CHANGEMAKERS: WATERSHED WATCH

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Hello, and welcome to the first instalment of the 'Changemakers' series! In it, I'll be shining a spotlight on some organizations that I think are doing good work in the realm of environmental conservation. You can read more about the story behind the series here. 

As a WestCoaster, born and raised, today I'm excited to share with you a wonderful organization and an issue that's close to my heart and home: salmon.

If you've been following along with my artwork for even a short time, you'll know that I love drawing salmon. Yep, those flowey fins and fine scales seem to make their way through my pen and onto my paper. But my interest in salmon has grown significantly as I've learned more and more about them. Salmon feed the wolves and bears and even feed the forest, their bodies creating nutrient-rich soil. If you want to look at one animal in the Pacific that is so vital, so integral to humans, animals, ecosystem and culture, look no further than the salmon.

As my fav John Muir quote goes, 'when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe'. On that note...

Try picking out a salmon and you won’t just pick up a slippery fish, you’ll find yourself holding an entire ecosystem, the rich culture and livelihood of the First Nations people and the health of our forests. In your hands, you’ll feel the heartbeat of our waterways.
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Which brings us to today. Where are we now?

Unfortunately, wild salmon aren't doing so well, in fact their very future is in jeopardy.

Salmon are such incredibly determined and resilient creatures that face many obstacles on their journey from birth through maturity, to their migration upstream to spawn and die. Without any human-interference in their natural rhythms, it's still a pretty tough life! But the thing is, human-interference is providing major obstacles to their health and future. The hands of industry and disease and are holding dying salmon in their hands.

Some of the threats:

-fish farms

-disease + parasites (fish farms being a huge culprit in this)

-overfishing

-habitat destruction

-pollution

-climate change

Yes, that's a huge stack of issues. But the good news is, it's not too late to actually do something about it. Watershed Watch Salmon Society is one of those organizations that is working at the frontline of these issues.

SAY HELLO TO WATERSHED WATCH

Who: Watershed Watch Salmon Society

What: a voice for B.C.'s wild salmon

Where: British Columbia, Canada

When: established in 1998

(In their own words:) Watershed Watch Salmon Society advocates for BC’s wild salmon and the waters they swim in. Since 1998, Watershed Watch has been exposing threats to salmon and their habitats, calling for conservation action, and promoting solutions.

We do this by providing scientific expertise, forming strategic alliances, bearing witness on the ground and on the water, and having a seat at the tables that influence wild salmon management. We engage the public and provide tools for effective advocacy, taking a balanced, solutions­based approach to difficult issues. We put improvement before ideals, and don’t shy away from holding government, industry, and others to account.

Watershed Watch works to protect BC’s wild salmon on many fronts: pushing for effective fisheries management and implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, working to halt expansion of open­net salmon farming, and protecting salmon habitat and ecological flows.

HOW WE DO IT

Scientific expertise—Working with scientists from universities, other non-profits, governments, First Nations, and the private sector.

Strategic alliances—Partnering with like-minded groups to amplify our effectiveness.

Bearing witness—Having boots on the ground, eyes on the water, and a seat at the tables that influence wild salmon management.

Public engagement—Informing citizens, engaging with them, and providing tools for effective advocacy.

Balance—Taking a reasonable, solutions-based approach to difficult issues, and putting improvement before ideals. 

Courage—Not shying away from holding government, industry, and others to account.

You can view some of their campaigns here.

Watershed Watch is doing some really great work to make sure wild salmon are part of our future. Please check out www.watershed-watch.org to find out more.

And if you want to TAKE ACTION right now, sign the petition to 'get fish farms away from our wild salmon'. SIGN HERE.

Stay tuned, next Tuesday, I'll be launching my special edition print, where a percentage of proceeds will go to Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

 

Stay hopeful, stay wild and share your light

Sarah

CHANGEMAKERS

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INTRODUCING  'CHANGEMAKERS'

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball and hide away. I mean, between the challenges of climate change, species extinction, oil spills and pipe line expansions (not to mention the refugee crisis, war, rampant racism and the absurdities of disconnected world leaders) it's pretty easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. Yes, it'd be easier to just pull the covers back over my eyes. But I can't deny this little tug at my heart, that says 'open your eyes, create, speak.' 

So, I've been asking myself some hard questions. Like, how am I contributing positively to the world? What issues do I really care about? What do I believe in? and how am I using my voice? 

Here are a few things I've come up with:  

  • we need to focus on hope, fear begets more fear 
  • there are people + organizations doing great work in the world, but seldom does the media focus on them (fear sells a whole lot better)
  • I believe that creativity is inherently valuable
  • I also believe that creativity can be used as a force for good in the world
  • we are nature and I believe that now more than ever, it's time for us to realign our lives and lifestyles with this fact

With this on my mind, I've decided to launch 'Changemakers'. In it, I'll be shining a spotlight on some organizations that I think are doing good work in the realm of environmental conservation. Aferall, change can only come first through awareness. I'll be writing about them here on this blog and then I'll be releasing a special edition print where a percentage of the profits will go to the organization. My intention is to do this a few times a year. I recognize that this is only a small gesture but I do believe that we need to use our voices for good in whatever way we can.

