Friday, January 30, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers - and Friends

Good news for me - and bad news for Markus! I had already received $450 in donations since my appeal, and I have just received a message from a British friend saying he had donated the $555 to cover the servicing of my liferaft.

So that takes us to the $1000 maximum that Markus had offered to match - in just a few days!

I am amazed by the power of the internet - but even more amazed by the power of human generosity. Thank you so much to all.

(Now just another $23,000 to go.... but I have plenty of ideas....)

If you have been intending to donate but have had problems with PayPal - apologies. An easier way would be via the Blue Frontier Campaign, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that I row for. All donations are tax deductible.

Please click on the link above, and then select DONATE from the menu bar on the left.

Then just be sure to select "Roz Savage - The Voyage" from the dropdown box. Thank you!

[photo: taken last September 1, on my arrival in Waikiki, by Phil Uhl]

Striding Out

I am embarrassed by the recent focus on setbacks and money. I want the reading of this blog to be a happy and positive experience – not a whinge-fest/grumblog! So, moving swiftly on….

Some of you will have read in my latest newsletter that I have set myself the challenge of walking 10,000 steps every day. This works for me on many levels.

1. I eat too much. Always have, always will. Wish it were otherwise, but it's one of those flaws that I may just have to accept about myself. And I’m not good at self-denial. So I’d rather exercise more than eat less.

2. I resent spending money on petrol. It costs me – and it costs the environment, so if I can walk more and drive less, that can only be good news.

3. Although I have spent much time in gyms, they lack soul. By exercising through walking, I can reconnect with nature, smile at passers-by, and soak up some Vitamin D direct from the sun. It feels GOOD!

4. I use the time to catch up on podcasts (current favourites are The Podcast Sisters, The Engaging Brand, Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter, Wiggly Wigglers and iProcrastinate) so I’m multi-tasking.

5. I tidy up the world as I go along. When I was little I decided that When I Was Queen everybody would have to look after their patch of land and make sure that there was no litter. At all. Anywhere. So while I walk I pick up trash and take it “home” (wherever that may be).

I’ve been road-testing a few pedometers – one supplied to me by Fitbug and manufactured by Omron. Another that was bought from the Google campus store for me by my new friend Meng. And the iPhone pedometer created by WesternITS (who are also creating my new website… soon to come).

These are my reviews:

I wanted to like this one because it is solar powered. The problem is that it seems to have a bad battery and/or requires frequent solar top-ups. So it spends more time off than on, so my step count is wildly inaccurate – about 30% of what the Fitbug shows.

Fitbug [pictured]:
I wanted NOT to like the Fitbug because it uses batteries (the flat, watch-style batteries), and I imagined that it would get through many of them - very environmentally unfriendly. But so far the battery life seems good, as is the accuracy. So at the moment this is my default pedometer. Attached to me from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed... apart from time in the shower, obviously (not that I do much walking in the shower!).

iPhone Pedometer by WesternITS:
I have tested this for accuracy of step count – which was excellent. But I haven’t used it so much because I assumed that it would run down my iPhone battery in no time. Which may not be true. If it uses as little battery as the iPhone’s iPod functionality then it will be no problem – apart from being significantly larger than the Fitbug, so not quite so convenient to wear all day (and equally non-shower-proof). But it has the big advantage of being a gadget that I have anyway – and the fewer gadgets, the better.

So at the time of writing, the Fitbug is tried and proven, the solar option is a bit disappointing, and the iPhone Pedometer app is excellent but I need to assess the impact on battery life.

But I’d be interested to hear about other people’s recommendations. Has anybody tried NikePlus? Any others?

I will be posting my daily total every evening (Hawaii time) on Twitter. If you’re not already following me on Twitter (a micro-blogging site – which answers the question “what are you doing” within a maximum of 140 characters) then check it out. It may sound weird, but it’s surprisingly addictive – and ideal for those quick moment-to-moment updates.

