Teenagers from Taiwan, US and UK engage in interdisciplinary dialogue on the LJM Online Forum on Ocean Waters

Teenagers from Taiwan, US and UK engage in interdisciplinary dialogue on the LJM Online Forum on Ocean Waters
More than a hundred people joined in the first three sessions of the 5-part Ocean Waters online forum co-organized by the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society's (LJM) University for Life & Peace (ULP) and the Chan Space New York between February 20 and March 20, 2021 (https://hereonearth.world/events). Participants were from Taiwan, New York, and London, and lectures were given by Dutch expert on environmental policy Lieke Friederichs, youth media educator Alyssa Irizarry, Ainsley Cummingham from New York and Raúl Falcón from Puerto Rico who are Generation Z directors working on environmental documentaries, former Executive Director of Taiwan's Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation Chang Hui-Chun and Nicola White, a British mudlark, historian and artist. The still-unfolding Forum series aims at stirring up public sentiment towards environmental issues via cross-border and interdisciplinary dialogues.

Chang, former CEO of Taiwan's Kuroshio Foundation, was the keynote speaker on March 6 and led the forum on ‘The Beauty & Sorrow of Taiwan's Coastal Waters’. Chang started as Kuroshio's employee and marine docent on whales and dolphins in 2006, and she has since been a devoted activist and educator on environmental protection for ocean waters. She is also a well-known author, whose publications include the Kuroshio Current and a photobook featuring photographs of Taiwan with surroundings of the Black Current (Kuroshio).

Chang grew up in the mountainous countryside of Puli in Taiwan but has always been fascinated with the oceans. She first participated in saving whales and dolphins stranded on Taiwan's beaches as a college student and came into contact with the Kuroshio Foundation which she later joined in the hope of contributing to marine ecology. One of her most unforgettable experiences was the two-week around the island marine project - "Kuroshio Voyage 2018" to document Taiwan's ocean ecology for a science project.

With slides featuring photos of mountains, land- and seascapes, and schools of dolphins Chang told stories of how life forms are universally connected for an interdependent symbiosis. One of the pictures shared showed how a blue whale was entangled by a rope that denied the mammal any intake of food and it starved to death. The shocking image served to remind people how destructive waste-dumping has become merciless killers of marine lives.

One of Chang's key points was about waste-dumping in the ocean that endangers more than 800 species. Undegradable micro bits of plastics of sea waste eventually enter people's bodies by way of the food chain and the fact indicates how marine ecology impacts humankind. The online forum saw heated participation and questions were raised about predatory exploitations via ocean catch as well as why sometimes wastes for landfill end up in the ocean. Chang said it would take mindful legislation and mass education to right the wrong, while it is obvious that all wastes in the ocean regardless of their origin are always man-made.

Starting at 9:30 P.M. March 20, there will be a 45-minute forum featuring a noted British YouTuber Nicola White, a mudlark to deliver her talk on ‘The Thames Now & Then’ about how history and stories can be gleaned from the wastes washed up on the Thames and the coast. The Tideline Art she operates offers artwork she curates from sea waste, including her sizable collection of drift bottles with messages in them. To sign up for participation, click on the link below for login. https://chanspacenewyork.org/events/mudlarking/?occurrence=2021-03-20
Project director for ‘Here On Earth: Ocean Waters’ Lu Chih-Lan said that the 5-part forum series is an extension of LJM's media training program that spans a half-year period for young trainees to learn and shoot documentaries featuring contents of environmental protection. The 5-part forum serves to instill a more comprehensive understanding of environmental issues in the minds of the trainees besides the studies of film making and production. The forum is a digital offering that is readily accessible and the general public is welcomed to join and benefit from the expertise and rare personal insights of the lecturers on marine ecology.

Ecology crises are a global issue and the extent of impact from marine ecology is equally eminent if not greater due to the sheer mass it covers in terms of the Earth's surface total. ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’ is the core value of the LJM set by its founding abbot, Dharma Master Hsin Tao, whose unreserved commitment to environment protection finds expressions in the preparations for the future University for Life & Peace and the media training program for the young as examples for the long-term dedication that involves future generations from the ground up.

The LJM is also set to launch another event series - ‘Earth Day Film & Arts Festival’ starting on April 23 to feature the Earth Day Concert on April 23, Film screenings of video works made by the Here on Earth project trainees on April 24, as well as interactive film & poetry response to students' work about ocean waters. For detail information, visit website https://hereonearth.world/