The Street Stops Here

This is the second in a series of posts documenting the Surfer’s Guide to the Universe surfboard art project (see the first post describing the project here).

Last week brought the most wonderful opportunity to preview the kind of educational work I’d like to be doing more of with a Surfer’s Guide to the Universe. One of the primary reasons I selected Imogene Drummond as my artistic partner for this board is because of her ongoing project called Divine Sparks, which includes an innovative art and creativity program for kids. With Divine Sparks (literally), Imogene has been working with a class of 10-11 year-old boys in a youth-at-risk school called San Miguel Academy in a part of Newburgh, NY that is plagued by drugs and poverty.

When Imogene raised the possibility of my giving a Surfer’s Guide presentation to her group of kids, I jumped at the opportunity. I brought one of my wooden surfboards and Imogene’s painted panel and we had a conversation about inspiration, creativity and nature. I also shared a fun little video clip that shows how nature inspires my own creativity. Imogene then shared her experience of our collaboration in Martha’s Vineyard, and how the light, water and serenity there inspired her painting. As her educational work aims to ignite empowerment using creativity, she also facilitated a fun art activity to help the boys visually express their ideas for their own personal development.

Words now fail to express how uplifting this experience was for me. It was truly inspirational because the kids were fantastic and showed so much promise. I was simply amazed by these boys and the work being done at San Miguel’s.

I have been thinking about my experience and it makes me ebullient to have witnessed the kinds of transformations being fostered by people like Imogene with Divine Sparks, and Fr. Mark Connell, and teachers Kerry DiMeo and Frank Snyder at San Miguel Academy. When I consider their work along with the transformations I have seen in my own students of Big History (not to mention the changes we currently see happening in the Catholic Church), I am truly uplifted.

This experience has refilled me with great hope. So, to Imogene, Fr. Mark and Kerry, THANK YOU! You are all doing such wonderful and important work. But most of all, thank you to the boys at San Miguel’s Academy for teaching me so much and being so inspirational!


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A Surfer’s Guide to building a board

Getting a PhD in “cosmic evolution as transformative experience” has required I spend a lot of time in a very cerebral space. Now that the dissertation is submitted, I’ve been eager to get out of my head and put my hands back into service in a more down to earth, manual sense.

After months of planning and the last two weeks of building, I am superbly pleased to introduce the first Tree to Sea Surfboard Art Project.

This special, board-building art project started in an old brewery on the banks of the Hudson River (thank you REconsider!) and ended at the historic Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway on Martha’s Vineyard (an island which I have a deep, natural history with as a commercial fisherman and surfer). Nat Benjamin was gracious enough to allow for not only me to set up my traveling wooden surfboard workshop, but also for the visionary painter Imogene Drummond, who I have teamed up with, to do her thing on the beach in front of the boatyard.

This was a truly extraordinary experience. Not only was I able to craft an original 6’2 single-fin retro design, but I was privileged to make friends with a local cadre of some of the best boat builders, sailors, and dock-hands in the world. To Abby, Angie, Alex, Brad Duncan, Chelsea, Christian, Lyle, Lynn, Max, Nat, Zolle, Starling, and Zephyr, I can’t express the deep gratitude I feel for all of your help and hospitality. Those cookouts on the beach are some of the best stuff of life.

I also had the chance to get in some summer surfing in one of my favorite secret spots on the planet on my current favorite board, a Wing 9’0 built last summer. One of the wonderful challenges of surfing in this spot is a mile-long paddle through a salty lagoon followed by a trek across a desolate beach. This little journey to the surf is another opportunity to connect with nature.  One encounter with a horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) reminded me of my childhood fascination with these creatures. The meeting inspired a whole new design for the board and fin, and perhaps even a new name. As always, time in Nature provides inspiration, wisdom, and pure bliss.

This project is meant to capture the essentials of a lifelong conversation I’ve been having with Nature, Art, Science and Surfing. When the board is completed, it will be auctioned and the proceeds will benefit my non-profit educational work in a new project called the Surfer’s Guide to the Universe.

If you’d like to be notified when the auction begins (in late-June 2015) just enter your email address in the field to the right.

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Key West SUP Build

First (and last) SUP build.


Introducing the Tarpon 11'5

Introducing the Tarpon 11’5

photo 3[1]

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story (or at least part of it). There are two pages of thumbnails…

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What im up to these days
Check out number three of the top ten


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Summer Build

Perhaps I was a little too hurricane optimistic. It’s been flat to small for weeks. Just enough time to build a summer small-wave board. Again, I’ll let the photos tell the story.

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Hurricane Preparedness

When the Caribbean begins hiccuping tropical lows, hurricane season is approaching. It’s good to be prepared. The quiver has dwindled lately so I figured it was time to expand the family. The S(h)ingle Fin is a good biggish-wave board.

I’ll let the pics tell the story.

New method for installing deck planks

New method for installing deck planks

Another view of deck planks

Another view of deck planks


Under clamp pressure

Glassing the deck

Glassing the deck

Fin Love by Gretchen

Lunar fin by Gretchen

Fin design by Gretchen Mills of Key West Yoga Sanctuary

Stern with Paulownia leash plug

Bottom finished

Bottom finished

To be continued after the first named storm…

Top Finished

Top finished

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Another Melbourne Workshop

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Wooden Surfboard Days Australia

Learn more at:

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Sydney 1 HWS workshop update

Another great workshop and another batch of boards and buddies made. Here are some shots from the weekend, hopefully we’ll have some of these babies glassed, wet, and dropping in soon. Will keep you posted… For those on the Sydney workshop waitlist, we’ve not forgotten about you. Keep checking in as we’re arranging workshop number two.

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Oregon College of Arts and Crafts UPDATE

Sorry this took so long. But here’s a nice little sample of the scene. A great workshop. Thanks everybody!

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