My name is Kyle Thiermann and I like to have a good time. As a professional surfer and journalist, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places around the world. Through my travels, one of the things I see in many developing countries is a lot of suffering. During my trips, it always felt weird to me when I would stay in a hotel, surf the waves, and learn pretty much nothing about the community. Along the way I became curious about the biggest issues that the places I visited were facing. When I was 18 decided to make a short movie about a proposed coal power plant that was going to be built on the beach in a town called Constiticuion in Chile. The plant would destroy the local economy which was based on fishing and surfing. All of the locals were opposed to it.I did some research and learned that Bank of America was financing the project. When you put your money in a bank it doesn’t stay there. Banks use your money to lend out. When you put your money in a local bank it’s also lent out, but instead of being sucked out of your community, it circulates within your neighborhood and supports your local economy. By shifting your bank account you have the power to stop funding the problem and start funding the solution, all in one move.
So, I made a YouTube movie about this issue and shared it with my friends.
The movie spread and my friends took action and started moving their money, then surf companies took action, then people who didn’t surf took action. Because of this I’ve been able to document people moving hundreds of millions of dollars of lending power out of B of A and other centralized banks into local banks and credit unions, and reached people throughout North America, South America, Africa and much of Europe.
That project was my inspiration to create the Surfing for Change Series: a short movie series based from each surf trip I take that aims to cover a current issue while spreading the message that activism can be fun.