There’s a tree that apparantly lives on a deck in the middle of the office building behind ours. More than leaning out for optimal sunlight, I can’t help but feel like it’s reaching out to be happily planted on the ground, in the earth, with the other trees behind our building.
In the past 4 weeks, I have deepened my knowledge about the technical aspects of aquaculture via the projects I’ve worked on. I created short documents for the Steering Committees of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue (SAD) and the Freshwater Trout Aquaculture Dialogue (FTAD), including “Relevancy of using Daphnia as an aquatic surrogate toxicity species,” “Species Threatened by Freshwater Aquaculture, by Region” using IUCN Red List data, a global list of banned chemicals, and persistence data on known toxins. On a grander scale, I collated and summarized 100s of pages of public comments for both SAD and FTAD, so that the Steering Committees will have an organized overview of the opinions of groups and individuals as they meet to discuss the final drafts for the aquaculture certification standards for salmon and freshwater trout.
Last week I went to hear Sir Robert Swan speak for the Resources for the Future lecture series. He was the 1st man to walk to both the South Pole (900 miles) AND the North Pole (700 miles). Due to global warming and the melting polar ice sheet up north, he may be only person ever to be able to accomplish this feat. (Click here for video) On the way to the South Pole, they had food for 80 days pulled on sledges. They had to cross 6000 crevasses, averaged 12 miles per day, and only had a sextant and a watch to guide them. On days that they didn’t move at least a mile south, they didn’t eat (he lost 67 lbs). The average temperature was negative 65 degrees farenheit. They made it in 70 days. The ozone hole was discovered during the same time they were traversing the continent, and thus they were not prepared for their faces blistering and eye colors changing permanently. “We hadn’t read in Scott’s diary (first man to walk to the South Pole), ‘chaps face fell off today, all blind, rather tricky’–it wasn’t something we were expecting,” he joked. He asked how many people knew that the ozone hole was patching itself up nicely nowadays, and I was one of only 3 people in the room of 150 audience members who was aware of that fact (thank you, Jim Williams’ Quant class). Next year he plans to reverse the trip, starting at the South Pole and heading north to Cape Evans. He hopes to do it using only renewable energies (no coal or gas this time!), and they plan to harness the wind (imagine parachute/kites pulling them on skies), to complete the trek in only 45 days!
Sir Swan was super, super inspiring. As someone who has recently begun to explore the nexusbetween storytelling/inspiration/performance and intellectual/environmental/lecture-based presentation, his lecture was just what I needed to see how it can be done well.
He goes to Antarctica every February with a group of determined, passionate people; to share the awe of the place, so they can take back their stories and inspire others to care about Antarctica too. (Pick me! Pick me! I have always wanted to go to Antarctica, and am seriously scheming about this.)
I try to live by, “If you can do or dream you can, begin it now. For boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
I keep hearing “save the planet!”. The planet will look after itself, it’s our involvement in it that may suffer. However, “the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”
4 things I have learned:
- 1) I hate walking
- 2) negative 89 degrees Farenheit is cold. I don’t like sweat ice in my underpants.
- 3)no insurance agency dares insure my life
- 4) there are so many negative people. We MUST be positive because no one is inspired by negativity.
- You never forget starving, I hope you never have, but it makes you grateful not to starve.
- People ask me “Why did you do it?” I remembered my dreams. Don’t lose yours!
- Leadership is delivery agains the odds, with minimum resources. If you make a committment, follow through.
- Inspire others by showing it, living it, don’t just send an email. Get out there and DO it! Leadership is about response to challenge. But it’s also about being RELEVANT, not just honorable and good. STAY RELEVANT.
- On a team, choose different and strong people. Tell eachother the truth. Laugh. On the way, look for champions (people who will support you!)
- Sometimes leadership is supporting people to do their jobs.
- He was in debt $1.2 million at age 28 (the boat he borrowed to get to Antarctica sunk), and it took him 10 yrs to pay off (there’s hope for me yet!). Later, with $12 million and 8 yrs, he was able to remove 1500 tons of Soviet scrap metal from Antarctica and recycle it in Uruguay.
