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Meetings of Blue Minds
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Meetings of Blue Minds

LBF Logo 5 1447x616 1

LBF Logo 5 1447x616 1

Since joining Watershape University (WU) last fall, one of the most intriguing, and I believe inspiring, ideas we’ve pursued has been the plan to develop the Live Blue Foundation (LBF) as a companion organization. For those who might be wondering what the LBF is all about, and how it ties in with WU, here’s a brief synopsis.

The concept for LBF stems from the revolutionary work of Wallace “J” Nichols, marine biologist and author of the seminal 2017 book, Blue Mind. This book is a visionary volume that defines the power of water in our lives and the many benefits of what J calls “Blue Mind Science.”

Since 2010, Nichols has been on the global stage promoting the cognitive, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual benefits of being near, in, on or under water. Through annual summits, books, films, awards, media coverage, keynotes and workshop explorations of the true value of water, J has reached a massive audience of over a billion people.

Through all those far-flung efforts, Nichols has spearheaded a movement that is changing the way the world engages with water. With connections to a spectrum of organizations and industries related to water – pools, boating, fishing, surfing, diving and others – Nichols is creating shared literacy about how water is medicine for those who need it most and how it enriches everyone’s life in one way or another.

Through the LBF, Watershape University is now part of that noble effort.


For the past nine years, Nichols and his colleague, Julie Starke of Starke + Company, have co-produced the annual “Blue Mind Summit” to bring together water devotees in pursuit of knowledge, networking, sharing and camaraderie. Last June, WU co-founder, Dave Peterson, and I attended the Summit held at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif.

At the time, I was representing the National Swimming Pool Foundation (now part of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance). WU had yet to be formed, and I attended the Summit hoping to enlist Nichols as a keynote speaker for the 2020 World Aquatic Health Conference. For his part, Peterson was hoping to gain insight on how to reach the world of architects and designers with the importance of incorporating water in their projects.

In Peterson’s experience with architects, water has been a dirty word – something to keep away from structures for its destructive, wasteful and non-sustainable aspects. By amplifying the life-altering benefits of water, we all agreed it’s possible to sway others to see water in built environments through different eyes.

Our discussions with J at the summit established the conceptual groundwork for the future interconnection between WU and LBF’s mission to promote the benefits of water-based activities, and we haven’t looked back since.


Soon after the Summit, Nichols and I were discussing the importance of pools within the larger world of water, which led to a paradigm shift. In order to interact with and enjoy water for sport and recreation one must be comfortable around it. That means one must learn how to swim for safety’s sake.

Most people learn to swim in a pool. It’s where skills necessary for diving, surfing, scuba diving, even kayaking and paddle boarding are often honed! It is only logical then that pools are the gateway to the world of water activities and life’s many aquatic adventures. Pools are at the start of this wonderful life-water dance, and therein exists the primary connection between the LBF and WU.

While at Esalen, Nichols shared his plan to release a new book called “Live Blue” — a collection of 100 essays that examine ways in which Blue Mind Science is put into action to help the human condition. For 100 days in 2020, beginning on Memorial Day, J will release one essay per day that will cover some aspect of the Live Blue concept. The “rubber will meet the road” in this collection and we will highlight some of the essays here in our twice-monthly editions of WaterShapes.

Stay tuned!

Lauren Stack is Vice President of Watershape University, having nearly 30 years in the pool and spa industry in various managerial and directorial positions within both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

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