And if you haven’t yet signed up for my newsletter, and you would like to receive it, please go here and sign up. It is written by my Woman Friday, Daisy Hampton in Exeter, England, and gives an overview of the headlines rather than replicating what appears on the blog. So it gives a different perspective that you may find interesting.

Other stuff:

I know a lot of you have been waiting with baited breath to hear about my boat, the Brocade. I haven’t written more about it because, quite frankly, I felt I had done enough whingeing and any news on the boat was just going to sound like more bad news.

If you’ve ever had some building work done, maybe you’ve had that experience when you go away for a week, and while you’re away you’re envisaging the workmen slaving away in your absence. When you return it is with a sense of eager anticipation that you peel back the dustsheets – only to find that the progress has been…. imperceptible. If so, you’ll know exactly how I feel at the moment. Enough said.

On a more positive note, and just very briefly to return to the subject of money, a paddler friend here in Hawaii, Scott Burgess, has a great idea for raising some funds for my project. He has a box on his desk at work, and regularly asks his colleagues to deposit their spare change into it. In just a couple of days he has collected $22.73. It all helps!

You could even give it a slogan – any time somebody complains about anything trivial, tell them that “Worse things happen at sea” - and impose a fine. Every penny is a penny in the right direction – and it might help give your colleague a sense of perspective (or there again it might earn you a punch on the nose – so exercise fining rights with caution!)

We are now up to about $450 in the challenge to match Markus Bennett’s offered $1,000. Please help me to maximize this opportunity – if we can find another $550 in donations, Markus will match it!

See yesterday’s blog for where the money is going.

And huge thanks to all who have contributed. I will write up your names in my cabin and send you the photos.

Wow, this is a long old blog. Time to go! (not least because they are about to throw me out of the internet cafe...and I have just noticed that the mozzies have got to me and my legs are itching like crazy! And I still have 35 steps to go...)
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Darkest Hour Is Before Dawn

Just when life seems at its bleakest… a few signs appear that restore my faith that I am on the right track, and that fortune does indeed favour the bold. Yesterday, after I had posted my grumbly blog (grumblog?) I received an email from a longtime supporter whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, Markus Bennett from northern California. The photo is of a model of my boat that Markus made for his niece, Eleanor, a year or so ago. With his permission, I would like to share his message with you.

"Ahoy Roz,

This e-mail that I'm sending you now, is potentially awkward at best - and so, I trust that you will receive it in the spirit with which it is given....err, sent. Know that I come to you from the heart.

I just read your blog entry entitled "Larger Debt", and I could barely sit still, as I felt my body react in a visceral "call to action", in answer to your admission of basic needs needed to further your quest (I paced, I did the dishes, I folded my clean laundry, I went for a walk with the dogs - and considered washing my truck, but decided in the end to write you this letter instead - instead of flailing on with more unnecessary busy-ness).

I will admit upfront, that I have in the past, struggled with a rampant "hero complex", which although well meaning at the time, found me harvesting plenty of grief for myself. That is neither here nor there, but I just wanted to air that out with you now, because where I'm going next feels strangely familiar in that regard, but I know that this time it is different... it IS different.

I have long since found much more constructive ways to let my "hero-self" out. I discovered that there is no sense in suppressing this natural aspect of myself - and so now, I concentrate mostly on making it a healthy process of "acting out".

So along those lines, with no further ado, I would like to act out in a healthy fashion with you now.

I am by no means a man of money, in fact I've spent the better part of a decade digging myself out of debt, BUT I want to donate a sizable bit of dosh to you now. It feels right; I have to do this. I would like to extend to you, Roz Savage...a gift of $1,000 dollars PROVIDED THAT somebody else matches these funds towards your cause (i.e. for every donation somebody else makes, I will match same funds up to a maximum of $1000.

I absolutely have no doubts about the outcome to this challenge, and I look forward to "having" to send you the check.

OK Roz, no more "crawling back under the covers" (I know the feeling), better times are here, RIGHT NOW!!! Take this baton I pass to you now, and......kick some ass girl!

As always, sending you love and grace..."

