Two years ago, Kyle Thiermann, a 19 year old pro surfer living in Santa Cruz, CA began efforts to fight the construction of a coal burning plant half a hemisphere away. He learned that the plant, to be built on the central coast of Chile, would contribute contaminates into the air and infiltrate the fresh and oceans waters of the surrounding fishing community with toxins that threatened the livelihoods of thousands – thousands with no political power to stop the project. Kyle believed he could make a difference, and he took it upon himself to develop a strategy to make that difference. He insisted,
People think things are impossible because they just don’t believe. I think the most important thing is to believe it is possible.
As Good Times Santa Cruz reported, instead of trying to tell the coal company thousands of miles away not to build the coal plant, Kyle spearheaded an effort in Santa Cruz to have local residents withdraw their money from a huge national bank funding the project and instead deposit their money in community banks and as a result allow that money to be available to fund local projects. He had done his homework. Kyle knew that if you move $100 (to a local bank), you’re giving them about $1000 dollars’ worth of lending power now to fund community projects. We can really make our local economies a lot more resilient by using this strategy.
He got the word out through a video he create and posted on YouTube: claimyourchange
As for the results, Kyle reported in an interview appearing in the drift surfing blog a few months after the release of his video: just from the video coming out, I’ve documented $400,000 dollars coming out of centralized banks like Bank of America and into community banks – which is $4,000,000 worth of lending power for the bank. There’s a surf company called Livity Outernational who have committed to moving millions out of out of B of A into San Francisco’s New Resource Bank as a result of it as well. They’re one of my sponsors and they’re really conscious. All the rest of my sponsors like Patagonia and Sector 9, they’re all supportive of the project.
And that was just a start. Now, two years later, he can document $430 million that has been withdrawn from Bank of America and deposited in local community banks around the country. Watch Kyle talk about this initiative and its success.
Kyle has since turned his efforts to a campaign (supported by a 4-minute video) to educate others and enlist their support in eliminating the use of single-use plastic bottles and bags. Again, a global problem, but one that this young man believes it is possible for him to do something about.
Kyle Thiermann is a young adult who acts and speaks with courage and authenticity. He seems to be clear about what matters to him and how he wants to be and act in the world. He applies the qualities of his character to participate in and champion efforts to better his world and create great places for us all to live, work and play.
Kyle is the quintessential model of a Citizen Leader.
Now to you.
What cause do you believe in strongly?
Why do you care about this cause?
What can you do to demonstrate to yourself and to others that you believe you can make a positive contribution to the cause?
Begin it now!