Dan Burgess is an activist, strategist and ocean educator who works with a variety of organisations to spread the gospel of ocean literacy, teaching people about our seas. He believes that once people know more and feel more connected, the desire to protect our oceans will be stronger. You only protect something if you truly love it.
The Ocean Mic tour, back in June was the perfect example of this philosophy in action; a set of 5 evenings at Finisterre stores where people were invited to tell their ocean stories and share the 'watery vibes' as Dan put it. The experience was incredible, both for the Finisterre team and for Dan, who penned the words below to reflect on the success of the first ever Ocean Mic tour.
Although the memories are fading, the Ocean Mic tour, 5 nights at the end of June that I spent on the road with Finisterre and with local communities around their stores was a huge hit on many levels, and I’m still processing all that was shared, because it was abundantly generative.
We witnessed packed evenings and nearly 100 people from Exeter, Bristol, Falmouth, Edinburgh and London stepped up, took the mic for 3 minutes and shared their water story with the crowd.
Interestingly, the majority of people each night did so spontaneously, i.e they came to the event as a listener but ended up offering something to the community. This is the thing that makes me the most happy. Spontaneous participation.
The scope of the content shared was mind blowing, beyond what I think we had imagined.
We laughed, we listened, we experienced sadness and grief, we were provoked, inspired, moved and entertained. The offerings included songs, poems, dreams, projects, environmental challenges, science, health, community change, the sharing of anxieties and shame, the healing energy of wild water and cold water swimming, stories of fear, hope, adventure and mystery, we even danced a wave like jig in Bristol.
As one guy in Edinburgh said to me after - “I’m a surfer, I thought this would be all about surfing, but I’m blown away by the breadth and depth of what has been shared tonight”.
I’m left with one big takeout, what is it about water, rivers, the ocean and the human connection with it at this moment in time?
Maybe it’s where land, rules and order ends, spaces where words and technologies become meaningless, environments, energies and experiences that can’t rationally be explained but are felt deeply in our bodies. Maybe that’s the tonic many of us are seeking right now.
What I do know for sure, is that those who seek out wild water regularly and intentionally, seem to have an aliveness and appreciation for life that often seems missing from the modern human. This is so interesting to me.
We are living in strange times - destruction, greed, power and fear is seemingly rampant, yet the pure joy of life and the beauty of our planet is also profound and right in front of us for those who notice and practice this intentionally.
There is so much work to be done, but in local community and place much possibility lies, here we are not paralysed by political inaction, hubris and abstraction. In community we can listen to each other, be heard and held and together co-create the shift to a more beautiful world.
For this I have huge respect for Finisterre, for opening up their spaces and investing in this collaboration. There was no product involved in this, just a recognition that a healthy ocean, rivers and waterways, the life that they sustain and the relationship to humans, is bigger than all of us.
Together, we are exploring what next and how to take the experience to other places. If you have an event where you think Ocean Mic could feature, please do get in touch.
Peace and Out... *drops mic*
Words by Dan Burgess