So there we go - $1,000 for the asking - provided I can find the folks to match it. Since my last blog I have already received donations of $150, which I am going to put towards a chartplotter - my old one succumbed to seawater 2 days out from San Francisco, and my trusty Tomtom in-car navigation system is not going to be able to navigate me between all the islands of the South Pacific without shipwreck on a reef.

I know this is a leap of faith - you don't yet know the huge eco-initiative I have planned for this year (and I don't want to announce it until we have all the necessary technology in place - no point getting you all enthused if we don't yet have the facility to sign up) but please trust me on this. Now, more than ever, it is about the message more than the adventure. I will be using my row as a platform for a major grassroots campaign to use less fossil fuel, more human power. It's going to be good - but without the row, it's dead in the water (so to speak).

So please, help me out here. I promise you, I will reward your faith in me. Let's... just do it.

In the interests of transparency, I have decided to publish my list of expedition expenses. This is for Stage 2 of the row. Stage 3… well, we’ll worry about that one later. One stroke (or stage) at a time…

$4,000 Weather forecasting
$5,400 Website redevelopment
$4,500 Electrician’s bill
$9,000 Satellite phone bill (approx $40 per podcast, $35 per blog, $40 per day to download emails, plus phone calls to weatherguy and mother)
$114.95 VHF radio + shipping
$427.00 Chartplotter + shipping
$800.00 100 x freeze-dried/boil-in-bag meals
$500.00 Other food and provisions for voyage
$200.00 Professional splicing services
$150.00 Swivel shackles for sea anchor
$100.00 Cleats for sea anchor tripline
$555.00 Liferaft service

$25,456.95 TOTAL

(Obviously this doesn’t include any living expenses while I am on dry land, nor flights, car rental, etc, but I don’t want to ask you to help with these necessary but less-than-glamourous necessities of life - because I'm not asking for money for me, I'm asking for money for the mission.)

Apologies for yesterday’s broken link to PayPal. I know that quite a number of people weren’t able to get to the page for donations. I'm still having problems with it, so please use the Groundspring donations page of the nonprofit for which I row, the Blue Frontier Campaign - being sure to specify "Roz Savage - The Voyage" from the dropdown box. The Blue Frontier Campaign is a registered 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Larger Debt

On certain Facebook pages you have to enter randomly-selected words to prove that you’re a human being. This morning I was faced with the stark words “LARGER” and “DEBT” – not a happy combination, and a reminder that with less than 4 months to go until launch date the expedition coffers are empty.

And today has continued to be, well, just one of those days when I feel like crawling back under the covers and waiting for better times to arrive.

Indulge me a moment while I share my pity party. Despite dozens of inquiries, I still have nowhere under cover to store my boat. I want to work on the boat today, but it’s pouring with rain here in Hawaii. Several projects are running behind schedule. Various technological questions are still to be answered. And there is no money to throw at the problem.

And then somebody posts an ill-informed comment suggesting that I should give it all up. I can’t blame them for being ill-informed – I haven’t yet announced my big, exciting environmental initiative for this year - but although I know that “it is not the critic who counts” it was unfortunate timing and it hurts to be kicked when I am already down.

So how to deal with these days of gloom and grey? I have retreated to the Kalapawei CafĂ© for some coffee shop therapy with my journal and a latte. I’ll share part of today’s entry:

“It’s one of those frustrating periods of stuckness when it seems nothing can possibly be finished in time…. Until the stuckness ends and is succeeded by a period of rapid progress and dizzying change. I haven’t yet figured out a way to trigger that transition, apart from just to keep plugging away until things start to flow again. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Keep doing the right things for the right reasons. Know that I feel a calling to do this - and that there is nothing else that I can do but to keep faith in the process, and know that it will all be worthwhile – eventually.”

And so I turn to my To Do list, and pick up the phone… (sigh).

Other stuff:

Today Oliver Hicks set out from Tasmania on his bid to be the first person to row solo around the world. His voyage around the Southern Ocean is slated to take 500 days. “New Zealand safety authorities said Hicks was exposing himself to extreme risk and the likelihood of a rescue being needed was significant.” Good luck, Ollie – you know more than most about rowing in the colder latitudes, and I wish you all the very best. You can follow Ollie's adventure here.

