Words by: Mara Pyzel
Photos by: Sacha Specker
We love to surf and the ocean plays a pivotal role to the sports existence. Heck without the ocean, we all would be chlorine bleached stoked Rick Kane's waiting in line for a turn at the wave machine. For South African surfer, Frank Solomon, who's initiative is to provide underprivileged youth with ocean-based opportunities such as lifeguarding and education about the importance of sustainable practices while creating awareness about the impact of pollution on the environment. Partnering with Parley, an environmental organization harnessing creativity and collaboration to address major ocean threats, Frank looks to open the first Parley ocean school aiming to teach the youth about the ocean pollution issue with hopes of crating a positive impact for the future.
How did your partnership with Parley come about initially?
In 2018 before the Corona J-bay competition I helped Parley organize the "High Line" competition where we got the top shapers in the country to make a board out of more sustainable products. They where looking for someone in South Africa and Greg Long put my name forward. Thanks Greg!
Can you describe the project? Start/end dates?
Since then I have worked with them on a number of projects in South Africa and abroad. This year they have helped fund my foundation, Sentinel Ocean Alliance and set up a Parley Ocean School to educate underprivileged kids in my community about the ocean and why we need to protect it. We have also plan one clean up a month throughout South Africa.
Are your clean up efforts limited to South Africa?
Parley has a huge clean up network all over the world, I have helped with clean ups in Mexico, Australia and Bali. If you want to find clean ups in your area or even have a clean up of your own, they have all information needed on their website.
What made this environmental clean up and awareness effort an element of emphasis and focus for you?
I think just being a surfer and having a connection with the ocean, it's hard not to notice the negative impact we are having. In the last 10 years just at my local beach its gone from being pristine to often having plastics washing up. I think its up to all surfers and ocean lovers to help protect our oceans because we only have one and our planet is dependant on it.
What are your future plans with Parley? (Future projects or media)
My main focus at the moment is setting up the Parley Ocean School. We have such an incredible site right on the beach and I truly believe that by educating the youth we can make a positive impact.
What advice would you give to other surfers regarding making a positive impact on our environment?
Don't over think it. If you want to make a difference and do something dont try and solve the whole problem. Start by using reusable water bottles, coffee cups and bags. When your at the beach pick up the trash on the beach call people out for littering, post about it. If every person did that we could change the world.
As a surfer, why are issues of the environment important to you?
For me marine plastic pollution, over fishing and climate change are subjects that are close to my heart. It's not like I am constantly thinking and stressing about them but when the opportunity arises I try and do what I can to help.
What else can we look forward to from you in terms of surf and/or sustainability?
I have some really exciting projects in the work this year so will have to wait and see.