Ocean Collectiv designs, builds, and implements creative and practical solutions for a healthy ocean. Our collaborative of experts supports clients in advancing ocean sustainability, grounded in social justice. We provide fresh ideas on policy, science, and commerce. For each project, we tailor the ideal interdisciplinary team from our diverse roster of experts.
- Program strategy and design
- Communications strategies
- Business plan development
- Philanthropic grantmaking strategies
- Legislative strategies and policy roadmaps
- Engagement strategies
- Event curation and moderation
- Public speaking
- Workshop facilitation
- Network expansion
Research and Analysis
- Landscape assessment and gap analysis
- User research
- Socio-economic surveys
- Expert vetting
- Grant writing
Areas of expertise
- Ocean zoning/spatial planning
- User-centered design
- Virtual reality
- Marine protected areas
- Fisheries management
- Legislative and political strategy
- Coral reef conservation & restoration
- Science communication
- Imagery & design
- Maritime archaeology
- Seafood marketing & retail
- Environmental justice
- Storytelling and filmmaking
- Aquariums and science centers
- Water resource management
- People-sea connection
- Exploration & robots
- Ocean education & literacy
- Digital technologies & ICT
- Maker movement
- Prizes & challenges
ClientsSome clients signed under Ayana Elizabeth Consulting LLC, prior to formation of Ocean Collectiv.
Creating a Small Grant Program for Ocean Justice
Client: Bezos Family Foundation
For the Bezos Family Foundation's Students Rebuild Ocean Challenge, we developed a small-grants program and 9 organizations we identified and vetted received funding for their work at the intersection of ocean conservation, education, and social justice. Congratulations to: Azul, Beyond the Surface International, Billion Oyster Project, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, EarthEcho International, Fish N' Fins, I AM WATER, Oceanswell, and Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha. We also provided strategic support to these organizations as they executed their grant projects, and supported the Foundation on overall strategy and communications. For more see this piece we published in Scientific American: 9 Ocean Conservation Groups You Don’t Know About… But Should.
Testimonial: “Our work with Ocean Collectiv was one of the highlights of my year – I am really proud of our collaboration and the impact it created. Through their technical expertise, relationships and knowledge of how vulnerable populations are impacted by our ocean, we were able to identify and fund impactful smaller conservation organizations that are mobilizing diverse audiences and young people. I can’t imagine how we could have accomplished this without them! Ayana is also an administrative whiz and one of the most thorough and organized consultants with whom I have had the pleasure to work!” - Leonetta Elaiho, Senior Manager of Students Rebuild, Bezos Family Foundation
Designing a Global Strategy to Leverage Art for Policy Change
For TBA21-Academy, we crafted overall organizational strategy for how to leverage their marine lab and makerspace in Jamaica, globe-crossing ship, art space in Venice, and commissioned works of art to push for policy change. This included drafting mission, vision, and theory of change; curating a community of partners; developing an engagement calendar; and recommending best practices for establishing a makerspace.
Testimonial: “In a time of major organizational changes, Ocean Collectiv has produced an incredibly helpful set of work for us. The strategy documents are the synthesis of months of discussion and this crystallization of goals, aims, and objectives will guide the focus of TBA21–Academy's work for years to come. A super productive collaboration and extremely accommodating work process.” — Markus Reymann, director TBA21-Academy
Curating and Hosting Public Conversations on Science
Client: Pioneer Works
For Pioneer Works we curate Science & Society, an event series that grapples with our relationships with nature and each other. Series curator and host Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson guides experts in conversations that lead us deep into humanity’s timely and intersectional challenges, from biodiversity, to plastics, public knowledge, the high seas, farming, climate, and love. Topics so far have been The Future of Seafood and Knowledge for the People. We also curate and host intimate salons in their Science Studios on topics including The Alchemy of Cider, Technologies of Text, and Our Blue Planet.
Supporting A Global Campaign to End Plastic Pollution
Client: Lonely Whale and Point Break Foundation
A metric tonne of plastic enters the ocean every 4 seconds, for a total of 8 million tonnes each year. We are on track to have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 – or as Lonely Whale and Point Break Foundation’s Tick Tock campaign describes it, a ticking time bomb of ocean plastic pollution. Our first project provided the calcuations behind the clock for the campaign. We subsequently produced a deeply-researched report detailing the history of plastic, the most pervasive single-use plastic items, and impacts on marine life and human health. We also highlighted policy solutions and countries who are leading by example in reducing single-use plastics. This report was commissioned for use in a coffee table-style book to increase commitments to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Clean Seas campaign.
