In 2010 Mark returned for a second time to isolated Japanese archipelago of Ogasawara, drawn back once again to exploring the pristine ocean environment and surfing the uncrowded reef breaks with friends. It was during this time that he began a semi-intensive Master of Arts degree in Ecopsychology.
In 2012, during the first year of the course he lived a life of voluntary simplicity in the jungle with his wife and fellow community. The time there further deepened his connection to the natural world and was a lived experience of permaculture and sustainability. While certainly idyllic at times, the impact of modern lifestyles practices were never far away. There were expeditions with fellow island dwelling surfers and other volunteers to gather and dispose of plastic garbage which had drifted thousands of kilometres on ocean currents. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, while not devastating the island, highlighted the perils of lack of localised self-sufficiency and reliance upon the importation of food and other daily necessities.
Returning to the Japanese mainland in the second year of the MA, Mark taught classes at the university and initiated an ecopsychological/bioregional project to (re)connect local people to their community and natural environment in the places where they lived.
He has since relocated to New Zealand and is currently in the process of completing his PhD thesis at The University of Auckland.
The first paper is a phenomenological research project investigating the lived experience of surfing. The aim is to elucidate the surfer’s ‘world’ as they experience it while surfing, to unravel the deeper intricacies of the experience and create an academically detailed and comprehensive picture of this experience.
A subsequent paper focus on the environmental attitudes, action and visions of surfers.
“Ocean activism: What inspired the surfers who are inspiring the rest of them” is the title of another.