Recently, the Wilton Library was graced with an appearance by Jon Bowermaster, oceans expert, award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and adventurer extraordinaire for an interview conducted by international documentary photographer Daryl Hawk. Thanks to Wilton Go Green, many of those in the Wilton area got the opportunity to hear about the life of Jon, as well as the many projects he has been involved with over the years including The Oceans 8 Project. He touched on his childhood growing up in the midwest and having never been on a plane before, all the way up to his experience being at the forefront of today’s fracking issue, primarily in New York State.
Many of us have that one moment in our lives where we realize what the natural environment means to us. I managed to ask him if there was a particular instance in his life where he realized his calling at the end of the interview. To my surprise he couldn’t think of one, but rather it was a multitude of different experiences that allowed his interest to grow.
Jon started out his journalism career as a sports writer, but switched gears shortly after and pursued a job writing for National Geographic. At the time, National Geographic wasn’t nearly as large and influential as it is today. It was interesting to hear about how he got to observe the evolution of the organization go from a few long haired young people into a worldwide production. The magazine started off as primarily content driven with a lot of story telling pieces from around the world. Jon was sent on his first assignment to Antarctica to cover a dogsledding race, and the rest is history, as he would soon become a leader within the organization.
Jon is an environmentalist, whose fascinating experiences have been an inspiration for many who have ever seen his films or read his articles. The Oceans 8 Project, probably his most well-known work, is a film series that follows around Jon and his National Geographic team in sea kayaks to parts of the world that are rarely seen. Along the way he educates himself and viewers through the exploration of environmental issues in these areas, their cultures and histories. I use the word “exploration” with caution though, as Jon Bowermaster scoffs at the idea of being called an explorer. He explained in the interview that he is uncomfortable with the label because almost anybody, even a couch potato, can be an “explorer” with internet and technology making it easier to see whats going on around the world. “Adventurer” is what he prefers, and I would have to agree, as his work strongly demonstrates that.
One of the questions that I, along with many I’m sure had in their minds was why kayaks? The answer was compelling because it had to do with making the locals in the remote areas of the world feel more comfortable and accepting of Jon and his team. Jon noted that his project would be more difficult, if say they had come in via plane or a motorboat. This idea payed off, and led to an intriguing finding by Jon: People who live by the sea are united, in that what happens in one ocean, will inevitably impact another. Overfishing, global warming and acidification effects everyone no matter what religion, race or region. Jon has seen this in ALL parts of the world.
Adventurer Jon Bowermaster’s career is one that many of us only dream about having. Achieving respect and striving for unity between people of all cultures, while also working to improve environmental quality is truly inspiring to me. I urge you check him out and see for yourself what Jon Bowermaster has to offer.
To find out more information about Jon, The Oceans 8 Project and his newest anti-fracking initiatives visit jonbowermaster.com