Making Waves: An inland ocean movement is growing in Colorado

Our oceans are in trouble, and everyone can help them recover. We are all connected to the oceans, from the oxygen we breathe to the water we drink. That’s what I keep reminding myself since moving to Denver after graduate studies in Rhode Island (the “Ocean State”) and my childhood along the California coast. Even in landlocked states like Colorado, choices we make every day can help marine life – particularly in terms of sustainable seafood and renewable energy options. As an artist and ocean advocate, I am beginning my marine conservation career by using fine art sculpture to inspire policy makers and the public to be better stewards of our oceans. Even from a mile above sea level and over 1,000 miles from the coast, I believe that art has a unique potential to instill in us an emotional connection to the fragile beauty of marine ecosystems and inspire us to act to preserve and restore them. That’s why I am proud to bring my work to Denver’s Art District on Sante Fe through my new Inland Sea Studio, where I am working to raise awareness about ocean issues in the heart of Colorado. But neither art or I can do it alone. An inland ocean movement is gaining momentum thanks to the Colorado Ocean Coalition – a nonprofit project of The Ocean Foundation founded by Vicki Nichols Goldstein that is dedicated to creating, uniting and empowering a Colorado coalition with shared values, goals and actions to promote healthy oceans through education and community engagement. This weekend, ocean lovers, scientists, families, community members and ocean advocates will gather in Boulder, CO for the Colorado Ocean Coalition’s Making Waves 2012: Attitudes at Altitude – a two-day ocean film festival and conservation symposium. Honoring legendary ocean explorer and keynote speaker for the event Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau), Making Waves will feature talks by an unprecedented group of notable marine researchers and conservation professionals during the Ocean Symposium on Sunday October 21st, including Dr. Joanie Kleypas of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Louie Psihoyos – Oscar-winning director of The Cove, and Conservation International’s Dr. Greg Stone. An evening Ocean Celebration fundraising gala at Boulder’s Spice of Life Event Center will conclude the weekend with live and silent auctions, cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. With such a fantastic lineup of my ocean heroes and so much love for “Planet Ocean” concentrated in Boulder, I wouldn’t be surprised if we make waves across the Rocky Mountains!

– Courtney Mattison is an artist and ocean advocate working to inspire policy makers and the public to preserve and restore our oceans from a mile high. A California native with a fascination with the fragile beauty and ecological importance of marine ecosystems – particularly coral reefs – Mattison creates ceramic sculptural work at her “Inland Sea Studio” near the Art District on Santa Fe in Denver, CO. Photo caption: Mattison’s ceramic sculptural piece inspired by the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone will be featured in the Ocean Celebration auction. This piece represents one of the most vital marine ecosystems on earth, a “Hope Spot” as identified by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle.