Kirstin Thompson - Salty at Heart

When and where did you first start surfing?
I hopped on the bandwagon around age 21 in my hometown in sunny Neptune Beach, Florida.

What is it that you love about surfing and the ocean?
The ocean feels like home- no matter what country or coastline I’m standing on, I can feel immediately connected to something grander than myself just by smelling the salty air or watching the sun disappear from the horizon, or staring up at the starry night sky.  The ocean has comforted me during times when life felt too overwhelming, and for that I am eternally grateful. The waves also serve as my playground where I can be goofy, bond with friends, meet interesting people, feel the warmth of the sun, and just be carefree. Surfing in fact saved me from the chaos of this world and empowered me to feel strong, graceful, and free.
Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
Yes absolutely. While backpacking in Costa Rica with one of my good friends, we found ourselves at this really cool place called the Yoga Farm, where we met some wonderful people. We surfed one day at this local break off the beaten path with good-spirited friends, and the waves were heavenly, long pealing lefts. But that was only half the fun. We drove there in this ancient two- seater rusted jeep with a missing back door that could only be manually started by giving it a push. Somehow we packed all 6 of us in there, with three piled in the back. I just remember laughing uncontrollably after we spent a good amount of time screaming as some rather large white dogs (which closely resembled wolves) started chasing the car. That whole day was a splendidly perfect adventure.
What kind of education have you had?
I studied Environmental Studies at Florida State University, and one semester had the amazing opportunity to live in New Zealand studying environmental policy and sustainability. However, I believe that education should not be defined solely by the degree you’ve earned, or the time you’ve spent in a classroom. Traveling, becoming cultured, reading books, being curious about the world, exploring our land and ocean, talking with people, becoming involved in things that matter to you, supporting the community, creating music or poetry or artwork- these are all ways we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.  I attribute most of my education to things learned outside of the classroom- and that I think is the most important lesson I learned at school.
Can you tell us a little bit about Salty at Heart and the philosophy behind it?
Salty at Heart is a bi-annual independent print surf/art culture magazine recently launched this summer. It is an inspiring collective of contributors from all over the world, and traverses topics related to surf, sustainability, art, balance, empowerment, and travel. The goal of the magazine is to provide positive and informative content, create a sense of global community, promote equality and environmental stewardship, and bring humor and lightness to the world. Salty at Heart Magazine features mainly women, creating a space for feminine energy to shine. In our society today, much of the grace, intelligence, and compassion of women is not accurately displayed in media, so this collective brings together the voices of women to be heard and enjoyed by everyone. Right now the mag is available in stores in Wilmington, NC and Jacksonville Beach, FL as well as online to ship anywhere in the world.
How did you go about starting the zine and acquiring contributors?
After I had formulated the idea and made the decision to follow through with it, I did a ton of research on how to start a zine. I’m pretty sure googling “how to start a zine” happened at some point.  I mean, I was starting from ground zero. But sometimes all you need is the passion to do something and somehow or another, the Universe conspires to make it happen. One day while working as an extra on the TV show Revolution that was being filmed in Wilmington, I met Frances Hernandez, a talented graphic designer/traveler/movie enthusiast. We hit it off right away. I told her about my idea for the magazine, and when she opened her bag and whipped out her “idea book” and started taking notes, I just knew. So with her graphic design skills and my writing/editing skills, we partnered up and started Salty at Heart. In fact the magazine would not be what it is without her!
I acquired content first from people I had met at school or in my travels who I knew would be interested in taking part in the project. Then I deliberately sought out people I admired or people I knew would make a fantastic interview or story. I also blasted on our facebook page that anyone could submit content for the first issue. It really all worked out quite beautifully because there were so many people just stoked to be a part of what we stand for.
What kind of content can one expect to find in an issue of Salty at Heart?
You can expect to find inspiring, thoughtful, informative content that is meant to be uplifting and supportive. Each issue will have its own flare, but for the most part will contain stories of adventure and creativity, poetry, earth and sea inspired artwork and photography, and cool interviews of environmentalists, humanitarians, artists, musicians, surfers, equality activists, farmers, and people doing rad things in this world. And as a naturally goofy person myself, I think part of being creative and feeling free stems from laughing and being yourself, so Salty at Heart very much reflects that as a quirky, unique piece of work.
Who/ what influences the work that you do?
So many things! I get most of my inspiration from the beauty that this world offers: watching the sunset, surfing glassy waves, listening to the sounds of crickets and falling rain, laying under a tree, laughing with people I care about, hiking in the mountains, feeling the warmth of the sun, and just exploring this wonderful place called Earth. I am also influenced by many people such as my friend Natalie Fox who started a non-profit called Women for Whales, my sister who always reminds me how important humor is in life, writers like Maya Angelou and J.K. Rowling, Jesse Billauer who started an organization called Life Rolls On that gives those with paralysis the ability to surf, equality activist Eve Ensler who started a movement to end violence against women, sea captain Liz Clark who has sailed all over the world, Emma Watson for giving that speech on gender equality at the UN, professional free surfer and environmentalist Lauren Hill,  the small farmers growing our food, and anyone who lives with an open heart and a warm smile.
What is it that you love about your job?
I love being able to share the wonderful stories, ideas, creative projects and thoughtful actions of so many unique and talented people. Once the magazine was released and people started placing orders from countries all around the world, it hit me how cool it is to touch people oceans away from me.  When I was at the post office mailing my first orders, I was shaking with giddy excitement!
What is the next phase/step for Salty at Heart?
Working on the creation of the next issue of Salty at Heart Magazine is the next big step, but eventually I hope this project can become a network that expands beyond just the physical printed work. Working with non-profits and communities to bring about awareness and change is the ultimate goal. This is something we are already doing with the magazine alone, but I’m a big dreamer, and my brain has already imagined how amazing it would be if different groups and individuals united together on commonalities to create something beautiful. In the future I hope we can be involved in things like beach clean-ups, music and surf events, sustainability and art projects, benefits, documentaries, and anything that empowers people and helps remind us what it feels like to come alive.   
Why do you think that underground zines/publications are so important? And do you have any advice for anybody out there looking to start one themselves?
I think it is important for people to have access to media and content that is not coming from a giant corporation, where alternative agendas tend to exist, and quality content is not necessarily the goal. Underground self-published works give a voice to individuals and groups that sometimes are not heard in mainstream media, and allows for unrestricted creativity, unbound by contracts or the confines of deadlines and expectations. As with anything that is self-started, publishing your own magazine or book can require a good deal of dedication, but it is totally worth it! My advice is to value your relationships with anyone who is stoked about your idea and willing to help, because it’s those people that will provide the motivation necessary for the creation of the project. Anything that already exists in our society today started at some point with an idea and a group of people brainstorming around a kitchen table.  So never be afraid to put something new out there in the world!



Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on November 6, 2014
Categories: Interviews