The sun has set on yet another of our annual My Ocean Guardian Journey contests, and we are proud to be formally announcing this year’s winners. This year, we had eight entries total — each contestant submitting their Best Action for Environmental Stewardship. There was a vast diversity amongst the entries: from an educational art installation, to a project that aims to reduce water consumption on a college campus, to a family who has pledged to allow only earth-friendly products go down their drain.
1st place: Noemie Roy & Mathilde Simard — “Bracelets for Belugas”
For their project, Noemie and Mathilde take the grand prize of a surf and yoga camp for two people! Bracelets for Belugas takes the concept of small business and distributorship, buying large quantities of handmade Pura Vida Bracelets, reselling them, and donating the money to an organization that protects and educates people about the endangered St. Lawrence beluga whale.
2nd place: Catie Heim — Bi-monthly beach cleanups in Volusia County
Catie took second place and won a $250 discount on a Bodhi Sessions for one, a Bodhi t-shirt, and a Blue Mind book. Her project consists of a group of surfers, beach-lovers, and friends taking responsibility to keep the beach at their local break free of debris by organizing regular cleanups.
3rd place: Ken Hall — “The Legacy Project”
This traveling installation art project earned Ken third place — a Bodhi t-shirt and the Blue Mind book. The Legacy Project raises awareness about a multitude of interconnected issues: logging, runoff and pollution, marine habitat destruction, and the effects that this has up the food chain, specifically using the example of Orcas in the Pacific Northwest.
And the remaining five contestants…
- 4th place: Allison Tetlow — Lowering their impact as a family
- 5th place: Spencer Dunlap — “What’s Your 20”
- 6th place: Priscilla Bernstein — “The Surf Necklace”
- 7th place: Gloria Li — “The Bottle Project”
- 8th place: Stephanie Obando — “Semilla de Ballenas”
This year, for the first time, we opened the contest up for public voting. Our reasons for doing so were threefold:
- We hoped that it would be more transparent to have the public decide rather than the Bodhi Advisory Board
- That it would drive more interest in the contest itself and encourage more people to enter
- That all of the excellent entries would inspire others to start their own Ocean Guardian Journeys
Despite our best efforts to research and identify a platform that was reliable, easy-to-use, and generally top-rated, the software technology had glitches. The most significant of which was not all votes cast were counted in the public view. Unfortunately, this issue came to light in the final days of the contest, undermining the entire premise of the transparency of public voting.
Needless to say, we are very upset that the system failed us in this most basic way and that, after months of planning and preparation, the focus went away from the Ocean Guardians and their wonderful projects, and instead had us scrambling to salvage the situation.
Chin up and soldier on
Yet isn’t it funny how often times you get confirmation when you need it most? Just when we were feeling our most dispirited, we received a wonderful email from Allison Tetlow, one of this year’s entrants. Her words reminded us why we hold this contest every year and why it’s so important to let these obstacles teach us — not impede us:
I knew that submitting my entry a week before the deadline was a long shot to winning the grand prize, but that wasn’t why I entered. I wanted people to read my essay and see how easy it was to be environmentally friendly. I ended up getting quite a few votes, but what really meant the most to me was all of the messages I got from friends and family, asking for hand soap recipes and wanting to meet with me so that they too can change their ways. I have always wished that people cared as much about the earth as I do and this contest proves that there is a community of people who are just as passionate as I am, and who are working hard to change the world.
Looking forward to next year’s contest
Now that all is said and done, we can reflect on this year’s contest. It was a big learning experience for all of us, and there are a great many things we will change for next year. The most important and guiding principle for us is that we provide an arena where average people — and Ocean Guardians — can share their great ideas for environmental conservation, be recognized, motivate others, and start a dialogue about these important themes.
So thank you to all of you for taking the time to participate in the 2015 My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest, and to all of you who take strong actions every day to create a healthier planet for all of us. We’re already looking forward to the #OGJContest2016!