Since arriving in Hawaii I have been busy networking, picking up contacts from previous visits, and making many new friends, notably at Sunday’s Ala Wai Challenge. Thanks to Jeff Apaka for inviting me to appear at the event, and thanks to all who showed such interest in my adventures both past and future. I am looking forward to working with all my Hawaiian friends in the run-up to my launch on May 15.

If you’d like to cheer me up, a few dollars would help brighten my day. Every $ counts – as does the knowledge that you care enough to share. Donations can be made here via PayPal.

A couple of new podcasts have gone live in the last few days, so by way of apology for not having blogged for a week, here is more than enough Savage Verbiage to keep you going! Me in conversation with my friend and Podcast Sister Anna Farmery...

The Engaging Brand - Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (Part 1)
The Engaging Brand - Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (Part 2)

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Be The Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.
(Mahatma Gandhi)

That's it. This quote has been going around in my head all day, and I just had to get it out. And (as Forrest Gump would say) - that's all I have to say about that.

P.S. written the following day...

I've figured out why this quote was in my head. Today is Inauguration Day, and a wave of optimism is surging through many of us. But one man alone cannot change the world. Not Superman, not Obama. We all have to play our part. We each and every one have to BE the change we want to see in the world.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

You Are Having A Life-Changing Experience - Right Now!

Today you had a life-changing experience. You might even be having one right now. It may have been your life, or it may have been someone else's life, and you may or may not have been aware of the fact. But to be sure, today you did something that affected somebody, somewhere. Most of us never find out the impact that we have - but occasionally we do.

You might recall that a few weeks ago I blogged about Tom Hernon, who despite being paralysed from the waist down still skis and coaches - and is putting his workshop at my disposal to fabricate replacements for the metal parts of my boat that have rusted or broken. It turns out that Tom wanted to repay a favour that I didn't even know about. He wrote me this, about his wife who was suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

"I want to tell you a story that will explain my enthusiasm for this project…As you know from my bio I raised my son from the time he was 2. When he was 18 (2003) I got remarried. In 2005 my wife was diagnosed with cancer, we shut down the business and started our fight to save her life.

One day she told me she saw a story on TV about a woman that rowed across the Atlantic and admired what she had done.
About a month later she was too tired to go to the doctor, so to motivate her I said, “If that lady can row across the Atlantic you can get out to the car”. It worked, she got up and made it to the clinic.

I remember several times when she was struggling at something because of her illness, she would look over at me and I would give her the rowing motion and it would make her smile even know the pain was unbearable.

She lost her fight and passed away on November 22, 2006. She was only 43. I don’t know if that gave her a few more days but I like to think it did.

After she died I was going through her computer and found your website bookmarked, I remembered the motivation your trip gave her and that’s why I emailed you and offered my help. When I found the bookmark I realized how much she was following what you were doing and I am sure It gave her some extra strength to fight on.

This is a very personal story that I have kept to myself for a long time, I wanted to tell it to you so you could see the effect you had on my life without even knowing it.
I am glad that I went through her computer and learned your name and I am sure she would be proud of me for helping you...I am sure she is not the only woman whose life you had a positive impact on. Try to remember that when you are out in the middle of the ocean and need a reason to keep going.


One of my favourite books is The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom. It is a short book, but had a great influence on the way I saw the world. (So there you go, Mitch Albom changed my life - even though he and I will probably never meet.) In it, Eddie meets five people whose actions had a huge impact on the course of his life - even across time and space - and in some cases he doesn't even know them, and it takes a while to figure out how their lives were connected.

Or in the recent film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, there is a whole sequence leading up to Daisy's accident which goes: if the truck had moved out of the way sooner, if the passenger had got a different taxi, if the package had been ready for collection, if the shop assistant had not had a row with her boyfriend... the accident would not have happened.

