You go to learn and meet people but you stay for the inspiration, especially the shine from the planned Capitol Hill Ocean Day.
Just to be chatting and hanging with great ocean people was an honor, many have been at this for a long time and deserve accolades for their often quiet but steady ocean activism and accomplishments.
Others were newer on the scene but they made up for it with enthusiasm and optimism.
All attendees came together over a strong desire to support healthy oceans. It was the kind of event that feels like you are just back from a brisk walk on the beach, salt spray still on your cheeks.
For the unprofessional lobbyist, Capitol Hill Ocean Day was everything from democracy in action to an opportunity to publicly wrap your arms around the oceans.
There, at our nation’s capital, we told the staffer from my state, who has the federal Representative’s or Senator’s ear, our concerns and love for the oceans. We also expressed our support of a National Ocean Policy for the US and a Clean Ocean Zone from Montauk, NY to Cape May, NJ.
Sure nothing may come of my words in that brief meeting -- of course not really -- but they were listening one way or another. There was no script, no talking points, no messaging, just raw love and democracy.
The New York team, led by Jennifer, from Clean Ocean Action, had a full day as did the other teams from other states. Our team was a great mix of artists and writers and simply sincere ocean advocates.
Anne talked about her enviable and fabulous career as a photographer with National Geographic and her countless adventures. Marc came with his book in hand, beautiful photographs of fish silhouettes, designed to illustrate the plight of overfishing.
A few times we had some ringers, too. The students from the NY Harbor School spoke about their love of the oceans with earnest eloquence. They were a tough act to follow but that is perfectly fine.
We went from office to office, walking miles on the hard white marble floors and feeling the hefty humidity of DC. We sat down with the sharp and young staff of a bevy of New York politicians, including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. The underlying theme in all our words was love of the oceans.
Who knew democracy could be so energizing? Despite the aching feet and despite many of the questions from staffers aimed toward the politics of it all -- which hints at the embarrassing and shameful ongoing squabbling among our elected officials on the national stage -- there is something satisfying to being part of the democratic process.
I may have even used the word love at least once when talking about oceans. Why not? At first I blushed when I gushed the word but I was reaffirmed by my own research and Futerra’s reports and other sources that reiterate sharing the love of nature is much more effective than doom and gloom, possibly more effective than anything else.
It’s the power of positive thinking, and I hope team NY passed some of it (and the urgency) onto the staffers who met with us.
And by the way, anyone can do this, especially constituents. Contact the office of your elected Congressperson and make an appointment. Tell them you love the oceans and would like them protected. It is your right to be heard.