Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Coast’

Mixed Messages

The news that has been coming out of the Gulf region the past few days has been a mix of concern, caution, and optimism.  On Thursday September 2, there was an explosion on an oil platform off the Louisiana coast, which caused a brief flare-up of activity and attention in the media.  When I heard the news, I immediately thought about the people we met along the coast and how they were processing this latest incident.  Thankfully, there was no loss of life or oil spilled into the water this time around, but I can’t help but wonder how coastal residents perceive the risks to their livelihood in light of ongoing mis-steps by the industry that is responsible for so much economic activity in their communities.

Decontamination Area at Portersville Bay, AL

The same day as the Mariner platform fire, Jerry Cope posted an alarming account of human toxic exposure while in the Gulf region over at Huffington Post.  As I read his account of what his team experienced while in the area, I heard Lori’s words echoing in my head from our conversation with her near Dauphin Island, Alabama 2 weeks ago.  She described changes in the air and water, including anecdotal evidence of adverse effects of the dispersants at her home and in her community.  Jerry’s findings are hardly surprising, given the fact that Corexit (the dispersant used in the BP oil spill cleanup) is a hazardous substance, and in the manufacturer’s own product safety sheet it clearly states ‘Do not contaminate surface water.’

On the other hand, this week reports came out that describe microbes eating the oil but not causing oxygen depletion of the water as was feared by some initially.  This was described as the ‘best possible scenario’ by Government Scientists in the AP report, yet we still don’t know the effects that the dispersants have had on the ecosystem and what the long-term implications will be on marine life.  It seems premature to celebrate given the magnitude of what has taken place in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

Spirit of the Gulf Coast

On a note of optimism that characterizes the spirit that we encountered on our trip, Van Jones posted a moving article called The Gulf Will Be Beautiful Again about his vision for the future of the region. He portrays a new paradigm emerging that is both beneficial to the ecology and economy, an important balance that must be struck in order for meaningful progress to be made.  Is it possible that we are at a turning point and are ready to take steps in a new direction for the Gulf Coast?  I definitely would like to believe that’s the case.  I share in the optimism that Van Jones puts forth – it is what drove me to organize this initiative in the first place.

Photos by Terrell Clark


09 2010

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Today is the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and just 1 week ago, our expedition team was down on the Mississippi coast talking with Katrina survivors about their stories.  In a previous entry, I described part of Daryl Arnold’s story of how his family survived the storm by tying his boat to a tree and his acts of saving what he could from his property and the surrounding areas in the aftermath of the disaster.

In the video below, Daryl talks with us about the first days after Katrina and the love for the area that has kept him in Pearlington, Mississippi all these years despite not having a permanent home.

We were very moved by Daryl’s story of survival and resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity, and thought it was fitting to highlight his story today.  More on our visit with Daryl soon.


08 2010


We arrived back in Atlanta Monday night at 11pm exhausted, but inspired.  It has been a process of reflecting for us, and I think we are each processing what we have just experienced in our own way.  There is a ton of content to sort through and post, and over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting stories that we have uncovered along the way, including more in-depth stories from our time with those who we have mentioned already.

In the meantime, here is a quick pictorial of our journey.  Check our Flickr page for more stunning images, with many more to come.

We filled the tank with B100 Biodiesel at SA White Oil in Marietta, Ga. on the way out.  Special thanks to Travis for the fill-up!

Biodiesel Fill-up in Marietta, Ga.

After a full day of driving, we were crossing the bridge over Lake Pontchartrain in the late afternoon

Lake Pontchartrain

We stopped to take several pictures down in the delta on the way to Grand Isle, La.

Sprit of the Gulf Coast Team

Sunset over the Louisiana Delta

I was glad to be at camp after a long day of travel

Brandon at Camp on Grand Isle

I didn’t know Terrell had it in him

Terrell Clark at Camp on Grand Isle

Saturday morning, the sunrise over Grand Isle was incredibly beautiful

Grand Isle Sunrise

Grand Isle Sunrise

Terrell captures some incredible images on the Gulf Stream Marina

Man Fishing on Grand Isle - Terrell Clark Photography

Terrell at work

Terrell Clark on the Gulf Stream Marina

Provocative installation on Grand Isle

Grand Isle BP Oil Spill Demonstration

Grand Isle Oil Spill Demonstration

We stopped for lunch before our boat charter and talked with some locals

Lunch Stop

On to Bridge Side Marina to meet Captain Kenny for our offshore tour

Bridge Side Marina - Grand Isle, LA

Our team hops aboard with Captain Kenny of Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter

Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter

Terrell takes advantage of our stopover at the oil rig to capture this image

Oil rig caught in the net

Andy tests the water for herself

Andy tests the water

Terrell takes it all in

Terrell Clark takes it all in

We got to see the BP cleanup operation in progress

BP Cleanup operation

After our offshore tour, we ran into Alexandra Cousteau’s Expedition Blue Planet team on the Marina – awesome people!

Expedition Blue Planet

That night, we met some local fishermen on the bridge, including this very energetic boy with his bucket of crabs

Kid on the Bridge - Grand Isle, LA

On Sunday afternoon we headed to Pearlington, MS where we talked with some local Katrina survivors


Our final stop took us to Alabama near Dauphin Island – we stopped to see who was behind this provocative imagery

Provocative Signs

Dispersant statement outside Dauphin Island, AL

We found the creator, Lori and had a deep discussion with her on her experience.

Lori & Kim

We have a ton of content to prepare and upload.  Stay tuned for the video interviews of the people we connected with, and the additional imagery yet to be posted.  If you are not already following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, check us out on those channels too, and you can also subscribe to the blog posts via email on the top right of the page.  Thank you to everyone who is following our journey!


08 2010

Dispersing the Truth

While passing through a small town outside of Dauphin, Alabama, we saw these signs posted outside of a house and literally turned the car around to get pictures of it. All of us were so intrigued that we decided that it was worth it to try to talk to this person who was making these bold statements on painted placards of wood. 

Dispersant statement outside Dauphin Island, AL
Lori greeted us and was immediately open to telling us her opinions about the changes that were happening in her backyard. Among the many things that she shared with us, she really opened up about an issue that has been really sensitive to almost all the people who we’ve talked to on this expeditions; the dispersant. According to the NOAA, the fish in the gulf are perfectly safe enough to eat, but Lori offers up a different perspective on what the “clean-up” has done to the quality of her food.


08 2010