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It’s Crunch Time!

As the date for the event draws close, the Spirit Team has been busier than ever! We’ve been putting in extra hours to make sure this event is extra special and it’s definitely paying off. We are super excited about getting our photo prints done by the amazingly generous and green conscious arts company, Myriad Fine Art. Thanks to Myriad, everyone who comes to the event will be greeted by large beautiful prints that if you absolutely love, you could take home with you.

Our filmmaker, Nathan, is also putting the finishing touches on the documentary short we’ll be premiering at the exhibit. The film will take you along for the ride that our team took through the gulf coast when we made the expedition last August. You’ll see the beauty of the coastline and hear the stories of the people who make the Gulf Coast what it is. It will give you an inside look into the issues that our speakers will be discussing.

Nobel Prize winning, Dr. Marilyn Brown will get us thinking about big picture policy items that can help move alternative energy sources forward and Environmental Economist Jeff Duval will be exploring the socio-economic implications of the oil spill in communities in the gulf coast and beyond. Perhaps most exciting, is our Surprise Guest Speaker who’s experiences have been so compelling, that I’m sure the crowd will not think of the oil spill in the same way after hearing her speak. I’d say more but then it wouldn’t be a surprise now would it?

We’re also arranging a way for you guys to be part of this event too. You’ve helped us so much by showing your support from expedition, to coming out to the event next week that we want to give you guys props for how awesome you are. Stay posted for more on that!

Long story short, yes some of us are sleep deprived right now, but we’re going to keep burning the midnight oil to make sure that this event is the very best it could possibly be. Thanks for your support thus far. We’ll see you Thursday Night!

For info on the event, check out the Exhibition page.


10 2010

Preview Party

Last Tuesday, we had a fun preview reception about our exhibition at the Hub Atlanta and it was a blast! In an intimate gathering of some of Atlanta’s most environmentally conscious leaders, there was a lot of friendly banter between everyone. There was plenty of wine and platters of tasty local food from Radial on Dekalb Ave. After a bit of mingling, everyone settled into their seats and watched a clip about what inspired the trip for all of us on the team.

The video served as a great starting point for discussion. Nathan, our videographer, talked about how seeing oil rigs for the first time left a lasting impression on him.  Brandon discussed what inspired the trip and how all of us saw things that we didn’t expect. The conversation went from the role of media coverage of the oil spill to parallels in community dependence of oil in coastal communities to a similar dependence on coal in mountain communities.  What was most encouraging was when the conversation transitioned into how we would address these topics in the upcoming event in October, there was a lot of interest. People were sincerely engaged by what we wanted to present and even shared some great ideas on how we could make it better.

The feedback has personally given us even more momentum for making this event a huge one. Thanks to all who came to the preview reception. You’ve lit a new fire in all of us to do all that we can to make this as eye opening and provocative as possible for all who attend. We can’t wait to see you on October 14th!


09 2010

The cost of tradition?

When we were in the gulf coast, I remember being baffled by the decision many locals made to continue to eat the fish. Time after time, we’d ask if they were concerned about the oil contaminating their food and were met with a variation of the same response: “The fish looks fine”. “Mother Nature will provide”. There was even a crude joke that we heard that said; “I guess the oil makes it better for frying”.

Then we’d ask them about dispersant.

And the confident quips would halt. Distrust would seep into their voices as they shook their heads in disgust. Even though there was an incisive suspicion that the dispersant wasn’t good, many continued to cast their line, pile their catch into their picnic coolers, and go home to eat the fish.

Photo Courtesy of Terell Clark

To me, it seemed like this was their way of standing up for the culture and way of life that had been rocked by the oil spill. While jobs may have been lost, and 11 families lost a loved one to the oil spill, at the very least, they would continue to do the rituals that have been embedded in their community for generations; fish.

But at what cost?

With reports of the residents in Alabama and Florida getting sick, I fear the cost of preserving culture and tradition is too high. Gulf Port resident, Lori gave us a first-hand account of the way people’s skin would be visibly red and irritated after being in water that had been sprayed by dispersant . Environmentalist Jerry Cope recently discussed how his own health was compromised just by working in the gulf for a while. These stories are bringing to light the beginnings of a dark consequence of this oil spill.

In the rush to normalcy, it saddens me that people may be neglecting the very real impact these chemicals, and the oil itself can have on their bodies in the short and long term. I hate to think that people who I met could have brain damage, or suffer cancer 5, 10, or 15 years later because of our insistence on keeping things as they are.

And I say “our” because all of us play a part in this tragic drama. They cast their lines, we fill our tanks, double up on plastic bags in the supermarket, and watch new companies drill for new oil off new coasts. How many lives will have to be disrupted to change the script?


09 2010

“Native Daughter, I am the Gulf Coast” -Natasha Trethway

I came across this video of Gulf Port native, Natasha Trethway, reading her poem “Liturgy” and felt it was a sorrowful yet nostalgic depiction of the patchwork of people who make up Gulf Port in her mind.

YouTube Preview Image

I like this piece because she makes people the focal point for describing the destruction Katrina wrought on Gulf Port. It’s a statement of how at the center of Katrina, is the resonance it left in the people and in a way, it is very similar to what we are trying to achieve with the Spirit of the Gulf Coast event. The BP Horizon spill, oil dependency, and clean energy are all big concepts with complex ideas, and systems tied to them. Things can get pretty conceptual when you start to consider how to disengage from an industry that is present in everything from make-up to jet fuel. Or to consider what the hidden costs of switching to ethanol are in a global market. But connecting these questions to the experiences of the people who live in communities where these issues play out in uniquely concrete ways has offered me a different way of engaging with the issue. And I think in many ways, Trethway’s work offers a different way of engaging with the memory and legacy of Katrina in Gulf Port.

Natasha Trethway will be discussing her book Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Missisippi Coast after Katrina tomorrow at the Decatur Book Festival at 1:15pm. If you’re local and get a chance to check her out, you might see some of us from the team there. 🙂


09 2010