34. The Storyteller with Sarah Beard from Take3ForTheSea

Every action leads to greater things.

But but our message is about something that you can do every day. You can participate in the solution every day.   

 

Hi, Sarah, thanks for taking the time to talk today.  

Hi Peter, it's sucha pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me to have a conversation.  

OK, where are you sitting right now?  

I'm sitting in a place which is in the CentralCoast of New South Wales,so it's about kind of an hour and20 minutes north of Sydney.  

OK,and what can you see when you look out the window?  

Well, it's night time here so not much, it's dark, but if it was daytime I'd most importantly be able to hear the ocean. 

So I'm about a5 minute walk from the ocean, so it's more what I can hear that's important rather than what I see.  

OK, are you,do you go in the water everyday or regularly?  

Absolutely do. I'm a very keen ocean swimmer, so I swim just about every day unless there's huge swells.  

Through summer through winter I swim every morning with a group of other ocean swimmers about kind of almost a kilometre offshore from the beach.  

Well, so you're on the beach every day. 

Yep, I'm absolutely an ocean woman. Always have been even.  

As a little girl I grew up in the Fiji Islands, so I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. I have to be up on the coast on the beach, in the water.  

Fantastic uh, sort of related issue is what's going onin in Glasgow at the moment. The COP. I was just watching the speech from David Attenborough.  You know the speech?   

I haven't seen the full speech, but I did read the headlines of what he said. I'm also an absolute Attenborough fan.  

A lot of what I talk about is is learnings from him about where we are and the loss of biodiversity and the critical place where we're at so haven't seen his full speech, but I'm following what's going on there. I'm very interested in conservation as much as a broad concept and the environment as a broad concept.  

They're my greatest values, but particular focus on ocean conservation. And of course, the the effect that climate change is having our oceans.  

How do you feel when you hear Attenborough speak?  

Look, you know the great thing about DavidAttenborough is that he isn't just incredibly knowledgeable.  

I love the way that he presents the situation ina very well informed incredibly emotional way, andI think that's what we need to do, and  he's an Englishman.  

He's quite calm in the way that he presents,but you can tell underneath that is very stirring emotions about what they're taking place and and he is, uhm, you know it. It's loaded with the anxiety of what we're facing.I think he's got people listening all the way around around the role because he's an expert.  

I've got a couple of his books here right by me on the shelf is that he always.    

I love that, that hope and and action and that takes us to your organisation. Take 3 for the sea. That is an action orientated title. What does take3forthesea do?  

So take3forthesea has a really simple message and that is if everybody takes 3 pieces of rubbish when they leave the beach or waterway, or anywhere that we're making a difference. 

And it sounds pretty simple and all a bit too good to be true and it is simple, but the strength of take 3 is a simplicity of our message. It's  something that everybody can participate in. It is achievable and it's very much like if one. It's the goal about it. One person takes this individual action and shares that story and then they share that story and then they do that action and share that story. It's very much about a multiplier and a ripple effect.  

And take3 started as an organisation here in Australia about 12 years ago now very much a grassroots organisation in a in a small coastal community.  

But it's spread that message far and wide,and it's actually now followed in 129 countries around the world.  

Because it's a simple message because everybody can engage with it, whether they are an individual or family or community or corporate or business.  

But it's also very much a conversation starter. It's about us raising awareness about a problem.  

This is what you can do about it, but there's many, many other things that you can do you know, like obviously give up single use plastics and all of the conversations we're having around that.  

That's great, so a very simple message when you're onthe beach.    

It's almost like a Boy or GirlScout signalling holding up three fingers.  

So it's very much about it's an everyday action that you can take.  

There's lots of kind of world cleanup days and Clean Up Australia days, which are great and really valid and important.  

But but our message is about something that you can do every day. You can participate in the solution every day.   

That passion for messaging in your social media which is absolutely fantastic.  

I mean it's it's. It's inspirational the the quality of the materials that you're putting out. How do you? How do youdo it?  

I'm very pleased for you to say that we have, believe it or not, right now we have one person in our social media team.  

We used to have two and we are recruiting for a new head of communications.  

The output for the fact that we only have one person in the team.  

But the inspiration for that comes from storytelling.  

So my background is a filmmaker. It's all about storytelling, but it also at take3 we've always told stories and I think it's a  huge part ofwhat we do is sharing stories, our stories, other people stories.  

Because I think the visual and emotional storytelling is a really incredibly important way to again drive that change and it's really interesting.     

I’m hearing a lot of passion,a lot of a lot of competence.  

