At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Happy.

This post comes to us from Niaz Dorry, NAMA's coordinating director. 

Did you watch the Oscars? My favorite part was watching Pharrell Williams and all the dancers perform the song “Happy.”

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. So many problems… so little time… so few resources… and such grave situations. What is one to do?

My new mantra: Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Happy.

Be brave seems to be a theme running through my life lately. It started back in December during a meeting of the Food Solutions New England Network and it has continued.

The theme emerged again when I was at the Global Presencing Forum “From Ego- to Eco-System Economies: Creating Well-Being for All.”

I learned more about myself than I expected at the Forum. I expected to go there to learn about strategies for new economies, share the work we are doing to create new fishing economies,network with likeminded people and develop strategies for shifting policies. All of that happened, but what I wasn’t expecting was the emphasis on personal growth, identifying barriers and paving the way to overcome them.

You might ask, what do personal growth and happiness have to do with implementing new economic strategies?

It’s pretty simple: to unseat the current economic paradigm that has undermined the health and well being of the planet and its ecosystems requires taking risks, and being confident, happy, and having a support system that has your back.

You have to be brave and bold to undo the current paradigm. It's a paradigm rooted in neoliberal beliefs that have created policies designed to sell off the rights to the ocean – whether it’s Catch Shares for the fish, zoning to accommodate permits for drilling for fossil fuel or removing coastal designations that take away working waterfronts to put up hotels and novelty shops. 

It also means exposing the truth about the Koch Brothers and the Waltons of Walmart fame who seem to be working in the background using their connections and coffers to fund the efforts to privatize the ocean and other natural resources and aspects of our economy.

Happy NAMA staff and supporters at Farm Aid last September.

 It also means offering solutions and not always complaining. Often, lamenting about the problems is used as an excuse to dismiss activists. 

Solutions like the fleet diversity amendment to the New England groundfish plan that puts in place safeguards to protect against consolidation, concentration of power, and create a pathway for the next generation of fishermen to apply their values to their craft. 

Solutions like Community Supported Fisheries that connect fishermen with eaters and pave the way for transforming fisheries from an extractive model of high volume, low value operations focused on a few species to low volume, high value ones that reflect the diversity of fishermen’s catch.

Solutions like building networks and collaborations across sectors of our economy, food system, and advocacy organizations, particularly those who have never paid attention to fisheries before. For all this work, you need to be joyful. 
 You can’t do this work for the long haul if you can’t see the joy in it.
Anger blurs our judgment and only fuels us for so long before we crash – much like caffeine and sugar does to our bodies. To endure through the hardships, the criticisms, the rumors planted to undermine the work, all the time away from family and friends, and to lift the spirits of others – like the small and medium scale fishermen that also need to endure - you need to approach this work with joy and love in your heart.

I think the need for happiness is what I took away from the Global Presencing Forum the most. Yes, I met some amazing minds and thank the organizers for connecting us with new thinkers and opportunities to expand our network, learn and create new strategies. 

There is much follow up to do on that front to move short and long term objectives of our work forward. But it was the happiness in the room that will stay with me and fuel my soul so I can do this work for years to come.


  1. I'm glad you went there and took back with you the joy and happiness piece.

  2. Always helps me to remember that for every bad moment I've had, there are so many mind blowing, spirit lifting ones that follow.....a good reason to keep on keeping on:) If I'd chosen to quit, those would all have been lost. ps and thank you for the happy piece....its a permanent playlist of mine:)