Making Connections

Cascade Head

Cascade Head Marine Reserve lies off Cascade Head (pictured) on the Oregon coast. Photo by Ben Nieves.

Making Connections

Someone asked me the other day what the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership does. We do many things. But essentially, our job is to help the public “connect” – to bring awareness, meaning and understanding – to marine reserves and protected areas.

Some people may earn their living fishing near marine reserves – their connection to them goes much deeper than the fish that supply our local restaurants and dinner tables; it’s a deeper connection rooted in maritime history and generations of fishers.

Other people may have the opportunity one day to take a boat trip out to or near one of Oregon’s five marine reserves and protected areas – their once-in-a-lifetime whale watching trip will create a long-lasting impression and deep personal connection to the amazing migration whales undergo through Oregon.

Some might participate in our annual photo contest to capture images of many things – people, birds, sea lions – to help tell the story of marine reserves and their meaning to many kinds of life, and thus to us.

But most everyone that has the chance will ultimately connect to these places, not by touching or experiencing them firsthand, but by learning about them from afar, wondering in fascination about the 16 green sturgeon that were tagged in two California Rivers that migrated north through the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve in southern Oregon, and valuing them for the contribution they play as living laboratories that help us understand the functioning and processes of the special place we call the ocean.

Granted, it would be a lot easier to answer the question of what we do if our jobs were truck driver or pet sitter. But helping people connect, to find richer and deeper meaning to things around us, to “interpret” our natural resources, while it may be more difficult to explain, brings dividends and rewards that truly defy description.

“Probably the most common error in creating interpretive matter of all kinds derives from the fact that the writer has in mind the question: What is it I wish to say? It is of no importance whatever, as yet, what I wish to say. I have not reached that point. The important thing is: What would the prospective reader wish to read? And what can I say in brief, inspiring, and luring terms about this area in language that he will readily comprehend? – Freeman Tilden

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