Routes of Change: Experiencing and Protecting Georgia’s 100-mile Coast

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2023

Markus Pukonen hasn’t been in a bus, car, train, plane, or ferry boat since July 2015, when he began his motorless circumnavigation of the world. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Markus seeks to create social and environmental change through filmmaking, adventure, and, occasionally, pogo-sticking.  

His most recent adventure took him along 400 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway, from Vero Beach, Florida to Savannah, Georgia, on a stand-up paddleboard. And though the Florida coast was beautiful, with manatees and plenty of dolphins, he says there was something different about Georgia.  

“There was no section that came close to what exists in Georgia,” Markus says. The lack of development forced him to carry extra water with him so he wouldn’t run out between stops. It also led to a few extremely close encounters with alligators spooked by his silent paddling near the shore’s edge. He says these moments challenged him and were a “very refreshing and wonderful aspect of the Georgian coast.”  

“I’ve now seen much of the world’s coastline,” he says. “I can honestly say that the 100 miles of Georgia coastline is some of the most beautiful and undeveloped in the entire world, and it needs to be protected.”  

Routes of Change is Markus’ nonprofit organization through which he advocates for environmental awareness and protection of natural places. By traveling the world using only his muscles, he hopes to “inspire the public and students” through events, as well as “connect with local non-profit organizations to share their stories and raise support for them.”  

This mission, and paddle up to Savannah, led Markus to One Hundred Miles, an environmental advocacy and education nonprofit dedicated to protecting and preserving Georgia’s 100-mile coast. As coastal counties feel the pressure of industrialization, groups like One Hundred Miles fight for sustainable planning and community-driven development to create a more resilient coast.  

Like them, Markus believes that “the ecosystem services that the wild land provides are endlessly valuable. The value in keeping that land wild is so much higher than in developing it, putting houses on it, or mining it.”  

Unfortunately, this value is hard to quantify, and recent battles along Georgia’s coast suggest that the state’s decision-makers are buckling under this pressure to industrialize. Consider that the Okefenokee Protection Act—a House bill seeking to protect the invaluable Okefenokee Swamp from destructive mining operations—stalled during the 2023 legislative session despite garnering widespread national support and more than 90 co-signors. Consider the repeated calls from residents of Liberty and Chatham Counties to pause the proliferation of warehouses irrevocably transforming the coastal landscape—calls that seem to be falling on deaf ears.  

The wonder of our coast shapes those of us who call it home—and inspires travelers like Markus to act. He says the undeveloped nature of Georgia’s coastline is “one of the state and nation’s most valuable resources, not to be exploited but to be preserved and conserved. Not just for future generations of nature lovers to enjoy, but as an ecological resource.”   

Markus is now hiking his way north, continuing his Routes of Change expedition. Connect with Markus and support his travels online through @routesofchange on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, and a live interactive map at   

“We are all changing the world,” he says. “It’s time to act upon that fact.”  

You can act now for the future of Georgia’s coast. One Hundred Miles provides many ways to get involved through educational programming, donation opportunities, and advocacy tools and campaigns like #StopTheWarehouseTakeover. Learn more at   

One Hundred Miles is a coastal advocacy organization with a mission of protecting, preserving, and enhancing the thriving communities, beautiful landscapes, and diverse wildlife of Georgia’s 100-mile coast. With offices in Savannah and Brunswick and nearly 10,000 advocates across the state, One Hundred Miles conducts advocacy and community education focused on core issues of water and wetlands, land use, changing climate, and wildlife. Learn more at Please note: We ask that you spell out our name in full (One Hundred Miles, not 100 Miles) when referring to our organization in print. 

Routes of Change is a “non-motorized circumnavigation of the planet” started by Markus Pukonen of Toronto, Canada. Now having traveled over 72,000 kilometers by sailboat, bike, foot, and more, Markus aims to highlight environmental issues, natural wonders, and the power of conscientious humans affecting change for their planet. He raises awareness and support for likeminded nonprofits and community organizations along his routes. Learn more and partner with him in his journey at