Meet a Wavemaker: Bow Seat Alum Jay Gardoqui
August 16, 2019

🌊 In Bow Seat’s “Meet a Wavemaker” series, we highlight the work of individuals, communities, or organizations who are making waves and inspiring positive change for our oceans: through art, activism, research, or all of the above! 🌊

We caught up with Jay at Bow Seat’s ocean acidification workshop at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and he shared some of his thoughts and experiences as a young artist and environmental advocate. 

At just sixteen years old, Jay Gardoqui from York, Maine, is already a seasoned environmental advocate. Jay was busking on the streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as a middle schooler to raise money for the northern white rhino. Today, in addition to participating in Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest, he is raising funds and awareness for issues such as endangered species, climate change, and marine debris–and the arts often play an integral role in his activism.

Jay credits his parents, founders of White Pine Programs–a nonprofit that offers nature connection opportunities on the Seacoast region of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts–for instilling in him his love for the natural world. “I’m not sure I would be as passionate as I am about the subject if I didn’t have a deep understanding of how beautiful and important nature is.”

This past spring, Jay represented his community at a Kids Speak Out event where he showed his award-winning Bow Seat film, “Between the Waves.”

Jay and his groupmates, William Bachelder and Evan Rankin, wanted their film to be a call to action as much as a resource for information. “We didn’t only want to educate people about climate change’s detrimental effects on the ocean, but we wanted to teach them how to stop it. Through the process of making the film, we learned so much, such as the devastation that storms like hurricanes can do to coastal communities, and certain methods that actually help slow climate change.”

In addition to shooting the footage for their film, Jay, an alto sax player, also composed some of the soundtrack. “I have been producing for over two years now, so I have a pretty good idea of what goes into a simple musical piece.”

Growing up in coastal Maine, Jay recognizes the specific challenges facing his community. “York is at a big risk from sea level rise. Our town has a very poor system for stopping this, and the newest seawall project just got shut down. We are in general a pretty well-educated community on the issues that climate change could bring to our town, but we need to make more changes.”

Jay is a member of the Let’s Ban Polystyrene committee in York; he wrote a letter to the editor in support of the ordinance to ban single-use food and beverage containers made of polystyrene. The bill was signed into law in late April, making Maine the first state to ban these foam containers.

On being a part of a generation of youth who are increasingly recognizing their role as changemakers, Jay says, “I am very grateful to have the technology and the power to play such impactful and important roles. We are pretty much the first generation that is going to be severely impacted by climate change if nothing changes, so it is our responsibility to get out there and make it known that we aren’t content with what’s going on in the world.”

And what advice does Jay have for other young people who want to be a part of the conversation on issues important to them? “You have the power through the phone or computer you’re reading this on. Use social media, contests, and the countless other resources on the internet to make your message known. It isn’t terribly hard to generate following when you have access to a platform like Instagram that connects you to over one billion people in 195 countries. If you believe in what you say, and you say what you believe, you’re doing your part.”

Read the stories of other Bow Seat alumni >>

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Meet a Wavemaker: Bow Seat Alum Jay Gardoqui

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