Dunedin, FL

The weekend's Hope Spot Festival brought sustainability and ocean conservation to Dunedin

Rose Burke

Upcycled fashion at the Hope Spot Festival |Rose Burke

The 2nd Annual Hope Spot Festival brought dozens of brands and organizations offering sustainable and upcycled products, environmentally-friendly activities, learning opportunities for kids, conservation information, and much more to Dunedin on Saturday. Held in Edgewater Park, the event attracted families, artists, environmentalists, and others interested in learning what they can do to reduce their impact on the world.

The festival kicked off with a beach clean-up where volunteers picked up garbage along the shore. Local artists from SHAMc's Artreach helped community members build a sculpture out of the recovered trash, which the city plans to install in a local park.

Local artists help community members create a sculpture made of trash |Rose Burke

Those who attended had the opportunity to upcycle old clothes at a tie-dye station, participate in yoga or dance classes, compete in a costume contest, and take photos with live mermaids.

They also got to meet local artist Tom Stovall, who has been commissioned to paint the Curlew Water Tower. He was at the Hope Spot Festival meeting Dunedin residents and signing autographs.

Artist Tom Stovall who has been commissioned to paint the Curlew Water Tower |City of Dunedin Facebook

Also in attendance was local author, Kip Koelsch, signing copies of his award-winning novels, Wendall’s Lullaby and Delphys Rising. All of Koelsch's oceanic sci-fi thrillers can be purchased on Amazon.

The Hope Spot Festival didn't only bring attention to ocean conservation though. They also made sure to include organizations that focus on nature and wildlife preservation. A representative from the Florida Native Plant Society educated attendees on the importance of planting natives in our community.

Local science fiction and thriller author, Kip Koelsch |Rose Burke

Additionally, a representative from Moccasin Lake Nature Park offered a glimpse at one of the many residents of their nature preserve. The peregrine falcon photographed is just one of the many birds, turtles, gophers, and other wildlife living within the 51-acre park in Clearwater.

What is Hope Spot?

The city of Dunedin recently joined forces with Blue Green Connections, Mission Blue, and Dr. Sylvia Earle to form the Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot project. A "Hope Spot" is a term coined by Earle describing places around the world that are critical to the health of the ocean.

According to Mission Blue, to qualify as a Hope Spot the community should have:

  • Abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats, or ecosystems
  • Particular populations of rare, threatened, or endemic species
  • A site with the potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts
  • The presence of natural processes such as major migration corridors or spawning grounds
  • Significant historical, cultural, or spiritual values
  • Particular economic importance to the community

This project will educate and motivate local residents, businesses, and organizations to take the necessary steps to protect our local wildlife and oceans.

A peregrine falcon from the Moccasin Lake Nature Park |Rose Burke

What Can I Do?

Dunedin has put sustainability and environmental protection at the forefront of its goals in recent years, with the objective to power all municipal operations with renewable energy by 2035. They've also recently developed DREAM, or Dunedin's Resilient Environmental Action Master plan to put the city's sustainability goals into action.

Residents can support these efforts by taking the steps to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Walk or bike more often
  • Carpool when possible
  • Refuse single-use plastics
  • Use reusable water bottles
  • Buy sustainable products
  • Skip meat once a week
  • Fish responsibly
  • Don't disturb natural habitats
  • Participate in local clean-ups
  • Plant a tree
  • Conserve water and energy
  • Shop wisely

Here are some more tips from the city of Dunedin on how to live more sustainably.

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