Bowen’s marine atlas is on the home stretch.
The Bowen Island Conservancy is planning to publish the Atlas in the spring and we are currently pulling together the final edits.
We have a new title: Exploring Bowen’s Marine World, A Marine Atlas of Nex̱wlélex̱wem/Bowen Island. A wonderful part of this final process is writing our acknowledgements to the many islanders who have helped make the atlas happen. Our authors Len Gilday, Will Husby and myself along with our editor Susan Munro are now looking back over the past year and all the steps that got us to where we are now and we have so many to thank.
It all started back in January 2019, when the chair of the Conservancy Hornby Island came to Bowen to explain to us how they created their island’s marine atlas. That inspired us to get going on ours.
An advisory group of islanders jumped in right away. In May, the Bowen Island Community Foundation gave us a big vote of confidence with their grant of $5,000. We then received additional donations from the Ngan Page Family Fund and three private individuals. And the Sitka Foundation provided the remaining half of the funding for our project and gave us the confidence that we would complete the project.
Engaging our public while we created the atlas was always a priority.
Eleven volunteers staffed the Bowfest display in August and another 21 at the marine atlas open house at Bowen Island Community School in October. In November, we met with the entire Island Pacific School student body to workshop the atlas content –– we got great input. As we wrote, we got advice from knowledgeable islanders who read through various drafts. At the open house, we put a call out to the community to read our draft atlas and a number of community members gave us more comments.
For the past three months we have been pulling all that together and the enterprise has grown –– our original proposal of a 25-page Atlas has swelled to more than 50 pages.
Our current plan is to publish the atlas as a booklet as well as a free online PDF.
Copies of the published atlas will be distributed free to local schools, organizations and to all who have helped along the way. The atlas will also be sold by the Bowen Island Conservancy, with proceeds going to further island stewardship education and activities.
Publication of the marine atlas this spring will be an important milestone but it won’t be the conclusion of the project. We are only just starting. The project seeks to foster public awareness and engagement with our local marine environment, its conservation issues and to celebrate the recovery of our marine neighbourhood. The atlas will be an important tool but there is much more to do. We plan to create a website to promote use of atlas content, and work with community partners.