The Midway Film project has been a life changing experience for me. I don’t think any of us on this team had any idea three years ago, that we would have the privilege to return there on multiple occasions and be part of documenting such an important global story. We are filled with gratitude with having almost 1500 people around the world help us reach our Kickstarter fundraising goal. THANK YOU. We are also thankful for the global audience of over 4.4 million, that have tuned into our trailer and been changed by the story.
As I now return from the latest expedition to the island, just as all the previous ones, I am filled with many mixed emotions. I am in love with the stunning beauty and miracle of all the wildlife there. Especially the Albatrosses, which have been the subject of our entire project. The complexity of their perfect design, their curiosity and their instinct to want to fly. It’s truly a miracle.
But then there is the other side… facing the horror once again, of so many of the Albatross chicks dying, especially at this stage, when they are responding to their instinct to fledge the island and fly… to be free and live their life out over the ocean, like they were meant to. Many won’t ever get that feeling and looking through the viewfinder many times over the past week, with my eyes filled with tears as we witnessed the precious life leave many of them, is really tough to bare. But facing this head on is important and the feelings that come out of facing it head on, is really what creates that inner fuel inside each of us, to want to do something about it.
Chris Jordan shared with me at one point as were were riding in our golf cart on the island from one of our shooting locations… that it’s interesting to think that the Albatrosses don’t really know that this is happening to them. They don’t know that theses plastic items is what is taking the lives of so many of them. That’s it’s really us that are the witness bearers of this on their behalf.
So as I sat there on Waikiki beach this morning, taking a couple hours between my flights on my way home, looking over the ocean and contemplating this past few weeks, I noticed an older gentleman, in the distance, slowly making his way along the beach toward me. The beach was pretty full of people. He meandered between them… picking up any trash, litter, plastic… off the beach and putting it into an old plastic bag. He was doing a beach clean up, by him self, on Waikiki beach in the middle of hundreds of people laying there enjoying the sun. Most people were staring in confusion.
As he approached and got closer, I suddenly filled with so much emotion… as he walked by, I struggled to get my words out and asked him what he was doing. He said that he was cleaning the beach…. that the cigarette butts, plastic straws and bottle caps kill the fish, the turtles and that he has do something about it. I complimented him and shared a bit of my story, about Midway, the Albatrosses… he was shocked and had no idea. I then asked if I could help him and he said yes, handed me an extra bag he had and off we went.
We spend about an hour walking a stretch of beach together, bending over every few steps, filling our bags, talking, sharing… Bradley was his name, born in Hawaii, dark tanned skin, beautiful warm kind face and a big ocean lover. He shared how it breaks his heart to see the waste left behind on the beaches by people. And he went further to connect the dots on how he doesn’t get why people buy and use all this single use crap, that ends up effecting our oceans and wildlife in this way.
In that short time we both completely filled two grocery bags. Mostly with cigarette butts, plastic straws, candy wrappers, bottle caps… Bradley took the time to talk to a few people, that asked the same question that I did.
When it was time to say goodbye I asked him why he is doing this and how often. He said that he’s been doing this by him self for three years, sometimes every single day. That it makes him feel good to help the planet and that he might be just one person, but that he knows he is making a difference.
It was a profoundly moving experience to have met him and it gave me huge hope that there are other people out there that care about these issues and want to make a difference. He is a rare breed of eco warriors that are doing the right thing, just for the sake of it being the right thing. There is no recognition, in fact most people probably thought what he was doing was weird. But they noticed… it engaged dialogue and probably made some people think about their habits in a deeper way. At least I know it did for me. Thank you Bradley!
* Waikiki beach where we did the beach clean up.
* Some of the beach plastic we collected.