What's small group activism? A writer and a yoga teacher head down to the Gulf to save sea turtles. That's small group activism. Really small. Just two guys on a mission. They want to charter a boat, haul slimed turtles from the sea, clean them up and transfer them to the right facility.
Here are their qualifications:
Brock Cahill teaches yoga at Yogis Anonymous. He has a passion for the sea and especially sea turtles.
Peter Lawrence also cares deeply about the sea and is an accomplished novelist and screenwriter.
That's it. Nothing else on their resumes, except that they are tapping into what they believe to be a huge movement of those who are turning away from bureaucracies because they don't trust them anymore, and are turning instead to small, focused, local action by individuals.
Will you believe BP when it announces that the spill is under control and the bad days are done?
The news folks will gobble that up as fact. Not so, however, with small groups on the ground. Recovery in the Gulf is years away. The crime scene is being run by the criminal -- BP -- so the crime reports are suspect. BP is using a chemical called Corexit to disperse the oil. It is likely harming the Gulf and causing cleanup crews to report respiratory distress, dizziness and headaches. As Peter wrote in his email, "Of that chemical, it's enough to say that BP owns its manufacturer and its use is banned in the UK. Lucky the Brits can use up their stockpiles in their one-time colony." Brock reported that another small group of activists led by documentary director Josh Tickell experienced burning eyes and skin rashes after exposure to Corexit.
Corexit is "effectively sinking the oil down into the water table where it will be much harder to clean up, and honestly, much harder on all the life in the sea. But it will look better from a satellite picture! Oh man. Shortcuts suck." - Brock Cahill
I know Brock Cahill because I've taken his yoga class. I know Peter because long ago and far away I worked for him when I wrote scripts for a superhero cartoon called ThunderCats. They are both superheroes to me now, and not just because Brock can do yoga poses that I cannot pronounce and Peter is a great writer. They are superheroes because they both recognize that large media organizations have lost sight of their mission to investigate and report, fearlessly. Now the yoga teacher and the writer need to get the job done. Fearlessly.
As I write this, they are on site in the Gulf, figuring out exactly what can and can't be done, how to circumvent the bureaucracy of the cleanup and achieve Brock's mission -- direct action to save sea turtles. They're raising money for a boat and assembling a volunteer crew. "We'll have a marine biologist on board," Peter wrote. "We'll be properly equipped..." to save as many turtles as possible.
"We're independent and determined. This is our world just as much as it is BP's, Big Oil's or the government's which, last time we looked, was financed and elected by us. That is, by individuals exercising democracy. We will not take no for an answer." Peter wrote.
For an exposition of the plight of the Gulf Sea Turtles, see Dan Froomkin's Huffington Post article.
Photos courtesy Brock Cahill