What intrigues me is: in such a complex and interconnected world, where we can't possibly know all the consequences of our actions, how can we be sure that our impact is a good one?

Other stuff:

On Saturday I finally got to meet Lynne Cox (pictured), long-distance swimmer and author of Swimming To Antarctica and Grayson. As we sat in the sunshine on Santa Monica Pier I interviewed her for a forthcoming podcast. When I asked her what her most special experience had been, she cited her swim across the Bering Strait from Alaska to the Soviet Union. Her aim was, and still is, "to establish bridges between borders" - and her Bering swim helped break down the barriers between the two then-existing superpowers. She is one very special lady.

Later that evening I had a drink with Sindy Davis, supporter and now friend. We went on to dinner with JUNK rafter Marcus Eriksen, his fiancee Anna Cummins, and Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Foundation that has done more work than anybody to investigate the North Pacific Garbage Patch. I am planning to be in Vancouver in early April for a joint event with Marcus and Anna as they set out to cycle from Canada to Mexico - again with a mission to raise environmental awareness.

Yesterday I was the guest of honour at a brunch here in Mar Vista, invited by some friends I made last year in Hawaii. Great food and great fun chez John and Sarah de Heras - huge thanks to them and to their guests who contributed so generously to the very depleted expedition coffers. (If you feel moved to help too, you can donate online via the Blue Frontier Campaign - be sure to select "Roz Savage - the Voyage" from the dropdown box. Thank you!)

And yesterday evening I met up with Angela Madsen, paraplegic ocean rower, shortly to embark on the Indian Ocean. If anybody dares to claim that they would love to have an adventure, but they're not up to it physically, take a look at Tom Hernon and Angela - and see if you still feel the same way!
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Enlightened Debauchery

"Enlightened debauchery" is the enticing tagline for the Mindshare events series in Los Angeles - and although (as far as I saw) the debauchery extended no further than an open bar and a few smokers out the back, the tagline fits the vibe. Enlightenment has surely never been so much fun.

Ten days ago I had given a talk at the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, organized by the redoutable Ed Osgood, 90 years old and world tennis champion in his age class (I find myself wondering how much higher the age classes go). Ed recently married the vivacious Josette (go, Ed!) and it was she who created this opportunity in LA - she rang up her son, Doug Campbell, latterly of Tuxedo Travels and now the originator and organizer of Mindshare - and told him he had to meet me.

So after the venerable audience of the P-UC, and an equally distinguished audience at the St Francis Yacht Club last Wednesday, it was a big change to find myself talking to 200+ hip young things assembled in a nightclub-ish Hangar 1018, around the corner from a strip club in downtown LA.

After an hour or so of mingling and making the most of the open bar, the presentations began. I was a last-minute addition to the program, so I had just 5 mins. And I wanted to show my video which lasts 4 mins. So I just said a few very carefully chosen words - something like this:

"It was the year 2000, and I was supposed to be happy. I had it all - the well-paid job as a management consultant, a big house in west London, a successful husband and a little red sports car. But there was something wrong with this picture. I didn't feel fulfilled. I didn't feel I was contributing anything to the greater good. I felt I was here for a purpose - as we all are - and I didn't know what it was, but I was pretty sure that management consultancy wasn't it...

...Fast forward to March 2006. I am all alone, on a tiny rowboat, bobbing around somewhere in the western Atlantic. I am homeless, penniless, and divorced. All four of my oars have broken and I've had to fix them up. It's been 3 months since my last hot meal. I've had no communications since my satellite phone broke 24 days ago. I've got saltwater sores on my backside and tendonitis in my shoulders. But I've never been happier - because at last, I have found my life purpose. I am rowing across oceans to raise environmental awareness. I am realizing my dream, one stroke at a time."

And then I showed the DVD. And then a Q&A. It seemed to have made quite an impact. Many people came up to me for the rest of the evening - either with questions or just to say thanks for the inspiration.

What really seemed to have resonated was the search for purpose, connection, leaving a legacy. It reminded me that although raising environmental awareness is a key part of what I try to do, the message is so much more than that. It's bringing awareness to EVERY aspect of living.

