By Emily Vidovich. Emily has a background in environmental journalism and sustainability and is a member of the George Washington University Class of 2019.

On October 14, AltaSea will host its annual Blue Hour fundraiser, an event that connects members of the emerging Blue Economy community. Blue Hour 2023: Above & Below will celebrate the ocean through various art installations spread throughout Berth 57–a 60,000 square foot warehouse on the AltaSea campus. This year’s event also recognizes four women stewarding the ocean. Blue Hour’s 2023 awardees are as follows:

The 2023 Explorer Award will be given to Kim Butts, the creative director for the Avatar Alliance Foundation. Butts utilizes media for advocacy–both through digital media and creating exhibitions and immersive experiences with conservation and ocean-focused themes. One of her creations was “Mission: Ocean,” an oceans visualization with a real-time exploration component that was displayed at TED2019. She also co-designed “James Cameron–Challenging the Deep,” a large-scale, ocean-focused immersive exhibit that has been on display for six years and is currently traveling internationally. Her short films include What Would the Oceans Say, produced for World Ocean Day at the United Nations, Not Reality TV, a short on climate crises, and Akashinga: the Brave Ones, telling the story of an all-female fighting force battling the illegal hunting of elephants in rural Zimbabwe.

This year’s Innovation Award honoree is Inna Braverman, the founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power. Her company, which she launched when she was 24-years-old, uses ocean waves to generate grid-connected power. For Braverman, clean energy is personal. She was born in Ukraine just two weeks before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and suffered respiratory arrest due to the disaster. Her mother gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which saved her life. This formative experience inspired her to devote her second chance at life to the development of clean energy. Eco Wave’s developing energy projects will generate over 325 megawatts of energy worldwide, and its first US-based wave energy pilot station will soon be installed at AltaSea. In 2020, Braverman was listed on MSN’s “30 Most Influential Women of the 21st Century,” a list that includes powerful figures such as Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

AltaSea’s 2023 NextGen Award will be given to Dr. Patricia Ramos, the Dean of Academic Affairs at Santa Monica College (SMC). Ramos fosters collaborations between SMC and various stakeholders. These partnerships are instrumental in ensuring that SMC’s career technical education programs are aligned with the evolving workforce demands of both Los Angeles and California. SMC is partnering with AltaSea and 12 other Los Angeles Community Colleges to create the Blue Economy and Climate Action Pathways (BECAP) consortia, which aims to develop multiple post-secondary certificate and degree programs that span a variety of blue economy sectors. The first program being developed at SMC as part of the partnership is a pioneering 18-month aquaculture certificate program that is expected to launch in 2023.

Last but not least, the 2023 Cornerstone honoree is AltaSea’s founding chair, Camilla Townsend. A retired educator and foundation executive director, Townsend used her community connections to help establish AltaSea. Her goal was to create a strong board that helped advance the mission and to create Project Blue, AltaSea’s education program. Project Blue, and AltaSea, thrive thanks to Townsend’s guidance.

Blue Hour is open to members of the public. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.