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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Geier

Unreel Inspiration: A Look Back at WITW's March Event

Welcome to Women in the Water’s March Newsletter!

Words By Lindsey Geier, photos by Jasmin Tupy


 

“...the stinging salt invades me,

Persuades me to push past the pain

To see what lies on the other side.”


- Salt Water by Soraya Simi



Our March Event - Unreel




What do the Ocean and Art have in common? They both make you feel something. And so did the Women filmmakers from our March Movie Night event, Unreel.


Audrey Engelsgjerd (The Salt on Our Skin) evoked empathy and connection. Soraya Simi (Salt Water) cultivated courage and curiosity. Rachel Burnett (Sea Otter 841) instilled laughter and hope. Frustration and motivation were fueled by Lauryn Cummings (Stranded). 


“To feel” is considered to be a “feminine trait.” Femininity is not attributed to one sex; we all embody both masculine and feminine traits. When we are feeling, we are being in our feminine side. Feeling is a force. When we feel empathy and connection, we want to be kinder to others. When we feel courage and curiosity, we want to go past our comfort zone and expand. When we feel laughter and hope, we feel like life isn’t so bad, and we should cherish it. When we feel frustrated and motivated, we then feel a drive to do better for the future. 


All these filmmakers are contributing to a better tomorrow. They have created a legacy that invokes a positive impact of sorts. If films excite you, the SB Surf Film Festival is in need of volunteers: https://www.santabarbarasurffilmfestival.com/volunteers


Our host for this event is also having an incredibly mindful impact on our future by focusing on sustainability, CEC, and Kathi King. Through educating the greater Santa Barbara area on how we can create a change for a better future on our Planet, this non-profit is providing options and different ways we can go on existing that will not be at the detriment to our environment. If you are feeling that pull to do better or inspire others to, please visit their website for volunteering opportunities: https://cecsb.org/volunteer 




Behind the Scenes & Beyond the Screen: Exploring the Films & Filmmakers


Film Synopsis: Catching waves and biting boards, Sea Otter 841 has captured the attention of citizens, scientists, and journalists around the world. While she continues to evade capture, the media frenzy has raised the question: What should we do about this unruly otter?


Director's Statement: From playing at the beach to visiting aquariums, marine life and environments have fascinated me from a young age. While I’ve enjoyed learning about all marine animals, one specific mammal always caught my attention: the California Sea Otter. This fluffy creature sparked my interest in environmental studies, which has become intertwined with my passion for documentary filmmaking. After receiving the opportunity to participate in UC Santa Barbara’s Coastal Media Project, I was determined to give back to this species through a short documentary. My crew and I were drawn to the story of Otter 841 when it emerged in June 2023, leading us to discover the depths of her behavior and the widespread debate. Our personal perceptions were continuously challenged throughout the process as a complex picture of human and wildlife interactions was uncovered. This film allowed us to not only recognize the flaws in our approaches to wildlife conservation but also learn how to be better stewards of our marine environments.



Soraya Simi is a film director, producer, and writer. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, she moved to California to attend USC's film school. She directed multiple award-winning documentaries, including her poetic thesis film, SALT WATER, and her sailing documentary, WHERE THE WATER TAKES US. She’s produced high-level, celebrity-driven branded films and commercials and, most recently, is in development for a crime docu-series based in her hometown.


Her first feature documentary, ROW OF LIFE (2024), follows the remarkable story of Paralympic ocean-rower Angela Madsen and her final row across the Pacific Ocean. It is by far the most significant story Soraya has worked on, learning first-hand the complexity of a close subject-director relationship and how the stakes in non-fiction storytelling are not imagined but very real.


She believes wholeheartedly in the profound and necessary capacity for stories to heal hearts, open minds, and immortalize lessons. Soraya gravitates toward narratives that delve into resilience, our human relationship to nature, and achievement against all odds. She currently lives in Santa Barbara, where she founded a local film collective, 805 Film Co., a membership organization for all filmmakers in the area focused on nurturing the film community, culture, and craft. 



