Edie Mari is a student at UAF who has been working with the Alaska OA Network since September. She helped launch the Future Ocean Podcast and is in the midst of translating science for the new Alaska OA Network website. Edie is currently based in Portugal.
Tell us about your background. How did you find your way to ocean acidification?
I spent the first decade of my career working in community engagement and outreach in social justice oriented arts nonprofits. I believe deeply in the community-building power of performing arts, live theater, and documentary film, especially in building momentum and actualizing real change. I began a gradual and deliberate transition to environmental studies after a series of events brought the climate crisis into personal focus. In 2015, my wife and I witnessed our favorite reef bleach; not long after, fire tore through the hills near our home, burning down a beloved retreat. Every year since then, I have lost parts of my world, my culture, and my livelihood to the ravages of climate change. In response, I’m pursuing a career shift and putting my energy into efforts that are directly addressing human impacts on the environment. Much of my life revolves around the ocean, so I’m not surprised to have found a new home in the OA community.
You’ve lived in different parts of the US and around the world. What do you think makes people pay attention to environmental issues?
It has been interesting to witness the broader cultural differences in response to the climate crisis. Worldview plays a big part in how you process environmental issues and the decisions you make based on the information you have. That being said, the really fruitful and passionate conversations I’ve been invited into have all started from a place of being in relationship with the natural world, regardless of culture or nationality. These relationships with certain places and with certain species give us reason to be invested in what happens to them and we pay attention when their names are called. Baba Dioum’s quote is popular in the coral conservation world, and I tend to really run with the first part, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love.” Whenever I want someone to connect with an environmental issue, I go looking for that seed of love.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum, 1968
Do you have any thoughts or observations about the ocean acidification community through your work so far?
The ocean is a gathering place and I’ve always found community there. Some folks are born of it, saltwater in the womb. Others are called to it from grassy plains and snow-dusted peaks. It sustains life, physically and spiritually, but you can only enter on its own terms. Folks who abide by the preconditions of the ocean are really rad people. So far, my experience of the OA community has shown me that you all are incredibly passionate, driven, joyful, focused, excited, realistic, righteous, inspiring, and hopeful. What an extraordinary community to be a part of as we head into this wild and demanding future.
What are a few projects that you’re working on, or looking forward to working on with the network?
I started the semester by helping roll out The Future Ocean Podcast and I have since moved on to assisting with the new website transition and creating the next State of the Science update. Next semester, I’ll be putting together a few informational pages for the website and assisting with other community outreach efforts. I intend to stay involved with AOOS and the OA Network after graduation and I hope to contribute to the Alaska OA community throughout my career.