Stay tuned as I share about the first organization I'm partnering with and for the special art print I'll be releasing.

Stay hopeful and share your light,

Sarah

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Planes, Plants & Pens (summer livin')

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There definitely seemed to be a reoccurring theme for me throughout my travels...yep, plants.

This summer I travelled through London, Amsterdam, Berlin and around Cornwall. I hung out with some beautiful friends, explored an ancient village and stepped inside the most awe-inspiring cathedral. I had picnics on a canal in Amsterdam and drank beer inside a seven hundred year old British pub. I swam in the Atlantic and hiked the coastal path with the turquoise ocean, rolling purple heather and open sky above me.

Needless, to say, I took lots of inspiration away from my trip, but something I loved the most was  all the plants. Along with coming across wild flowers on the coast, and some beautiful public gardens, I got to explore some spectacular botanical gardens. I saw the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam, Berlin-Dahlem garden in Berlin and Kew in London. 

(Yes, I took way too many photos on my trip!) But here are a few botanical favourites. Let's see how they weave their way into my new work...

I got the chance to take a botanical illustration workshop in London lead by one of my fav illustrators. It was also in the most beautiful setting, a green house at the top of a restaurant where we were served lunch made of the vegetables we had just been drawing.

I got the chance to take a botanical illustration workshop in London lead by one of my fav illustrators. It was also in the most beautiful setting, a green house at the top of a restaurant where we were served lunch made of the vegetables we had just been drawing.

Farmer's market loot and a canal-side picnic with a good friend!

Farmer's market loot and a canal-side picnic with a good friend!

Cornwall was breath-taking and I loved walking 3 sections of the Coastal path.

Cornwall was breath-taking and I loved walking 3 sections of the Coastal path.

A little sketch inside the Fern room at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical gardens. It felt like home in there, so I sat down and stayed a while.

A little sketch inside the Fern room at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical gardens. It felt like home in there, so I sat down and stayed a while.

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LONDON Inspiration

I've been dying to meet William Morris for years, so when I had the chance to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London I was pretty excited. (yep, I was oohing and aching over everything). Although he's been dead for years, his vision, philosophy and passion shine through his artwork in the form of textiles, furniture, wallpaper and books. My creative heart was pretty full after leaving the museum.

I've been on a bit of a European adventure, visiting friends in London, The Hague, Amsterdam and Berlin. Right now I'm exploring the beauty of Cornwall, England. I thought I would share with you some bits and pieces of some of things that caught my eye in London, little pulses of inspiration found in museums, store fronts, walls and streets. The creative wheels are definitely turning with dreams of my own textiles and expanding my artwork to include more narrative. Stay tuned for that!

#lessonsfromnature: EMPOWERMENT

"Dear Sarah, Don't ever forget yourself. The confidence that you can be you and achieve what you want…Maybe it's a stressful time now, school's getting hard and things aren't the greatest. Now think of this place. It's still here, no human breath touches it's air. The mountains are standing tall and pristine, glaciers melt,  Hellebore flowers send their roots into the ground waiting to rocket out of the earth, shining proud just because they're living, growing, being. 

Don't forget where you stand, and what you love.  

Remember what is important.

Never forget the mountains.

Rise above."

This is an excerpt of a letter I wrote in 2003, addressed to my future self. Reading it 14 years later, I'm amazed at how revealing it is (yes, even the part about glaciers melting). Surprised that the voice behind the words wasn't the teenager that was stressed out about school and trying to navigate the akward and confusing journey of adolescence. The voice of the letter seemed tapped into a truer, wiser self. It's words were written in pencil while outdoors, at the foot of towering mountains.

When I was seventeen years old, I went on a backpacking trip with Outward Bound. Along with nine other teenagers and a few guides we spent a week in the mountains around Pemberton, hiking through forests, scrambling over rocks and climbing up to breathtaking views. We hiked long hours, with everything on our backs and the August sun pouring down on us. We ended the days sweaty and tired around the campfire. I don't remember the specifics of the trip now but I remember how strong I felt, how capable and alive. 

It was a time of firsts. Backpacking, doing a solo-camping night, rockclimbing and doing a 10k run on the last day, once we had hiked back down closer to town. 

The trip showed me what I was capable of. Being in a group and learning from the guides was super important, but it was Nature that was my biggest teacher. It was the mountains that said 'climb me and see how it will feel when you've reached the top' It was the lake, that said 'I'll take care of you as you rest beside my shore, alone in the wilderness'. It was the plants and animals living their plant and animal lives, without anxiety, without striving. It was nature, who told me 'be, that is enough'.

These are lessons we learn, unlearn and learn again. I can see, only now, what a transformative trip that really was.

 

***This is part of my series called #lessonsfromnature, during my artist residency for the Wild About Vancouver outdoor education festival. You can head over to instagram to follow the whole journey there.