Leveraging technology to unlock ocean data
There is a wealth of ocean data, yet little of it is being used. This information (sourced from shipping, fishing, and public safety records) is not easily accessed, analyzed, or visualized. Seeing the immense potential for the private sector and for the public, XPRIZE created a competition to facilitate use of this valuable information. We developed the detailed concept and guidelines for the Big Ocean Button Challenge, a prize for the best apps using ocean datasets. For this project we interviewed scientific and technical experts, identified promising datasets, designed the competition and judging criteria, leveraged our network to recruit entrants, and supported the application and judging process. A total of $100,000 in prizes will be awarded in late 2017 for apps that address fishing, shipping and trade, ocean acidification, public safety, and exploration. For more, see Ayana’s National Geographic blog post: Hey Developers, Wanna Make an App to Help the Ocean?
Testimonial: “Ayana is the most driven person I have ever worked with. She delivers excellent results on short timelines, with grace and humor.” – Matthew Mulrennan, Director, Ocean Initiative, XPRIZE
Protecting coral reefs in a changing climate
Greenpeace has a flagship campaign to combat climate change, and has active ocean conservation efforts. The organization is considering expanding their work on coral reef conservation, and wanted support with scoping and strategy development. Based on interviews with her network of experts, Dr. Johnson produced a report to help guide decisions about potential campaign work to protect coral reefs. The report included recommendations on campaign strategy, policy goals, and site selection, as well as a gap analysis to assess where Greenpeace could add the most value.
Testimonial: "Ayana tackled a large and complex task and delivered results that will help shape Greenpeace's work to protect reefs. She was easy to work with, receptive to feedback, and stuck to deadlines. You should probably hire her." – John Hocevar, Director of Oceans Program, Greenpeace USA
Building a grassroots movement for science
Pro-bono: March for Science
A group of scientists came together in the winter of 2017 to sound the alarm that “science, scientists, and evidence-based policymaking are under attack. Budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets, and threats to dismantle government agencies harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate, and jobs at risk.” Dr. Johnson was one of 8 core members of the national organizing committee, and served as co-director of partnerships and a member of the diversity committee. Her team built a broad and diverse coalition of almost 300 organizations that value and extol the role of science in health, economy, security, and government. She recruited Kate Gage to join the team, and Ms. Gage became director of operations and then interim lead of the entire March for Science organization in the post-march transition. For more, see Dr. Johnson's blog posts I Never Thought I'd Be Marching for Science (Scientific American) and Reflections on the March for Science (National Geographic).
Testimonial: "Ayana Johnson joined the March for Science team in the first two weeks and was immediately invaluable. She spearheaded efforts to partner with a diverse group of organizations, expanding the march's coalition of science supporters, and engaging established scientific leaders and institutions in building a grassroots movement. Ayana recruited Kate Gage, who became director of operations for the march. Kate, equally invaluable, brought her impressively broad skill set and network, which were also key to the march's success." - Caroline Weinberg, Co-Chair, March for Science
Assessing Loss and Waste in the Seafood Supply Chain
Client: World Wildlife Fund
Approximately 35% of seafood globally is lost or wasted. For WWF, we conducted a comprehensive literature review (that examined 389 publications) and interviews with industry experts to examine waste and loss at each segment of the supply chain. From point of harvest to human consumption, our report outlined the largest sources of waste or loss, identify solutions for reducing this loss or waste, and highlight gaps in the literature as priority areas for future research. Based on our findings and recommendations, WFF shifted the focus of their initiative on seafood waste.
Envisioning urban ocean conservation
Client: Wildlife Conservation Society & NY Aquarium
How can New York City become a global leader in ocean conservation? The process starts with creating an ocean ethos amongst New Yorkers, includes a focus on sustainable seafood, employs the lens of social justice, and requires pushing for significant policy changes. The vision: a future NYC with healthy, accessible waters, a thriving blue economy, and vibrant coastal culture. To develop a strategic plan to realize that vision, we conducted a landscape assessment of existing efforts, interviewed dozens of local experts (including scientists, philanthropists, educators, activists, and artists), facilitated an internal workshop, and identified promising potential partnerships.
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