October 26, 2012

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By Courtney Mattison

This past weekend, the Colorado Ocean Coalition hosted its second annual Making WAVES in Colorado – a two-day public ocean film festival and conservation event honoring Jean-Michel Cousteau that drew a remarkable group of ocean heroes to Boulder, CO. Founded by Vicki Nichols Goldstein, the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) is a nonprofit project of The Ocean Foundation that aims to create, unite and empower a Colorado coalition with shared values, goals and actions to promote healthy oceans through education and community engagement from a mile high.

With four major events over the course of the weekend, Making WAVES had something for everyone – from family-friendly activities and film festival programming to cutting-edge scientific talks by some of the most notable marine researchers and advocates.

The European Ocean Luncheon at University of Colorado Boulder’s Norlin Library kicked off Saturday with talks from Jean-Michel Cousteau, Louie Psihoyos, Dr. Greg Stone, and Shawn Heinrichs regarding the issues and policies surrounding European oceans and seas. Next, attendees joined families and other community members at the Dairy Center for the Performing Arts for the Ocean Film Festival, which featured selections from the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. A series of films on ocean issues followed the afternoon family program before an evening reception for filmmakers and artist Asher Jay’s Message in a Bottle exhibit, which was also on display at the Dairy Center over the weekend.

Sunday’s Ocean Symposium kicked off with an entertaining keynote by Jean-Michel Cousteau and a greeting from Dr. Sylvia Earle via cyberspace from China. Hosted at the CU-Boulder Wolf Law Building, the symposium featured an outstanding lineup of marine researchers, advocates, and artists including Dr. Joanie Kleypas of the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Louie Psihoyos – Academy Award winning director of The Cove and co-founder of the Ocean Preservation Society – Dan Basta of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; and Dr. Greg Stone – Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International.

Wallace J. Nichols made the afternoon interactive by giving each audience member a blue marble to look through as a fun way to visualize the ocean even from Boulder’s location a mile high and over 1,000 miles from the coast, emphasizing the importance of positive emotions in inspiring marine stewardship.

Colleen Flanigan – a TED Senior Fellow and environmental artist – added another fun and quirky element to the program by addressing the audience as her alter ego, Amphitrite (goddess of the sea), complete with a handmade crochet coral scarf and a sparkly blue wig. As the founder of “Living Sea Sculpture,” Flanigan works with the Global Coral Reef Alliance to create beautiful living coral topiaries in degraded reef areas using Biorock® Technology.

The Ocean Celebration Gala at A Spice of Life Event Center in Boulder was a grand finale to the weekend. The evening featured an ethereal ocean dance performance by New-York based Kristen McArdle that explored the bizarrely beautiful phenomenon of deep-sea bioluminescence with a narration by Dr. Sylvia Earle. A live auction featuring an original US Divers Aqua Lung double hose regulator from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society stirred up enthusiastic support for the Colorado Ocean Coalition.

For anyone who doubts that folks in Colorado feel connected to the ocean, Making WAVES is a major wakeup call. Thanks to the Colorado Ocean Coalition, an Inland Ocean Movement has begun and it’s time to ride that wave!

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Top Photo: ©DubinskyPhotography

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