November 25, 2013

Sucked into the Ocean 
 -- Haig White, Sanctuary Steward class of 2010

   My commitment to Save Our Shores (SOS) starts and continues with the love of the ocean in its most natural, unmolested state. When I applied to be a Sanctuary Steward at Save Our Shores, I was in a protracted stretch of unemployment. The urge to do something positive and “give back” to the ocean was at a high for me. After all, the ocean gave me unconditional joy and serenity during the worst and best of times.  
I am attracted to the wonder  of the ocean  in its most peaceful state and in its most agitated, the latter from a cautious distance. And wouldn’t you know it, no sooner did I pass the “grueling” Save Our Shores interview for entry into the steward training program did I find work. That was a very, very, very short four years ago. Why I haven’t always acted on my belief that if you do good then good things come to you, I’ll never know. Save Our Shores has proven this lesson once again to me and I am deeply grateful to channel my energy through the work and mission of SOS. 
Haig White, Sanctuary Steward class of 2010
   Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not do things half-heartedly once I am committed. But, to start I need a spark, a visceral connection to put me into action. Many years ago I read a horrific article about the Great Garbage Patch, also known at the North Pacific gyre. This article left a lasting unsettled feeling in my stomach with the thought of this growing plastic plague in the Pacific Ocean. If I felt this way just thinking about it, how do ocean animals feel ingesting plastic? And how will we feel when a significant change of ocean temperature shifts massive ocean currents along with the Garbage Patch onto the California coast? SOS has put me on the first line of defense against the single-use plastic plague. 
And I just want to say Thank you, SOS.     

November 22, 2013

Flexera Software's plans to make positive change in their workplace.

Flexera Software employees do not yet have a formalized plan after their Corporate Cleanup with Save Our Shores at Cowell Beach earlier this month, but they are working diligently on solidifying a few new ideas. 

One big item they walked away with from their cleanup, and the one item they’ll be discussing further, is the idea of buying a water cooler and providing each employee with a water bottle so that they can remove plastic bottles from their vending machines. 

This conversation started after spending 2 hours cleaning up the beach. Decisions like these will take some buy-in from others in the organization who did not attend the cleanup, but this is the idea they are most excited about and most likely to put into action first!

Another idea, to get the rest of their team on board, is to give a summary of their experience and findings at their next local monthly meeting. They plan to create shadow boxes using  photos from their cleanup as samples of their findings, and  then post articles about Gyres and the impact of trash on marine life.

“It’s so amazing to see this level of excitement about making a difference in our own community!  I’m proud to have been alongside all of you,” one Flexera Software employee volunteer said after their day at the beach.

Some have already talked to a few of their coworkers with ideas to engage Flexera Software employees on reducing waste, and they seemed to agree!

It looks like the two main goals they want to focus on within Flexera Software would be:
1. Purchase a water cooler & remove plastic bottles from the company vending machines.
2. Remove paper plates and utensils to encourage employees to bring their own. 
   (Other Flexera offices are already doing this.)

These are all great ideas that our Flexera Software group is strongly working towards. They are continuing to keep the conversation going to motivate the rest of their team to take action! Most of all they are trying to stay motivated and maintain the enthusiasm they built up after their cleanup.

Flexera Software, San Jose cleanup crew and SOS Steward Melanie Franklin.

November 19, 2013

The Steward Program Changed My Life – 
but that wasn’t the unexpected part. 
-  Kenny, a 27-year old Salinas Resident, 
Sanctuary Steward Class of 2012
All my buddies were getting up to trouble that I didn’t want to be a part of.  They were getting locked up and making decisions I didn’t agree with.  I looked on Monterey Weekly to see what was happening locally and saw an ad for a beach cleanup.  I went and enjoyed myself, met some cool people.  Started going every month.   That’s when Ronn told me to join the Stewards class.

The first few classes didn't really seem like my scene.  Everyone seemed really Santa Cruz and hippie and green.  I didn't feel like I fit in, but my dad encouraged me to just stick it out.  I’m so happy that I did.  I realized that first impressions are not always correct.

My favorite part of the Stewards Program is finding new beaches and beautiful spots to hang out! Also getting to meet new people.  We can often get focused on how different we are.  But at a beach cleanup, we’re all doing the same thing and are at least interested in the same goal.  

Joining the Stewards program changed my life -- which was kind of the point.  
But the unexpected part was that I could create change in others.

A few weeks ago, my friend from Salinas inspired his family to pick up their waste.  Before, Adam thought I was crazy when I yelled at him for throwing his cigarette butts in the street.  But after watching my actions and realizing that I was serious, Adam started making changes in the way he dealt with his butts.  

He went camping at Arroyo Seco with family and friends.  He went around picking up all of their butts and the butts from nearby camp sites.  At first, just like he did to me, people made fun of him.  Called him a hippie.  He kept at it though.  His family started helping and stopped throwing their butts on the ground.

I also enjoy the DockWalkers program.  I can relate to the working-class fisherman.  Often environmental regulations are misinterpreted, come with a stigma and feel like they are top down without involving those who they will impact the most.  I like speaking with fishermen, hearing their stories and discussing the importance of regulations.
Kenny on the right at a Dockwalker event this year in
Moss Landing with fellow Sanctuary Steward John Scally
and SOS program manager, Rachel Kippen.
I selfishly volunteer! 
Whenever I stop volunteering for a while, there is not as much good in my life.  I volunteer because it gives me good karma.  
You get what you give!