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Accelerating our Movement: International Splash Trash Art Expo

Update: In two months, fifty-six organizations from twenty-one countries have signed on as Expo supporters. We are becoming a WE!

Adopt a Coastline (Antigua), Algalita, Art Explorium, 5 Gyres, Bahamas Plastic Movement, BYOBAG Waiheke Island (New Zealand), Bay Islands Conservation Association Roatan (Honduras), Beachcleaner (Germany), Beautiful Nation Project, Center for Coastal Studies, Center for Sustainable Development (Bahamas), ECOBAGS, 5minutebeachcleanup (Costa Rica), Flipflopi (Kenya), Florida Coastal Conservancy, Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Florida Microplastic Project, Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, Friends of Portheras Cove (England), Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves, Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, Fundación HEEL (Mexico), Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund, Keep Bermuda Beautiful, Littora (Canada), Litterati, Making Oceans Plastic Free (Indonesia), Mingas por el Mar (Ecuador), Movement Against Plastic Pollution (Philippines), Ocean Sole (Kenya), One More Generation, One Less Straw, Plastic Free Island: St. Johns, Plastic Free Philippines, Plastic Ocean Project, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Plasticus Maritimus (Portugal), Plastic Ocean Festival (England), Plastic Ocean Project, Proartso (Mallorca), Project Vortex, Rame Peninsula Beach Care (England), Refugio Nacional Cuero y Salado (Honduras), Sustainable Coastlines Hawai'i, Take 3 for the Sea (Australia), The Ocean Corner (England), Trash Walking Moms (Canada), Sagar-Mitra (India), Trout Marketing, Viral DePollution (Italy), Walton County Extension, Washed Ashore, Women's Initiative for Sustainable Environment (Nigeria) and World Coast Journey for the Preservation of the Seas (Brazil).

The first Splash Trash Tour was amazing - now what?

What an experience! I safely pulled my little trailer 8,000 miles to six wonderful Florida locations – from the Chautauqua in DeFuniak Springs to the Key West Eco-Discovery Center. I collaborated with more than thirty organizations - NGOs, clubs, schools, universities and county, state and national governmental entities. I talked with at least two thousand of the visitors who attended the Pop-Up Show. l worked with people from four-to-seventy to create Catch of the Day collaborative arts pieces that illustrate how by 2050 there will be more pounds of trash in the ocean than pounds of fish. I promoted the Tour via social and traditional media – from Facebook to Fox News. And I learned a lot.

Splash Trash Tour Lessons Learned

Awareness and action around marine pollution is starting to gain some traction, but it’s moving much too slowly in relation to the immediacy of the threat we are facing.

More traditional and social media are posting stories about marine pollution and we need to build on and amplify that buzz.

More people are becoming aware of the problem, but they aren’t sure what they can do about it.

More organizations around the world are educating people on this issue, but can only reach a few people at a time. And they emphasize different messages.

Touching and creating art out of beach trash has enormous power to transform people into marine debris activists.

Accelerating the Movement

My conclusion from these lessons learned is that we need ‘something’ global to accelerate this trend. Something participatory that people can join in and organize around. Something visual that can become viral on social media. Something that amplifies the immediacy of this issue so loudly people all around the world will be motivated to join in and take action. Something that can accelerate our movement until is ‘fearless and unstoppable’.

Historically, international arts-based events have been powerful catalysts for increasing awareness and action around a variety of issues – from AIDs to Tsunami victims. Imagine the power of an arts-based event applied to marine debris – the excitement, the creativity, the international media coverage, the feeling that we are in this together and that together we can make a difference!

We are at a tipping point in relation to marine debris and the future of our planet. This is the time to use the transformational power of an arts-based event to raise awareness, activism and advocacy around the globe about the impact of plastic in our waterways and what we can do to make a difference.

International Splash Trash Art Expo

My vision is International Splash Trash Art Expos that would engage hundreds of organizations and thousands of artists, generate hundreds of thousands of media stories and inspire millions of people to take action before it’s too late.

How? Engage, Inspire and Illuminate ​​

Engage and collaborate with environmental and arts-based organizations and groups around the world to promote and participate in the Expo, advocate for marine debris solutions and build the movement. On the Expo web page, provide a menu of options and tools for different levels of participation – from join to promote to participate by holding an event,teaching an beach art class or sponsoring a mini-Expo.

Inspire people of all ages to create art out of marine and waterway trash, participate in the Expo and become marine debris activists. Provide web-based tools for beach trash art ideas and projects, as well as tools to help people advocate for marine pollution solutions at the personal, local, state and national levels.

Illuminate the issue on the global stage with hundreds of thousands of posts on traditional and social media about the Expo and marine debris solutions. The ultra-visual nature of the Expo would quickly go viral as myriads of images from around the world are shared and reshared. This would amplify the voices of marine debris advocates and accelerate the global movement, motivating millions more people to join in and take action. On the Expo web page, provide kits for the media about the Expo and marine debris solutions, as well as tools for individuals and organizations who want to work with the media.

When? Three-Year Phased Implementation

2018: Planning, Partnering and Piloting.

2019: Regional ArtExpos and Virtual International Art Expo and Adult Juried Art Competition.

2020: Real time Expos of the Adult Juried Show winners in several countries.

Become part of the 'WE'

I’ve sent the International Splash Trash Art Expo Concept Paper to several environmental and arts-based organizations and individuals and am getting very positive responses. Based on their feedback, I’m in the process of developing the three-year Implementation Plan.

The idea is beginning to grow legs. But, as Paul Hawkins said so well, "to do this, we must become a WE".

I would love to hear about your ideas, suggestions or contacts?

Who might be financial sponsors?

Who might help with the IT platform?

Who might be partners in each country?

Would you or your organization also like to be listed as an Expo Supporter?

Please feel free to contact me!

Together WE can make the vision of an

International Splash Trash Art Expo a reality.

If Not You, Who?

2016. Plastic harvested from Utila beaches: PVC pipe?

and Styrofoam ball frosted with plastic fragments picked out of the sand with my fingers. Sadly, it

didn't take very long to fill my jar.

[1] Hawkins, Paul (editor). Drawdown, the Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2017

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