Posts Tagged ‘community’

“When I Die, This is Where I Want to Be”

While in Grand Isle, we met a local fisherman named Frank who we had the pleasure of talking to for a few minutes. Frank was charming, friendly and talked openly about the values he was raised with and some of the changes he saw in this community since BP had been there.

What resonated with me the most about what Frank and many others shared, was the real connection they have with the water. Frank’s declaration of wanting to be cremated and spread over the water just drives home a love for the coast. It seems he sees the rhythm of his own life as working in tandem with ocean’s flow, and I wonder how much of this was taken into consideration when plans were made for the clean up.  BP’s clean-up efforts are complex and could probably not have been done in a way that would have made everyone happy, but I think coastal communities  really wanted to be more active in restoring the nature they depend on and ultimately see themselves a part of. When the oilspill happened I remember feeling anxious for it to end. I wanted BP to do everything it could to just stop oil from spewing into the gulf and clean it up as soon as possible.  But after listening to various people in the gulf,  I think it was just as important to consider HOW to clean up the oil. It is important to ensure that the cleanup didn’t turn into a “rescue” by BP, but is a commitment by the people and the company to work together to bring their coast to the health and beauty that they love.

Since our return, the team has been mentally digesting what all these narratives have showed us. We’ll continue to share and hope that you’ll continue to listen!

-Kim

29

08 2010

“It’s Our Life”

Saturday evening, we went down to the bridge on Grand Isle to speak with some locals and get their perspectives on the oil spill its affect on the water.  It didn’t take long to get them talking; there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm in this community.  One of the guys we spoke with told us that despite tar balls washing up on the beach daily, he believes the water is ok now and the shrimp are safe to eat.  We heard conflicting stories in our visit, but the over-arching message that emerged was that things are beginning to settle down and return to ‘normal’ for many of the locals.

There is a strong need to believe what they are being told by the local officials and government agencies such as NOAA, because the water and fish that live in it are truly their lives.  Without fishing, there is no community.  Fishing is a way of providing food, income, time for family and friends to spend together, and also a way to simply relax.  All of this and more was lost when the water was closed to fishing.

We were on Grand Isle just 2 weeks after some of the waters in the area were opened for fishing again and there was definitely a sense of relief amongst the fishermen that they were able to return to this important ritual that sustains them on so many levels.  However, when the conversation veered to the presence of chemical dispersants in the water, the tone changed.

In future posts, we will dig deeper into this issue, including in-depth interviews with Lori from Alabama, who told us about the ongoing use of dispersants and their affect on the water and air near her home.  We posted a quick entry on her perspective on dispersant use, but will be revisiting this issue in greater detail in the days ahead.

Thanks for following along.

27

08 2010

Our Conversations

We have had some incredible conversations in our time on Grand Isle and we are beyond honored to be on this mission. We are on the way to Pearlington Mississippi to meet with some of the locals. I’m hoping to connect with some of the folks that I met on my visit back in July.

See my earlier post in yesterday’s experience and stay tuned for more info from our journey.

Thanks for following along.

22

08 2010