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Ocean Currents

What is Ocean Optimism?

How to find joy and champion the ocean

Sun Rays Shine Through The Ocean
© Jeremy Bishop

Before I started working for Ocean Conservancy, I browsed through this very website. I stumbled across this hashtag on the homepage: #OceanOptimism. Reading that hashtag ignited a sense of hopefulness in me. As a fierce environmental advocate, I knew I could get behind something like this. It characterized a movement I wanted to be a part of.

As a young girl, I always felt drawn to the natural environment.

I knew that nature was something to be admired and protected. I chose to dedicate my life and career to helping other people see the importance of protecting it, too. I resonate with #OceanOptimism as a recent college graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies and an internship in Communications at Ocean Conservancy. Optimism has always been an important part of my approach to environmental work.

The hashtag originated from a Twitter post back in 2014. #OceanOptimism was used to group stories reporting progress toward solving marine conservation challenges. Since its inception, the hashtag has reached 60 million Twitter users to rally supporters and inspire change. Ocean Conservancy displayed this hashtag on their website because ocean optimism is in every fiber of their being.

For Ocean Conservancy’s CEO, Janis Searles Jones, ocean optimism really means courage:

“It means that we don’t shy away from the incredibly urgent threats facing our ocean like climate change. It means we don’t minimize or sugarcoat the problems or deny ourselves moments to mourn what’s already been lost. It means courage to take action and to fight for our ocean and the people and communities that depend on it. That’s what ocean optimism means to me, and that’s why I’m at Ocean Conservancyto work with our incredible team on real, meaningful and equitable solutions that will protect and restore a changing ocean.”

While that’s what it means to our CEO, it can mean something unique for all of us who care about the ocean. Remaining optimistic is not only essential to protect our ocean but our own mental health. As supporters of the environment, we can easily become overwhelmed. We see our record-breaking hot summers, intensified weather events and rising sea levels. Choosing ocean optimism (or ocean courage, as our CEO eloquently states) helps us gather the strength to continue our work.

Realism is also important to environmental advocacy.

A dose of realism is also necessary to ground us in the present and help us understand future implications, as intense as that may be at times. Realism ultimately brings us the sense of urgency we need to complete a task, big or small, which fuels the environmental movement. There is a fine line before realism can overcome hopefulness, however. As with everything in life, we must try to find the balance.

The attitude you bring to your environmental work matters.

As environmental advocates, we are privileged to work on issues that profoundly affect people and the planet. I never imagined as a young girl that I would one day have the privilege to fight to conserve our ocean. I try to ground myself with a positive outlook on my potential impact. Every day, I choose #OceanOptimism because the protection of our beloved ocean is indeed a life-long battle. Those champions of the movement, both past and present, motivate, inspire and comfort us. Optimism helps us pursue our own commitments to leave the world better than how we found it.

Written by Maya Canonizado, Communications Intern at Ocean Conservancy, based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a recent graduate from University of Southern California with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Management Consulting. Maya was born and raised in the Bay Area, California, and continues to consider it home base. Growing up and living on the coast her whole life sparked her love for the ocean and the desire to protect it from a young age. In her free time, Maya loves to cook and bake for her friends and family, travel to new places, and explore nearby parks.

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