weather. My lone Surfrider hoody is getting a workout! I had anticipated hot, humid weather. We are near Detroit, but are out in the country, and I got no glimpse of the Motor City. Interestingly, we are only an hour from the Canadian border and had a large number of concert goers from there. Again, most people who stopped at the booth already were aware of the problem with plastics and were taking actions listed on our pledge. It is very encouraging! What is discouraging is to learn that a lot of towns in these states still don't even have recycling programs (let alone curbside).
My volunteers were Tanya, a San Diego County transplant, and her friend Asher. They got to meet Jack, of course. They had spent some time reading about plastics and were more than prepared to discuss plastics with Jack's Michigan fans.
Tonight's set up and break down was easier since we weren't soggy. Another 15+ hour day under our belts, but we are all looking forward to a couple days off in Chicago.

Surfing Lake Erie

Rain, rain and more rain. We arrived in the morning at Blossom concert center to threatening clouds and eventually steady rain. I had two volunteers from Cleveland who are Surfrider members and are very fired up about the organization. Scott and Chris got to meet Jack before the show (and Scott got to mention the surf film he is working on!) They both surf Lake Erie when there is surf (wind required), which is hard core from their description. They have problems with plastic, runoff and sewage being dumped directly in the lake, but have to surf after it storms because that is the only time when there is surf. Chris knew that Jim Moriarty, our illustrious Executive Director, is actually from Cleveland! (now located in Solana Beach).
The response from concert-goers to our messge was about the same as Indy: I was surprised at the number of people who read the RAP pledge and said that they already do most of the actions on the pledge. I think there must be something about Jack's fans; they are more environmentally inclined.
Scott and Chris, after talking to a lot of people from Cleveland who are interested in surfing and clean water issues, are very fired up to start a Cleveland/Northern Ohio chapter, which I think is great! I think that could be the most significant outcome of our concert outreach at Cleveland, and will result in reaching a lot more people in Ohio about clean water issues. I plan to follow up with Chris and Scott on the formation of a new chapter. I think we can help from San Diego a lot!
Another 15 hour day of putting up and taking down 10 vinyl tents, talking for 4 hours to interested concert goers, being very soggy by the end (folding 10 tent tops on my knees in the rain), but very exciting!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rock and Roll, Baby!

Today was another day off in Cleveland, and of course the thing to do is visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After a nice 4.5 mile solo run through downtown (2 laps around the Browns stadium), Hillary and I made a more casual stroll back to the museum. The weather is fantastic: low 70's with a warm breeze and low humidity. I thought the H.O.F. was really interesting, lots of great history of a variety of bands. I felt like I learned the history of punk last year at the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the DeYoung museum in SF, which is good, because punk is under served at the H.O.F.
Early tomorrow morning we head to the venue to set up, then get back on the bus after the concert and head to Detroit for another show the next day, then back on the bus to Chicago. 2 nights straight on the bus means no showers probably, so I must enjoy the Ritz while I can! The crew on our bus (and the crew overall) is so varied, I don't think any of us come from the same state. People who work tours can live anywhere, then just fly to where the tour is kicking off. They will tour with different artists and some of them have great stories. It is clear that not all bands treat their crew as well as JJ does. We have been told a number of times how lucky we are that our first tour is like this. So, our crew consists of catering: Jack from Tennesee, Dave from Alaska, Collette from Bellngham, WA, and Christine from Florida. Haven't yet found out yet where Fiona is from. Andrew (Scooter) from Reverb is from West Virginia, and Josh is from Maine. Hillary is from Chicago and JC (merchandise) is from Boulder. Shaun from Climate Counts is from New Hampshire. Luckily we all get along pretty well, since we have long spells of being confined to a single 45 foot steel tube (aka, the bus). The bunks have about 2 feet of head clearance, so it you get in and out horizontally, and you don't spend any time there unless you are sleeping. Luckily, most of the time on there is at night, after the concert and we all crash soon after taking off.
Love the comments; am glad to know that people are following along!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kickin' it in Cleveland

A ten hour overnight bus ride landed us in Cleveland, Ohio, on a sunny afternoon. We are staying at the Ritz-Carlton, which is a couple blocks from the ball field where the Indians were playing the Padres, so a few of us hustled over to catch a few innings for the game. The Pads lost :( JC, one of my bus-mates, is also a baseball fan and we resolved to hit as many MLB games in August as we can, as we are visiting a lot of cities with MLB teams. Tomorrow is another day off and we are thinking of visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - probably the only chance I will get to go there. An early night tonight in the comfort of a Ritz bed. A nice change from 2 nights on the bus (and no showers!)

