Guest Post from StokeShare
Words by Joel Cesare, Co-Founder, StokeShare
Why We Call It One Watershed
At StokeShare, we believe that we're all a part of one watershed. This means you’re a part of an environmental system where natural boundaries direct drainage towards a large water body, usually the ocean. Before humans disrupted these systems, water carved landscapes for millions of years, creating symbiotic relationships between biota and geology. Water arrived at the sea, purified to deliver the perfect amount of nutrients and sediment so coastal wetlands, beaches and reefs thrived and supported incredible biodiversity (and surf breaks).
Today the situation is different. If you’ve seen Surfrider’s Cycle of Insanity, you know our mismanagement of water is destroying watersheds, and therefore beaches and surf breaks where they empty. Damaged watersheds around the world threaten our oceans like never before. No matter where you live, everything you do has an impact downstream.
This is as true in life as it is in the environment. Our actions impact the people around us every day.
When we started StokeShare our goal was bigger than starting a sharing economy platform. We are a mission that became a company. StokeShare is an online platform that connects people and helps them rent each other's action sports gear. Think Airbnb meets REI. My co-founder, Warren, and I are of the belief if your business doesn’t enhance the environment or community, it’s not a viable business. The future demands more. We knew from the outset if we did this right, built the world’s library for outdoor gear, we’d have an opportunity to do something special as social entrepreneurs. Our vision is build the library and give kids from low-income communities around the world a library card.
Everything We Do Has an Impact Downstream
What excites us about this idea is that we can help address multiple problems at once. As famously coined by Richard Louv in his book, “Last Child in the Woods,” "Nature Deficit Disorder" is a growing concern. The planet needs a future filled with humans committed to restoring balance with nature. To realize this future, we have to make sure kids spend time outside, immersed in it, so they grow up inspired to protect it. Plus studies show time spent in nature directly correlates to creativity and learning capacity.
And then there’s the Opportunity Gap - children from low-income backgrounds are more likely not to graduate from high school, get stuck in a dead end job, or have low self esteem. Whereas a child with wealthy parents, regardless of IQ, talent, or effort, is much more likely to graduate from college, pursue a fulfilling career, and feel confident enough to pursue their dreams.
Luckily, while political institutions fail to address the problem, there are amazing organizations like STOKED passionately committed to solving it. STOKED is a non-profit that helps close the gap between low-income and middle class kids through action sports, mentorship and programs that prepare kids for college. They believe that riding a wave, building a skateboard, and gliding down snowy mountains can show teens that they are capable of greatness, despite the odds against them.
Turns out they are right. Voted one of the 100 most innovative businesses in New York, STOKED is producing results. In communities where high-school graduation rates are dramatically below national averages, STOKED kids have had a 100% high school graduation rate for the past 5 years. They are returning to their communities as Mentors so they can positively influence the next generation. A simple idea to transform a young person’s life with action sports is perpetuating a feedback cycle where this movement can explode.
This is why I’m proud to be a STOKED Igniter and why I am incredibly grateful StokeShare gets to partner with STOKED to take kids surfing in Los Angeles. Our missions are aligned. We are One Watershed. Everything we do will have an impact downstream. Join us to make sure that impact improves the lives of others and the planet.
STOKED, StokeShare and the Surfrider West Los Angeles/Malibu Chapter are partnering for two surf outings coming up in July at Venice Beach in LA. We welcome volunteers!