This is a review I wrote last year simply for myself, simply to remember the event...
Set against a breathtaking backdrop of the winding SoCal coast, the iconic Ferris wheel turns atop the Santa Monica pier. It’s an incredible site every time I see it. Although I live just a few miles away, it never gets old. Santa Monica boasts a beautiful beach, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here today, Saturday, May 22, 2010. I’m here to preserve its beauty, to pluck the traces of human ignorance from the grains of sand. I’m also here because I deeply respect Jack Johnson. It’s my first beach cleanup with Heal the Bay, and it’s a special one. All registered volunteers who complete today’s beach cleanup will receive a ticket to the free Jack Johnson concert the following Monday on the Santa Monica pier. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought, too. Turns out Heal the Bay organizes beach cleanups every third Saturday of the month. To kickoff his summer tour for his new album, To the Sea, Jack Johnson teamed up with Heal the Bay for this exculsive combo event.
The registration line is long and impressive. It’s refreshing to see so many locals volunteering two hours of their sacred Saturday mornings. Flying solo, I team up with another solo lady, and we begin our mission. Our ammunition: two latex gloves, one plastic trash bag, one checklist and one pencil. A Heal the Bay marine biologist explains that while we may not recover giant pieces of trash from the sand, we will most likely find small shards of plastic, Styrofoam and other non-biodegradable particles. We reach for anything our eyes register as not sand. After the first hour the bag is still weightless and blowing in the wind. Our checklist, however, is teeming with tally marks. Cigarette butts and plastic pieces compete head-to-head for most common trace of human destruction. We spot 4 triple-A batteries scattered along the shoreline. Shocked, we grab them, cursing the human race while shoving them into our bag. Finally, some weight. Both hours fly by, and the feeling of accomplishment as I tie and set our bag on top of the massive pile energizes me. Burning in my back pocket is my concert ticket. As I walk away, I’m grateful for nature and apologetic that my people are responsible for its demise.
That Monday I race out of work like I was escaping high school at the sound of the afternoon bell. Coasting along the beach path towards the pier, I pedal my bicycle towards the best concert I’ve attended to date. The masses are flocking by bicycle, car and on foot. A sizable crowd of concert crashers has formed beside the pier and enjoys a decent view of the stage. The setting is intimate; the crowd is grateful. Besides the loud man a few bodies back smoking a cigarette on the wooden pier, I believe we are not only happy to witness such an amazing artist perform live, but we hold fast a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I love you California, Heal the Bay and Jack Johnson for all that you do to help the environment. We can change the future if we acknowledge the past and present. See you at the next beach cleanup.