Ocean’s grandfather, Irvine Robbins, founded Baskin-Robbins (31 flavors) ice cream company. Ocean’s father, John, grew up swimming in an ice cream cone shaped swimming pool and being groomed to one day join his dad in the family company. But when John was in his early 20′s, he walked away from a path of tremendous fame and fortune, and a life of seemingly unlimited consumption, to follow his own “rocky road” and pursue a life of unlimited compassion.
John wound up moving with Ocean’s mother, Deo, to a little island off the coast of Canada where they built a 1-room log cabin, grew most of their own food, and lived on less than $500 per year. Ocean was born in that cabin, to parents who lived simply and practiced yoga and meditation for several hours every day. Ocean’s spent his formative early years steeped in values of deep practice and social conscience. Then in 1984, the family moved to California and Ocean’s father began work on what was to become a landmark international bestseller, Diet for a New America. Response to this book, and to John’s public presentations and subsequent books, was extraordinary, and he began to appear on all the major television and radio programs, with the media dubbing him the “rebel without a cone.” Ocean, meanwhile, felt inspired to reach out to his own generation and make his own mark in the world. And he didn’t waste any time getting started.
Ocean organized a peace rally in his elementary school at the age of seven. He ran his first marathon shortly after moving to California at the age of 10. His entrepreneurial talents began to emerge at the same time, when he was the baker, salesman and accountant for “Ocean’s Natural Bakery.” When his door-to-door sales of natural baked goods began reaching hundreds of customers around the neighborhood, Ocean’s work and life became the feature story on the front page of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The headline read: “Boy Isn’t Very Rich But He’s Got Dough.”
At ages 14 and 15, Ocean facilitated the environmental portion of two international youth summits in Moscow and another in Washington, DC. He met with Mrs. Gorbachev and numerous Ambassadors and US Senators to discuss environmental concerns. His articles began to be published in national magazines.
Stepping Out Globally
At 15, Ocean was co-founder of the Creating Our Future environmental speaking tour, on which he and three other participants spoke in person to more than 30,000 students, presented for 2,000 people at the United Nations, and opened for the Jerry Garcia band in San Francisco. In 1990, at 16, Ocean was founder of YES!, an organization he directed for the next 20 years. YES! has reached more than 620,000 people in 1,200 school assembly and conference presentations. YES! has also organized and facilitated 100+ week-long gatherings for young leaders from 65+ nations, published seven youth action guides, and led hundreds of day-long workshops. Ocean has personally spoken and facilitated leadership gatherings in Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Singapore, Costa Rica, Russia, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, India, Peru, and across the USA.
Ocean is co-author of Choices For Our Future: A Generation Rising For Life On Earth (published by the Book Publishing Company, 1994), and of The Power of Partnership (published by The Fetzer Institute, 2009), and speaks widely, spreading a message of hope and inspiration to conferences, companies and organizations. His speaking engagements have included (among many others) plenary presentations for Windstar Foundation, Aveda Congress, Cell Tech Distributor’s Celebration (four years in a row), Bioneers, Social Venture Network, Ecological Farming Conference, Peacemaking: The Power of Nonviolence (with HH The Dalai Llama and other Nobel laureates), Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), Green Festival, and more than 400 school assemblies and college programs. Ocean has been interviewed on more than 70 local and national radio and TV programs and in another 50 newspapers and magazines including feature stories in Time, The Washington Post, Audubon, and The New York Times Magazine.
Ocean has served on the Board of Directors for Friends Of the Earth, Creating Our Future, EarthSave International, The Omni Center, and is a founding member of The Turning Tide Coalition, co-founder of the Leveraging Privilege for Social Change program, and founding co-convener of Leverage Alliance. He is a graduate of Joanna Macy’s facilitation intensive, and a certified facilitator of Essential Peacemaking: Women and Men. Ocean’s on-going efforts on behalf of a better world have been honored by many organizations, including the Giraffe Project (for people who stick their necks out for what they believe), the National Alliance for Animals (The Compassionate Youth Award), E Magazine (The Kid Heroes Hall of Fame), and EarthSave (Volunteer of the Year Award). Utne Reader recognized him as one of 30 “Young Visionaries” under 30, and both both Time and Audubon magazines chose him as being among the heroes of the new millennium. He is a 2008 recipient of the Freedom’s Flame Award, and of the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Individual 35 Years Or Younger. He is father to River and Bodhi Robbins, identical twin boys born in 2001.
Ocean lives happily in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California, with his beloved wife Michele and their twin boys. They live 100 yards from Ocean’s parents, Deo and John Robbins.
Learn more about Ocean here.
“Everybody has unique contributions to make to this planet. There are more than 7 billion parts to play in the transformation of our world, each a unique path, coming out of our histories, our struggles and devastations, and our dreams for the future. Whatever love, nurturance, opportunities and privileges have been given to us, they’re ours now. In this precious, wild and crazy thing we call our lives, what choices will we make? What will be our impact upon this planet and upon those with whom we share it?” — Ocean Robbins