Five days on the (off)road, nearly 1800 km in four different vehicles, a break down and then a flat tyre… in all nearly 50 hours of travel. That’s the time it took us to travel from our field base in the coastal town of Maintirano to get to the Blue Ventures annual conference. And that was just one way.
This year’s meetings took place for the sixth consecutive year in Andavadoaka, Blue Ventures’ first field site in Madagascar, and the centre of the country’s first Locally Managed Marine Area.
Eighty-four people coming from all of Blue Ventures’ offices and field programmes in Madagascar attended, along with representatives from our London office and our newest colleague from our evolving partnership project in Comoros. Alongside three days of discussions and workshops to define the collective vision, motivations, and underlying values for Blue Ventures in Madagascar, this was also a valuable opportunity for each one of us to learn more about our colleagues, and Blue Ventures’ work across our seven sites in Madagascar and Comoros.
This unique meeting allowed us reflect as a team, capitalising on the depth of knowledge and skills of each team member to take stock of the last year and consider some of the key questions for Blue Ventures today.
What are our strengths and weaknesses? What has worked and what didn’t work? Why?
These discussions brought our team’s skills and creativity into focus, highlighting existing initiatives and talents, and allowing newer members of the team to chat with those who had initiated some of our core models, in particular looking at how to adapt these to new contexts.
But beyond the work, this sixth annual conference was an opportunity to remember what binds us together around the projects and activities we pursue. Blue Ventures is not just work, mission and vision. Our annual conference serves to remind us that the organisation is above all a spirit and a soul built on the history of the people who make up the organisation: inspired and passionate teams, who face many challenges, working in difficult conditions, far away from family and friends, yet who remain motivated by their choices and commitment, because they know why they are doing this work. The Blue Ventures conference is an opportunity to remind us of this commitment, and to celebrate it together.
After these three exciting days, we hit the road back up to Maintirano, determined and confident, with new friends from all over this Big Island, as well as Comoros and our colleagues in London, and with a profound shared feeling that binds us all to our vision: to rebuild tropical fisheries with the coastal communities that depend on them.