Kaspar Paur, founder of Oceaneers, shares his thoughts on privileged people are who have a connection to the ocean – or the nature in general. And why organizations that (re)connect people with nature are so essential.
Photograph by Christopher Streuli
One half of the Oceaneers-team is currently working in Asia (the kind of work that includes ‘board meetings’ – unfortunately the real ones though, not at the backline). Here are some observations.
Concrete as far as the eye can see – and not just houses and roads, but lots of high-rise buildings too. More than I’ve ever seen before. This is the second time I find myself in this situation: 1 month ago I was standing on the observation deck of the Shanghai tower. This time it’s the the Tokyo tower. Xmas-tunes accompany me on the gallery walk that takes my around the entire tower, and often I’m being channelled through ‘Xmas sales areas’ – the same way in which modern airports force you through the duty-free sections in a snake-like way, to maximize the exposure time (don’t get me started on those – the heavy perfumes after a long flight are my personal nemesis).
View from Tokyo-tower onto the concrete jungle.
Photograph by Kaspar Paur
My next observation was a young child running around, with an iPad encased in rubber-protection hanging around her head.
These two observations got me thinking: Oceaneers focuses on humans who have a (love-)relationship with the sea. I personally know that many of those humans have powerful voices that can have an impact on society at large, and that there’s still great potential to raise those voices – especially when it comes to our food choices.
“What we should never forget along the way though is that we (humans who have a strong connection to the oceans, or nature in general) are a privileged group.”
And in terms of % of humans, our group might shrink. With the combination of the rising urbanization (from 33% in 1950 to an expected ~66% by 2050), the advent of mobile devices (by 2020, the world’s 7.6 billion people will use 11.6 billion mobile devices), and evermore sophisticated marketing-departments empowered by big data, it might be that fewer people will have the chance to create a positive relationship with the great outdoors. On the contrary, they might end up perceiving nature as hostile, inhospitable and dangerous. That’s of course only one scenario of many – others are more positive. But I do wonder how an iPad around the neck is impacting a child. While our generation still talks about ‘reconnecting’ with nature, the ‘re’ may have to be dropped in the future – since it’s possible that a connection won’t have existed in the first place.
“Acknowledging our privilege should not lead to guilt, but a sense of responsibility”
And that’s one of the reasons why we started Oceaneers. It’s our way of speaking up, and trying to have a positive impact on this world. In our case, we even believe this is the biggest positive impact we can make (can’t back that up with data though – will an intuitive hunch do?).
Montblanc advetisement in Ginza (shopping area in Tokyo) – they still have to explain to me why you’d need an expensive watch to reconnect with nature…
Photograph by Kaspar Paur
And while Oceaneers isn’t in the business of enabling less privileged humans access to our Oceans (yet – who knows what our future will bring), we’d like to give a big shout-out to all the organizations that do (re-)connect people with nature.
In South Africa (where our roots run deep), we know of the following organizations that do amazing work (even though there’s obviously many more): Waves for Change, Greenpop, Save our Seas Foundation, Ocean Sentinel Alliance and I Am Water Foundation – a big high-five to you guys!
Japan of course isn’t all city and concrete! Photos by Kaspar Paur
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Oceaneers is a community-driven initiative created by two ocean lovers who wanted to inspire others to see that the biggest positive impact they could make to ocean sustainability was to change their food choices.
© 2018 Oceaneers.For.Life