Day 33: 7/28/2013: Sharktastic Sunday!

As I wrote a few blogs back, I know what it’s like to want to avoid “the clipboard,” and today My friend Jen and I hoofed it around Los Feliz collecting signatures for the Shark Defenders petition.  Between the two of us (or three, if you count the large inflatable great white head we took turns carrying), we signed up 45 Shark Defenders in about two hours.

Bees hunted us, hostile indifference stonewalled our efforts near House of Pies, but we persevered. Sadly, we met quite a few sympathetic folk who didn’t have e-mail addresses. “I still live in the ‘70s,” one surfer confessed.

Along with names and e-mails, we collected a host of non-sequiturs:

Q: “Hi, would you like to save sharks from extinction?”

A: “I’m fine.”

Q: “Hi, would you like to save sharks from extinction?”

A: “We solved that problem in San Francisco.”

Q: “Hello! Did you know 100 million sharks are killed every year for their fins?”

A: “Jesus.” (Not “Jesus” as in “Jesus, that’s terrible,” but a beatific implication– “I hope you find Jesus.”)

That enlightening comment made me think of tailoring our signature gathering. Hanging out at the Catholic Church: “Would you like to save Christ’s most miraculous and misunderstood apex predators from extinction?”

Certainly the faithful would agree that the greedy, wasteful and violent practice of shark finning is an abomination.

We debated going to The Rustic Inn, thinking that people might be more amenable to signing anything after staggering out of a tavern, but ended up zigzagging between shops and bus stops and street corners.

Some people refused to sign because they were afraid. “A shark bit my boogie board.” Others signed BECAUSE they were afraid, “Sharks are terrifying–but we need them.”  One sly dude made me go through my whole spiel, took the clipboard, poised the pen above the page, nodded encouragingly and then handed it back. “I’m just curious,” I queried, as he fled into Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. “Why wouldn’t you sign?” No reply.

But human indifference did not triumph!

THANKS to my dear friend Jennifer for making it so fun and THANKS to all the people who stood up for sharks, especially:

The sweet girl at Pop Killer who not only signed my petition but helped me to inflate my shark head.

The kind people outside the Gurdwara Sikh Temple who thanked US for our service, especially Paulo who wants to sell shark paintings to raise money for conservation.

And extra gratitude to the young guy near the newsstand who tackled the awkward clipboard and pen DESPITE having two broken legs and being on crutches.


Day 32: 7/27/2013: Musings of a Shark Cult Leader

I’m truly touched by how many of my colleagues have eagerly volunteered to read sex scenes from “Jaws” in a public setting to help save sharks.

My shark-themed English class is part of a contextualized learning grant program. Today I met with my fellow teachers and we discussed our various hybrid classes. As I defined my pedagogical mission, I realized that I don’t want to simply teach a class this semester. I want to start a shark cult.  I want to engage and enrage students and make them to fall in love with what’s disappearing. Maybe love will move them if anger will not.

Even if I don’t inculcate an army of brainwashed shark worshipping eco-terrorists, perhaps they’ll awaken to the plight of elephants or the senselessness of war or overconsumption.

Is fun the most powerful call to action? Is making shark cupcakes for charity the gateway drug to environmental activism? Should I use “Sharknado” as a sassy introduction to the sobering topic of ocean acidification and climate change? A good cult leader must effortlessly engage multiple strategies.  Perhaps “Air Jaws” is a good place to start.

P.S. Monday I’ll follow up with the rescue places about the turtles.