Meet Melanie Rees...
Mel is a former Special Needs Headteacher who co-founded the Green Centre in 200 and along with a team of dedicated volunteers, she's spent 3 years engaging with the residents of Brighton & Hove on the streets of the city, in schools & businesses and at fairs and festivals in an effort to understand the environmental landscape of the city.
Last year she decided to assemble an elite team (inspired by Hollywood) to tackle plastic pollution in our oceans. We asked her a few questions to find out more:
What is Ocean's 8 Brighton?
Ocean’s 8 Brighton is a collaboration of women who lead 8 environmental projects in Brighton and Hove. There is a diverse range of skills among the team, but all the projects make a significant contribution to supporting marine conservation and tackling plastic pollution in our oceans.
Awesome! How did you come up with that?
I was doing research for the curriculum I'm developing based on the One Planet Living principles. While comparing the salaries of actors & actresses for the Equity and Fairtrade principle I came across the very striking poster for the Ocean’s 8 movie. I immediately imagined the same poster with local women who work tirelessly to look after the ocean. I decided to run with it and share the idea. It was well received and from there everything flowed effortlessly thanks to Brighton photographer Alex Bamford.
Why was it important for you to start this collective?
I was mindful of these amazing women who quietly go about their work, volunteering hours and hours of their time with very little support or financial reward. I felt that by coming together we could support each other and by pooling our 100+ years combined experience we could explore creative and dynamic ways to deliver our message and give value to our work.
What does this year have in store for Ocean's 8?
The plans for this year include developing opportunities to share our skills through consultancy, fulfilling our role as part of the Plastic Free Brighton and Hove Coalition and pulling off at least one enormous heist of plastic!
Where do you see it going in the future?
Who knows? An Ocean’s 8 Brighton Head Quarters on the seafront would be top of the list. Afternoon tea at the Grand with Ocean’s 8 actress and Sussex resident Cate Blanchett, herself an advocate for the environment, would be the icing on the cake!
Meet the rest of the Ocean's 8 team...
In 2009 Cat co-founded Freegle: UK's online free reuse network with 2.6 million members. In Brighton alone 30,000 members reuse 10 tonnes of stuff every month.
Cat was part of the design team for the award winning Brighton Waste House at the University of Brighton. It is 90% constructed with "waste" most of it sourced by Cat. She also penned a chapter for The Re-Use Atlas: A Designer's Guide Towards a Circular Economy, and runs a creative re-use depot, Tech-Takeback pop-up shops. She is also the only Council Reuse Manager in the UK!
Cat recently won a National Recycling Award for her work on the Kings House reuse project with Brighton & Hove City Council
Claire trained as an interior architect and is a specialist in sustainable design and the circular economy. Her studio, Claire Potter Design has won 20 international awards to date for innovation in sustainable design. She shares her skills and expertise through lecturing at universities in the UK and overseas and is a consultant to companies developing sustainable products and processes.
Her childhood love for the ocean is now concentrated around her marine litter research and she is Regional Rep for Surfers Against Sewage, covering the Brighton and Hove area and is involved with the World Cetacean Alliance.
A successful lawyer, Clare left the law behind to devote more time to her role as Campaign Manager for Incredible Oceans WhaleFest, a social enterprise delivering events, festivals and education that tell ocean-saving stories using art and science.
Clare also started Clare Talks Rubbish - a platform to share stories about amazing plastic warriors, and a one stop shop for solutions and inspiration for positive change. Clare loves to be on the water and recently kayaked the length of Wales to support Surfers Against Sewage. She is involved with Paddle Pickupand a host of other projects.
Atlanta has had her own Marine Environment Consultancy since 2005, and is an Honorary Life Member of Surfers Against Sewage and established the Brighton group way back in 1991 before many of us even knew such a group was necessary. Locally she has also co-founded The Deans Beach & Environment Volunteers and is Trustee & Secretary of the Beacon Hub Brighton, a sustainability education centre at Rottingdean Windmill.
Further afield Atlanta is a former Co-ordinator of the Seas at Risk Federation when the secretariat was based in the North Sea Foundation in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Chloe Hanks and Lou McCurdy aka "Dirty Beach"
DIRTY BEACH create contemporary, provocative and witty work that reacts to social and environmental challenges of plastics and throwaway culture. From initially exhibiting individual works, Chloe & Lou developed an immersive installation concept; a supermarket stocked entirely with recovered trash; a plastic filled supermarket!!
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