Each June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), celebrates National Oceans Month. At Hypha Collective, we draw inspiration from the world around us to inform our approach to the research and advisory work we do.
Oceans inspire us to think at a system level, to design the flexibility to ebb and flow into our work, and to appreciate the diversity of thought and experience the same way we appreciate the biodiversity of our oceans, which are among the most biodiverse habitats on the planet, providing a home to more than 250,000 known species (and this estimate is believed to be extremely low!).
How we interact with oceans and coasts is crucial, as they are fundamental ecosystems that maintain the health of our planet. Based on the latest UN data, oceans provide food and shelter to approximately 680 million people living in low-lying coastal zones, and they stabilize our climate through sinking and storing carbon.
Hypha Collective chose to be a coop because we are inspired by cooperative principles that guide worker-owned organizations, such as democratic member control and concern for community. We also believe in cooperation among cooperatives, so we’re excited to share some of our favorite California coops that honor and celebrate our oceans and all they offer.
Indigenous Aquaculture Collaborative
Indigenous Aquaculture Collaborative is a cross-Pacific network that began in 2019, uniting Northwest Tribes and First Nations and Native Hawaiian and Indigenous communities with funders and organizations committed to supporting indigenous aquaculture practices in the region. According to the Collaborative, Indigenous Aquaculture explains “biocultural systems of management found in coastal places by Native communities” which “serve to deepen relationships and create solutions for climate adaptation and coastal restoration.” The Collective aims to enhance cultural seafood production throughout the Pacific region via research, education, and community building.
One of their recent projects, Sea Gardens Across the Pacific, is a living map dedicated to the Indigenous stewards of the ocean and resurfacing ancestral mariculture practices. The interactive map highlights many of the diverse sea gardens in the region, including their history, mariculture practices, and the plant and animal species cultivated there.
In addition to their community of practice and projects like Sea Gardens, Indigenous Aquaculture is a resource hub for those interested in cross-cultural learning and supporting collaboration across this vast and diverse maritime region.
Kelpful is a worker-owned, women-run seaweed cooperative. Their food and self-care products use seaweed hand-harvested from California’s central coast. They practice regenerative harvesting with much of their seaweed, meaning the manner in which it’s harvested encourages new growth of the plants and they only harvest a small fraction of the total mass of seaweed in the areas where they forage.
While they started wild harvesting kombu and giant kelp in the intertidal zones near San Luis Obispo, the Kelpful team had a dream to start kelp farming, meaning growing kelp in the ocean. This process doesn’t require fresh water or pesticides, and it acts as a carbon suck, providing a net benefit to ocean health.
Good Hot is a small sauna operation nestled into the East Bay near the foot of the Richmond Bridge. They are a worker-owned cooperative that has been providing access to bathing culture for East Bay residents since 2020. Founded by bathing enthusiasts from the Waters Bathing Collective, the coop has a vision to “share the delight of communal bathing with our east bay community of all races, gender expressions, sexualities, and backgrounds.”
We are inspired by the intersectional approach this coop takes, centering queerness and diversity of abilities in the design of their business and partnering with and supporting BIPOC-centered organizations. Good Hot specifically focuses on supporting queer and trans guests in their facilities and designs their spaces to be accessible to bathers of all abilities. The team also rotates their work between all members, regardless of their area of focus, so all coop members participate in each element of the business.
Good Hot is an inspiring example of an organization striving for equitable access to coastal areas for public leisure.
We are inspired by each of these organizations and their approach to community building, education, and right relationship with our oceans and coasts.
“What do we need to remember that will push back against the forgetting encouraged by consumer culture and linear time? What can we remember that will surround us in oceans of history and potential? And how?”
― Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals
At Hypha Collective, we regularly turn towards visionaries — like Grace Lee Boggs, Adrienne Marie Brown, and Robin Wall Kimmerer — to guide our principles and practices.
Hypha Book Club will be a space for us to collectively read, learn, scribble, undo, try on, share, integrate, and practice the world we want to create. One visionary at a time!
This month — inspired by World Ocean Day — we will be reading “Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marina Mammals” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs as part of the Emergent Strategy Series.
Undrowned is a book-length meditation for the human species based on the subversive and transformative lessons of marine mammals.
Grab your copy, find a body of water, and follow along!