Clean Ocean Action And The Beach
It’s a beautiful (albeit, brisk) spring day here in Asbury. I get the privilege of looking out the restaurant window and seeing the ocean’s waves crashing on a tan and beautiful shoreline here in Asbury Park. As I prepared today’s blog, I got to reflect on a time when I would have looked out onto Asbury’s shoreline and seen something very starkly different. I’ll tell you all about that today as I highlighting another amazing organization that I’ve chosen to donate to as part of the purchase price of my cookbook, Feed This Community (You can pick up your copy here).
I’m grateful for the chance to tell you all about the amazing work and living legacy of Clean Ocean Action. Clean Ocean Action is an organization that is dear to my heart, not only because it’s creation and timeline mirrors my own culinary and event-planning growth, but because the organization is active in its efforts to protect our shorelines and water. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be looking out onto that pristine beach right now if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of Clean Ocean Action.
The Origin of Clean Ocean Action
Clean Ocean Action was created by Cindy Zipf in her living room around the time I began my adventure in the culinary world. At the time, I was working at Oshin and Clean Ocean Action had its kickoff party at the restaurant (which was located inside a dive shop in Avon). I was waitressing in the restaurant that year and so Cindy and I connected. She was driven, passionate, and thoughtful. We were both passionate about the work that Clean Ocean Action was doing and I was excited to help in my own way as well.
Around that time, I started to work for COA to lead fundraisers and plan and execute bigger events for them. There was one time that remains in my memory even in this moment. It was an amazing evening for an event. We’d invited people to buy tickets for an event on a boat so that the funds could go to Clean Ocean Action. We’d chartered a boat going out of The Highlands with food, music, dancing, and drinks. The boat traveled out of port and went around the New York area, up the Hudson. It was quite an evening. Those in attendance got to connect with one another, enjoy delicious food, and take in beautiful views. They also got the added bonus of knowing that their ticket price included a donation to an amazing organization.
Clean Ocean Action raised a great deal of money that evening and a great time was had by all.
I’d say that was my first major dive into marrying food, fun, and awareness to raise money for organizations who were doing work in the world that I truly believed in. It’s easy to forget, because we live in a world of fundraiser events, but back then this combination of raising money and holding an event alongside one another was a new approach. It was also my first real event job and I can’t think of a better way to begin that adventure because I was (and remain) so passionate about Cindy, Clean Ocean Action, and their mission.
Coming Together For Clean Oceans And Shorelines
When Clean Ocean Action began, it was a time along our coast where there was on-going horrible toxic dumping. One summer, there were people in hazmat suits patrolling the beaches and testing fecal and medical waste in the water and along the shoreline. People, tourists included, couldn’t go into shark river, the beaches closed, and for a time tourism essentially died. People finally became angry. The community really got lit up and environmental groups got involved including Clean Ocean Action. People collectively realized that the dumping was killing our ocean and that the off-shore dumping had polluted coast so badly. I was among them and began getting involved with organizations, of which I’d say Clean Ocean Action was one of the pioneers, to protect coast. Cindy and the organization traveled to fight against off-shore dumping in DC and the work of Surfrider and Clean Ocean Action shaped how people worked to protect coast.
Advocacy, Tourism, And The Common Good
Organizations and the people who supported them through advocacy and action no longer let government structures and politicians slide on things that mattered when it came to the safety and cleanliness of our ocean and shoreline. It was as simple as it was revolutionary: We’re in this together. No one wants a polluted ocean, a hazardous shoreline, dead fish washing ashore, or to tell their children that this is normal. It was not normal. It was not acceptable and that remains true even today.
Clean Ocean Action works with fishermen, tourism organizations, and surf organizations to educate and to communicate the importance of the coast to the enjoyment, livelihood, and wellbeing of all people.
The Future of Our Oceans And Shorelines
Nowadays, I’d love to say that the troubles of that era are behind us. But that’s just not the case. There is still work to be done and Clean Ocean Action is still making that work happen. Cindy is a mentor of mine, a leader, and a fiercely strong woman who put herself out there when people weren’t fighting for the coast on the grassroots level. She built Clean Ocean Action in that way and has been activating and empowering people in that way each day.
As for me, I am just as committed to their cause and just as full in my support for their work as I help in whatever way I can. Any time Clean Ocean Action wants to do a press conference they tend to do it at Langosta Lounge and the organization also held their 25th anniversary at the restaurant when it first opened. My twenty-fifth year of as a chef was also my twenty-fifth year working with Clean Ocean Action and the adventure in actively defending our ocean and shoreline continues.
Looking For Some Next Steps