5th Annual Blue Vision Summit Washington DC
5th Annual Blue Vision Summit Washington DC
It is 2:30 pm, the 11th of May and I finally take the elevator towards the sunshine on my way out of the underground metro stop “DuPont Circle” Washington DC. I have enough time to drink my well-desired cappuccino, walk up to my hotel to get checked in, head back into town to see the White House and make it in time for the opening at 6 pm of the 5th annual Blue Vision Summit, held in the beautiful Carnegie Institution for Science.
This stage of the trip already feels light and exciting in opposite to the previous traveling part being somewhat out of my comfort zone; landing in Baltimore after 2 flights at 1:00 the morning, finding my airport hotel at 2 in the morning, continued by another shuttle, bus transportation to the metros and their necessary transfers the same day. I personally think this is the beautiful part of traveling: being (slightly) lost at times and then finding it (yourself) all again with a new perspective.
You may ask yourself: How did I get here? (“Once in a lifetime by “Talking Heads”)
My friend Jacqui Grallo, librarian at CSUMB and surf buddy in Marina, invited me to hear author and Executive Director of Blue Frontier David Helvarg speak about his books and the ocean environment. It was instantly drawn to the opportunity to learn and hear more stories about this topic, starting public speaking about ‘Riding for Cleaner Oceans’ myself educating others how to #bethemessenger with Dopper at schools, events and a few radio shows. I felt like bringing an Orange Dopper for David on our Dutch “National Kings Day” April 27th, with a note about Dopper and my messenger function. The following morning, I woke up to an email from David with the question if Dopper was interested in supporting the Blue Vision Summit with reusable water bottles, it being a gathering from like-minded Ocean loverscoming from all over the world, mainly USA.
Dopper’s philosophy is, that the cool clever designed, fun colorful reusable water bottle won’t have as much meaning and impact unless someone gives the Dopper Bottle to you with the message told. All of a sudden there is a story and a message around this product that will stick most likely a lot longer than finding it in your goody bag. In this case ‘that certain someone’ telling the message was lucky me! And I offered my help willingly loving traveling and ready to hop on a plane which used to be ‘my usual’ windsurfing professionally.
Every person at the convention (about 300) would hear that the Dopper bottle is a Dutch and this bottle came into this world as a solution by Founder Merijn Everaarts. The message being: “The Bottle IS the message”! When we all use reusable water bottles, we can make a change together towards cleaner oceans.
I am stoked (yes, a ‘surfers term’ for ‘being happily excited’) inspiring and talking to people to be mindful towards our ocean. I love our ocean, love to be near her, in ‘r, surf her waves, surf or paddle with amazing sea-life along her shores, scourer the beaches for treasures and finding cool finds. The Ocean offers exciting physical and mental challenges. She also offers a place that is peaceful: a place to connect with beauty, being in nature, connecting with fellow ocean lovers (surfers, paddlers, fishermen). It hurts me to see animals eat and die from human trash that now also is reaching our food chains. It isn’t something they can prevent from happening. I find it ‘uberly annoying’ to see oil spills and its affects, gross beaches where everyone litters or where trash ends up from our oceans. And I could go on for a while! Now I have the opportunity to help create awareness for a body of water that is a special place to many, so let’s do it!
That brings me to the Youth Blue Vision Summit held the afternoon of the 12th of May. I was impressed on me how professional, fun, creative, established, inspiring and driven the youth is towards the well being of our ocean with a professional panel and presenter Danni Washington, varying from the age 17 to 27. Their aim is to inspire especially youth around 10 years and younger, so valuable information plus tools for change are reached early in life. The youth is our future and will soon get the opportunity to create technologies that can teach us more about our oceans and find ways to clean and preserve it. They organize summer camps with ocean awareness, ocean activities, inventions and clean ups. They movies and TV-shows and use the social media well and keep their message light and fun. They plant Oyster beds outside New York to create healthier ocean life and to create safety (the oyster beds will break the waves before the shores will) for another potential prevention like “hurricane Sandy” that unfortunately caused a lot of damage to the east coast shores. This youth panel uses technology to their advantage and interacts with each other over Skype with kids from in and outside the US (which we did LIVE with a school class in Canada during the seminar!) Their message was loud and clear: Take action where you can, educate others and be creative to get the message out there to the public. The youth is asking all of us to listen to them. Give them a chance and trust them with responsibilities, because they can handle and have great ideas to share.
Here is the link of my latest social media message keeping it fun;)
There are a few other topics that spoke to me during this convention:
The diving documentaries and under water video images were amazing. The sports I do have me connected ‘in’ the water. How ever, I am mainly above the waters surfing my surf, sup or windsurfing boards. At the convention I saw images Fabien Cousteau (Jacques’s grandson) at the bottom of the Ocean being stationed there with a team of aquanauts for 31 days gathering scientific data and film impressions. Fascinating stories of their connection with the deep sea-life, the experience ‘being down there’ away from ‘the world above’, their living situation in a small spaces together, not being able to taste any food that deep down and I can go on and on.
