Hello Spot.us followers, garbage fans and New York Times devotees. I've been getting a lot of questions over the last few weeks about what I'm up to this summer as Project Kaisei and Scripps set out to study the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Namely--how is what I'm doing any different from these organizations? (First I want to say that I think what they're doing is great, and I'm following their voyages with much enthusiasm).
There are four main differences between my voyage and what these great efforts are up to.
First, I am traveling to the Garbage Patch as a journalist. Though I'm going out with a group of researchers from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, my role is to report on the patch as a journalist and not as a scientist. I will be going on this voyage with Captain Moore who is credited with first discovering the Garbage Patch 10 years ago. So I'll be with the person who discovered the Garbage Patch on the 10-year annivesary of this discovery.
Second, I am the only independent journalist going out to cover this story first hand. I'll be the only journalist aboard Algalita's 50-foot catamaran. Scripps has a communications director who will produce press releases upon his return specifically for Scripps and Project Kaisei doesn't have a journalist on board. It's also important to consider what Kaisei is going out to examine. What they're interested in is determining how to clean up the garbage patch. What Captain Moore and his team are interested in is how we're affected when we eat fish that are consuming toxic plastic chemicals.
Third, I am talking to the New York Times about publishing material from the trip. They're interested in an online photo slide show--it'll be the first slideshow for the Times that is devoted solely to the Garbage Patch. One can argue that the Garbage Patch should be covered in as many ways as possible and certainly havint the NYTimes have a photo slide show dedicated to the Garbage Patch will spread awareness about this issue.
Fourth, in order to make this trip a reality I've been using Spot.us' innovative crowd-sourcing platform to help pay my $10,000 portion of the trip. We've received over 100 donations in less than a month from people all over the country that support this reporting.
Because this story melds three very interesting subjects--a floating mass of trash, the New York Times and Spot.us it's gained quite a bit of attention. From Gawker to Romanesko, people have weighed in on how this reporting will aid groups like Project Kaisei or Scripps. If you have comments or suggestions about my upcoming voyage feel free to post them below. And if you'd like a response let me know, I will try to respond to all questions.