Dr. Seuss, Bits of Plastic, and Silver Linings: Q+A with Ocean Hero Finalist Angela Pozzi
BY: Justine Sullivan
Angela Pozzi – Bandon, OR.
Angela is the founder, director and lead artist of the Washed Ashore Project: Art to Save the Sea, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting plastic debris from local beaches and using it to build incredible sculptures of ocean creatures. Angela and her volunteers are responsible for removing nearly 10 tons of trash from local beaches since 2010, and her sculptures have been exhibited across Oregon, California and Alaska to educate the public about marine creatures, plastic pollution, and the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Please explain why your contribution is important and why voters should choose you as a winner of the 2013 Ocean Hero Awards:
Perhaps the most important part of what I do as director and lead artists of Washed Ashore is to spark dialogue and engage new listeners to learn about ocean conservation. Quite often people feel overwhelmed and helpless when faced with the grim reality of what is happening in our oceans. The Washed Ashore project gives people a clear vision of how everyone working together CAN make BIG things happen.
What inspired you to get involved in ocean conservation?
When the idea formed for Washed Ashore, it was a silver lining on a very dark cloud. After 25 years of marriage I was suddenly widowed in 2004. In 2007, I moved to the coastal town of Bandon, Oregon, to try to start a new life. For two years I walked the beaches every day, often stepping over random debris as I headed to the shore, but I did not want to see it. I only wanted to see beauty, I was searching for a purpose for my art and my life, but I did not see it was at my feet.
Then one day on the beach in 2009 it all came into focus – tiny bits of color laid out in a crooked line, along the high water mark like a mosaic as far as I could see. I felt sick to my stomach. It was tiny bits of plastic as far as I could see. NO, this could not be. The ocean had churned and chewed plastic into sand and spit it out.
It was at that moment that I was truly transformed. I had come to the ocean to heal, but I found an ocean that needed healing. This was my calling. I had to change this reality. I could not let this happen to the most sacred thing on earth, the ocean. The place that would never change and would always be there for me was being poisoned. At that moment, I was determined to save the ocean and find a way to get everyone to help me.
What was your first victory and when did you start believing you could make a difference?
…When the entire show of 13 pieces were on display at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 2010, I saw a woman stand speechless with tears in her eyes. She was changed. The Sculptures were fulfilling their mission and communicating clearly.
What is one thing that you would recommend that people can do every day to help protect the oceans?
Carry your own reusable shopping bags and refillable bottles. These are the two plastic items we find constantly on the beach and they are a great threat to the animals.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to be an Ocean Hero?
Spend time with the ocean. Listen clearly to your heart, follow your imagination, don’t let anyone stop you if you know what you are doing is right, and stay positive at all times.
What is your favorite ocean-related book or movie?
Easy, it had a huge influence on me – McElligots Pool by Dr. Seuss. I love the celebration of imagination and the fact that no one was going to tell the boy that he wasn’t going to catch something in an old pond. The boy saw that everything was connected to the sea and all you need is an imagination and you can have hope and a wonderful time!
Inspired by Angela Pozzi? Vote for her to be a 2013 Ocean Hero!