2017-2018 Blue Mind Expedition Series


Sachi Cunningham Expedition - Panama, July 7 - August 18

Sachi Cunningham has salt water in her soul.  A renowned documentary filmmaker, surf photographer, and multimedia journalism professor at San Francisco State, Sachi is a voice for wild water and the people who call it home.  She’s pioneered the recent movement for women’s inclusion in the world of competitive big wave surfing, and her recent documentary Memory of Fish is a moving glimpse into citizen science and the power of one. Sachi is a mother and cancer survivor who has also managed a bipolar disorder 1 diagnosis for over 20 years.  She has summoned inspiring resilience through her own dark times, and will draw on that wisdom as an expedition mentor.

As a documentary filmmaker, Cunningham's stories have screened at festivals worldwide, and on outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS FRONTLINE, FRONTLINE/World and the Discovery Channel. The Emmys, Webbys, and Pictures of the Year International have honored Cunningham’s work. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham’s documentaries focus on international conflict, the arts, disability, and the ocean environment. On land she has turned her lens everywhere from the first presidential election in Afghanistan, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the water, she has swum with her camera along side everything from 350-pound blue fin tuna to big wave surfers, to Olympian, Michael Phelps. Once an assistant to actress Demi Moore and Director/Producer/Writer Barry Levinson, Cunningham brings a decade of experience in feature films and commercial productions in New York, Hollywood and Tokyo to her career in journalism and filmmaking.

Learn more about her work at www.sachicunningham.com.

CLICK HERE to watch the inspiring video Inside the Mind of Sachi Cunningham. 

Mission: Resilience

Sachi’s expedition will take our team to the idyllic oceanside of Playa Venao, Panama.  Here, our team will undertake the mission of implementing coastal storytelling projects with local communities.  Students will learn the art of documentary filmmaking to create their own films about important stories of ecological and human resilience.  We will also work with local communities and schools to train local participants in techniques of photography and filmmaking in order to empower them with tools to bring their own stories into the public eye to create value for their precious waters and communities.   

After a short orientation period at a lakeside cabin in Northern Wisconsin, this expedition will be basecamped at Eco Venao Lodge, with several multi-day excursions launching from there.  Playa Venao is a world class surfing locale, so it’s safe to say that our filmmaking mission will be interrupted by plenty of time in the water.  (Prior experience surfing is not required, but ability to swim is definitely a plus!)    


Wallace Nichols Expedition - Baja - Fall 2017 (October 16 - November 22).

Sea turtles are nature’s poster children of unstoppability.  Once on the brink of extinction, their populations are now in recovery.  At the forefront of these recovery efforts is Dr. Wallace J. Nichols (he goes by “J”), one of the world’s leading voices not just for sea turtles, but for all things blue.  The author of New York Times Bestseller, Blue Mind, J is leading the field of “neuroconservation,” the modern understanding of how nature’s positive impact on our brain, our well-being, and ultimately our survival.  J describes himself as a “marine biologist, author, wild water advocate, bubble-popper, movement-maker and dad.” He’s a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy, Middlebury Institute for International Studies, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, and Founder of Blue Mind Life.  Learn more about J at www.wallacejnichols.org

Mission: Unstoppable

For this expedition, we will return to J’s roots on the Baja Peninsula, where he conducted his groundbreaking research on sea turtle migration and guided the creation of innovative networks of local sea turtle protectors who drove the recovery of the species.  Baja is special to J, and he’ll share his love of this water and these people as our team assists with critical sea turtle field research.  In parallel to the scientific research, and after intensive photography training from program coordinator Ben Thwaits, the team will embark on a journey to capture images and stories of the inspiring people and communities who propelled the sea turtles’ recovery in Baja, with the goal of publishing this important story of unstoppability for wide audiences. 

After a two week orientation and training period based at a lakeside cabin in Wisconsin’s Northwoods (where Northwest Passage calls home), we will embark on a monthlong exploration of Mexico’s Baja peninsula.  Primary lodging will be in basecamp-style luxury tent accommodations (ever heard of “glamping?”) interspersed with more conventional cabins during travel forays.  Our scientific and photographic mission will be punctuated with whale watching, snorkeling, and hiking.  See the full itinerary here.      


Information coming soon.