Last week I was at the Waterkeeper conference and checked in nearly everyday to watch from afar the oil sneaking into our Bays and onto our beaches. I felt no more helpless than I do sitting on my favorite dock, soundside Fort Pickens, watching the sunset and smelling oil.
I apologize for those of you who have asked for more updates. I have been out of touch, though not out of oil. It has depressed me to have to report worse and worse news every time I type. To have to admit helplessness regarding keeping oil off our shores. To watch the equivalent of a hurricane impacting 4 states growing bigger and bigger with no relief in site. To feel powerless on MY beach has been a difficult reality to swallow and I know many of you share this frustration.
I can say that local officials appear to be doing everything in their power and then some. I still believe State officials could be doing much more, and don’t get me started on Federal and BP response.
I know so many of you reading this email want to help. One thing you can do is volunteer to document your favorite shoreline every week. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to sign up.
Finally, we have 2 great gatherings coming up next week. First a discussion with Riki Ott. Riki Ott, PhD, is a community activist, a former commercial salmon “fisherm’am,” and has a degree in marine toxicology with a specialty in oil pollution. She experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill—and chose to do something about it. She is the author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and Not One Drop: Promises, Betrayal, and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (Chelsea Green, 2008). She is also the founder of three nonprofit organizations that deal with lingering harm from man-made environmental disaster.
Dr. Ott will be speaking at Bayview Community Center on Monday, June 21st at 7pm. This meeting is of course free and open to the public. Please come out and learn about what to expect, health wise and on many more levels, regarding oil hitting our shores.
Also, the second Hands Across the Sands is happening Saturday, June 26th, only this time it is a nationwide event. Last time the focus was to help stop the petro-chemical companies from drilling in our State waters, as close as 3 miles off shore. This time the event goes further in helping to bring awareness to the root issue: our deadly addiction to fossil fuels. Thank you to Margaret Biggs who is helping to organize, and Mary Gutierrez who is trying very hard to work out some public transportation options for us. So far the best that can be done in Escambia County is for us to all meet at the Park and Ride (near the civic center) and car pool. We will meet at 10:15 a.m. No seat should go unfilled. We will then meet at Pensacola Pier at 11am, hold hands from 12 to 12:15 to show solidarity on our support for renewable energy and public transportation. Perhaps someone wants to organize a meeting place in Santa Rosa County for car pooling also? Okaloosa? Walton?
We all can do our part by driving less, using less energy, carpooling, using public transportation (or, more appropriately for our area, supporting the funding of public transportation), walking and biking more, significantly reducing our plastic use, eating local foods and buying local products as much as possible. We all owe it to ourselves, our children and future children to use less oil and energy, period. Only then will it be feasible to have a global shift away from fossil fuels. I just returned from Mexico, it IS possible to use less and still be happy, content and successful….
Chasidy Fisher Hobbs
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.