Visit to the Gulf
I recently traveled to the Gulf Coast to volunteer for Bridge the Gulf Project. I joined LaTosha Brown, the newly appointed Director of the Gulf Coast Fund, and Derrick Evans, director of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives and an advisor to the Fund, as they traveled across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with a filmmaker. They were visiting some of the communities that are being most immediately impacted by the BP oil disaster. I joined the effort to document the experience and help lift up the stories of these communities. Here are photographs from the trip and some background on the project. Stay tuned for upcoming videos.
“This is the worst national disaster in our country’s history, and it is intimately impacting our lives.”
- Rosina Philippe
“All the outsiders coming in, they don’t know these people. They don’t know our story.”
- Lora Ann Chaisson
As BP and the U.S. government scramble to plug the gaping hole in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil disaster continues to threaten whole ecosystems, communities, and ways of life on the Gulf Coast.
Across the region, communities survive and thrive in intimate relationship with the land, water, and bayou. Some peoples, like the United Houma Nation or the Showash Tribe in Grand Bayou Village, have built homes, families, communities, and livelihoods on this coast for generations and generations. Others, like Vietnamese fisherfolk in Bayou la Batre, Alabama, came here more recently seeking a respite from war and the freedom of the open water.
What do these people and communities, with all of their expertise, knowledge, and intimate experience of the Gulf Coast, have to say about the BP disaster? And what is their vision for the future?
Bridge the Gulf Project will provide this critical perspective, highlighting grassroots voices from the frontlines of a movement for a just and sustainable future. The site will provide a forum for the concerns, stories, and experiences of the communities most impacted by the destruction in the Gulf Coast.
Bridge the Gulf Project was developed by the Gulf Coast Fund, a vital resource and trusted presence in the region since Hurricane Katrina, and the Turkey Creek Film Project, a decade-long documentary effort in coastal Mississippi. The Fund is led by local leaders who have been providing support to community-led efforts since Hurricane Katrina. More than $150,000 has been distributed since the BP disaster began.
The project received initial funding in 2009 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and was designed as a storytelling initiative providing culturally vibrant but economically and ecologically vulnerable Gulf Coast communities with new media training and a Web-based platform for conveying their rich experience and knowledge.
When we traveled to coastal communities in three states in June, the Gulf Coast Fund team shared information, learned about community-led responses, and heard what additional support is needed on the front lines. But beyond addressing the immediate crisis, these visits also touched on the rich stories, histories, places, and people that make the Gulf Coast such a culturally and ecologically vibrant, diverse, and distinct region.
Check out our slide shows from this trip and stay tuned. Videos about these communities will premiere soon, with the launch of Bridge the Gulf Project.
ADA McMAHON is a freelance writer who is currently in the Gulf Region to support local community-based responses to the BP oil disaster. She previously worked at Green For All, a national non-profit that fights pollution and poverty through “green-collar jobs”, as a blogger and online organizer.
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represent those of individual authors and
do not necessarily represent the views of
Bridge the Gulf, its partners or funders.