Blue Ocean Network Liz Cunningham - Page 7

The Hope She Found

Liz Cunningham

A harrowing kayak accident off the coast of northern California nearly cost author Liz Cunningham her life. Left at home recovering from her injuries, Liz was faced with a newfound fear of the ocean she had once loved; yet at the same time, she became more curious about the role of the ocean in our lives.

Determined to explore this further, Liz set off on a journey to understand the personal bond she felt with the ocean and our larger cultural relationship to the seas and to water. What Liz didn’t know was that the odyssey in which she would embark would not only bring her to some of the most remote, far-off places in the world, but also within herself, helping her to heal, holistically, from the trauma her accident had caused.

From the Turks and Caicos, to the Mediterranean, to northern California, and Sulawesi, Liz shares stories of people that she met along the way that are working hard for the oceans in her book, Ocean Country. Ocean Country is an adventure story, a call to action, and a poetic meditation on the state of the seas. But most importantly, it is the story of finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face humankind.”

Hope is certainly a theme that resonates throughout her book and during her chat with 2016 Blue Ocean Summit host, Laurie Wilson. But before she found hope, Liz had to confront the feelings of despair that had

engulfed her, particularly when it came to the damage humans have inflicted on the oceans.

In today’s world, the reality that the oceans are at a breaking point is ever-present. Whether it’s aquatic life trapped in marine debris and plastic, or starving polar bears stranded on melting Arctic ice, the future looks bleak. So how do you find hope when you’re surrounded by sadness and despair?

“We don’t always know what to do or what difference we can make,” Liz continued. “But it’s important to remember that small actions multiplied can add up to big change. We just don’t always get immediate feedback. The first step is beginning that search for a finding a role to play.”

Reflecting on her first-ever dive in 1990, Liz