Brightening the Sea: A Q&A With Susan Rockefeller
By Koun Bae
June 04, 2013
Growing up with her toes perpetually in the Hamptons’ sand, our featured female founder Susan Rockefeller is an active board member of Oceana, the only global, nonprofit organization that focuses on ocean protection. From her discussion-provoking jewelry to her documentary films, Susan directs her energy towards keeping our earth safe for the future generations. Recently, we had the chance to catch up with the ever inspiring Susan to hear about her work as an environmentalist.
PLUM ALLEY: Can you tell us a little bit about your documentary filmmaking?
SUSAN ROCKEFELLER: I wanted to combine my love of visuals and photography with stories and writing. It was an organic outgrowth of my love of writing and the environment. I have a background in environmental studies and ecological horticulture, and photography.
PA: How do you decide the subject for your films?
SUSAN: All the films are giving voice to issues that I believe need to be heard. Most recently, I did a film called Mission of Mermaids that’s been to over thirty festivals around the world. That film will be available on World Ocean Day (June 8th) on the Susan Rockefeller website. (However, Plum Alley readers have exclusive access to watch the film here!) They’re always socially relevant, but they’re not always environmentally centered. It really falls within the family of art and nature— using the power of art in the film to tell a story. If nature’s not healthy, we’re not healthy.
PA: How did you first get involved with Oceana?
SUSAN: I co-produced a film called Sea Change: Imagine a World with No Fish with Barbara Ettinger a few years back, and I had read an article by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker called “The Darkening Sea”. It’s a fabulous article; if you haven’t read it, it’s worth looking it up! It was the first time I really began to understand the effect of carbon dioxide on our oceans. So we did the film, and in that process, I wanted to get involved with an ocean advocacy organization. I researched a lot of them and found that Oceana was the only global, nonprofit organization solely focused on ocean protection. I started helping with their ocean council, and then eventually got on the board. I know and believe that it is one of the most effective organizations working to protect our oceans.
PA: Oh wow. So why should people care about preserving the ocean?
SUSAN: 98 percent of conservation dollars goes to terrestrial (land based) conservation, and less than 2 percent goes to the ocean. The ocean is over 70 percent of the planet! There’s just a huge space available to protect the ocean, and that can happen if more people get involved.
To learn more about Susan’s films, visit Louverture Films for information on her current projects, or head over to our Susan Rockefeller sale to read her bio and check out her ocean-inspired jewelry line on Plum Alley.