The Best Night of My Life

At 8 p.m. Jack played to an estimated crowd of 70,000 people. Hillary (Vote the Environment) and I were on the side of the stage with Kim Johnson and others from the crew watching the enormous crowd go wild for him. 1/2 way in Eddie Vedder, wearing a Boy Scout shirt (in memory of the scouts who died in Iowa) came and stood by us (with Jeanine Garafalo) before going to join Jack on stage for one song. After the song he came back to the side of the stage and I seized my opportunity to introduce myself as being from Surfrider and being on tour with Jack. I thanked him for all he has done for Surfrider and he said something like "so long as we can still surf..." And I said, "we are working on it!" He shook my hand a couple times (no hug, damn!) before he retreated to his dressing room to prepare for his set.
And what a set it was! Pearl Jam played for a solid 2 hours and 45 minutes with only 2 short breaks, rocking out a crowd of 80,000++. Our "Jack Johnson All Access" laminated passes got us to the same place to watch the whole thing: from the side of the stage. I was about 10 feet from Mike McCready the whole time; any closer and I would have been on the stage itself! I was taking photos with my Optio without a flash, so they aren't that good, but I am hoping to get some better ones from Hillary who has an SLR digi camera. Many of you know that Pearl Jam has been my favorite band for a long, long time, so seeing them play such a blowout show at such close proximity has to be one of the highlights of my life. A couple guys on my bus had never seen PJ play before, and even though they were out in the audience, it blew them away - best concert they have ever seen. Eddie is just so intense, and the band absolutely solid. At the end, Eddie spoke to the crowd about the war, about taking action to change the way things are going in this country and the world, and asked the crowd to shout back that the time is now, the place is here. He was visibly moved when the crowd roared back in response. This is a man who takes social responsibility, and his role in influencing people, seriously. (We had to leave Bonnaroo before Kanye went on at 2 a.m.)
Today it all seems like a dream. What other highlights will this tour bring?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jack, Pearl Jam and Kanye

No Village Green today at Bonnaroo, but we helped out one of the non-profits here, talking to people about reducing their carbon footprints. We only had to work a few hours, which was a nice change from the 15 hour day yesterday. It is a full on festival out there, with lots of crazy people, multiple stages, arts and eco booths, and of course the requisite mud. Imagine a mile square muddy field with 80,000 people camped out and you can begin to imagine the spectacle.
Then there was a BBQ "backstage" with the whole JJ crew and now we are just hanging out waiting for the shows. The backstage is a grassy, tented square around which 8 portable dressing rooms are placed. These are for PJ, JJ and Kanye (the headliners for tonight), so everyone and their crews are just around. It's the most peaceful and pleasant place at the festival, fairly family oriented with Jack's kids running around. This is the place everyone wants to be. Rolling Stone is here, jockeying for interviews. I'm just happy to hang on the couch and take in the whole scene.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Indy Rocks!

Our passengers are trickling onto the bus, at 12:30 a.m., as we prepare for the overnight bus ride to Bonnaroo. It was a crazy day of heavy rain and crossed fingers, hoping a tornado didn't blow away the Village Green. The weather gods cooperated and we had just a few heavy downpours before the doors opened and some light rain as people visited the booth. Lots of very interested people! Many people knew about the North Pacific Gyre and one woman knew the stats on recycling plastic bags. I was impressed! Many people read the RAP pledge and said they already did many of the things on there. The last line was changed to "pick up a piece of litter" and a lot of people (with kids, especially) thought it was a great idea to add that to their enviro regimen. I had only one volunteer show up (there were a lot of volunteer no-shows for the non-profits due to the weather), but she drove 2 hours from Toledo, Ohio and was a rockstar in her own right. She staffed the booth non-stop for 4 hours without a break, excited to do a Surfrider booth after joining as member at Kokua. Jack came around, as I think he does at every show and greeted and met each and every volunteer. My volunteer from Toledo was stoked!
The food continues to impress: Alaskan halibut with beurre blanc, roasted beets, fresh salads, oyster mushrooms and summer squash from local farms (that was just dinner!)
You may not hear from me for a couple days - Bonnaroo might be crazy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ah, the Food!

