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Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals Benefit Direct Action Environmental Initiative by Community



Watershed Moments Healthy Oceans Festivals are designed to be the 21st century’s version of P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth”.  The fun, fund-raising events are akin to a three-ring circus with lots of sideshows.  The theme is restoring our watersheds.  The goal is to raise awareness of the necessity of everyone to become more environmentally conscious and to take direct action individually and on a regional basis. 

While the festival's signature events will take place on the water, the greatest engagement and educational opportunities will be through the landside events.  Government, corporate, philanthropic, educational, and non-profit groups championing a better environment can participate by sponsoring the festival or events within the festival.  Authors, inventors, activists, students, and people just looking for something different to do, can participate on a variety of levels.  All participants will have a vote in the deciding what direct action to benefit the their regional watershed will receive a portion of the festival proceeds.

What actions do you propose?

Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals & Direct Action

The impacts of climate change on the ocean are clear and dramatic.  The ocean is reaching the limits of its capacity to absorb, store, and slowly release heat and carbon dioxide.  Our actions around the world affect weather, ocean acidification, thermohaline circulation, and the global food web.  Let’s raise environmental awareness and engage as many people as possible in education and direct action cloaked in festivals, fun, and games.

Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals Description

Whether it’s tick-tack-toe, the X-Prize, or games of chance such as the lottery, people like games and the thrill that comes with winning.  They also enjoy being connected to other people and doing something that is useful.  Our Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals are designed to bring out the best in people while they contribute to improving our environment.  Whether festival attendees visit to take in a lecture, root for a friend in a contest, or host a fund-raising event, if they pay attention, they just might learn something and become better environmental stewards.

Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals is a series of one-week to ten-day maritime festivals taking place in major ports. We will have fun, games, and even gourmet food – all in the name of preserving and sustaining our watersheds and the ocean environment. We bring attention to marine protected areas, sustainable seafood, marine debris/plastics, watershed restoration, renewable energy, curbing climate change, innovation, and fostering positive change through collaboration.  We cooperate with and support local, regional, national and international environmental and marine non-profits, corporations, government agencies, educational institutions, individuals, and foundations in raising awareness in and funding for their causes – all in the name of improving our watersheds.  Watershed Moments Festivals are scalable and can be held wherever MIT’s global alumni network extends.

The festivals will create the platform for participation from a variety of key players within finance, academia, government, business, and non-profit sectors while entertaining and engaging the general public.  Think of the festival as a circus and each fun, fund-raising event as a sideshow. There is something for everyone.  Participants and festival goers can spectate, host events, or enter contests run under the festival’s umbrella. The festivals provide participating organizations the opportunity to show the public what they do. The festivals (circus) also offer a platform for partner organizations to hold separate fund-raising events (sideshows) such a   sustainable seafood festival, cardboard boat race, short movie festival, tall ships festival, sailboat races of every kind ranging from kiteboards to America’s Cup catamarans, galas, raffles, SUP parades, sand castle building contests, book signings, estuary and beach cleanups, solar boat races, ASUV competitions, and more.  Even MIT’s Climate CoLab can showcase the winners of contests, have contestants present their entries, or determine winners by public opinion polls at these festivals.  A portion of all of the funds raised by every group hosting a fun, fund-raising event and the entire festival goes toward direct action watershed restoration activities agreed upon by the area’s community. 

The highlight of each Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Sustainability Festival is the Sustainability Cup Superstar Challenge, a Pro-Am tournament reminiscent of the 1970’s-era ABC classic Wide World of Sports series, which pitted top competitors from a variety of different sports against each other to determine the world’s best overall athlete.  In each Sustainability Cup, winners of the numerous activities will be teamed up with celebrities in zany games and tests of skill and knowledge to raise funds for direct action efforts to protect the watershed and to have their names engraved on The Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Sustainability Cup.

While the idea of a circus coming to town and drawing an audience from far and wide is not new, building on this concept to draw attention to climate change and the health of the world's largest carbon sink to take direct action is.  If there is a contest to determine what direct action to take on a regional level, and the festival's sponsors, underwriters, and partners come from all sectors, it is more likely that the festival proceeds dedicated to direct action will be spent wisely and that implementation will begin before the next annual festival.  If only Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals could create a folowing and  legacy on par with that of P.T. Barnum.

Inaugural Festival – Baltimore 2017

We are planning on holding the first festival in Baltimore in May 2017.  Our funding model relies on federal, state, and local government funding matched by corporate, private, and foundation grants. Like kind donations of goods and services, vendor fees, and ticket sales will also offset costs and generate revenue. 

Given the size of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and its population base, Baltimore’s proximity to Washington, D.C. (international organizations, foundations, think tanks, lobbyists, universities, contractors, research institutions, and activists), we forecast this festival to generate economic impact to the area on the order of $100 million with additional attractions including a Tall Ships festival and a Blue Angels fly over.  The festival has the potential to surpass the economic impact achieved by Sailbration and the Star Spangled Spectacular – Baltimore Harbor festivals each generating an economic boost of over $100 million to the local economy.  The good news emanating from the festival will assist in flipping the script about Baltimore and raising climate change action and awareness.  Most importantly, the festival will capture media attention in a densely populated area of the U.S. and encourage healthier and restorative environmental practices across all demographic groups.

Our potpourri of events will be cataloged so that future festival event hosts in other locales will not have to start from scratch in developing their fun, fund-raising events.  Our “recipe book” will be designed to facilitate global participation, and raise global awareness about climate change and environmentally friendly practices. 

