Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Happy.

This post comes to us from Niaz Dorry, NAMA’s coordinating director. 

Did you watch the Oscars? My favorite part
was watching Pharrell Williams and all the dancers perform the song “

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when
fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. So many problems… so
little time… so few resources… and such grave situations. What is one to do?

My new mantra: Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Happy.

Be brave seems to be a theme running through
my life lately. It started back in December during a meeting of the Food
Solutions New England Network and it has continued.
The theme emerged again when I was at the Global
Presencing Forum “
From Ego- to Eco-System Economies: Creating Well-Being for All.”
I learned more about myself than I expected
at the Forum. I expected to go there to learn about strategies for new
economies, share the work we are doing to create new fishing economies,network with likeminded people and develop strategies for shifting
policies. All of that happened, but what I wasn’t expecting was the emphasis on
personal growth, identifying barriers and paving the way to overcome them.

You might ask, what do personal growth and
happiness have to do with implementing new economic strategies?

It’s pretty simple: to unseat the current
economic paradigm that has undermined the health and well being of the planet
and its ecosystems requires taking risks, and being confident, happy, and having a support system that has your back.
You have to be brave and bold to undo the
current paradigm. It’s a paradigm rooted in neoliberal beliefs that have created policies
designed to sell off the rights to the ocean – whether it’s Catch Shares for the
fish, zoning to accommodate permits for drilling for fossil fuel or removing
coastal designations that take away working waterfronts to put up hotels and novelty

It also means exposing the truth about the Koch Brothers and the Waltons
of Walmart fame who seem to be working in the background using their connections and coffers to fund the efforts to privatize the ocean and other natural resources and aspects of our economy.

Happy NAMA staff and supporters at Farm Aid last September.

 It also means offering solutions and not
always complaining. Often, lamenting about the problems is used as an excuse
to dismiss activists. 

Solutions like the fleet diversity amendment to the New England
groundfish plan that puts in place safeguards to protect against consolidation,
concentration of power, and create a pathway for the next generation of
fishermen to apply their values to their craft. 

Solutions like Community Supported Fisheries
that connect fishermen with eaters and pave the way for transforming fisheries
from an extractive model of high volume, low value operations focused on a few
species to low volume, high value ones that reflect the diversity of
fishermen’s catch.

Solutions like building networks and collaborations across
sectors of our economy, food system, and advocacy organizations, particularly
those who have never paid attention to fisheries before. 
For all this work, you need to be joyful. 

 You can’t do
this work for the long haul
 if you can’t see the joy in it.

Anger blurs our
judgment and only fuels us for so long before we crash – much like caffeine and
sugar does to our bodies. To endure through the hardships, the criticisms, the
rumors planted to undermine the work, all the time away from family and
friends, and to lift the spirits of others – like the small and medium scale
fishermen that also need to endure – you need to approach this work with joy
and love in your heart.

I think the need for happiness is what I took
away from the Global Presencing Forum the most. Yes, I met some amazing minds
and thank the organizers for connecting us with new thinkers and opportunities
to expand our network, learn and create new strategies. 

There is much follow up
to do on that front to move short and long term objectives of our work forward.
But it was the happiness in the room that will stay with me and fuel my soul so
I can do this work for years to come.