Contribute your voice to change the story of the Gulf Coast

Despite the media frenzy that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast, many communities in the region felt that they were either misunderstood or overlooked. That invisibility translated into a failed recovery in many communities where citizens are still without basic needs, including permanent, affordable housing. We are determined that the communities most effected by the BP disaster will be heard and that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Bridge the Gulf is an important tool that we intend to use wisely and creatively in this movement for self-determination.

We've been working since Katrina to shift the dynamic and find ways to assert our voices and our vision for a sustainable future on the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health was created after Katrina and has been a powerful resource working to mend our communities with our own hands. Our work has been guided by the fundamental belief that the distribution of resources should be driven by people on the ground who understand the most critical needs in their communities and the best approaches for addressing them. We have heard repeatedly from our grantees that they urgently need to tell their stories and need effective mechanisms for communication.

BP and their powerful public relations machine are now framing the debate on the oil disaster. I urge Gulf Coast residents to speak up loudly and use Bridge the Gulf to help amplify our collective voice for positive change.

Please explore our story map and discover people like Tracy Kuhns in Baratria, Louisiana, and Thao Vu in Biloxi, Mississippi, who have been working for years to improve the quality of life in their fishing communities and are on the front lines of the BP disaster.

For an overview of our grantees' concerns about the BP clean-up effort and the federal response, please read this  Q & A from July, when we met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson in New Orleans: Between The Lines Radio Newsmagazine.

LATOSHA R. BROWN is an Alabama native and Director of the Gulf Coast Fund for Ecological Health and Community Renewal, a community-led social justice philanthropy in the Gulf South region. For the past five years, she has served as a founding Advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund that has provided $2.7 million dollars in grants, technical assistance and support to over 170 coastal groups and organizations. She has over 13 years of experience in institution building, organizational management, political organizing and philanthropy in the southern states of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.

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Bridge the Gulf, its partners or funders.