"My main mission in life is to share my love of the Ocean and all the critters that live within it, and to inspire people to get outdoors, to experience the real feeling of being alive and connecting to this Earth." ~Ashley Baxter
MS: What lead you to join forces with Manakai Swimwear?
AB: The first reason I wanted to join forces with Manakai was because, one of my best friend's older sister; Anna, basically like my older sister too, is one of the co-owners of the brand. Growing up Anna and her sister Lena would make their own bikinis, and for every birthday or Christmas I would beg them to make me a new one. A girl can never have too many bikinis!! So I knew if Anna was a part of a bikini company they would for sure be mental! I was initially approached by the amazing Kelley, and when we met up for the first time, we connected right off the bat; literally couldn’t stop talking about life, our dreams and aspirations. Anna went to school for Marine Biology and Kelley has a degree in sustainability, we all share this undying love for the ocean. When Kelley told me they were planning on making their next line out of recycled plastics I was HOOKED! My main mission in life is to share my love of the Ocean and all the critters that live within it, and to inspire people to get outdoors, to experience the real feeling of being alive and connecting to this Earth. I feel then we will realize where true happiness comes from.
MS: Growing up on Maui it can be hard to see the larger picture of what is going on in the world, what do you see as the biggest conservation issue in our oceans right now?
AB: It can be difficult, but if you open your eyes, you can see that the problems our oceans are facing around the world, we are also facing here in Hawaii. At the moment, I think the biggest conservation issue in our Ocean is the Coral bleaching. In Australia around 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is affected, and around 35% is already dead. It’s easy for people to stand up to protect the whales and dolphins, but the coral is somehow left behind. I think its because people may forget that it’s a living, breathing animal that houses and provides substance for a huge variety of our oceans inhabitants; without the coral reef many other creatures will die off as well. Whales and dolphins are jumping, and playing out of the water and on the surface so people get to experience their vivacity and love for life. The coral reef lies below the surface and stands “still”, unless you get close and are able to see it moving with the motion of the ocean, and the immense diversity of life it holds within it. Here on Maui I’ve seen a huge difference in the coloring of the reef, and the lack of marine life throughout the years. Like I said, if you open your eyes, you can see it affecting us right where we are.
MS: We are all about creating a Tribe and working together, who else are you teaming up with to battle issues facing our oceans?
AB: Another major issue we are dealing with in our Oceans is the amount of plastic that’s building up and eventually landing on our beaches. Plastic takes ~500-1,000 years for it to BREAK down; not fully disintegrate, which is making it apart of our ecosystem, and in turn us, human beings. Fish are eating the plastic thinking its food, and we are eating the Fish. Jeremy McKane and I have teamed up to tackle this issue. We believe their needs to be a switch in perspective. Most documentaries approach these issues in a Negative way; we believe that by focusing on all the destructive things that are happening in this world, we are only creating more of that. The images and feelings that we project into this world, is the future we are creating together. So how can we bring awareness to this cause, create empathy, and project a positive outcome? By switching/ changing the way we think and approach these intriguing challenges. Jeremy along with Aliaksei Rubanau, has created a mind controlled Art Installation called LUCiD where we can show you how your thoughts immediately affect your outcome. LUCiD is made up of 2 video loops, one of simply plastics in our Ocean, and one of the things still worth protecting. A volunteer is asked to put on our EEG headset, and to look at the projection. The EEG device monitors the voltage of your brain and sends an algorithm of your brainwaves to the computer, which its then able to decipher and tell when you are in a meditative state. The loop of plastics in our ocean will stay, until you are able to get into the present moment, or meditative state, and if you’re able to find that solitude, the images of our beautiful ocean and the animals it inhabits, will appear. The fun part about it is, as your thoughts continue to change, so does the images on the screen. So if you’re able to stay in the present moment for only 2 seconds, you will only see those beautiful images for 2 seconds. You will see it go back and forth, until you are able to stay in your meditative state. You see right before your eyes how your thoughts immediately affect your outcome.
MS: What kind of work are you doing with Lucid?
AB: There are a lot of opportunities on the horizon for LUCiD, but I’d like to keep it on the down low until they’re in full force. Our main mission is to get it in front of as many eyes as we can!
MS: We know that you have some exciting adventures planned in the very near future, can you give us any insight on where you are going and what you will be working on?
AB: At the end of July Jeremy and I are heading to Tonga to swim and film with the Humpback whales for around 2 ½ weeks!!!! We are sooooo unbelievably excited for this adventure!
MS: Whenever you get back to Maui from those adventures and need to reconnect, where do you go and what do you do?
AB: Great question, but my spots are secret! I like to go to places I see no one, where I can take my dogs to run free! I sit, run, and dance, to express my gratitude for life and the love of everything it inhabits!