Positive perspectives can create positive changes.
Locals and visitors explored the waters surrounding Ucluelet’s Little Beach on June 26 to celebrate the fifth annual World Paddle for the Planet Day.
The day was launched by Paddle for the Planet founder, and Ukee local, Bob Purdy in an effort to motivate change by reconnecting people to their surroundings.
“I’ve invited paddlers to pick a change they want to see in the world, paddle for it today and commit to it until it becomes a reality,” Purdy told the Westerly News at Little Beach.
“It gets bigger every year…Worldwide this is the biggest one yet. I’ve been watching it [online] all morning and we’ve had paddles going on literally all over the world.”
He said paddling is a strong tool for change because of the connections it can help create.
“One of the things that has happened and has created the challenges for us that we’re living with in the world today, is we’ve become disconnected. We’re disconnected from the natural world and we’re disconnected from each other; that’s just the nature of the fast pace of the world today,” he said.
“I feel very strongly that if we can get people to reconnect with themselves and connect with each other, we can start taking some of the steps that we need to make.”
Purdy has paddleboarded everyday since founding Paddle for the Planet in 2011. June 26’s Little Beach event was his 2,004th consecutive day on the water.
“I started paddling everyday to change the way we live on the planet,” he said. “In my lifetime, I’ve watched our environment, our social societies and our economics basically in crumbling mode and I felt that it was my responsibility to do something about that.”
After founding Paddle for the Planet in 2011, Purdy wanted to kick the effort up a notch and announced the first World Paddle for the Planet Day in 2012.
“I felt I could do more so I came up with the idea of inviting paddlers around the world to paddle once a year to send a wave of change around the world,” he said.
He said he often hears people question their individual abilities to impact meaningful changes.
“My answer is always you can make a huge difference. You never know who you’re going to impact by what you’re doing,” he said.
“I’m always encouraging people to start small. Pick a small change. It can be something as simple as smiling at a stranger on the street, hanging up your laundry instead of throwing it in the dryer, stop drinking bottled water; those are easy things to do.”
He added small changes like these can create ripple effects.
“The amazing thing about change is it’s got this internal mechanism. Once you start changing things, that internal mechanism kicks in and you start looking for more things that you can change,” he said.
“Then, as you start changing your circle starts to see you changing and they go, ‘Oh, that’s kind of cool, I could do that’ and you send out this ripple effect and it’s amazing how powerful that is, so never underestimate any little change that you make.”
The change Purdy paddled for on Sunday was the launch of a new SUP Sunday initiative.
“I remember back in the day, Sundays were a day for family and friends and chilling out at the beach or wherever. It was a day to connect and we don’t do that very often anymore,” he said.
“I’m asking paddlers to either take a new paddler, who’s never had that experience, out for a paddle on a Sunday or organize a group and start making those communities even stronger than they are.”
He plans to spread the message and hopes his idea fills local shores with new paddlers.
“We’re going to float it out there. It’s very much a fluid process. We’re going to kind of ride the wave as it goes and we’ll see where it takes us,” he said.
He said valuable perspectives are gained from the water and these perspectives come from experience, not explanation.
“It’s a difficult question to answer in words but it’s a really easy question to answer when you experience it…There is nobody that comes off the water with a frown on their face. It’s freeing. It’s one of the few places we can go in the world today and be free,” he said.
“You leave all the technical devices at the beach. We disconnect from the technology that we’ve created and that step alone helps you observe and see what’s around you.”
He hopes Sunday SUP days expand already strong paddling communities.
“If you look at kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, there’s very strong communities around all of those sports and I look at it as paddlers being on the leading edge of change,” he said.
“They already have that connection, it’s just a matter of sharing it with more and more people so that we can reconnect and start doing the things that we know is right in our heart.”
He encourages West Coasters to get on the water and assured paddleboarding is an easy sport to pick up.
“I always tell people that if you can breathe and walk, you can paddle,” he said. “Within three to five minutes you’re going to be standing up on a paddleboard and paddling and I guarantee you it will change your life forever. It’s amazing how powerful this sport is.”
Ucluelet Coun. Sally Mole attended the June 26 World Paddle for the Planet Day event on behalf of Ucluelet’s municipal council.
“We want to encourage this kind of healthy outdoor activity and showcase that we’ve got a great spot here for paddling sports,” she told the Westerly.
“It’s a a beautiful day. The fog’s holding off, we’ve got some boards and kayaks ready to go out and everyone’s happy.”
She hopes to see locals latch onto Purdy’s SUP Sunday initiative.
“We’ve got the water right in our backyard and there’s a myriad of ways to use it so we’re encouraging people to explore their backyard and get on the water,” she said.