A number of months ago, I was approached by folks at the Faculty of Theology at Huron about being interviewed for a promotional video for the Master of Divinity program. Logistics of me being in Victoria and the videographer being in London made it a challenge at first, but we managed to find a time when I was in Toronto for PWRDF meetings to sit down and talk about my experiences of that program. I said lots of things, most of which was, I’m sure, incoherent. But James, the amazing videographer, somehow took them and made me sound intelligent! Many thanks to Todd, the Dean of the Faculty, for trusting me with saying things about that great place. Honoured to be with David Giffen in his beautiful parish for this video.
I have very briefly mentioned that I spent a few weeks in El Salvador this summer. My time there was through the work I do with PWRDF. One of our partners, the Committee against AIDS (CoCoSI), was chosen to host a delegation of young people from Saskatchewan. The trip was designed and run by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. Its purpose was, as the title “Global Citizen Youth Leadership Program” suggests, designed to promote being a global citizen amongst young people.
What does it mean to be a global citizen, you might ask. This was explored through discussions of international development – good and bad, through understanding privilege and oppression, through living and interacting with people with a different history, culture, and worldview to the ones we may have grown up with, and through being open to being changed and willing to ask tough questions to ourselves and our society.
The eight teenagers from all across Saskatchewan who joined in on this journey are amazing young people. They rose to the challenge and let their hearts be broken time and time again by shattered worldviews, poverty, pain, and love. Their experiences, and the stories of some of the people we met have been captured in a 30 minute video by a Regina filmaker.
For those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to see the video, take 30 minutes and be challenged by some amazing young people.
I have been associated with SALTS, the Sail and Life Training Society, for over ten years now. My first trip was a three-day coastal voyage in high school. I’ve been on board nearly every year since then. For two years, I worked for SALTS in the position of cook. Coastally, I’ve sailed all around the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast/Desolation Sound as well as circumnavigating Vancouver Island at least once. Offshore, we circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean: Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, China, Japan… I lived and breathed SALTS for those two years – at times literally never leaving the boat for weeks on end (the longest passage we had was 30+ days without sighting land). I had to miss sailing with them this summer because of school, but I am looking forward to getting back on the water next season. It is hard work, but it is some of the most rewarding work one can ever do. Enjoy the short video. If you watch closely, you might pick me out once or twice in the offshore footage at the end.
Midway atoll is a beautiful patch of sand thousands of miles away from anything in the Pacific Ocean. After its life as a US military base was finished, it came under the protection of a Marine Sanctuary, one which encompasses most of the islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, making it one of the largest such protected areas in the world. It is home to around two million albatross, or it was in the spring of 2008 when the crew and trainees of the Pacific Grace stopped there on our north Pacific crossing.
That protection, however, does not and cannot extend past the shores of the islands and once the albatross have left the island where they reign supreme, they are in danger. It seems that albatross are feeding in what has come to be known The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area of the Pacific about twice the size of Texas completely covered in plastic trash. Some of it has been dumped off of ships, some is probably cargo that has come loose in storms, still more is blown out to sea from coastal areas on both sides of the Pacific.
We saw hints of this on Midway last year. The photo above shows the beach and a pile of garbage. When individuals walk the beaches on Midway, they collect some of the larger pieces and add them too these piles all along the beach. Some of it is probably washed up on shore. The rest of it comes from the albatross who, thinking it is food, have unwittingly swallowed it and brought it back to land.
There they feed it to their young and, as Chris Jordan’s photos show (also, see the NY Times Book Review, h/t to Jen who sent me this article and started me off on this rant), it has devastating effects.
The following videos are [first] a short doc on the plastic and albatross on Midway (I recognize the opening scenes from our visit there, they are the old military houses) and [second] Chris’ photos set to music.
Damning? Yes. Enough to make us all reconsider our plastic consumption? I sure hope so.