I regularly ask myself, am I living according to my values? Am I being true to my purpose? Am I heading in the right direction? Or am I spending too much time on those day-to-day details that, in the final reckoning, will be revealed as nothing but distractions and diversions?

And here endeth the sermon. Thursday night reminded me also that life is not to be taken too seriously - and that seeking enlightenment can be a great big enormous load of FUN!

Other stuff:

Various bits of equipment for the boat (VHF radio, GPS etc) have been delivered to Hawaii, awaiting my arrival there next week. I still haven't found any under-cover storage on Oahu that I can afford - so do please contact me if you have any ideas.

Last Monday I met a fantastic bunch of women in Vallejo, at the home of Kathy Robinson. She and I rowed on the Greek Trireme in 1988. We watched the video of our crew slogging our way around the Aegean in a smelly, sweaty, ship - like Ben Hur but with frightening 80's haircuts. How times have changed - from a crew of 170 to a crew of 1...

Had a great meeting in Palo Alto with Dr Margot Gerritsen of the Smart Energy Show to talk about how to reduce CO2 emissions and, ironically, the joys of travel.

Also met with Meng at Google - Meng was one of the early Googleers, and is now their kind of brand evangelist. His wall of fame includes pictures with the Dalai Lama, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and countless others - a veritable who's who of the 21st century. During a tour of the campus and lunch we pretty much covered the meaning of life, the universe and everything - and Copenhagen and the Nobel Peace Prize. I'll be back at Google next month to speak - I can't wait!

Plus various meetings in association with the short film of Limitless Horizon - being created for release in early October to coincide with my book of the same name, which is partly about my Atlantic row in 2005-6, but more about my transformation from office worker to ocean rower.

And, of course, I was reunited with my podcast guru Leo Laporte, at TWiT Cottage in Petaluma to record a new episode of Roz Rows The Pacific. It hasn't appeared on the website yet, but hopefully will soon. Enjoy!
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Monday, January 12, 2009

A Job Begun Is A Job Half Done

As I walked to the gym at dawn this morning (6 miles walking = less petrol used + less money spent + more calories burned) I was listening to a podcast called iProcrastinate. Useful stuff, and I’d like to share.

Recently I have been puzzled by my own behaviour. I spent a lot of time during November and December evolving my strategy for 2009, in collaboration with experts on the environment, public relations/media, political campaigning, and human psychology. I ended up with what is, in my humble opinion, an excellent plan for an initiative that will tackle our top-priority environmental issue from the bottom-up, the top-down, with an element of education in the middle.

Then the calendar ticked over into 2009, and my plan went from being “next year” to being “this year” – and what happened? Did I launch myself into the execution of my detailed plan with my customary enthusiasm, energy, and “just-do-it”-iveness?

No. I froze. I fiddled around. I faltered. In short, since Jan 1, I’ve been procrastinating.

Some of it is justifiable – “I’ll wait until people get their feet back under their desks” or “People’s email inboxes will be swamped – I’ll wait until the New Year’s rush has died down”. Even eating became a form of procrastination – after all, you can’t change the world on an empty stomach.

But my inability to JFDI (Just… Do It) was starting to stress me. So, to tackle the problem, I’ve been trying to understand what’s going on here. The iProcrastinate podcaster sees it this way: procrastination is an existential issue. We have a vision of where we want to be – our “intention”. And we have where we are now – our present “action”. And ideally we exercise our free will to direct our present actions towards our future intention.

So my actions now should be the implementation of my Grand Plan for 2009 – rather than regular visits to the refrigerator. (Calories burned by walking to refrigerator < calories consumed while at refrigerator.)

What really struck home was when the podcaster suggested that the biggest obstacle to linking action to intention is the fear of failure. If you don’t try something, then you can’t fail at it – except, of course, that not even trying is the biggest failure of all. He talked about finding the courage to overcome that fear.

