A Moment to Celebrate and Give Thanks

hands across the sandNext week I’m going to share a post all about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of BP’s $4.5 billion criminal settlement with the federal government.  But today I just want to give thanks.  Not for the settlement itself, but for us, the citizens of and advocates for the Gulf Coast, and all the work we’ve put in to insist that BP be brought to justice and that our communities be made whole.

Regardless of how the coming years play out, this settlement on some level is a victory for advocates who have tirelessly worked to seek truth and justice for the people, ecosystem and industries of the Gulf Coast. There is little doubt that this moment, and the hopeful succession of others, would never have happened if it not for those who spent hours and days sacrificing time and resources to make sure that BP and the government would be held accountable in the wake of this disaster.

Let us today take a short moment to thank those who have continuously walked the beaches and marshlands recording the continuing devastation, the whistle-blowers and truth-tellers who have spoken truth to power across the world, our few political leaders who are not afraid to act for the people, the fishermen who have sacrificed their livelihoods to show the world the effect BP's disaster has had on Gulf seafood, the pilots who have risked their lives to fly over the ocean to challenge the mythical idea that the oil is all gone, organizations and people who have allocated time and energy to healing the sick citizens and ecosystem, seasoned environmental justice elders who have taken the time to share their knowledge and skills, citizen journalists and traditional media correspondents who have tirelessly revealed the deeper story, artists and musicians who have spread the word through the language of humanity, and Gulf Coast and national philanthropic and environmental organizations – all who, although we may not have always agreed on the methods chosen, have always been together on the side of justice, accountability and transparency for our communities.

We must take the time to remind ourselves that we have continuously and positively influenced the outcome of this disaster - that human health and medical damages are a component in both the federal and individual settlements is monumental. Although we have much left to do, the familial root of all we have accomplished, solidly grounded in our love for our people, our waters, our cultures and our coastline, is a historic and rich example of people coming together and forging a stronger day for Gulf Coast communities and the world.

Thank you!

Photo: A 2010 "Hands Across the Sand" event in New Orleans, LA.

Cherri Foytlin is a journalist, mother of six and wife of an oil worker, who lives in south Louisiana. She is the author of "Spill It! The Truth About the Deep Water Oil Rig Explosion," and regularly contributes to www.BridgeTheGulfProject.org, The Huffington Post, and several local newspapers. In the Spring of 2011 she walked to Washington D.C. from New Orleans (1,243 miles) to call for action to stop the BP Drilling Disaster, and has been a constant voice speaking out for the health and ecosystem of Gulf Coast communities, in countless forms of media. As founder of "28 Stones," - a Gulf based media project which focuses on national movement building through art, photography, video and written word - she is working to, "help build the foundation for a cooperative and unified amplification of voices and needs, particularly of Gulf Coast communities, across the nation and globe."