I write and speak about conservation and the traits we need to be effective stewards of our seas and our planet—among others, courage, an engaged, active hope, and the ability to work together to find solutions. My award-winning book, Ocean Country (North Atlantic Books), with a foreword by Carl Safina, is a call to action and a meditation on the state of the seas, but most importantly, the story of finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face humankind, the rapidly degrading state of our environment. Before deciding to devote myself to conservation, I covered presidential politics and wrote my first book, Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age (Praeger). Community engagement is at the heart of my work. I’m active as a speaker at schools, universities, community-based events and large venues such as the Commonwealth Club, the New England Aquarium and the New York Times Building. I am also active in the education field as cofounder, with my husband Charles Costello, of KurtHahn.org, the Web archive for the founder of Outward Bound, Kurt Hahn, who was my great-uncle.
I’m at work on two new books, Compassion Unleashed: The Heart of Hope and The Hidden Path of Breath. My writing has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals such as Alternet.org, Asian Geographic, Earth Island Journal, GreenBiz, the Marin Poetry Center Anthology, The Mindful Word, The Outward Bound International Journal, Times of the Islands, Seven Seas, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Drawing and nature journaling are integral to my writing process. My drawings have been exhibited at a variety of venues including the Berkeley Art Center, the COA Ethel Blum Gallery, Fort Mason Center and the Oakland Museum.
I grew up outside of New York City and received a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Drawn by the openness of the vast Pacific landscape and California’s innovative spirit, I moved west in search of what felt like some “intangible, infinite thing.” I learned to scuba dive, raced sailboats. I loved what the ocean seemed to demand of us: elemental truths such as camaraderie and grace in overwhelming situations. I worked as an editor and writer for over fifteen years and authored my first book, Talking Politics, a series of oral-history interviews with top television journalists such as Tom Brokaw, Larry King and Robin MacNeil. In the year following the book’s release I began to do radio commentary. But I also was in an accident in which I nearly lost my life. The combination of those two experiences – a book launch and an acute reminder of how precious each moment is – caused me to reassess my work. Over time I realized my greatest passion was to help others connect with nature and inspire them to participate in forging a sustainable future. With much of my work I seek to create “the magic of the encounter” – to take the audience deeply into an experience, whether it be in an oral-history interview or an illustration depicting what it might be like to quietly look into the eyes of a trunkfish in an underwater cavern. For me that sense of connection is the “intangible and infinite thing” I so sought when I came west and I think it’s key to our future. Our future depends upon seeing connections – biological, cultural, economic, political – and crafting our collective and individual lives with them in mind.
I am proud to be a Mission Blue Partner. Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots.
I am also a proud member of W2O (Women Working for Oceans), which works in partnership with the renowned New England Aquarium to inform individuals about the challenges facing our oceans inspiring them to connect with their communities to take action to ensure a healthy, sustainable blue planet for tomorrow.