Now, although I am not the most courageous of people, I am also not the most cowardly. And although my plan is big and ambitious, so was rowing the Atlantic. This brings me back to the tipping point idea again. I am now at the point where: stress at NOT getting on with it > the stress caused by just doing it.

OK. (Sigh.) I know this is going to be a lot of hard work, but as the first guy to swim the English Channel said, nothing great is ever easy.

So… watch out world, here I come. 2009 is now officially underway, and it’s time to JFDI!

Other stuff:

Thank you very much to all who came to my presentation at the Presidio Yacht Club on Saturday night. (Photo of me with Ray DiFazio, one of the members of the band.) There was a fantastic turnout – the room was crammed, and I don’t think it was all due to the promise of dinner (which was excellent, incidentally – my compliments to the chefs).

A lot of people came up to me afterwards with questions, requests for photos, and promises of financial support. To those people, and anybody else who would like to help me make this year’s plans a reality, you can donate in any of these ways:
- via PayPal here, or
- online to the Blue Frontier Campaign (making sure to choose my project from the drop-down box), or
- by check to The Blue Frontier Campaign, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, D.C. 20036. Please make sure that the check is clearly marked in the memo field as being for Roz Savage, and indicate if you would like a letter of receipt for tax purposes. (The Blue Frontier Campaign is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.)

Thank you!
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Roz to Speak in San Francisco - Saturday

This Saturday I will be giving a public presentation, with video, at the Presidio Yacht Club in Fort Baker at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. This place has special memories for me – last summer’s successful row from San Francisco to Hawaii launched from there.

The presentation is free and will be followed by a “Santa Maria” Barbeque dinner downstairs at 7:00 p.m, cost $20.

Please RSVP by Friday, January 9th to reserve your seat to or 707-888-0861, and please indicate your preference for chicken or tri-tip. (NOTE: Please make sure you contact Mark, not me! I won't be able to allocate tickets - I'm just the speaker...)

After dinner there is a band playing upstairs in the club bar – the band members are Charles Van Damme, Jake Baker, Eugene Huggins, Joe Tate & David Kemp. Mark Tishler tells me these guys are all very talented musicians - so bring your dancing shoes and invite all your friends. There is a $5 cover for the band.

Numbers are limited, so contact Mark as soon as possible if you want to come. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Sequel: Tight Jeans and Tipping Points

Thanks to all for the lively debate in the comments on my last blog. It has been very thought-provoking, and has brought me to a new insight - that we all need to do every single thing that we can to help our poor ailing planet. There is no point me saying, “I’m OK because I’m carbon neutral for the 3 months I’m at sea”, or “I’m OK because I don’t buy much stuff because I don’t have a home to put it in” – if I then use this as an excuse to not offset my travel or to eat excessive meat and fish.

Likewise, there’s no point me judging someone else as being un-green because they don’t happen to row across oceans or choose to be homeless. Quite likely they may be doing something else for the greening of humanity, or if they’re not, it’s probably because they don’t know any better.

And the best way to let them know better is to lead by example, and to keep spreading the word in a non-critical, non-judgmental way. I personally respond much better to the carrot than the stick.

Human beings are (mostly!) rational, and if someone is behaving in what appears to be an irrational way it is because they have a different frame of reference – and it is that frame of reference that has to be changed first. The change in behaviour then becomes inevitable – and will be consistent across all their spheres of activity, rather than solely in relation to their choice of food or transport.

This is the true challenge for the environmental movement – to change people’s core value systems, rather than taking a piecemeal approach by increasing recycling or reducing car usage or asking us to eat less meat. These targets will have some initial impact, which is better than nothing, but in the longer term we need a fundamental shift in our thinking. Our planet functions holistically – everything is interrelated – and we have will have to think holistically if we are to successfully tackle the problems that we have created.

