The other day, in Part I of “Enough of This Crap,” I wrote the following:
Reports have been coming out of the Gulf for days about British Petroleum blocking access to beaches and animal-cleaning stations, in some instances using private Blackwater-style mercenaries to do so. Journalists as well as citizens have been thwarted in their attempts to see for themselves the extent of the damage being done by the runaway Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Know what I’d like to see happen? I would like to see a thousand people, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, just show the hell up down there and demand access. Citizens and reporters alike, just get down there, link arms, and walk to the beaches and the marshlands with digital cameras and cell phones for instantaneous blogging of what they see, hear and smell. Pile into as many rented, borrowed and begged boats as can be mustered and plow out there to the scene of the crime. Dare the gendarmes to stop us.
As it turns out, I was not the first person to have this idea. If you are tired of watching in paralyzed fury as the underwater oil spigot from the Deepwater Horizon vomits doom into the sea, if you have the time and ability to do more, then my friends, this note’s for you.
The Bucket Brigade
An organization called Louisiana Bucket Brigade has undertaken an active citizen-driven campaign to chart where oil is affecting the Gulf coastline. The Bucket Brigade sends volunteers out to all points along the coast to locate where oil damage is occurring, and through the use of email and social networking sites like Twitter, pinpoints exactly where the damage is taking place. This information is used to create an Oil Spill Crisis Map, which is then utilized as an advocacy tool to show people the truth of what is actually happening, as well as a way to create linkage between need and resources.
If this is something you can participate in, all the information you need is right here. Also, on the main Bucket Brigade page, you will find a “Get Involved” button in the upper right corner of their website. One caveat: according to a member of this organization I spoke to, they are looking for people who can give more than a day or two of their time. If you are a resident of the Gulf coast area, a college student on summer break, or someone who has more than a few days time on their hands and a desire to help, you are who they’re looking for.
National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation has undertaken a similar effort called Gulf Coast Surveillance Teams. They are looking for people to “track and report on the impacts of the oil spill, support wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and restore damaged delicate coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.” To volunteer with this organization, click here.
Oil Spill Response
Another organization dedicating itself to dealing with the Gulf oil crisis is Volunteer Louisiana. They provide an emergency response sign-up form for people who want to actively engage in assisting with a variety of needed assistance areas. These include:
- Shoreline Monitor
- Donations Management
- Food Bank Sorting and Packing
- Case Management
- Wildlife Marker/sitter
- Facility and Site Maintenance
- Transportation Assistant
- Administrative and Support
- Pre-impact Beach Cleanup
- Positions at the Command Post or Volunteer Reception Center
- Light construction
Please note that all of the pages provided contain links to other excellent organizations in every affected state. If what I have provided does not or cannot suit your abilities, poke around, and odds are you’ll find what best suits you. It’s all there.
After the publication of Part I of this article, a number of responses came in that amounted to, “Oh yeah? You first.” This is a perfectly legitimate response to someone standing on a soapbox yelling “Go!” while staying put. Unfortunately, for myself and a lot of people, going is not an option. My wife has multiple sclerosis, and requires a daily injection of medication as part of her treatment. Unfortunately, the disease cashiered her good right hand, and therefore I am required to deliver that injection for her, and thus, I cannot go and do what I most desperately would like to do down there.
There are a great many people like me, who for reasons of employment, family, health or whatever, are unable to saddle up and head to the Gulf to do what needs doing. To you, I have this request: put this information in front of any and all whom you think has the time and capacity to give of themselves in this time of crisis. You can’t go, but you can muster those who can, and if you do so, you have done your part to the best of your abilities.
If you have the time, however, and the ability, and the resources to aid in this time of dire need, I give you the above information. Far too often in this country, we revere “heroes” who catch or kick or hit, who run fast and skate hard, who exist only in movie scripts or on television screens. Real heroes, like the ones currently engaged in the work of the organizations listed above, will never have their names in the paper, never be heralded, never be known. But they are heroes nonetheless, and upon this moment, we need heroes like them.
Heroes like you.
British Petroleum Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, after meeting with President Obama the other day, said, “I care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case at BP. We care about the small people.”
I am a small person. So are you. But when We The Small People band together and put our collective shoulder to the wheel, we become huge, magnificent, heroic, and above all else, truly effective. Let’s show the “big people” what we small people can do when we get huge, when we get pissed, when we get active, when we become heroes.
Get to work, Godspeed, and thank you.