Meet Lindsay Olsen: an Alaskan fisherwoman, writer, world traveler, extraordinary cook, historian, artist, national champion rower, Thomas J. Watson Fellow, and storyteller. We grew up with this amazing girl in Homer, Alaska and over the years she has continuously amazed us with her never-ending talent to create and explore and bring good people together (usually, with her delicious cooking, the coziness of her little cabin on the hill, and the warmth of her personality). Lindsay started fishing for her dad in Cook Inlet when she was 15. She spent a summer set-netting in Dillingham, and for the past handful of summers, has worked as crew on an all-female boat in Bristol Bay, the F/V K2. In August 2012, inspired by her maritime Alaskan upbringing, and fueled by her love for the ocean, Lindsay set off farther west after graduating from Williams College and being awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. For 12 months she traveled independently to the remote shores of New Zealand, Indonesia, Madagascar, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. Fascinated by the way coastline shapes community, and searching for an international creed amongst fishermen, she sought out those who rely on the ocean for their sustenance, culture, and tradition. She named her project "People of the Sea: Cross-cultural themes of global fishing communities."
During her Watson year Lindsay lived and fished with indigenous whale hunters, nomadic sea gypsies, and modern commercial fisherman, all the while collecting and compiling narratives into a cross-cultural understanding of the sea. What she found was a shared reverence — "a deep and inherent appreciation for the power of the water. And also a unifying spirit — both joyful and tenacious — born from the risk and challenge of navigating a force so much bigger than ourselves." Lindsay writes, "My Watson was about the ocean. The wind, the waves, the taste of salt spray crusted on chapped lips. It was about seascape, and coastline: the intersection of culture and environment. That people live in these wind-blown, sun-beaten, fog-dampened places and build even stronger tradition and community because of it. And it was about people. The wily. The jovial. The good-hearted and the scoundrels. The fishermen that live in these wild, out-there places. Their homes, their boats, their fish, and the stories they shared with me."
Currently, Lindsay tells us, her biggest inspiration comes from playing with exotic new flavors in her kitchen, while dreaming up her next adventure on the water or abroad. She has been working as a reporter in Homer, and is gearing up for another season in Bristol Bay with the ladies. We're amazed by the photos from Lindsay's Watson year, it was hard to narrow it down, so here's just a taste. We'll keep you posted on Lindsay's next adventures, there are bound to be many.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Every week we share the stories of Alaskan makers and young fishermen on our social media channels. This project has given us a deeper appreciation for the community who work on Alaska waters and those who work to create Alaska goods. Everyday we learn from new people who inspires us to be better fishermen and create more beautiful things. Enjoy the following stories from a few of the Alaskan fishermen and makers we've learned from. Stay tuned for more wonderful stories this summer!
Thank you Vogue and the amazing Evgenia Arbugaeva for capturing this community of hard-working women that we hold in such high esteem. What a day for this diverse group of strong and independent women to have a moment of recognition. We feel incredibly to lucky to be able to use our Salmon Sisters audience to highlight our larger community and Alaska’s commercial fisheries.
This year, we traveled to Astoria, Oregon to attend the annual FisherPoets Gathering, a celebration of the commercial fishing industry in poetry, prose and song. FisherPoets has attracted storytellers and their many fans since 1998. We dare say it was one of the highlights of our winter.