Posts tagged "Oil Spill"

Kids of the Gulf – Be The Change

Last Spring when the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, like many others I felt an immense sense of loss. Loss of life. Loss of habitat. And to some degree, a loss of faith in humanity.

I recall a friend of mine showing me photos on his iPhone just a few days after the explosion.  He was in town for his birthday and although I knew he worked on an oil rig, I didn’t know just how close to home this hit him.  He was on the rig right next to the Deepwater Horizon, and he was showing me photos of the unfolding disaster he had taken with his phone as the inferno raged a short distance across the water.

My heart ached.  And ached.  And ached some more. Read more…

Opportunity to Serve & Stop Keystone XL

Today, a project that I’ve been working on diligently for the past month is coming to life in a big way.  It started when 7 year old Devon Haas, founder and leader of the ‘Kids Army‘ tweeted me after the Yellowstone River tar sands oil spill in early July asking ‘what can we do about this?’

I just smiled – knowing what was coming down the line. The Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline permit is scheduled to either be issued or denied this Fall, and we have a chance to send the message that we don’t need or want this dirty, toxic oil flowing through the US heartland.

Read more…

Remembrance and The BP Oil Spill

Last Summer, I left part of my heart on Grand Isle, Louisiana. It’s hard to describe the range of emotions I felt while visiting the Gulf coast in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, and today on the 1 year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, my heart feels heavy once more.

Nothing I have experienced in my life quite compares to the work that we did on the Gulf last summer. We saw and heard things that most people never had the chance to experience. I have not forgotten, and I am more driven than ever before to continue what we started.

Read more…

My Birthday Wish

I have been inspired to take action in the wake of the terrible tragedy down in the Gulf of Mexico, and I only want one thing for my birthday – to continue to build on the positive energy that has come as a result of the initial idea for a relief trip and to raise money for the main expedition later in August.  My intention is to bring together a crew to visit the region and document the stories of the people and the wildlife that have been affected and bring these experiences back to Atlanta so they can be shared at an event in early September.  This event will be a platform for bringing about positive discussion and actionable steps we can all take to reduce our collective dependence on oil.

We are still making preparations and ironing out specifics for the expedition and event, but I wanted to take this opportunity to put my wish out there so that people that want to contribute may do so easily here on my site.  Donations will be used to cover expenses involved with a return trip to the region, preparing the content for the public event, and putting the material on a dedicated website for distribution throughout the world.

I appreciate all the support that people have shown throughout this process.  I take this very seriously and will do everything I can to help bring about positive changes in light of this terrible disaster.  If you would like to get involved in the expedition, please reach out to me directly.  Or if you would prefer to make a donation, please click below.  Thank you so much!


My Visit to the Gulf Coast

In my blog title, Embracing Community is highlighted and is a major part of what I do.  Whether it’s online community or physical community – the idea is the same.  The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had a major impact on me and I have been on a mission to organize an expedition down to the Gulf to document and bring back stories of the communities and the people impacted, while using social media to propel the message far and wide.  If you are not interested in hearing this perspective or would prefer not to get into the touchy subject of oil addiction, feel free to stop reading now.  But if you want to hear my perspective on the subject, by all means stick around.  I feel that it is my calling to spread this word, and I’ve made it a priority in my life and in my work.

I drove down to the Gulf this past Saturday to see for myself what was going on.  I must say, it was very different than anything I was expecting.  I didn’t go out on the water and didn’t see any oil firsthand, although there was definitely evidence of the disaster all around.  With Tropical Storm Bonnie approaching, the people down there got pretty nervous – mainly because of their experience with Katrina.  That came up several times in my talks with the locals.  I talked with a homeless man Gary out on the beach at Biloxi – he had ridden Greyhound down from Wisconsin with his bicycle to look for cleanup work. By the time he got there, there were no jobs left. He was riding his bicycle from New Orleans to Florida in search of work.  He was happy to have someone to talk to though, so I hung out with him for a while.

I kept driving and pulled off at Bay St. Louis and talked to another homeless man that was ranting and raving about all kinds of stuff and how our country was on the wrong track.  I took several pictures around the area – there was orange and yellow boom all over the place, and families and kids were in the water right beside it.  It was so bizarre to me – it just didn’t look right.  The water was very calm, which seemed strange to me since there was a tropical system offshore.

I drove through the Mississippi bayou and ran across a place called Turtle Landing in Pearlington.  The sign outside got me to turn the car around and go back.  I went to take a picture and knew that I had to go inside.  I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and a Po’ Boy.  I started talking with the guy next to me at the bar and ended up staying for 4 hours just listening to him.  He is a school teacher in Slidell and a Katrina survivor.  He was telling me the stories of what they went through, which was pretty potent I must say. The people down there are pretty beaten down by it all and are fed up with the government to put it mildly.  The handling of Katrina and now the response to the BP spill have them really exasperated by the situation.  They don’t understand the moratorium at all – I heard it over and over again.  The industry is such a huge part of the economy there, and they just can’t comprehend how we can shut down all drilling indefinitely.

On Sunday after talking with Glenda at the Olde Town Inn I stayed in Saturday night in New Orleans, I decided to drive down to Venice, LA for one more trip to the water before heading home.  Glenda was pretty vocal when I asked her about the oil spill and how they had been affected.  The first thing out of her mouth was ‘Oh, bullshit!”  She went on a rant about how there is nothing to be worried about in terms of health impacts of the oil.  She went on to tell me how her father had worked in the Texas oil fields and never had health problems.  She did eventually say that the dispersants were another story and there might be some concerns there.  It appeared that New Orleans was alive and well, and there was no evidence that tourism had been adversely affected by the spill, which Glenda confirmed.

Anyway, Venice is about 2 hours south of New Orleans, and when you get down there, it’s basically the belly of the beast.  Oil company plants, heliports to transport workers out to the rigs, and other evidence of the pervasiveness of the industry on the local economy is everywhere.  I went down to the marina and talked with a couple of fishermen.  There was very little activity around the marina – all of the ships had come back into port in preparation of the storm that ended up fizzling out on Saturday.  They were getting ready to head back out on Monday to see what had happened over the weekend with the storm.  Of course, their main concern was not being able to fish, and they were really nervous about the impact of the dispersant on the fish population. They didn’t expect to be able to fish for at least a year.  The guys I talked to were being taken care of financially and were doing cleanup work for BP.  One of the guys I talked to though said that there were about 60,000 boats available, but only 40,000 were being used in the cleanup effort.  He said some people didn’t get picked – not sure how that is being handled and if those people are just out of luck.

The oil had not made it to Venice – evidently a lot of it was in the Grand Isle area.  I didn’t visit Grand Isle on this trip, but definitely plan to when I go back down in August.  By mid-afternoon on Sunday, I decided to head back to Atlanta and continue planning the trip later in August.  I felt that I had enough information to understand how our expedition could be structured to have the most impact here in Atlanta and beyond.

Several people asked me why I came down and what I was doing there.  Honestly, I was there because I care.  I care about what is happening down there.  I care about the people who have been impacted.  I care about the environment and the animals that have been impacted.  I care about our future and can’t stand the thought of this type of thing happening again.  Most of all, I believe that we are all in this together – we are each a part of a larger community and we can all play a part in moving beyond this disaster.

Stay tuned for the follow-up expedition back to the region.  If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, please drop me a line and let me know.  Thanks for being here – I appreciate it very much!