May 16th, 2010 - Grand Isle, Louisiana
I wanted to be there.
I had good reasons to stay in sunny California: sacred time with my son (including his 5-pitch baseball game), and the wedding of my best friend from high school. But the urge to join others in Grand Isle (and perhaps catch the end of the Lenny Kravitz and John Legend headlined Gulf Aid concert) tugged at me.
Still, yesterday was not pretty in New Orleans and along the Louisiana coast. Heavy rains were pouring down, and residents reported strong smells from the oil spill wafting into New Orleans.
During a break in the incessant downpour down on the coast in Grand Isle, hearty Gulf Coast community members -- including fishermen, shrimpers, grandmothers and families who have been directly impacted by the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- sent a human text message:
The text was sent -- sans cell phone -- to BP, the federal government, Congress and other officials calling for urgent action to address the economic and environmental devastation from the spill.
The weather -- with tornado warnings as well as flooding in New Orleans -- kept the turnout thinner then expected, but aerial artist John Quigley managed to work with Margaret Curole, an Executive Board member of Commercial Fisherman of America, to pull off the human text message.
Organized as a call to action for a full clean up of the spill, restitution for lost jobs and income, and accelerated efforts to move to green energy and green jobs, Global Green co-sponsored the event with the Commercial Fishermen. At the event,Global Green also provided food relief for the out of work fishermen and their families in the area.
What was most important, however, was that whatever was 'texted' expressed the sentiment of the community members. And they wanted to send a few different messages.
Unfortunately, the folks had to wait in the downpour longer because the first crane -- used to photograph and capture the feelings of the community -- shorted out due to the rain.
While it didn't solve the crisis at hand, it was important to send the text messages to help express the frustration and anger (and of course, to prevent it from happening again in the future).
"This was the first time these fishermen were ever involved in an action of any kind," Margaret pointed out. "...yesterday they said to me 'I get it, we did something.'"
The Paradise Lost image was a phrase Margaret suggested, and it resonated with the locals.
This last image was the inspiration of one of the Grand Isle area residents, and perhaps most poignant. Or at least most pointed.
While not released to the news media nor an official statement of Global Green's, I am told it best summed up the sentiment of the locals. It certainly epitomizes a human text message one would expect in response to this disaster and the unfolding story of lack of regulation, cost-cutting, and finger pointing that enabled this horrific spill:
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