Storytelling in any form has always fascinated me. Whether penning a tale, shooting photos, helping make a surf film or just leafing through a good read, I always become completely enveloped in the process of how a story is built and ultimately unfolds. This quirk of mine sent me on an incredibly fun ride as a writer, photojournalist, and surf magazine editor. The journey allowed me to meet heaps of interesting folks and hear their unique stories. My more recent move to running a surf shop for Patagonia in Cardiff, California certainly didn’t slow or hinder my affinity for employing the story telling process on a daily basis.
I quickly learned that Patagonia has defined much of its success byembracing counter-intuitive ideas and philosophies. For example,co-founder and owner Malinda Chouinard always envisioned Patagoniastores as more than just places to buy stuff. They were gifts to thecommunity: places that provided opportunities to learn about localenvironmental issues and groups, hear interesting guest speakerpresentations, donate money to local environmental causes, and meetwith friends to celebrate our uncommon cultures of surfing, skiing, andclimbing.
When we opened the Cardiff surf shop in May of ’06 I really tookMalinda’s vision to heart and made a commitment to the surfingcommunity that we’d live up to our promises. At the foremost of thesewas making good on our pledge to 1% for the Planet by giving grants tolocal grassroots organizations fighting everyday to solve theenvironmental crisis. Secondly, was to give back by way of supportingour surfing culture’s tradition of oral story telling. Considering thefriendships we have with so many great surfers, we thought we’d havesome of them stop by from time to time and share their fondest memoriesfrom the great moments in surf history as well as some yarns from theirmost recent adventures.
This concept first took hold in October ’06 when the Campbell Brothers(Duncan and Malcolm) offered up a rare look at never-before-seen photosand film clips from the ’70s of guys slicing through empty SilverStrand lineups on their innovative Bonzer designs. The turnout wasunbelievable – 150 people squeezed into our cozy patio with another fewdozen spilling out on to the sidewalk. It was immediately obvious we’dtapped into something really special. Something that’s been sort oflost on today’s instantly gratified short-attention-span world.Surfers, it seemed, now had a place to experience the kind of rare,intimate moments you can’t get watching a DVD, browsing the Internet orreading a magazine.
When Gerry Lopez came to the shop in November of ’06, a whopping crowdof 500 showed up to hear one of surfing’s most important figures talkabout his life’s journey of riding waves and mountains. At that pointwe knew there was an audience for these kinds of events. From there wemoved on to host a heavy, and moving, slide show of surfing images fromwar-torn Liberia by Ted Grambeau, and narrated by surfers Dan Malloyand Chris Del Moro. We showed Yvon Chouinard’s lost climbing filmMountain of Storms. And later, Shaun Tomson talked in front of a packedhouse about the Surfer’s Code he’s always lived by.
More recently, Gerry came back with his own surfing hero, JockSutherland. The two rapped about their experiences at Pipeline andshared observations on the current scene. The standing room only crowdwas just over 550 people, and if you missed it, I’ve attached a videosnapshot of what it was like to sit down and hear these guys talkstory.
If you like surfing and an intimate setting where you can see andlisten to some of surfing’s most interesting and influentialcharacters, come by and see us at our next event. To learn more, or toget on our event mailing list, contact STORE_CARDIFF@patagonia.com.
I want to thank Yvon, Malinda and Fletcher Chouinard, Robert Cohen,Vickie Achee, Jason McCaffrey, Rob BonDurant and everyone in Creative Services, the Malloy brothers, Jon Peck andeveryone that works at the Cardiff store. Without the support andenthusiasm from all these great people we wouldn’t be able to continueto bring you these unique events.
Keep an eye on the men’s and women’s surf pages at Patagonia.com, or here at The Cleanest Line, for more videos from the Talkin’ Pipe event with Gerry and Jock. Also, stay tuned for details on Gerry’s new book Surf is Where You Find It.