Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

 
Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Raleigh Hoke
PROTECT OUTSTANDING WATERS IN MISSISSIPPI
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:46

Mississippi's rivers, lakes and streams are among the most beautiful and outstanding waters in the nation. Thousands of people every year, from Mississippi and around the world, come to enjoy this amazing natural bounty. Unfortunately, Mississippi's most beautiful and unique waters have not been given the best possible protection available - being listed as an "Outstanding National Resource Water."


Right now, Mississippi is reviewing its rules for protecting our most precious waters. We must act now to push for real change so our children will have a legacy of clean water - including a process for citizens to nominate water bodies as Outstanding National Resource Waters. It is critical that we tell the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality that we care about giving our waters the highest level of protection available!


Click here to send a personal message to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality asking for a simple process to nominate outstanding waters and to nominate the first ever waterbodies for Outstanding status!

http://action.healthygulf.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=28085


Rivers like Black Creek, Mississippi's only National Wild and Scenic River, or Wolf River, one of the state's most pristine waters, deserve the full protections available for the nation's most ecologically significant waters. Outstanding status benefits everyone who uses a river or stream by protecting downstream water quality for municipal drinking water and irrigation uses, as well as the wildlife and fish that live in the waters. Now is the time to act to protect our most outstanding and ecologically significant waters, click here to learn more and send your message to the MDEQ and the Commission on Environmental Quality.

Raleigh Hoke is GRN's Mississippi Organizer
 
Aaron Viles
Don't Call it a Comeback!
Thursday, 12 November 2009 07:41
They've been here for years...

Okay, it's a comeback. But it's a comeback with a cautionary note. Despite yesterday's great news about the brown pelican being removed from the endangered species list, we can't really call the species saved. Without a serious commitment both to coastal restoration and combating catastrophic global warming, this estuary-dependent bird won't be around forever.

It's great that we've been able to bring them back from widespread hunting and the toxic chemical DDT, but the two additional threats to healthy habitat for the majestic bird make the first challenges look like child's play.

Aaron Viles is GRN's campaign director

great photo from NOLA's Times-Picayune.
 
Raleigh Hoke
350 AT OLE MISS
Monday, 09 November 2009 13:20


Recently, hundreds of Ole Miss students came together in a collaborative effort that combined tailgating and activism to engage Mississippians about the urgent topic of climate change. On October 24th, the Ole Miss v. Arkansas game coincided with the 350.org International Day of Climate Action. Following a week of events planned by the Students United for a Green Campus (SGC) and the Office of Sustainability, 1000 game day stickers that read “350.org” were passed out to those in the Grove for the Saturday game. One highlight of the day was finding a tent full of Elvis impersonators from New Orleans who gladly sported the 350.org stickers! Throughout the day, volunteers from SGC and student interns passed out stickers and talked to people about reducing carbon emissions, while also encouraging tailgaters to come together after the game to mark the occasion with a photo. At 3:50 pm, following the Ole Miss victory, students, and faculty gathered to capture a part of history. Standing under the archway at the Walk of Champions in the Grove, tailgaters gathered to display their 350.org stickers and posters bearing signatures from hundreds of members of the Ole Miss community who had pledged to do their own part in reducing carbon emissions.

The event was organized to draw attention to the need to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere, and, as Elizabeth Seratt, a student intern for the Office of Sustainability who helped with the event pointed out, “It was a definite success.” The current level of carbon in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million (PPM), is 387 PPM. For the ecosystems of our world to be healthy, and to avoid the disastrous effects of sea-level rise, we must bring that number below 350 PPM. Before the day of action, Jim W. Morrison, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, said that, "University of Mississippi has committed itself to lowering its carbon footprint. Events like 350 promote awareness among the students who must be engaged to achieve this goal."

And students are definitely engaged in this goal at Ole Miss. Many people were affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike from the University of Mississippi, and they understand that the effects of climate change are already being felt in the Gulf coast and beyond. The best part about the 350.org event was the way in which so many groups on campus could organize for the same purpose. I was able to get involved because of what I learned at GRN’s Students United for a Healthy Gulf Leadership Conference in September. After meeting with campus organizations such as Students United for a Green Campus and the Office of Sustainability, I realized there were a lot of people in the community who wanted to be a part of this day and the event was that much more successful because of how many people got involved. Working with GRN as an intern has allowed me to learn so much about the issues facing the Gulf coast and our world, and has given me invaluable skills in organizing people to achieve a common goal.

Aubrey Wingo is a Senior at University of Mississippi and GRN's Mississippi Intern this semester.
 
Aaron Viles
GRN Rocks Voodoo Experience
Friday, 06 November 2009 08:00

This year's Voodoo Music Experience was epic: KISS on Halloween, Bingo's try for the World Record gathering of Zombies, and our Coastal Lines of Defense demo showing all Voodoo-ers what Southern Louisiana needs most if we're to enjoy Voodoo in years to come.