- We are overloaded with information, we don’t need information. We need inspiration. The best way to be inspiring is to engage people rather than talking at them. He invites young people, globally to join him on his ventures to achieve this. It’s about Sustainable Inspiration, which is not difficult to achieve in a gloomy world, but it is important to revist the inspiration ourselves so we don’t get bogged down as we do our jobs.
It’s nice there are so many other students from MIIS in DC. We’ve had several opportunities to hang out: a happy hour put together by Nelle Sacknoff (MPA), the DPMI happy hour put together by Jessy Bradish (IEP) (which the rest of us MIISers crashed), MIIS alumni happy hour put together by Leah Gowron. And one night several of us (Leah Severino, Jaime LeBlanc-Hadley, Adam Fullerton, & myself) went out to Lisa (Johnston) & Dodon’s apartment to make some pizza and hang out.
Wow. Here I am. This childhood dream of mine, come true: working at the World Wildlife Fund. Yes, it’s as an intern, and true, WWF is not paying me…but I am at WWF US headquarters, working on important documents and contributing to conservation in a measurable and meaningful way. Thirty-one years is a long time to wait for that dream to come true, and I have worked really hard to get here! Now that I’m here, I am trying my best to stay focused and produce high quality work as fast as possible, to help my team make all their deadlines preparedly. I feel welcome here with my own cubicle with a name tag. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
I am impressed with how enormous the WWF building is (7 stories with 4 dedicated to WWF work), and how many people work here (I estimate between 400-1000 individuals). It’s hard to tell, exactly, because so many people work from home or travel so often for work. Everyone is generous and friendly, and so far most people make a point of introducing themselves to the new people they don’t recognize (me and the other interns). I spent a full day in orientation when I first arrived: some history of WWF, discussion of WWF ethos and projects, and nuts-and-bolts topics.
There’s a Trader Joe’s a block away, and a field out back where people play ultimate frisbee and soccer most days at lunchtime (phew, a bit too hot for me this week, though I did make it for one game). Mostly, I just work hard. More on what that entails to come.
Capitol building at night. Ain’t she lovely?
The White House
Steam from the manhole covers, and the hot, hot sun.
I arrived in D.C. almost 2 weeks ago. I stayed the first couple nights with a friend from high school, but started working at WWF the morning after I arrived. It’s been HOT.
I was so glad to spend most of a year in a place where the temperature hovered around 60 degrees, but I am one of the few people who really likes humid heat in the summer. When I found out I got to be in D.C. for the summer one of the things I was looking forward to was enjoying a real swealtery SE summer rather than staying in Monterey, where I hear (and Ben is confirming) it stays overcast and cool for several months. And hot and humid it has been. I do like it, though I admit I like humidity best when the temperature is under 90 degrees F. Above that, it really feels like walking in a stagnant oven.I was so glad to spend most of a year in a place where the temperature hovered around 60 degrees, but I am one of the few people who really likes humid heat in the summer. When I found out I got to be in D.C. for the summer one of the things I was looking forward to was enjoying a real swealtery SE summer rather than staying in Monterey, where I hear (and Ben is confirming) it stays overcast and cool for several months. And hot and humid it has been. I do like it, though I admit I like humidity best when the temperature is under 90 degrees F. Above that, it really feels like walking in a stagnant oven.
One of the cool things D.C. has to offer is a free concert every day of the week, 365 days a year, at 6pm at the Kennedy Center, a mile from WWF. I have been twice so far. It gives me something to do after work aside from just going home, and allows me to support these (great but unknown) artists despite being poor. It’s nice to feel independent, sitting amongst a different group of people than my co-workers or my MIIS friends, enjoying live music in a beautiful setting.
The Millenium Stage
Since I started school at MIIS, I have been focusing most of my projects and papers on aquaculture. I have been working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch this semester,
and it’s all paid off because now I get to head to Washington D.C. for the summer, working for the aquaculture program at WWF. Or, as I like to say, the Aquaculture Team! (Because doesn’t that sound like a super hero group?).
On your mark, get set, go!