Mangle es Vida: Music for Relief, Linkin Park and WILDCOAST Partner to Protect Mangroves and our Oceans

Dave Farrell, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Lincoln Park.

Dave Farrell, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Lincoln Park.

Linkin Park has always been one of the world’s most iconic, innovative and groundbreaking bands. In 2005, the influential artists started their philanthropic arm, Music for Relief (MFR) to help respond to the devastating tsunami in Indonesia.

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Here’s more on the MRF history and mission:

Since inception in 2005 Music for Relief has raised over $7 million for survivors of multiple disasters across four continents including Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. MFR has organized benefit concerts, online auctions, and events with multi-platinum musicians and celebrities to help rebuild and donate supplies to people in need. Music for Relief has also planted over 1 million trees to help reduce climate change.

So I was elated a few months ago when MFR asked WILDCOAST, the organization I co-founded and am Executive Director of, to partner in its effort to help combat climate change and storm-related flooding through the conservation of mangrove ecosystems in the Baja California Peninsula.

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Mangroves on Isla Magdalena, Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Sur.

Since WILDCOAST has been working to preserve mangroves in Baja California and throughout Northwest Mexico through the innovative use of conservation concessions in partnership with Mexico’s Protected Area Commission, this offer of support was right up our alley. More importantly the programs seeks to help to prevent climate related storm damage by protecting the natural ecosystems that help to mitigate coastal flooding, protecting wildlife and coastal communities.

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Divers hunt for scallops in Bahia Magdalena.

In the amazingly vast and stunningly beautiful Bahia Magdalena in Baja California Sur we have been carrying out an ambitious plan to preserve mangroves through the application of federal conservation concessions. Here’s a description of the program from MFR:

Mangroves are botanical amphibians that form forests, which are among the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on Earth. They are the tropical rainforests of the ocean. The plants’ interlocking roots stop riverborne sediments from coursing out to sea – making them natural land builders.  Their trunks and branches serve as a palisade that diminishes the erosive power of waves. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, research demonstrated that where mangrove forests were intact, they served as natural breakwaters, dissipating the energy of the waves, mitigating damage, and saving lives. Mangroves are threatened by development, oil spills, chemical pollution, sediment overload, climate change, and disruption of their sensitive water and salinity balance. Music for Relief has partnered with WiLDCOAST to conserve 61 miles of mangroves in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The program will help restore wildlife habitats, protect coastal areas, and keep our ocean pristine.

Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Peninsula, Mexico, June

Bottle nose dolphins, Bahia Magdalena. Photo: Claudio Contreras-Koob

This past April we launched this new partnership at the Mobli Beach House in Venice Beach. Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson attended along with MFR Director Whitney Showler and their incredibly creative and passionate team members.

Brad Delson of Linkin Park, Whitney Showler of MRF and Serge Dedina of WILDCOAST at the MFR Mangrove /Ocean Campaign Launch in Venice Beach.

Brad Delson of Linkin Park, Whitney Showler of MRF and Serge Dedina of WILDCOAST at the MFR Mangrove /Ocean Campaign Launch in Venice Beach.

Of the partnership Whitney said,

“This is an exciting night for us because it’s the first time we’re doing an ocean program. The environmental work we typically do is aimed at disaster risk mitigation, we plant trees in wildfire burned areas or we plant trees in an area where there is a potential for a mudslide and we’ve wanted to do something tho help protect the ocean.” Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, research demonstrated that where mangrove forests were intact, they served as natural breakwaters, dissipating the energy of the waves, mitigating damage and saving lives.

According to Brad Delson:

“It’s a way for the entire music industry to come together after natural disasters and raise money and support people who are effected by these events. We’re really grateful that our music has given us a platform to affect positive change when we have the help of amazing people like some of the folks here tonight. It’s certainly one of the ongoing objectives of Music for Relief to be a voice and an extension of the music industry as a whole. So when other artists join us, when other people in the music industry join us, when fans online get involved in causes, that’s when we see the greatest impact of our efforts.”

The WILDCOAST team at the Arena Mexico for the June 23rd LP concert.

The WILDCOAST team at the Arena Mexico for the June 23rd LP concert.