Another speaker knew to surprise me that ocean scientists only know between 5 and 9% of our entire oceans. That is another reason why the youth is so important to be inspired early in life to continue and improve when the scientists of this day and age will retire.
Another speech brought awareness to a recent topic: oil spills and oil drilling off shore. A panel of Congress was also there to talk about their role in the government and why there are challenges when it comes to allowing new government rules and regulations to take place like stop drilling oil off shore.
Their advice is to use ‘key focus’ and present one particular situation that you want to change (not with 100 different other ideas). Find out whom to talk to and start making change with small communities that together can make a big impact to present a case.
A speech I missed, but that still came to me from different directions, came from a Veteran who came home with war traumas. After going surfing for the first time, he was able to sleep since a long time. Surfing gave him physical and mental health and a new purpose. Now he talks how the ocean changed his life.
Blue Marble symbol
Beautiful looking blue marbles were stationed in glass bowls on all the tables. The blue marble is the symbol for our planet that looks like a blue marble from outer space. We were all encouraged to take a marble and give it to someone with gratitude towards what that person is doing for our waters or Oceans. Connecting back with my hubby in California, I gave him the marble. Eric is an awesome water sports athlete; surfer, shaper and stand up paddler. He takes care of our beaches and shares his joy and knowledge for the ocean with others. He is a great ambassador in the beach community and he always encourages me to be me and follow my dreams. He also offered a few years back to show me how to make surfboards. Now I have my own logo and made 10 boards so far. A lot of gratitude goes to him and the life we lead.
I received my marble from Liz Smith, because she was thankful I attended her (and our dinner table) of sports that stimulate our left and right part of our brains, using both parts of our bodies like stand up paddling, kayaking, cycling, walking, ice skating, etc. This creates balance in our mind and thus in our life. The right part of our brain is connected to our emotions and our left part of our brain is connected to our rational thinking. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Youth summit attend us we need both to make things happen. It is great to be emotional and have ideas and new plans. It is often our passion and creativity that drives us. Making ideas happen means ‘get to work’ and being rational to set up great plans to work out.
Meeting new people is a fun part of traveling. I met a lot of inspiring people who all have their own connection and story with the ocean and why they care and want to make a difference. I am excited about the possibilities working together on future projects already. Progress will be made quicker and easier when we collaborate and bundle energies towards a similar goal.
I love being the accidental tourist, get to know Washington DC a bit and see some culture and art. It felt as if I walked in Europe, Rome at times – strongly focusing on the sculptures only and blocking out all the security;) Being an artist it was so nice to see and feel art created by others and get inspired that way too. Also, without my ocean fix, my husband encouraged me to go ‘city surfing’ and get the city fix we don’t get on the beach. Before I knew it, my metro’s, bus and shuttle would already head back again to Baltimore the 13th in able to be close to the airport for my 6am flight the following morning back to California and my beaches loaded with fresh info, inspiration and motivation.
I believe the Blue Summit offers an amazing platform for ocean environments and activists. The few days with fellow ‘messengers’ gave me personally a big boost and opened my eyes in more directions and I feel stronger for it. I wish and I believe by hearing personal stories it was the case for everyone there. Take action where you can, educate others and be creative to spread the message. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind to offer chance in the common rules and regulations by your local government for a healthier planet. We (ocean minded people) are aware now. It’s time for the mainstream media to keep bringing awareness too. Keep it fun, keep focusing on the solutions, and be creative to keep the message going on a daily base.
Thanks you David Helvarg, Kathleen Collins, crew, volunteers and interns for organizing this awesome 5th Blue Vision Summit. Thanks to Dopper for making such an awesome product for the world and having me ride with you for cleaner oceans. Another thanks goes to my sponsors, who support me doing what I love. Last but not least a big Mahalo to my family and friends for their love & support.
Please check out Great links from fellow messengers and organizations.
Dopper “The Bottle IS The Message”: http://dopper.com/bethemessenger/
David Helvarg & Blue Frontier: http://www.bluefront.org/blue_vision_blog/welcome/
Michele Heller, student of Advanced Studies Marine Biodiversity & Conservation “It is my passion to find a way to change the general publics perception of sharks and motivate people to take a stand and do their part to protect sharks”
Email Michele for questions or suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Margot Pellegrino paddling ocean activist writes about her adventures paddling our oceans on a daily base: https://paddle4blue.com
Katie Allen inspires the youth for solutions to plastic pollution: www.algalita.org
Linda Emerson is Founder and Executive Director of Beach Guardians Atlantic Coasts https://www.facebook.com/BeachGuardiansAC?pnref=lhc
Danni Washington: Ocean Advocate, Science Communicator, Video-Host http://danniwashington.com #sealoveletter