Film Director Carlos Grana, Photographer Taylor Griffith and I just returned from Tasmania, the island state off Australia where Racing with Copepods screened for the inaugural Eco Film Festival. We were privileged to have the esteemed Dr. Richard Kirby of Plymouth, England join us to talk big about copepods and the unseen life in the ocean that gives us our breath.
This film festival directed by Kyia Clayton included an incredible line up of world activists, environmentalists and film makers and offered a sobering reality to what is happening in our world. The week stirred my passion to speak on a higher level why we all need to wake up to critical issues facing us including overfishing, ocean acidification, toxic dumping and ivory poaching in Africa. Meeting brave activists also cultivated my faith that the amazing people who are stepping forward will inspire more to do the right thing – get active fast, support nonprofits who are doing good work and take action in your local area in order to strengthen ourselves on a global level.
A compelling discussion came from the host of the panel Sarah James with film director Ginger Mauney of the Namibia Rhino Trust. She shared the grueling story about the poaching of rhinos – one is killed for its ivory every six hours to satisfy an ivory market mostly driven by Asian collectors. There is actually a concerted effort to make the species extinct in order to increase the value of ivory. It’s a twisted, cruel market that takes an international community to set straight. And time is running out. It’s predicted the rhino will be extinct in ten years unless the system can change.
Chris Darwin, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin, Skyped in to talk about his efforts. He is taking lead on a model lifestyle – get back to simplicity. He has reduced his air travel to three hours per year, he buys used clothing and he’s become a vegetarian. He calculates the value of his lifestyle based on the number of planetary resources he consumes – before he was consuming about two planets, now he’s down to a half a planet. He’s urging all of us to reduce our carbon output now.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Director David Ritter also shared his ideas about art and how we can take greater value in pursuing creative efforts instead of consumer based ones. David is a passionate leader watching our backs.
Dr. Richard Kirby who kindly joined us from Plymouth, England also shared passionately his work on plankton. Most people do not know we get half of our oxygen from the ocean. Our oceans are acidifying due to carbon output from cars and manufacturing. He shared facts about ocean health that should be front and center of all our educational systems.
After the four day festival, I drove down to Eaglehawk Neck near the Tasman Sea for respite. I looked forward to a dive, as I recently became certified and I was eager to see the water world close to Antarctica. My education about the ocean deepened, so to speak, because I learned first hand what out global climate change is doing to our oceans. Owner Mick of the Eaglehawk Neck Dive Center shared with me his 35 year observation of the Tasman Sea. We dove in area that once harbored a kelp forest teeming with fish but is now like a shag carpet. We were on the hunt for sea dragons which once populated the area. We found three and considered ourselves lucky. After as I laid on the boat catching my breath I looked up to the surrounding 30 million year old cliffs and became humbled by the massive scale of a problem we need to climb in order for humanity to balance with Earth’s resources. Now is the time to change habits fast and set a new a course for humanity. Imagine. This could be the most incredible time in history if we can all pull together.
I’m back in the saddle in California with news that our little film is scheduled for more screenings. I am working with leaders in plastic pollution efforts to reach out to schools to create an advocacy and action plan – let’s get rid of the plastics and let’s start reconsidering how cooperation and more nature learning can take lead in our educational systems.
Thank you to so many people for their incredible support, including the Chris and Holiday Johnson Family who helped with our flights to Tasmania. A big appreciation to the Griffith/Earle Family and Mission Blue Organization for support and opportunity.
This effort is my passion. Last year before making this film I walked away from a marriage, as well as a large home in an affluent neighborhood because I found all my efforts were being consumed by the care of material items – a garage, a house and a large yard in what I began to recognize as a dominate patriarch European family where I had no voice in my family’s choices. I saw the need for educational reform. As a mother, I want a voice in this movement. I care about my kids and I am passionate about the world they are inheriting. I view this as my ultimate responsibility as a parent and a citizen on this planet.
The film Racing with Copepods was funded by 11th Hour Racing, a Program of the Schmidt Family Foundation and was written under the organization Sailing Education Adventures. I’m finishing a book about the making of the film and how it represents my dreams from the time I was 11 years old . . . I look to make some big statements about politics, environmental issues, patriarchy, marriage and sisterhood. It’s led me on a virtual voyage beyond surfaces.