September 4th, 2014
I’m a long time fan of Ocean Champions as I said in this post on Andy Revkin’s NY Times blog Dot Earth a couple days ago. It’s the vision thing. Dave Wilmot and Jack Sterne had a clear vision more than a decade ago which they have stuck to and created a very effective political voice for the oceans. They are true icons of environmental leadership.
CHAMPIONS OF THE OCEANS. In 2009 I did this 90 second video for Ocean Champions. They understand how the American political system works.
THE LONG VIEW
I met Dave Wilmot and Jack Sterne in 2003 when they were first formulating their Ocean Champions project. They had conducted a Packard-funded study asking the simple, blunt question of why the ocean conservation movement was accomplishing so little. Their conclusion was it lacked a real-world perspective on the American political system.
Out of that study they crafted a clear vision of what they felt was needed which is not another non-profit conservation group for the oceans, but rather a very different beast — a political action committee (PAC) for the oceans. They laid out their vision, they built it, and they now have a great deal of accomplishments to point to as a result. I’m such a fan of what they do that I convinced Andy Revkin to let me do a post on his blog.
And the most impressive thing they have going now is simply longevity. This is a huge attribute on Capital Hill. The vast majority of people working with environmental groups stay with an organization for a couple or a few years, then move on. Dave has been hard at it for a long time and now has the sort of relationships that translate into effectiveness.
I saw the results in 2009 when I shot a video for them. We walked into the offices of one member of Congress after another. The first thing I heard from everyone in the office, including the member of Congress, was, “Hey, Dave!”
It’s called relationships. That’s how real politics works. It takes time, but there is an increasingly large payoff as the relationships grow.
I can’t say enough good things about Ocean Champions. They are a model for how to make things work in the real world of American politics.