Obviously this is no mean task – but it is not impossible. In the past leaders have managed to convince large numbers of people to believe the most outlandish things (look at Nazi Germany) – so might it not be much easier to convince large numbers of people to believe something that intuitively makes sense – that we live on a finite planet, and we have to take good care of it if we want it to take care of us?
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tight Jeans and Tipping Points

Yesterday I hit a personal “tipping point” that may sounds trivial in the overall scheme of things, but it gave me some useful insights into human psychology. Ever since I arrived in Hawaii on Sept 1, my weight has been creeping up, little by little, pound by pound. Jeans got a bit tighter, my face got a bit rounder – but the change was never dramatic enough from one weigh-in to the next to give me cause for alarm.

Until yesterday.

I stood on the scales in the morning to find that my weight had leaped 4 pounds in 2 days, taking me over 130lb (plenty enough for a narrow-framed 5ft 3in) and bringing my total gain to 23lb in 4 months.

I had hit my tipping point. It was time to get this back under control.

This is not a plea for flattering reassurances that I look fine anyway, or suggestions that I am trying to force my body to be lighter than it wants to be, or recommendations that I stop worrying about such trivial matters and concern myself with the state of the planet instead.

No - this is my own little personal parable, about the part of human psychology that allows us to turn a blind eye to gradual changes – especially if they are unwelcome changes. We don’t see what is happening because we don’t want to see it. We tend to ignore the problem until it has grown into a crisis.

“A stitch in time saves nine”, as my mother used to say. In my trivial example, I now have undeniable evidence of my weight gain, and it will be some time before my jeans and I are seen together in public again. And of course I am wishing I had taken action when I had a 5lb weight issue rather than a 15lb weight issue.

In planetary terms, what has to happen before we take decisive action to reduce our environmental impact? How much evidence is “enough” evidence for us to reach our collective tipping point?

I am optimistic. My perception is that the scales are tipping (forget the bathroom scales now – picture Libra-type scales). The will for change is growing, and the defence of the old status quo is eroding. The question is becoming not so much “if and when”, but “how much and how soon”. And I believe that we, as a species, do have the ability to rise to this challenge, if we can only put aside our illusions of separateness and tackle this global problem together.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Revolution

“Come the revolution!” became the rallying cry during my retreat at the Gaia Partnership in Herefordshire last week. Just in case this gives the impression that the centre was a secret breeding ground for radical eco-warriors, let me clarify – we were actually a group of well-meaning, middle-class, middle-aged liberals who just happened to care more than average about the fate of this planet. But even among these moderate types there was a poweful sense of urgency about the need for a more sustainable way of life.

I had arrived at the retreat wanting to reconnect with my environmental mission. I had been reading back through the journals I wrote in 2004, when I first became aware, truly aware, of the disproportionate impact that humans are having on the Earth. In 2004 I’d had a burning mission to switch to a greener lifestyle, and to use such influence as I could to persuade others to do the same.

But somewhere along the way my passion for the cause had waned, and I had started to doubt what I could achieve alone. At times I even lost sight of this mission that had driven my decision to row oceans. It is all too easy, in all the hurly-burly of activity, to forget the original reason for all the busy-ness. I needed to have my faith restored, and to feel that I could make a difference. And it worked.

Through my long walks through the wintry countryside (pictured above), the easy live-ability of the eco-house where we were staying, and the passionate conversations with my fellow eco-retreaters, I was reminded that there is a huge and ever-expanding network of people all over the world who do care about the Earth, and that if we all pull together we really can have an impact. I left with renewed hope that we can still limit the damage we have inflicted on our beautiful planet home.

Our mentor for the week was the energetic and enthusiastic Elaine Brook - author, former mountaineer, and former wife of a Nepalese sherpa. You can see Elaine talking about her eco-house and the joys of one-planet living on YouTube. The retreat philosophy was a gentle blend of Buddhism, sustainable living, and Gaia Theory – which states that humans are part of an intricate web of life, subject to the same laws of nature as any other living being – and that we cannot break those laws and expect to get away with it in the long term.

I left Peterchurch full of passion and enthusiasm for the challenges of the year ahead. It is going to be a formative year – both personally and globally. Our future as a species looks increasingly uncertain, but I now have a renewed faith that if we pull together, we can save the world!

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