Monday, July 30, 2018

The power of one empowers many: Angela Haseltine Pozzi

This summer the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is focusing on people and communities who are empowered to end plastic pollution in our oceans and reign in climate change. Please make a gift today to ensure that people everywhere can join a journey of stewardship through the programs offered by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The goal is to raise $12,000. Gifts received by August 31 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000. founder Angela Haseltine Pozzi with her tufted puffin creation.
Photo credit ©

Portland, Ore., native Angela Haseltine Pozzi has always believed in “art for all,” spearheading public art projects, community art and artist-in-residency programs wherever she went. But following the untimely death of her husband to a brain tumor in 2002, she needed to heal.

Seeking renewal, she traveled to Oregon’s spectacular coastline for respite. In the process of restoring her health, Pozzi found something else in dire need of healing: the ocean. Moved to action, her 30-year career as an artist and educator of children and young adults kicked in, providing her with a framework to research the many challenges that confront the world’s oceans. She reached the inescapable conclusion that marine debris was choking the world’s oceans and depleting the environments and sea life she had always treasured.

That realization touched off a spark of inspiration. Could ocean debris be used to empower others to reduce—or even eliminate—their use of plastics? Pozzi had worked with recycled materials in the 1990s, when she founded Creative Art Supplies to build 3-D art kits from reclaimed materials. From her coastal home in Bandon, Ore., she decided to enlist the help of local volunteers to clean up the beaches, using the collection of plastic debris to construct sculptures of the sea animals most affected by the pollution. plastic-debris sculpture
on  display at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, 1 of 7.
Shedd Aquarium display, 2 of 7

In 2008, Pozzi founded the Artula Retreat and Residency Program and Arts Institute, which evolved in 2010 into the non-profit Artula Institute for Arts and Environmental Education and the Washed Ashore project.

The mission of Washed Ashore is ambitious: Use the arts to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and to spark positive changes in consumer habits.

Shedd Aquarium display, 3 of 7
Shedd Aquarium display, 4 of 7
To date, hundreds of volunteers have removed thousands of pounds of trash from Oregon beaches, and Pozzi and her dedicated staff have created dozens of giant sculptures that are on display around the country to raise awareness about the threats of marine plastic debris.

Displayed at aquariums and natural history museums from coast to coast, the installations are promoted with the tagline “Art to Save the Sea!” and the huge sculptures gather crowds wherever they are shown. A recent trip by PTMSC volunteers to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium provided an opportunity to photograph some of the jaw-dropping sculptures that are pictured here.

Shedd Aquarium display, 5 of 7
Shedd Aquarium display, 6 of 7

Shedd Aquarium display, 7 of 7
Pozzi and her team have also created an Integrated Arts Marine Debris Curriculum to provide resources to educators, volunteers, and staff at all Washed Ashore exhibit locations, focusing on the idea that every action counts and offering tangible ways to change individual and community behaviors.

Vowing that this effort is her life’s work, Pozzi says, “Until we run out of plastic on the beach, we will keep doing our work.”

Today we know that plastics of every form are omnipresent in the marine environment. Between microbeads in cosmetics and microscopic fiber strands washed out of synthetic clothing, and styrofoam packaging, disposable water bottles, food containers, utensils and straws -- to name only a few – plastics not only litter our oceans and waterways, they are being ingested by marine animals and the toxins are entering the food chain, ultimately ending up in some form on our dinner plates.

At the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, staff and volunteers are also using plastic debris in creative ways to showcase the perils plastic pollution to visitors, exemplified by the plastic sculptures displayed in the large glass case on the dock adjacent to the PTMSC Aquarium. 

Because plastic is ubiquitous in our daily lives, we can draw inspiration from individuals like Angela Haseltine Pozziand our own PTMSC staff, AmeriCorps and volunteers to become empowered to stop purchasing single-use plastics, reduce our use of plastics overall and recycle plastics whenever their utility has ended.

The power of one empowers many, creating the climate for change, one person at a time!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Eliza Dawson is just getting started

This summer the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is focusing on people and communities who are empowered to end plastic pollution in our oceans and reign in climate change. Please make a gift today to ensure that people everywhere can join a journey of stewardship through the programs offered by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The goal is to raise $12,000. Gifts received by August 31 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000.

Longtime Quimper Peninsula residents and newcomers alike have been watching and admiring the feats of Port Townsend native Eliza Dawson.

2018 Anne Murphy Ocean Stewardship Scholarship recipient Eliza Dawson.

In 2009 when she was in fifth grade, Eliza was one of several children and adults who assembled the bones of a gray whale for display at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. When the body of "Spirit" had washed ashore on the North Shore of the Olympic Peninsula in 1999 at the tender age of 1.5 years, his death was a mystery.

Eliza and her sister Chloe articulating the orca
skeleton of Hope in 2011 at the PTMSC. 
Then in 2011, Eliza was a member of the volunteer team that articulated the skeleton of the female orca that is on display in the orca exhibit in the PTMSC museum. “Hope” washed ashore in 2002 and a necropsy revealed she had the highest concentrations of PCBs ever measured in a marine mammal.

In a 2018 Seattle Times interview Eliza recalled, “That was a wake-up call for me.” She wondered, how could a whale living in the pristine waters around Port Townsend be so full of deadly toxins?

From that moment forward, her commitment to raising awareness about the dangers of ocean pollution and climate change was unwavering.

Recently Eliza— now 22 and a graduate of the University of Washington’s College of the Environment —garnered national attention when she decided to join a rowing team competing in The Great Pacific Race with Team Ripple Effect to highlight climate change and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The largest of five gyres of plastics floating in the world’s oceans, it is estimated to cover an area twice the size of the state of Texas.  

Eliza (second from right) and her teammates on
Team Ripple Effect (
Eliza left Monterey, Calif., with her three crewmates on June 6, hoping to set a new world record for an all-women crew by rowing to Hawaii in less than 50 days. Even though the team was forced to end their quest early due to the serious medical condition of one of the crew members, Eliza became even more determined to bring the perils of climate change to the forefront of public awareness.

“The path forward is never easy,” she wrote on her blog, “This week has probably been the toughest week of my life but we’ve still got a lot to do in this world. Resilience and perseverance is what it will take to champion a greener future.”

Her new plan? Cycle 400 miles through the remote Alaskan and Canadian wilderness to view rapidly receding glaciers, bountiful wildlife and scenery. 

“I remain determined to bring awareness to the impacts of climate change and I am looking forward to documenting my cycling journey,” she wrote in her blog before departing.

Eliza’s grueling and challenging journey was a success. She and her teammate arrived in Skagway, Alaska in mid-July.

Eliza's arrival in Skagway, Alaska (
“While the enormity and untamed beautify of this part of the world feels indestructible, the impact of climate change is all too real,” she wrote. “I am reminded how changes in the climate are impacting, and will continue to impact, the landscape, vegetation, animals, and communities in these regions (as well as globally). It is very important that we continue to fight against climate change and enact policies to champion a better future.”

This fall, Eliza will begin a PhD program in climate science at Stanford University, where she will use models and radar observations to improve our understanding of ice sheets and aid in improving sea level rise predictions.

Like many across this country and around the world, Eliza is standing up for change. In so doing, she is empowering all who care about climate change and ocean pollution to make a difference—in ways big and small—every day.

Together with people from all walks of life who are are ready to take action, we can continue Eliza’s inspiring example by nurturing a stewardship ethic in each and every one of the thousands of people who visit the PTMSC each year.

As Eliza so eloquently said, “Human power is our determination to fight and our dedication to win.”