With all 105,000 cubic feet of air milked out of the airship envelope and packed neatly away in its trailer, the airship crew departed the mists and winds of Seattle for a 1,700 mile drive to Juneau, Alaska.
It might be hard to think of our floating, rainbowed airship as an in-your-face kind of tool for direct communication, but in the case of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, that is exactly what it was.
This past Saturday in a small baseball diamond, we began inflating the ship in the deep, windless afternoon. Locals on foot began to fill the diamond. People stopped their boats, parked their bikes, and pulled over in their cars to watch the A.E. Bates gently rise to life. As the ship left the ground, the crowed cheered with excitement and support. The words “Protect My Home” drifted into the channel and headed directly toward the council members who were having a party on one of the nearby rooftops. There, surrounded by snow kissed mountains and in the soft, long, Alaskan sunset the airship took the message directly to the council members and they had no choice but to look.
The entire team on the ground, from crew to campaigns, were on constant standby. With every move the council made, we were ready to respond. Our goal was to make sure that each member of the council understood our message and knew we weren’t going to go away. The council members would be reminded constantly of the need to protect to the canyons. Campaigners eloquently made the case for the Bering sea canyons inside the conference while the airship flew in the morning and evening, greeting the members when they woke and reminding them as they closed the day. When they picked up the local paper, there were photos and stories of the airship, advertisements about the importance of the canyons, and articles articulating our campaign. When they retreated to their hotel rooms, they were reminded yet again by the flyers that beckoned from the floors. When they sought distance from the public in the conference center, we met them there.
On one of their lunch breaks, council members were greeted on the lawn by a collection of activists representing multiple groups and holding a 26 ft. banner asking the Council not to fail the 100,000+ people demanding a healthy ocean and protection of their food source.
When they thought they could close themselves behind the doors of the convention hall, activists took the banner into the meeting room. They stood quietly and strong during the public comment session allowing the banner that wrapped around over half the room, speak for itself. The council had to acknowledge it.
We will never know for sure how much the ground team’s actions effected the final decisions that were made this past week, but what we do know undoubtedly that our presence was felt and that the council moved cautiously because of it. They could no longer chose to ignore the message, the communities, and the clear necessity to protect the Bering Sea Canyons.
Want to see what it looks like from inside the airship? Check out this awesome video of the gorgeous flights in Juneau.
Thanks everyone for the flexibility, creativity, and great work!