The Power and Reach of Environmental Networks

Over 40,000 environmental stewards descended on Paris for COP21 in 2015 where the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 2˚ Celsius was adopted.  As countries, businesses, cities, non-profits, investors, regions, trade unions, academic institutions, and individuals enact plants to ensure that the ambition set out by the Paris Agreement is met or exceeded, extensive partnership networks are being developed. 

By holding the first Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival in Baltimore, we will take advantage of the amenities, transportation, and concentration of international, federal, and state players within the D.C. – Baltimore – Philadelphia – New York corridor.  Baltimore’s inner harbor is home to the National Aquarium, a convention center, convention center hotels, sports stadia, learning institutions, and all of amenities needed to host a variety of landside and on-the-water activities. 

The Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership that leads and directs Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection has many partnerships throughout the Bay’s watershed.  Included among them are: Chesapeake Research Consortium, Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Sea Grant, National Park Service (NPS), NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Chesapeake Research Consortium, Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Conservation Agency, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment, NOAA, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, etc.  The Port of Baltimore and its tenants should also have a vested interest.  Each of these organizations already has networking, outreach, social media, and action platforms and plans.  No doubt, if they are introduced to a vehicle to showcase their activities and goals and one that gives them the opportunity to make money while drawing attention to their cause, they will help us promote the contests, and fun, fund-raising activities associated with the festival.

Private and public schools and utility companies throughout the region will also be motivated to promote the festival as part of their educational and community outreach programs.  Over 870,000 students are enrolled in the Maryland public school system and the local utility company serves over 2.0 million customers. Their sponsorship will take multiple forms including outreach to everyone in their system.

Having co-sponsored Climate Action 2016: Catalyzing a Sustainable Future, The University of Maryland, World Bank, Global Environment Facility, the Compact for Mayors, Michael Bloomberg, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and We Mean Business have agreed to step up to the plate annually.  Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival 2017 will be a cornerstone to their 2017 engagement plan to achieving a sustained path toward global climate implementation.  The University of Maryland, known as a central US hub in climate change policy is eager to embed the transformation agenda across the globe in government, key sectors and among the general population.  Opportunities abound for universities such as University of Maryland and M.I.T. to collaborate in advancing the agenda and connecting with the general population through events such as the festival planned for Baltimore in 2017.

The media impressions Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals will gain by winning the MIT CoLab contest are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to promoting this great concept to the international community.

No doubt the festival will capture the media’s attention and inspire other communities to spring into action to host a similar festival and similar contests.  Every MIT alum can participate in sponsoring, creating, promoting, or attending such an event.  The CoLab can play an integral role in spearheading the direct action implementation resulting from each festival's popular opinion poll.

Inaugural Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival Makes Waves

(May 17, 2017, Baltimore, MD) - Twelve-year old Brendan Marin hit the bull’s eye and sent Maryland Governor Larry Hogan tumbling into the icy cold waters of the Baltimore Harbor Commission’s dunking booth during the final event of the First Annual Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival – Baltimore. 

“If that’s not a wake up call, I don’t know what is,” joked Hogan as the dripping governor climbed out of the dunking booth. Hogan was among the many celebrities participating in the climatic grand finale of the 9-day, multi-event festival celebrated in Baltimore and throughout the Chesapeake watershed this past week.  The first of many Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Sustainability Festivals to take place in North America, the festival engaged coastal communities and organizations of all sizes in fun-filled activities of their own design, all with the goal of raising awareness of the necessity to create sustainable solutions to preserving and restoring their collective waters of the Chesapeake watershed. 

How does a 12-year old get the opportunity to soak a governor?  By winning last weekend’s MIT DC-sponsored Solar Cup in his catamaran powered by solar panels, Marin became a finalist in the 1st Annual Sustainability Cup Superstar Challenge.  Marin, a Bethesda native, is a Boy Scout and sailor. He heard about the Solar Cup and the festival through his MIT DC STEM mentor during his Sea Perch robotics STEM class.  “I saw movies, photos and lots of demonstrations about the Bay and its marine life this week.  It makes me want to do whatever I can to save the bay,” said Marin.

Throngs of media were on hand throughout the week to help raise awareness for the cause.  At last night’s Kelp the Ocean Ball held at the National Aquarium, Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals founder, Lynn Fitzpatrick was joined by President Barak Obama; Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; Secretary of State, John Kerry; Maryland Governor Larry Hogan; UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner; former Vice President Al Gore; Sailors for the Sea founder, David Rockefeller, Jr.; Ocean Elders Jean-Michel Cousteau, Sir Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Prince Albert II of Monaco; Yvon Chouinard; Ted Danson, University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, and MIT President, Rafael Reif in encouraging everyone to follow Baltimore’s lead by taking action and by participating in the UN’s World Oceans Day during the first week of June.

Commented Gaylord Nelson, Jr., son of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, whose 1970 legislation created Earth Day, “Who would have thought that nearly half a century after the first Earth Day we would be bringing such attention to our oceans?  It seems like such an obvious solution to drawing attention to the serious problems that plague the planet’s greatest natural resource.  I hope that Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival’s format spreads like wildfire.  This is much more than the grassroots campaign of Earth Day and the environmental legislation that my father sponsored.  With our fisheries depleted and collapsed and the acidity and temperature of our oceans rising, we may already be at a point of no return. Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals may be our last hope to reach the masses and do something.”


Please note - the intent of Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals is real.  The actions, quotes, and partnerships alluded to in this MIT Climate CoLab entry are speculative.