Last night Ana led us in a discussion about the interconnection between global politics and our quest to make the unseen seen on this eXXpedition. We talked about all the complexities of world powers, their unspoken agreements, the interplay of global power with oil, gas and mining corporations, and the impact at the local level.

It got me thinking about a bumper sticker I used to have on my wall: Think Globally, Act Locally, and wonder if there is a reciprocal need to Think Locally, Act Globally. How do we, as citizens, take the concerns, cares and hopes we have for our local communities and make it of concern to those (or become those) who can create laws and legislature to protect our environment, human rights, and create social justice?

It brings me back to the topic of disconnect and connection, which is one that we have talked about a lot in our time together, both in Recife and while on the boat. There seems to be a consensus on board that our governments, international agencies and multinational corporations are not connected to or concerned about the issues that we as citizens experience in our local communities. I’ve also heard discussions of how lots of local citizens are disconnected from the importance and impact that each of their consumer choices makes. These are a couple of examples of the concerns that have brought us together.

Our evening discussion also raised that, at the same time, environmental agencies and activists are disconnected and usually at odds with those in power. Can we get everyone around the same table to find commonalities, and actually share their goals, constraints and realities?

As I write this, we are currently very disconnected in a different way. Presently sailing over 200 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of French Guyana. We don’t know what is occurring outside of our 72’ Sea Dragon and the (approximately) 7 nm visual radius to the horizon around us. Other than the constant swells, we occasionally see a tanker ship, playful pods of dolphins, flying fish and some sea birds. We’ve come together, connected over our shared concerns about environmental degradation, microplastics and toxics in the ocean and the effects on women’s health, but in doing this expedition, we have disconnected ourselves from distractions and the rest of the world and each of our personal motivations for the journey.

The daily science helps us to come together as a team, reminding us of our joint purpose. Through the changing of the sails, trawling for microplastic, filtering and collecting water samples, measuring water quality, and peering through the microscope, cooking, eating and living together, we share parts of ourselves. Formally, we also do this through the evening discussions, and informally when standing watches or during free time.

Each person has responded in their own unique way, mentally, emotionally, physically, to this extreme environment.  And as we get closer and closer to Guyana, each of us is starting to think about how we will incorporate and extend this experience into our lives.

For me the question of how can we, with these new connections and knowledge, reduce the disconnect in our own lives, and create connection between the local and  the global, as well as the environmental and economic, is what currently keeps me up at night (other than standing watch).

Katrina McQuail