Written by Greenpeace Semester student Angie Shen
Monday, June 10th – 9am: Nine Greenpeace Semester student activists and three staff loaded their bags for a week long trip to Pittsburgh. Our goal was to focus an international campaign at tuna company StarKist and its Korea-based parent company Dongwon to highlight their unsustainable fishing practices that are depleting tuna populations, killing off other marine wildlife including sharks, turtles, and sea birds, and have involved actual pirating.
While climbing into the van, I’ll admit that I felt very uncertain about how our trip would go, despite the hard work my classmates and I had put in to plan for the week. As part of the visuals team, my job was to be photographer and videographer of the whole experience and to compile photo petitions to StarKist headquarters in Pittsburgh and send them to our colleagues at Greenpeace in Korea who would use them against Dongwon. My realist side doubted the efficacy of such a short trip; coupled with the weather forecasts predicting 70% chance of thunderstorms, my reservations were justified.
Then came our results: 578 photo petitions and 650 signatures on our physical petition from the public, smashing our original goal of 400 of each!
Needless to say, my attitude took a drastic turn throughout the week. It’s been a long time since I felt such a strong sense of accomplishment, and knowing that our photos would reach a continent 7900 miles away was both mind-boggling and immensely empowering. I won’t say much else here, as I feel that the numbers speak for themselves. What I do want to add is this: from my experience going on the Pittsburgh campaign trip, I’ve learned that nothing will change unless we all actively choose to make ourselves heard. It’s okay to doubt, stumble, fail, reassess, and reassemble, as long as we’re not complacent—for that makes us complicit in the wrongs done against our environment today.
In the words of Oceans Campaigner Phil Kline, “Just go do it.”