Posted by: kennyt212 | July 2, 2010

Keeping Watch Over the Gulf: A first-hand perspective this time

Hi everyone,

Hope all is well!

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk to Tronn, one of our wonderful consultants who is helping the faith community lead the way in rebuilding the Gulf Coast area.  Tronn had the opportunity to meet with the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) and interact with those who have been the most directly impacted the oil spill disaster, so I wanted to share some of his unique perspective. The following are some of my notes from our discussion:

—As I’m sure many of you know, shrimpers and fisherman have been some of the hardest hit by the spill, particularly within the Vietnamese community.  Tronn talked with a Vietnamese shrimper who said that a majority of the shrimpers are not doing too well and the community is hurting.  A lot of this man’s community has family lines in the fishing and boating industry, so it’s tough to find new work.  (Here’s a link that shares a similar story).  This Vietnamese man also mentioned that even though he normally obtains between 5-7 million pounds of shrimp/seafood per year, right now, nothing is coming in.  He said that even though he could be angry, he can see that BP and the government are really trying to do something.  When Katrina hit, he had to spend almost his savings to help his family recover, and he’s finally going to court in August to get repayment from his insurance company for that disaster.

—As part of his journey, Tronn stopped in Grand Bayou Village.  Here’s what some of the folks there had to say: “We live off the land-everything comes from it.  We boat in and boat out and in doing so we track the oil onto land.  Even though the massive amount of oil hasn’t quite gotten here yet, it’s knocking on our door, and it will change everything.  We normally only have to go to the store for a few things, but now we’ll have to go there to buy everything and we don’t really have the money to do so.  When hurricane season arrives and high tides come, we’ll be tracking oil everywhere, including into our houses.”  A pastor in the area says that many church members are boaters and have been working for BP and making more money than before the oil spill.  At the same time, others are not being allowed to help with clean up process because their boats don’t meet specific requirements.

—Via news and media, we don’t get a good view of what exactly is happening on the water.  Even though they provide a partial picture, pictures and descriptions don’t evoke the same emotions as being there and they might make activity seem minimized.  For example, people might say “We need more boats out there” and see no footage so think that nothing is happening, when that might not necessarily be true.

—Tronn mentioned how he was starting to see the many layers of the trickle-down effect.  A shrimper can’t shrimp (no work) so he/she has nothing to bring to dock or family, which leads to restaurants closing down or raising prices because they can’t get shrimp and so on.

—One of the major concerns of people in the area is that if a hurricane comes it will move the oil around, push it onto land, etc. People are wondering what type of impact that will have, especially since many of them will stay in the area throughout hurricane season.


—The faith community has been doing a lot of organizing and has been a good place for funding and distribution as well as emotional/spiritual support.  Mental health is one of the biggest concerns right now!  As one woman told Tronn: “I just want somebody to talk to-someone who will listen to me.”

—Key ways that people in the faith community can respond/are responding: 1) PRAYING!!   2) Visiting the area, or supporting people who will be visiting the area   3) Advocating on a state/local/Federal level—as policy pieces/legislation are being brought forth, it’s important to show that we care ! 4) Modifying our lifestyles so that we reduce oil consumption!!

—Key goals to keep in mind: 1)Monitor the needs of people.  This includes finding people in-between the cracks and providing them with what they need; 2)Take care for God’s Creation—that is the ultimate challenge being brought forth from this disaster!

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to share-hope it was insightful in some way.  Thanks to Tronn for sharing his experiences and thanks to everyone for reading!

Stay strong!


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