So at the June 23rd Linkin Park concert at the Arena Mexico in Mexico City we fully launched the campaign in Mexico. On June 25th we also tabled at the Arena Monterrey in Monterrey. It was a great opportunity to get our message out: #mangleESvida (Mangroves are Life) and reach out to whole new conservation audience. The concert attendees couldn’t have been nicer and swarmed our tables to get more info and get a chance to win an electric guitar signed by band members.

LP fans.

LP fans at the WILDCOAST/MFR tables.

Overall it was a great start to a fantastic and critical partnership for preserving oceanic ecosystems that are absolutely essential in preserving life and protecting our oceans and our planet. I found the positivity, passion and earnest interest in social change and environmental protection on the part of LP’s fans really inspiring. It was a hopeful, exuberant crowd and exactly the type of audience conservationists need if we are to continue our effort to sustain the ecosystems that sustain life on earth. We are grateful to Linkin Park and their fans along with MFR for making it possible.

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LP fans in Mexico City-full of hope and optimism.

The day after the Mexico City LP concert, we took advantage of our stay in Mexico City to get our message out on Radio Red and meet with influential Mexican policy makers.  As always, it is not just enough to reach out–we have to make sure that every campaign actually makes a difference on the ground–and in this case we have to do everything possible to preserve the emerald green mangroves of Bahia Magdalena and Mexico’s incredible array of mangrove forests that are a natural buffer and shield against a climate changing future that is coming at us more quickly than we can imagine.

Eduardo Najera and Fay Crevoshay of WILDCOAST on Radio Red in Mexico City talking about climate change and the need for mangrove conservation.

Eduardo Najera and Fay Crevoshay of WILDCOAST on Radio Red in Mexico City.

We can pretend that climate change isn’t happening or we can act now. We are grateful to Linkin Park and their fans along with MFR for making it possible and inspired to action by these words of wisdom from LP:

‘Cause you don’t know what you’ve got Oh you don’t know what you’ve got No you don’t know what you’ve got It’s your battle to be fought No you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Til it’s gone ‘Til it’s gone ‘Til it’s gone

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Surfing the Border Cape Region Tour

I did a book tour of the Cape Region of Baja --Todos Santos, San Jose del Cabo, Vinorama and Los Barriles from April 9-12, 2015. Thanks to Sofia Gomez and Fay Crevoshay for organizing media coverage of the tour.

I did a book tour of the Cape Region of Baja –Todos Santos, San Jose del Cabo, Vinorama and Los Barriles from April 9-12, 2015. Thanks to Sofia Gomez and Fay Crevoshay for organizing media coverage of the tour.

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With a staff member of the municipality who came to my talk in Todos Santos.

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Todos Santos is a Pueblo Magico in Mexico and has done a great job of using the arts to promote economic development and tourism.

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I gave a talk at La Esquina on the west side of Todos Santos and was happy to see my longtime friend Gary there. I’ve known Gary since I started surfing in Imperial Beach.

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With our WILDCOAST Chapter members in Todos Santos and Paula Angelotti (second from right) the manager of La Esquina who hosted the talk. 

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When I lived in Todos Santos more than 20 years ago, the beach at Los Cerritos, south of Todos Santos, was bereft of development. Now the dunes there have been replaced by buildings that are at risk from storm-related erosion there.

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Thanks to Armando Figaredo of Cabo Mil radio for interviewing me on his very popular mid-day radio show. I was on the air after a candidate for governor, so I knew it was a good audience. Thanks Armando!

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Osiris Herrera and of the Papalote Sports Bar kindly hosted my talk in San Jose del Cabo. Thanks Osiris and Anne for he wonderful poster design!!!

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We had a great group in San Jose including Raul Rodriguez Quintana, the Los Cabos Municipality Director of Ecoloby (kneeling) and Martha Moctezuma (in the green blouse to my right).

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The Estero San Jose Wetland Reserve is a natural gem at the edge of Los Cabos. It is also a sister reserve with the TJ Estuary in Imperial Beach.

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The reserve is an important habitat for migrant birds.

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The Estero San Jose Reserve is also a wetland of international importance.

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The reserve is incredibly beautiful.

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With Sofia Gomez of WILDCOAST (left) and the Los Cabos Municipality crew along with Martha Moctezuma of Los Cabos Coastkeeper.

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With Melina Arana of Imperial Beach and her husband Horacio who manages he Los Cabos Organic Market.



With Judy Tolbert of Baja Books who hosted me at the weekly organic market.