The girls and I decided that since we hadn't had the first show yet, and today was just about practice setting up and taking down the booths, that I should write about the food. The "girls" are Hillary and Elissa from Patagonia and Nicole and Joanna from Headcount (the other non-profits on the tour).
Most you know that I am somewhat of a foodie... I was dreading the midwest cuisine and anticipating deep fried selections and iceberg lettuce. We are very, very lucky to Dega catering providing us with breakfast, lunch and dinner. First, they are sourcing fruits, veggies and meats from local organic farms. There is an abundance of fresh fruit like cherries, grapes, nectarines and melon at all of the meals. Lots of great salads and veggies too with strawberries and crumbled bleu cheese. Free range, grass fed beef. Black bean burgers and quinoa salad. A freshly made apple cobbler to die for! All manner of teas and a self service espresso machine. I will be lucky if I don't put on some weight on this trip since it is like having a gourmet chef at every meal (especially since we are sharing a bus with them). Actually I am not worried about the weight - we are moving boxes and hauling stuff around, putting up and taking down tents, and sweating a ton in this 90 degree heat.
It was exciting today to see the first set up being done for the concert from backstage and seeing how it all comes together. I had a little hiccup when my volunteers for the show bailed out, but a posting on myspace brought out a whole bunch of willing volunteers so I am again set, with one Surfrider member driving from Toledo, Ohio to work the show!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Crew

Tonight everyone arrived in Indianapolis: the road crew, caterers, musicians, non-profits and managers. I think there are about 50 of us. I found out we (the non-profits) will be sharing a bus with the guys from Reverb, who are managing the "greening" of the tour, and the caterers. At least I know we won't be hurting for food! (No Home Town Buffet or Bob Evans for us!) We are all staying at the Hotel Conrad, the nicest hotel in Indianapolis as I understand it. I guess this will partially make up for the cramped quarters of the tour bus. I have a nice big room to myself the next 2 nights! We had a non-profit getting to know you at Rock Bottom Brewery (see photo) and I met Nicole Parisi-Smith for the first time: she's a RAP enthusiast from the Capitol Chapter of Surfrider who is on this tour for Headcount. Super cool to meet up after many RAP emails.
No rain here, just low eighties and not too humid. It's nice! I hope it stays that way....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indianapolis Bound

The first stop on the tour is Indianapolis on June 13. We are all flying there tomorrow, braving the threatening weather and flooding. There are a couple "tech days" before the concert which will also be good getting-to-know-you days for all the new people on the tour. In addition to Surfrider, Headcount, Vote the Environment and Climate Counts will be included on the tour. Just counting down now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Official!

The Surfrider Foundation announced today they have partnered with Jack Johnson for his 2008 world tour.

The Surfrider Foundation was part of a select group of non-profit organizations that was handpicked by Johnson to participate in the tour and help launch his All At Once campaign. The campaign, which includes a new online community ( ), also seeks to redefine the typical concert experience by allowing fans to meet face-to-face with local and national non-profits, learn about environmental actions they can take, and enter to win a chance to watch Jack’s performance from the stage in return for taking environmental action in the All At Once Village Green Passport.

“I can’t think of a better reason to put on a concert than to bring people together to create positive change,” said Jack Johnson. “With this year’s tour we are bringing together all of our resources All At Once to give back to each community that we visit.”

Surfrider Foundation is taking advantage of the opportunity to roll out its new Rise Above Plastics campaign, which seeks to educate people on the detrimental impacts that plastics have on marine environments.

“Jack and his wife Kim have been tremendously supportive of our efforts over the years,” says Surfrider Foundation CEO Jim Moriarty. “We are incredibly honored to be partnered with them now, as they work to make an even more profound impact in cultivating the culture of global activism.”

For more information on the Surfrider Foundation’s partnership with Jack Johnson, including tour dates and locations, go to .