In early August, a delegation from my hometown of Portland, Oregon will be journeying to the gulf to witness the tragedy firsthand, engage with locals, and tell their stories for a broader audience. EcoSalon writer, Anna Brones and myself will be on the mission and we’ll be blogging and vlogging the experience daily on EcoSalon. Right now, we’re in the planning phases, but the reality of what we’ll see is beginning to set in.
A friend of mine, pro surfer and model, Mary Osborne, just got back from the gulf on a similar mission. I had the chance to chat with her the other day about her journey and I’m already beginning to feel overwhelmed. Mary was extremely affected and the quiver in her voice as we talked, set me on edge. It’s just so big, and so much is destroyed.
As she says, “Every minute passing means more beaches are covered in brown oily tar balls. Weather and winds fluctuate in all directions, pushing crude oil into new areas of fresh white sand beaches, covering sea animals, rivers and marshes. Fish are dying; crabs are now toxic, and mammals are slowly being poisoned. Three days ago today, the beach that I spent watching beautiful fireworks explode into the sky, is now spotted with tar, endless miles of boom and BP scouring the beach. The same beach I listened to families cheering and kids running around happily in celebration of our country’s independence is the mirror opposite of the evening of July 4, 2010. The feeling of independence in the southern states has now vanished.”
Utter solemnity. What’s just so difficult to noodle is the scale of the damage. Residents are in a perpetual holding pattern; sad, angry, and scared for the future. Mary chatted with a Gulf Port fisherman she met, Skipper Tom, and he had this to say:
“We don’t know where our future is. People have no clue about the magnitude of this spill and the effects it will have,” said Tom. “My son was going to take over my business in a few years and now I don’t think he can. I wanted to teach my grandson to fish and I don’t even know if that is possible for the future. It’s sad to think we know more about our universe than our oceans. I have over $145,000 in my boat with my credentials. Overnight, I have nothing.”
It is stories like this that she heard everywhere she went; people are trying to keep their chins up, but there is no sense of hope. No sense of progress.
Anna and I are both looking forward to the trip, but we both know its going to be hard on the heart. To all the residents dealing with this nightmare our thoughts are with you and we’ll be there soon to tell your stories. Because you deserve to be heard.
Images: Mary Osborne