We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Walsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from Las Vegas. My parents moved there for the cheap land and valley sunrises, but they were beach people at heart and started taking me to California as a young kid. Every year my family drove across the desert to the same coastal hotel, and at the end of the trip you could always smell the ocean. Me and my siblings would jump out of the car and bury each other in sand — I got buried every time because I was the smallest. I now work with the Surfrider Foundation on coastal policies that are meant to protect the coast for the general public. I think growing up with a deep connection to the beach, but always feeling like an outsider there, makes me pretty good at defending access to a place that really is meant for everyone.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I work for the Surfrider Foundation. My high school self would have absolutely died to know I’d work for an organization with ‘surf’ in its name. My suburban experience was pretty cliche and I was always taping embarrassingly voyeuristic photos of surf mags above my bed.
But I think it makes sense that I kicked out in the ocean advocacy space. I want to be an expert at things, but I’m a hopeless Jack-of-All-Trades and that’s good for environmental policy work because my responsibilities vary. I had a lot of majors in college (including Russian Literature, wow) and some bizarre internships and even an early career in public relations in Los Angeles. When I left that job, the CEO of my firm sent an email to our entire staff. “Laura is going to play with dolphins at a university in San Diego, wish her luck.” I don’t regret any gigs I took or left behind. I loved going to school at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography because of the people I met; especially the activists. I’m still so impressed by people who really want to change the status quo.
Working for Surfrider lets me combine all these things – my environmental background, communications skills, bent for new paradigms. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that spending quality time in the water is encouraged.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
1. Get in the water, preferably in Ocean Beach
2. Get a ‘honey pie’ latte at the Template
3.Go for a long hike at Mission Trails.
4.Catch a show at the Casbah downtown. Note the back bar.
5.Grab a frozen yogurt at Froglander’s, the frog-themed froz yo shop you never knew you craved.
6. Rinse in saltwater and repeat.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my friends, who are saving the ocean.
William Finnegan’s ‘Barbarian Days,’ for the most fabulous surf bum writing
Liz Clark’s ‘Swell’ for proving that women can do crazy things, like sail around the ocean Ian Urbina’s ‘Outlaw Ocean,’ for brilliantly investigating the ocean’s human stories