The ocean sustains life on earth – the wellbeing and prosperity of us all – but faces immediate existential threats to its health and functioning. The public remains largely unaware of this and ocean protection is a pretty low priority on national and international agendas. The issues are multi-dimensional and no one sector can address them alone. Science, conservation, policy, art, business, all are playing a role, often in new, exciting and increasingly joined-up ways.
The Ocean Connects Us was a daylong event at the Trinity Buoy Wharf on the bank of the River Thames. It was a day of participatory experiences, learning and exchange – including the launch of new research from the FrameWorks Institute into how the public thinks about marine conservation – to build on what works, strengthen existing connections, seed new ones and explore possible new approaches in communicating the value of the ocean in people’s lives. -CGF UK, #Oceanvalue
The Ocean Connects Us was an event in which the participants were invited to share and learn from each other about communicating the value of the ocean. After short framing speeches by Martin Essayan and Heather Koldewey, the morning began with exchanging past experiences of valuing the ocean, to then observe what is emerging from the participants’ current collaborations. During lunch the participants were invited to visit the Longplayer installation in the adjacent lighthouse and have spent time immersed in artworks by Mariele Neudecker, John Wedgwood-Clarke and Rob Mackay (curated by Invisible Dust). The afternoon was focused on investigating how to more effectively communicate the value of the ocean, today and in the future. First by hearing from Moira O’Neil from the Frameworks Institute about their report Getting Below The Surface, then by applying the Institute's findings as recommendations to concrete projects. The conversation moved towards the future of the sea with a short speech by Henry Green, as an introduction to the last participatory session. The participants distilled insights from the day as questions and principles towards a manifesto for an ocean friendly society. The event continued during an informal reception including speeches by the director of CGF UK Andrew Barnett and retired commodore Barry Bryant of the Seafarers UK. The evening concluded with an informal celebration where the participants had a chance to decompress together in an inspiring ambience.
Photos of the event, including a selection of notes from participatory sessions: The Ocean Connects Us Album
Introductory remarks by:
Participatory session: Think of a situation in your life when you experienced a strong connection to the ocean. Where were you? What did you do? How did you feel? What made this situation possible? What did you value about the ocean in this situation?
The multiplicity of ocean values distilled from personal experiences of the participants:
Core values of the ocean, from one of fifteen breakout groups
Participatory session: Collaborative ecosystems, a broad picture of the current situation
What are some interesting examples of working together to communicate the value of the ocean, or more generally to improve the health of the ocean? Each participant described one example of current or realised work. The examples were discussed and visually mapped.
Examples of project descriptions and collaborative ecosystems mapping
How do the collaborations relate to each other? What challenges, questions and hypotheses are emerging?
Collaborative Ecosystems, mapping exercise by “The Beach” breakout group
How do artists communicate the value of the ocean?
Showcase of three artists' works from the upcoming exhibition Offshore:artists explore the sea. Video installation by Mariele Neudecker, and a site-specific sound piece by poet John Wedgwood-Clarke and sound artist Rob Mackay, curated by Invisible Dust.
In addition to the pieces that were curated as part of the programme, the participants had an opportunity to visit the Longplayer installation in the adjacent lighthouse.
Artist presentation by John Wedgwood-Clarke and Rob Mackay
Presentation by Moira O’Neil from the Frameworks Institute about their report Getting Below The Surface: Mapping the gaps between expert and public understanding of the ocean and marine conservation in the United Kingdom.
Frameworks presentation by Dr Moira O'Neil
Participatory session: How to apply insights from the Frameworks research to some of the participants’ initiatives? How could the changes be prototyped with minimum time and resources? In a collective consulting session, the participants offered a set of suggestions for the people involved, as well as recommendations that could be more widely applicable.
Two examples of project recommendations from two breakout groups
Introductory remarks by Henry Green, UK Government Office for Science, Foresight Projects.
In the last participatory session the participants looked towards the future. They reflected on all that they experienced at the event and discussed how their findings could inform future collaborations and lead towards an ocean friendly society.
Room recording of the participants' reports from breakout group discussions (mp3).
Principles and questions towards an ocean friendly society…
One of fifteen Ocean Friendly Society posters
The formal part of the event ended with a short collaborative experiment, where the participants created and improvised a short vocal composition, based on messages they’d like to take away from the event.
Room recording of the vocal composition (mp3).
The group was invited for an informal reception, opened by the director of CGF UK Andrew Barnett.
Event design by CGF UK and FoAM
'Starfish evaluation', filled by the participants at the end of the event