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Seattle: Scenes from the city, Part I

Slippery fish fly through the air as men in rubber boots and aprons shout out the Pike Place Fish Market mottos. They entertain, they assist, they sell, they inform.

The world-famous fish tossers are not just out to sell products and make a scene, though. They contribute to the crusade for world peace through the Seafood Watch Program. Partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, observe the harmful farming practices, and seek to combat the issue by promoting the proper sources for seafood.

According to Pike Place Fish Market employee Samuel Samson, the company set out with a goal to become world famous. When they quickly succeeded in this, they set their eyes on the mission of world peace.

The vision, it seemed, was almost prophetic, as it was declared in January, 2001, just months before 9/11. At this point, they knew that wold peace would be a relevant and worthy goal in light of the conflict.

“Our first vision and goal was to be world famous, and we came out amazing, so our next vision is world peace and prosperity for all. You want everyone to prosper,” Samson said. “Oddly enough, when we said world peace, that was back in January, 2001. So, out of that, you can’t get a breakthrough without a break down. So we look at it that way. We say, ‘hey, if you look at the world now, it’s changing. It’s not fast enough, but it’s changing.'”

With prosperity in mind, the company sought a specific mission within their field. After hearing concern from consumers and the public, Pike Place Fish Market focused on seafood sustainability. The market found a partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium about two years ago now, and set out with promotion for the Seafood Watch.

“We knew we wanted to be sustainable, but there’re a lot of outfits out there in the world that are doing it,” Samson said. “Like there’s Sea Watch which is in Canada, and Seafood Watch which is what Monterey Bay Aquarium does. And we just wanted to find one that most people are going towards, and we just went with them [Monterey].”

After 25 years on the job at Pike Place Fish Market, Justin Hall is accustom to smelly, ice cold hands. Having mastered the art of tossing fish since he began at age 13, he expresses his passion for sustainability between the hollers and giant king salmon flying back and forth.

“I want you to go research it [sustainability] right now so they’ll be fish for the future if you guys want to eat it, because at the rate it’s going right now, by the time you guys are 30, there won’t be any anymore,” Hall said.

Aside from sustainability, Pike Place Fish Market has influenced Hall’s work ethics.

“I love this place because I say so,” Hall said. “That’s really the answer, but people don’t understand that. But what you tell yourself in your head is the way you’ll experience life. This place has a strong philosophy about what’s possible for the world if you choose to live powerfully. What happens out here does not dictate what happens in here [the mind]. But what usually happens with people, is what happens in here [the workplace] dictates what happens in here [the mind] if you’re willing to have that be the experience.”

Working in such an upbeat and invigorating environment, Hall strives to let the positive experiences influence his entire life.

“We’re really heady in this place, there’s a definite philosophy going on here,” Hall said. “It’s not about being an ordinary workplace, it’s about breaking down those paradigms and ultimately about your life.

“You can chose to have a good Saturday when you’re not at work or you can have a good time every moment that you’re awake. Not every moment, but it could be every moment. It’s up to you.”

Having worked in retail for many years, Samson has come to many realizations about work philosophy. Between schooling to become an auto mechanic, time in retail and fish market experience in both New York and Washington, Samson has realized the importance of loving a career.

“You could get paid a million dollars a day, but if you don’t like the guy you work for and t environment you work for, you won’t come back,” Samson said. “It’s the false sense of security when the boss is the owner and he can pay you more you will stay. But if you’re not happy there, you’re not staying. That’s the rule of life. It’s not about the money. you gotta love what you’re doing. You gotta love the job. You could go for a high-paying job, what’s what’s it good for if you don’t love it?”

Brooke Stobbe and Tynin Fries also contributed to this article.

For more information on the journalism class’s experiences in Seattle, read the April 12 article, Sojourn in Seattle: Day 1 (57 PHOTOS). For more features, read the April 12 article, Unprotected sex raises risk of infection.

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