On Tuesday 13th May, eXXpedition hosted a session focused on Reaching the Unreachables. This is part of a series of events led by members of our community for members of our community in our SHiFT Community Hub. 

The ambassadors leading the session shared how they effectively communicate with those who traditionally are the hardest to reach with important environmental messages around ocean plastic, pollution and waste. Their experiences spanned from written communication with the broader public to use of film, and work engaging young people and remote communities. Communications professional Meg Tapp led the session and was joined by documentary filmmaker Eleanor Church, educator Lindsey Turnbull and Community Engagement Coordinator Sasha Francis, who shared their top tips on communication and engagement. 

Session highlights

From her experience as a Communications professional, Meg talked about the importance of knowing your audience. In particular, she highlighted the importance of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: if you do not have your basic needs covered (for example, food, water or safety), then you are unlikely to engage with the problem of plastic pollution.

As a Community Engagement Coordinator, Sasha had lots of examples of how to engage those who can be harder to reach – especially outside! She shared her experience of finding areas to work outside where you are speaking to the parts of the community that are already engaged to get your message out there. A top tip that she shared was making sure that you get to know people first, before you start trying to tell them what to do! During COVID, Sasha had also utilised YouTube to engage local audiences.

Educator Lindsey was on hand to share her knowledge of working with young people. She asked the question, “Are generation Z really unreachable or are we not talking to them in a way that includes them?” She also raised the importance of carefully choosing a method of communication – for young people you need to talk to them where they are – hint: this isn’t on Facebook! Lindsey had also found that opening a conversation could often be a useful tool. Asking them questions about the issue, what they already know and what they think the solutions are.

When working as an undercover filmmaker, Eleanor produced information-heavy, dense content, which could leave viewers feeling exasperated. By adapting her storytelling style to follow personal stories, she has found it more effective to engage audiences – even when the subject is complex and unsettling. She has used this approach when creating X Trillion – an upcoming film following an eXXpedition crew through the North Pacific gyre. By making it a story about adventure and women, she has been able to take the audience on a journey. It’s not just another film about plastics!

More about our panellists

Meg Tapp

Meg is a PR Officer encouraging the public to be more conscious of the food they eat and waste, protecting our planet from harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Her area of expertise is in communications and marketing, using a variety of platforms to communicate messages to a wide customer base. Meg is joining eXXpedition North Pacific to gain first-hand knowledge of the extent of the plastic pollution problem, and take this experience with her into her future work.

Sasha Francis

Growing up in the Ocean State (Rhode Island, USA) Sasha has never lived far from the water. Raised by a nature-loving single mother, their vacations were all affordable camping, beach days, or visits to local parks and zoos. This inspired Sasha to become a Zookeeper. Through the zoo and aquarium field, she has been able to educate thousands of guests about the growing threats animals face in the wild while also participating in ongoing research and conservation initiatives.

In November 2019, she joined the staff at Galveston Bay Foundation, a conservation organization that protects and restores the local Bay ecosystem in Kemah, Texas. As their Community Engagement Coordinator, Sasha works with the community to help them understand how they impact the health of the waterways around them. One of the many areas of concern she focuses on is litter and trash. Her organization hosts shoreline clean-ups and marine debris/plastic pellet surveys with the public regularly. They host a site for the largest single-day waterway clean-up in the state of Texas. The outreach she does offers people solutions to single-use items, affordable rain barrels from recycled materials, and opportunities for citizen science and hands-on volunteering to protect and restore their local environment. 

Lindsey Turnbull

Lindsey Turnbull is a storyteller, historian, and youth empowerment professional. She founded MissHeard Media, a media and live events company that empowers tween and teen girls.

Eleanor Church

Eleanor Church is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer with nearly years of experience. Using documentary, investigative and creative filmmaking and photography, she has a particular interest in stories that focus on the environment, society, women, human rights, migration and supply chains. A number of her films have had a direct impact on policy change – something she’s really proud of. Eleanor is making a feature documentary, X Trillion, about the North Pacific crossing with eXXpedition.

More about SHiFT Hub Events

eXXpedition runs regular events for our community and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates on upcoming public events, and browse our blog to find out the highlights of our community events and keep up with eXXpedition news.

Thank you to 11th Hour Racing who are supporting this work.