By Madeline Ostrander

Dave Rauschkolb took on the oil industry when it got personal—it threatened his beach and his business.

Rauschkolb is not an environmental lawyer or professional Sierra Club-type. He’s an avid surfer and owns a pizza bar on the northwest coast of Florida, within range of the BP spill. Rauschkolb has never called himself an activist. But he was so incensed that state and federal politicians let the oil industry take a gamble on the safety of drilling in the Gulf Coast that he recently organized a protest called “Hands Across the Sand." What started just weeks ago as an idea on a website mushroomed into more than 900 events in all 50 states and more than 30 other countries—thousands of people who linked hands on beaches to take a stand for protecting coastlines and waterways.

Many people have a profound connection to their rivers, lakes, oceans, and reservoirs. “It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican, or an environmentalist or a businessperson,” Rauschkolb says. “Floridians are passionate about their coastal heritage, as much as Americans are passionate about their coastal heritage.”

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