How did it begin? How did you come to take3forthesea? I understand that you did not found the organisation, but tell us how it all began.  

Sure, so how I came to take3 was actually backin around 2013, 2014 and my background actually is a filmmaker, a documentary filmmaker and a lot of my films have been around the ocean and and most recently were to do with ocean conservation.If there was one big bee in my bonnet, it's about litter. You know I can't stand litter my whole life.  

If I see litter on the ground or on the beach, I've always picked it up. If somebody thrown it out the car, I must admit I have calmly but forcefully giving it back to them through their car window.  

And I and I saw some sort of film, a short for a film about the North Pacific albatross, and it sound it was up in Midway Islandand it starts off as this beautiful piece where you see these, you know, soaring giants, the magnificent birds,and then as the as the film goes on, you see their rookery using amazing islands inMidwayand you get closer and you see that you know 100% of the seabird chicks have been impacted by plastic.The images are being seen around the world.  

They were new to me back then. Where you see you know lots of dead birds and they've just pulled plastic.  

It sounds dramatic,but it's true.I actually dropped to the floor and wept.I mean, I'd never seen anything like it, and Iwas so emotionally moved by what I saw.  

Which is what I've tried to do with.  

Ifind that fascinating that you saw these these pictures of these chicks,and then that you said you've you fell to the floor and that made sucha change to your life that you wanted to take action anddo something.  

I had a similar experience.I had also saw a. I think it was this,uh, a French film involving a turtle and A anda plastic straw.  

And this does change your perception,and you sound like the perfect person to give some insights into how to create change.  

Change without you know, shock videos.I mean how, where? What is the fine line and and just talking about it maybe doesn't make that impact,but actually showing graphic images does?    

Absolutely. I ama huge believer. Obviously because of how I've spent so much of my timein visual storytelling.  

I've got to say I could get up and talk to a group of people group of children till I'm blue in the face anddo a speech about what's going onin the world.  

And you know,I can speak I'm, you know I'm not too bad,but that's pretty boring.  

You know a much better way of telling that story is showing the imagery, showing the the visual side of the story and telling the narrative underneath that it's far more effective. You know,a classic example is in the feature film Blue. There'sa scene in sort of in the middle of the film when we're talking aboutplastic pollution.  

With a scientist who's in the film, Doctor JenniferLavers and she's out in an island called Lord HoweIsland, which is off the coast.  

Again you see these incredible birds flying andthen you cut to where the birds liveand the chicks are in the nests and you see a birdthat's that they finda young chick who's not well and they force they they they know that that birds got a stomach full of plastic.So they regurgitate the bird.I mean the amount of plastic that comes out is incredibly confronting and then later in that story we seethem in the laband there's a whole row of poor birds that have died and and Jennifer is investigating the problem and and pulls out this much plastic. It's the equivalent of 250 pieces of plastic she finds in one chicks body.    

Uh, that I feel is the best way to tell stories is to tell an emotionally engaging story so we we didn't do your classic, you know, talking head interviews of a scientist speaking with great respect. You know I'm a absolutely huge supporter of science.  

But we we we chose characters that have dedicated their life to protect in the ocean and we followed them inan observational way.  

And we heard them speak passionately about why they're doing what they're doing.  

And soand we showed we did show some pretty strong images of the shark markets inLombok in    

So take 3 for the sea, means that you're at the beach,you can pick up three pieces of three pieces of litter from the beach with you, which isabout the the smallest act you can do,I think you know it's the Minimal Viable Act, if you like of taking action.Do you see that as a sort of a gateway to to greater things, to to larger things?  

Yeah, absolutely so.  

Takingthose three pieces of litter when you leave the beach, it's very much it is an action,but it's very much,and more importantly,a conversation starter,so it's very much about promoting.  

What you doand why you do it if you choose to take that action sharing your story,but it's alsoa gateway, as you say, to having conversations about how we have to stop litter, getting there in the first place,so litter reduction, waste management,a circular economy turning it offon the tap there is, you know, to tackle this problem.This crisis that we're facing andnot just in our oceans,I mean plastic.  

Sarah, that's it. It's a really inspiring story. What I'm taking with me is, yeah, that taking action is the first step after awareness and then taking greater action willrelease us from this this this cycle of powerlessness and sort of. Ultimately it's about.  

Apositive, optimistic story.A message that will take us forward.  

Yeah, absolutely.And I I think that that for me the the most important takeaway message is that.  

All of us individually have incredible power, you know, even as consumers, we have incredible outpower by the choices that we make to drive, change and.  

Never underestimate your power as anindividual to do good.    

 

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