For the 3rd year as the official non-profit of Voodoo, GRN created barrier islands, marshes, and cypress swamps for festival goers to walk through and set up the No Coast, No Music theater.

The Coastal Lines of Defense gave a clear visual of the natural storm protection that the wetlands provide for New Orleans and coastal Louisiana (
more pictures here!). The No Coast, No Music Theater was a venue of compelling cultural stories and environmental documentaries.

We also released our music industry letter to President Obama (available here: POTUSletter.pdf), with close to 200 perfomers, bands and music businesses sounding the call for the coast. With the help of Voodoo, Tab Benoit and his Voice of the Wetlands, Stanton Moore of Galactic, Dan Dyer, as well as Nick Slie of Mondo Bizarro and filmmaker Walter Williams, we did a decent job of competing with the sounds of Widespread Panic in urging the music media in attendance to care about the coast.

Our collaboration with Defend New Orleans just keeps getting more impressive. We released our second design of the popular Defend the Coast line, with a corresponding website. You should be able to get shirts there by the end of the month.

GRN thanks
Voodoo for its incredible support of coastal Louisiana, as well Bayou Rebirth, Charitable Film Network, Art Spot Productions, Mondo-Bizarro, and Defend New Orleans for all their collaborations that made the 2009 Voodoo Music Experience such a great event for the coast.

We'll see you next year!

Aaron Viles is GRN's Campaign Director

 
Dan Favre
TAKE ACTION TIDE TAILGATING
Thursday, 05 November 2009 14:34
GRN Campaign Intern, Laura Mould, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama reports on the 350.org event that she helped organize at the University of Alabama. ___________________________

Members of the University of Alabama Environmental Council and select other groups celebrated 350.org’s call to action on October the 24th with their own sustainable ‘Take Action Tide Tailgating’ event. The group tailgated on the University of Alabama’s quad amongst other tailgaters the Saturday of the Alabama vs. Tennessee football game. To keep their tailgating as green as could be they used as many sustainable practices as possible, including bringing their own dishes and washing them on site.

“We wanted to be a role model for other tailgating sites. So they could see that there are ways to be green in everything we do,” says Austin Whitten a sophomore majoring in communication studies.

However, Take Action Tide Tailgating was not just for fun. The University of Alabama Environmental Council also had a friendly competition with its own environmentally-minded counterpart at the University of Tennessee to see who could get the most postcards signed. The postcards were to each state’s senior senator asking them to get behind any legislation that supports the science of reaching three hundred and fifty parts per million of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

Will Edwards a sophomore majoring in political science says, “They were able to tap into the energy that surrounds a big football weekend and use it for a cause that really matters.” The two groups both tabled the week leading up to and the day of the tailgating event on their own campuses.


I used skills gained from interning with Gulf Restoration Network to help coordinate the event, get lots of signatures, and train others to do the same. The Gulf of Mexico is ground zero for the impacts of climate change. Together, University of Alabama Environmental Council and Gulf Restoration Network are working to make sure Alabama's elected officials do what it takes to reduce carbon to below 350 parts per million in the atmosphere while preparing for the inevitable impacts of global warming. And, not only did we win the football game, we won the competition for signatures against University of Tennessee's environmental group!
 
Jonathan Henderson
350 NOLA, PARTY WITH A PURPOSE
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 09:53
On October 24th and 25th, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread weekend of environmental action in the planet's history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.

On Saturday the 24th in New Orleans, a demonstration was held on Tulane University’s campus, led by local environmental groups and students near Tulane University as part of a day of global political action staged by 350.org, an international campaign to address climate change.

On Sunday, drawn to Congo Square in Armstrong Park by the music of 350 musicians, hundreds of New Orleanians became part of 350NOLA, a party with a purpose organized by the Gulf Restoration Network, 1Sky, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. Attendees ranged from musicians to youth climate activists to families to anyone else curious about the growing climate change movement. Various environmental organizations and progressive groups set up tables with informational pamphlets and friendly faces to chat with. Many photographers and videographers roamed the rally, equally eager to capture the spirit and excitement of the day as the attendees, speakers, and performers were to provide it.

While the events on Sunday were part of a global movement, they had a distinctly New Orleans flavor. Marching bands from Sophie B. Wright School, Martin Behrman Charter School and O. Perry Walker High School kept the crowd moving during the two-hour rally.

Local trumpeter Leon "Kid Chocolate" Brown invited anyone with an instrument to join in "When the Saints Go Marching In," drawing cheers from the crowd.

At about 1:45pm after the rally, “Kid Chocolate” led a second-line through the French Quarter with parade goers waving 350 handkerchiefs as they sang and strutted their way to dba, a Frenchmen Street bar to watch the Saints beat Miami and drink delicious Nola Brewery beer.

So what does this 350 number even mean?
350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in "Parts Per Million" in our atmosphere. 350 PPM—it's the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. Currently, we are hovering around 390 PPM. The planet is in its danger zone because we've poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we're starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rising sea-levels, more powerful hurricanes. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.

