Thanksgiving looks a little different this year. We know that many plans have been interrupted and people are opting to do things differently to protect family and friends. And yet, some things remain the same: this is a time for giving thanks. It’s also a time to reflect on the historic realities of the holiday. I’ve been learning more about what this holiday means for our Native American friends and colleagues. I am committed to continuing the conversation in order for us all to feel seen and heard. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to read this article, which I found very helpful in reframing Thanksgiving in context of its history.
2020 has been quite a year, to say the least. We’ve faced a global pandemic, a contentious election and unprecedented economic and social challenges. Things have been hard, and continue to be hard, for families and communities around the world.
But despite all of that—and because all of that—we have seen incredible examples of compassion, love and resilience. We’ve seen people wearing masks to protect each other, waiting in long lines to exercise their right to vote and rallying for the rights of Black, indigenous and other people of color.
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We’ve also seen great wins for our ocean. I am in awe of those who have continued to advocate for our ocean throughout this trying year, including my wonderful colleagues at Ocean Conservancy and dedicated supporters like you. This is no small feat, especially in the time of an administration that has pushed for anti-ocean and anti-climate policies.
In a COVID world, we still found creative and safe ways to help our ocean. Meetings shifted from in-person chats to Zoom calls, where we talked with policymakers about protecting the Arctic from increased shipping. Our annual International Coastal Cleanup shifted from big groups to small, socially-distanced volunteers who used the Clean Swell app to track the amount of trash and plastic they collected. And dedicated supporters like YOU took action to protect critical environmental legislation like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by making your voice heard to policy makers.
I am thankful that throughout this challenging year, people continued to help our ocean—and each other. The health of our planet is inexplicably tied with the health of its people, and this year has brought a renewed commitment to ensuring a just and equitable future for all. To truly solve the many issues facing our ocean, we must prioritize racial justice. I am thankful to all those committed to integrating justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in their work, and look forward to continuing this fight in 2021 and beyond.
As we look towards a new year, we are also looking towards a new administration. After a long and stressful election season, Americans came out in record numbers to elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. After four years of egregious policies that have hurt our ocean and disproportionately impacted people of color, Ocean Conservancy is ready to work with the new administration and Congress to help re-establish the United States as a global leader in ocean conservation and a meaningful actor on climate change—the single greatest threat facing our ocean. As an incredibly difficult year comes to an end, we are hopeful for the future and committed to our mission: creating science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.
The effects of this virus and this contentious political climate have spared no one, and it is understandable that people are hurt, tired and uncertain. And yet, people are working hard every day to make a better world for all of us—including a healthier ocean and more just planet. This year, I’m grateful for moments of kindness and hope for the future in these trying times. Most of all, I am grateful for the passion and dedication of ocean lovers like you.
From all of us, I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.