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Meet Manon Wiese of Free Our Seas and Beyond in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Manon Wiese.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Manon. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
My love for nature, animals, marine life, beaches, and oceans inspired me to start the non-profit Free Our Seas and Beyond with co-founder, Elaine Fiore and a group of like-minded, amazing friends.

While walking our local Hollywood Beach looking for shells and sea glass, I would notice plastic and marine debris littering the shoreline. Instead of collecting the shells and sea glass, I started collecting trash. When we use the word trash people automatically assume it only belongs to the people who were just on the beach, but it also comes from other parts of the world carried through the ocean currents and deposited. I would find plastic products from countries all over the world: Thailand, Indonesia, Haiti, Cuba, France are a few I see frequently. It was then I realized this issue is in need of both attention and a solution. It’s a problem we can not wait for “someone else” to fix,  so we knew our community must be engaged. Recognizing that not everyone is educated about the effects single use plastics have on our oceans and sea life, we decided to harness the power of Art to shine a light on the issue.

I would come home with all this trash, marine debris and plastics found on the beach. My husband, our incredibly talented artist, Kurt Wiese, would envision colorful sea creatures utilizing all of these materials.  Currently, several of his sculptures travel around South Florida to educate the public about plastic pollution. Our Flip Flop Grouper is created with over 200 flip flops, 100’s of plastic straws, buckets, fishing gloves and more. Hope, the Manta Ray, is created with single-use plastic oil cans, pool filter, vacuum hose, and deodorant rollers. The third largest piece, our Mahi Mahi is created with an array of colorful single-use plastics. A Peace Sign made from flip flops and plastic beach toys has recently been added to the collection that was created by me. 

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I can’t say we’ve had obstacles. When you have a clearly defined mission, other like-minded people are open and willing to join in. The support network and partnerships we have built this year have been amazing- The City of Hollywood, Broward County, Nova Southeastern University, the Marine Environmental Education Center, Surfrider Broward County Chapter and other environmental non-profits. The City of Hollywood is an ocean-friendly beach community, restaurants east of the Intracostal are not allowed to use single-use plastics and polystyrene. The City has become one of the biggest supporters of our events and artwork.

Now that we have proven ourselves this past year, our next challenge in this journey is to connect with sponsors who share our core values.

Please tell us about the Free Our Seas and Beyond.
Recognizing environmental messaging tends to be gloom and doom, Free Our Seas and Beyond harnesses the power of art and community to connect, inspire and create change collectively for the greater good. We host a wide variety of positive, fun events to engage our South Florida community.  From our annual Free Our Seas Environmental Art Festival at the NSU Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) on Hollywood Beach, partnering with Surfrider and other ocean conservation groups to host the March for the Ocean,  working with Shelly Tygielski on mindful meditation and art events, fundraising to sponsor the gorgeous Rei Ramirez mural at the MEEC to hosting documentary screenings, like the Rubber JellyFish, we are able to reach a significant cross section of the community.

You can find several of our marine debris sculptures on display at the Marine Environmental Education Center at the Historic Carpenter House on Hollywood Beach.  Please join us on Saturday, April 20, 2019 for our 2nd annual Free Our Seas Environmental Art Festival at the Marine Environmental Education Center. Last year we had over 1,500 people attend and are looking forward to making this year even better.

Is there anyone, in particular, you would like to recognize? Mentors, etc.?
Everyone on the Free Our Seas and Beyond team deserves credit: Elaine Fiore, Lillie Carlson, Cherie Wachter, Elizabeth Forde, Aimee Lowe, and Kurt Wiese. Our talents combined has led to our first year’s success.  Additionally, Derek Burkholder, Meg McGlone, Amy Hupp, Cat Uden and Raelin Lohse have been incredible partners.  We also need to give credit to our family and friends who support us and volunteer at all our events. Thank you!

Contact Info:

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