Voices from the Gulf

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This Op-Ed was published in the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald on July 30, 2010.

It is only fair that Gulf Coast residents should get the same chance to shape the future of oil and gas development in our region that Alaskans did following the Exxon Valdez spill. Unfortunately, citizens’ councils that have proved effective in guiding responsible development in Alaska are not part of a Gulf of Mexico drilling bill now before Congress. They should be.

Bayou People (BP) Voices is a collection of video profiles of leaders from coastal communities that have been directly impacted by the BP oil disaster.  These community leaders have been working for years to bring justice and sustainability to their families, their neighbors, and the ecosystems of the Gulf Coast.  These videos were created by Bridge the Gulf in partnership with the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health.

Being intentional about "healing" the open wounds and the powerlessness of those victimized by "man-made" disasters is just as important as environmental recovery. The recovery of the environment is intertwined with the recovery of our humanity. Every time a "man made" disaster occurs the emotional, mental, and spiritual strengths erodes. Due to the multigenerational nature of these "unnatural" disasters, internalized messages of lack and limits reinforces a culture of oppression.

I visited coastal Mississippi for the first time ten years ago. A friend I knew in Boston, Derrick Evans, had invited me to visit Turkey Creek, where his ancestors had settled after the Civil War. Soon he was drawn into a new life in Mississippi, and I was drawn into making a film about the struggle to protect Turkey Creek against urban sprawl, industrial contamination and disaster.

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