Monday, May 20, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: Every Piece Counts

This blog comes from Mike Capper, heading to U. of Minnesota to study History and earn a teaching certificate. He is a sailor from Lake Minnetonka and wrote this blog from onboard American Promise on the first day of his internship with Rozalia Project.

I first became aware of the Rozalia Project in the summer of 2011 when Rachael Miller visited the Wayzata Community Sailing Center where I coach, and she stayed at my parent’s house. Rachael worked with the children and the staff spreading awareness about marine debris through hands-on activities, lecture, and video: her work left tremendous impacts upon me, and more importantly, the young sailors. She impressed upon us the dire situation that our oceans are now facing because of human neglect and abuse.

Due to Rachael, my own actions and attitude have changed drastically: I used to just pass marine debris and street garbage by without a second thought, but today I will go out of my way to pick up trash wherever I find it. In fact, I am sure to carry a bag to the lakes to pick up trash: the amount I can get from just a casual stroll along the shore is staggering. People will stop and thank me, yet do nothing themselves, so I have decided to take along an extra bag or two and say, “you can make a difference too, every piece counts.” Sadly, although sometimes rather conveniently, there are bags already littering the shore to put trash in: I end up using trash to get rid of other trash. She made me realize how intimately life is tied to the health of the ocean, and not just marine animals or the creatures that eat them, but for all life on Earth. All life is tied to the cycles and health of the world’s watery surface through the cycles of the rain, the weather, the tides, and the currents. Our garbage and pollution is steadily chocking and poisoning our precious water, the one thing that allows life to flourish on this blue gem of a planet. This is all the more nerve racking because Earth is the only planet that we have, and we are suffocating it. I have joined the Rozalia Project because I truly believe in their mission through education and awareness.

I have seen the fruits of this important work right in my community with our sailors. One of the last sixteen year olds (at the time) who I thought would ever care much about anything beyond himself, pleasantly surprised my dad (Wayzata Community Sailing Center Executive Director Cappy Capper) and me by picking up trash during race practices and handing it to us at the finish line multiple times since Rachael’s visit, which also translated into other sailors doing the same. He would even enthusiastically shout “marine debris!” and go out of his way to retrieve it. More significantly, he continues to take responsibility for the lakes and waterways that he sails on as a senior at Wayzata High School, even taking time to educate other sailors and competitors. Young men and women like that young sailor are what give me hope for a better future for out planet: they show us that to facilitate change and to shape a brighter future, all you need is creative education.

The work that the Rozalia Project is undertaking is vital to our planet’s, and our species’, health, and I am proud to be a part of it. I know that we are making a difference, even though it is only a small amount at the moment: it is the small trickle that will split the rock and turn into a flood.

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