With Judy Tolbert of Baja Books who hosted me at the weekly organic market.

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At the very nice VidaSoul Hotel and Restaurant on the East Cape. Thanks to owner Joan who generously hosted my talk.

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With Cabo Pulmo National Park Director Director Carlos Godinez (blue shirt) and Park Monitoring Coordinator Ronald Zepeta along with East Cape resident and writer Dawn Pier at Vidasoul-which is a great place for talk.

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Thanks to our WILDCOAST Chapter members who organized a talk at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez in the East Cape town of Los Barriles. It was great to see my longtime friend Markos Higginson who I used to lifeguard with at the Silver Strand State Beach more than 20 years ago.





Todos Santos 1994

dedina:young BajaHere is a photo of me and my wife Emily  on Palm Beach in Todos Santos sometime in November 1994 with our dogs Julius and little Tecate (who was a “street dog” who came with the house we cared for). We  spent the previous year living in Laguna San Ignacio and Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos carrying out field research for our University of Texas at Austin doctoral dissertations in Geography on gray whale conservation (me) and the cultural ecology of fishing and eco-tourism (Emily).

Our stays in those amazingly hospitable and wonderful communities were followed by a month in La Paz to do interviews and carry out archival research and then another month in Mexico City to do the same.

After a great year in Mexico, we faced the prospect of returning to Austin to write up our research and work as teaching assistants (Emily) which is what smart grad students do (it is best to be near your committee members and advisor). Thanks to a series of encounters in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos with Kimberly and Ken who introduced us to Lee Moore, who then set us up with Roswitha Mueller (who owned a stunning 19th century home on the Plaza in Todos Santos) we ended up living in that emerging art colony and now-hipster village in southern Baja for a year.

For two literally penniless grad students it was a dream come true. The house overlooked the Palm-fringed coastline of Todos Santos. I dawn-patrolled each morning and after a long surf returned to the house where Emily and I shared breakfast and then sat down to the task of writing dissertations. After a long day of writing, we would retreat to Palm Beach for a walk with the dogs and to play in the waves.

I unwisely decided to write my dissertation as a book, which wasn’t a very strategic way of getting my committee to approve it (I later had to substantially modify the manuscript to make it more academic–which I should have done in the first place). My original manuscript later became my book, Saving the Gray Whale.

In retrospect making the decision to stay in Todos Santos was the smartest thing we have ever done. That year launched our careers in international conservation. After having discovered that ESSA (and its 49% partner) Mitsubishi planned to turn Laguna San Ignacio, a gray whale lagoon and Mexican federal protected area, into a 500,000-acre industrial salt harvesting facility, we joined up with Homero Aridjis and Betty Ferber of the Grupo de los Cien, to help launch a campaign against the project.

That initial effort turned into one of the largest ever international efforts to save a wild place that ended successfully when Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo cancelled the project in March, 2000.

Other things we did that year included convincing the School for Field Studies to open a study center in Bahia Magdalena and working to advise RARE on the launch of a very successful and ground-breaking eco-guide training program for whale guides in Bahia Magdalena and Laguna San Ignacio.

The most important part of the year is that Emily became pregnant with our oldest son Israel, and then got a job teaching geography at the University of Arizona. Despite my misgivings about living in Tucson (for a surfer, exile to the desert in Arizona is a slow death), in the end, I could never have launched my career in conservation without having lived there.

After completing my Ph.D. a year after we moved to Tuscon, The Nature Conservancy hired me to launch their Northwest Mexico Program. That profoundly gratifying, rewarding and educational experience  was the equivalent of attending Harvard Business School–but for Conservation. I was damn lucky to have worked there.

While at TNC, I helped to launch their still vibrant Baja California and Sea of Cortez Program and helped to launch successful initatives to preserve Loreto Bay National Park, Isla Espiritu Santo and Cabo Pulmo.

So that moment on the beach really was just before we became adults and understood that chasing dreams requires sacrifice, hard work, discipline, vision, and passion. We chose to do what was right for us, rather than please everyone else.  I also realized that if you want to get anything done, you can’t depend on anyone else to make it happen.

I will never forget our year in Todos Santos and how it changed our lives forever.

My TEDx AFC Video: Sex, Soccer and El Santo

This is the video of my recent TEDx America’s Finest City presentation, Sex, Soccer and El Santo: The New Rules for Communicating about the Coast and Ocean.

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