Directed by Lauryn Cummins, a first-time director.

In the summer of 2023, there were over 1,000 reports of sick or dead sea lions and dolphins washing up on shorelines from Santa Barbara all the way down to San Diego.

The cause? Domoic acid: a neurotoxin released during harmful algal blooms. 

The film features rehabilitation efforts during this event and urges you to become an advocate for marine mammal conservation in your local community.




The ebb and flow of waves has always been a source of energy for ocean communities and cultures. From time immemorial, the rich coastal environment has fostered a diversity of people and nature. It has been a place of joy, gathering, and reflection. However, local barriers have deterred or prevented the gathering of many groups in southern California. The Salt on Our Skin explores parallel connections between several communities on our coast as they own and reclaim their narrative to carve a space across the channel, onshore, or in the deep sea.

You can catch The Salt on Our Skin, featured in Central Coast Shorts #3, playing on April 29th at 7:15 pm! Learn more at https://filmfreeway.com/slofilmfest and follow them on Instagram: @thesaltonourskin.film.




 


Upcoming Event: Waves of Connection: Speed-Friending & Potluck


Spring is here, and Earth Day is quickly approaching. WITW's April event will be on Thursday, April 25, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Environmental Defense Center (EDC)

This night will be all about getting to know your like-hearted neighbors….quickly. We will be having a speed networking event. Questions will be provided for you all to dive into, just for a little bit, so this can be an even playing field for either of your introverted or extroverted tendencies. 


  • Meet and greet through fun, fast-paced, speed-friending activities

  • Connect with Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of the EDC, and learn more about their vital work

  • Fuel the conversation and community spirit by bringing a dish to share for the potluck


You can RSVP here!


The EDC’s Mission is to protect and enhance the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action. Since 1977, its Focus has been on empowering community-based organizations to advance environmental protection. Their program areas include climate and energy, protecting open space and wildlife, clean water, and the Santa Barbara Channel. We primarily work within Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties.


EDC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides legal counsel to other nonprofit organizations. It remains the only public-interest environmental law firm between Los Angeles and San Francisco and thrives on the support of community members within and beyond our region.


EDC’s Commitment to Inclusion:

Each of us plays an undeniable role in the health and well-being of our environment and our communities. As a public interest law firm working to protect our natural resources and our climate, we are dedicated to being inclusive and mindful of the diversity of our members, clients, partners, board and staff, and the communities for which we advocate. The value of diversity is unparalleled; it expands our understanding and knowledge, enhances engagement and collaboration, and inspires innovation and creativity. We only have one planet, and it will take all of us working together to protect it.


EDC’s Land Acknowledgement:We recognize that EDC sits on occupied, unceded, stolen lands of the Chumash Peoples, on Shmuwich Territory, who have called this area home for time immemorial. We commit today to make space to elevate indigenous voices and support our local Chumash and indigenous communities in our work to protect our environment.



Dive In: Volunteer Opportunities

As Earth Day approaches, WITW wants to remind you of all the incredible ways you can get involved and make a splash for our precious waters.


Volunteer Locally & Make a Difference:



WITW Wants You!


Beyond these amazing local opportunities, WITW is always looking for enthusiastic individuals to join our ocean-loving community. We offer a variety of ways to get involved, from event planning and social media management to beach cleanups and educational outreach.


Ready to find your perfect volunteer fit with WITW? Fill out our volunteer interest form here!


Together, we can make a wave of positive change for our oceans!



Contribute to our Community Through Art

We also invite you to visit our website to view Beneath the Surface. This page will showcase creative writing pieces by Lindsey Geier or those who want to share their own. Lindsey connects her writing to her life experiences through the thread of Water (and Nature). She creatively writes from emotion and uses it as a cathartic tool. She hopes it will inspire you in some way by relating, understanding, or feeling. Bits of it will be shared on IG.


From our hearts to yours, if we’ve met you or haven’t met you yet, we wish you Oceans of Love

and Joy. 

Stay stoked, yew!

-Lindsey Geier



Photography by Jasmin Tupy









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