How do we actually reduce carbon emissions to get to 350?

Make no mistake—getting back to 350 means transforming our world. It means building solar arrays instead of coal plants, it means planting trees instead of clear-cutting cypress forests, it means increasing efficiency and decreasing our waste.

Where did this 350 number come from?

Dr. James Hansen, of NASA, the United States' space agency, has been researching global warming longer than just about anyone else. He was the first to publicly testify before the U.S. Congress, in June of 1988, that global warming was real. He and his colleagues have used real-world observation, computer simulation, and mountains of data about ancient climates to calculate what constitutes dangerous quantities of carbon in the atmosphere.

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December to write a new global treaty on cutting emissions, but the current draft doesn't meet the 350 level. The United States must show strong leadership on this issue if the rest of the world is going to do their part in reducing emissions and transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy like solar and wind.

Climate change, rising sea-levels, more intense hurricanes and coastal erosion are all inextricably connected. The GRN and its partner 1Sky will continue to pressure our elected officials in Congress to pass strong, effective climate change legislation that will protect our coast and communities.

To view photos from 350NOLA, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26367809@N03/sets/72157622542519537/

Jonathan Henderson is the 1SKy organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network. For more information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
Dan Favre
JOIN THE HEALTHY GULF KREWE
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 12:34
Gulf Restoration Network is proud to launch the Healthy Gulf Krewe to continue building the movement of ordinary citizens from around the country fighting for Louisiana's wetlands and a healthy Gulf! You are officially invited to join the Krewe, and you can get started by contacting Dan Favre, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.

Healthy Gulf Krewe Mission:
To unite and empower people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico (and have fun while doing it!). To build the Gulf Restoration Network citizen voice throughout the country. To develop dedicated volunteer leaders to defend the Gulf Coast.
Background:

On the Gulf coast, the traditions of Carnival are celebrated from Galveston and New Orleans to Mobile and Tampa. The bands of revelers, known as “krewes”, are famous for parades and balls, and many also support good causes. Gulf Restoration Network is using tradition to fight for the future with the Healthy Gulf Krewe, a nation-wide band of fun-loving, hard-working activists passionate about defending the Gulf.

Krewe Member Commitment: 10 – 10 – 10
  • Maintain donation of $10 or more per month through the Gulf Sustainer program
  • Spend at least 10 hours per month fighting for the Gulf
  • Organize 10 events per year to educate and mobilize the public (see reverse for ideas)
GRN Commitment to You
  • Materials – From our No Coast, No Music Benefit CD and your choice of GRN t-shirt to brochures, posters, and petition sheets, we’ll provide the materials to get things done (and look good doing it!).
  • Knowledge – You’ll receive our newsletter, calendar annual report, and e-mail action alerts to keep you up to date. Krewe members will also be invited to special briefings and skills trainings - over the phone, and perhaps even here in New Orleans.
  • Support – Monthly conference calls will keep the Krewe in touch, and GRN staff will be happy to help you brainstorm, plan, and execute your events. And we’ll show you a great time when you come to visit!
As we celebrate the wilderness and amazing cultures of the Gulf, we’ve got to fight for the future. Defend our wetlands, defend ourselves! To learn more and join, contact GRN Campaign Organizer, Dan Favre at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.

Potential Events for Krewe Members to Organize
  • Set up a table and gather petition signatures at a local farmers’ market, street festival, or music show (we could probably help get you set up with Dr. John, Galactic, Tab Benoit, Amanda Shaw, Anders Osbourne, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and a few others)
  • Make a short presentation to a local civic organization (your Rotary club, your church, your friends at the bar) and collect petition signatures addressed to your elected officials
  • Phonebank GRN members and activists to engage them in a specific effort, event, or campaign
  • Host a GRN Happy Hour or a “Mardi Gras Party with Purpose” with New Orleans food and drink to raise money and awareness for GRN
  • Meet with other environmental or civic groups to enlist their support
  • Organize a movie screening – anytime is great, and especially important as part of GRN’s work to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Katrina and Rita
  • Join us in Washington DC to lobby your state’s delegation for a federal commitment to a sustainable Gulf coast, and/or meet with your Senators and Representative at home
  • Put together a panel of speakers to present at a local university (maybe you could even get a GRN staffer to come talk!)
  • Conduct a press conference to publicize an important event or report
  • Put on a huge benefit concert to raise awareness and money (we know the guys in Galactic . . . )
Dan Favre is the Campaign Organizer (a.k.a "Krewe Organizer") for GRN. Join the Krewe by contacting him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.
 
Aaron Viles
I'm Just a Bill - Getting Mugged Here on Capitol Hill
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 07:18

Fun stuff from our friends at FOE and Agit-Pop Communications.

 
Aaron Viles
WHITE HOUSE COMES TO NOLA AND THE GULF COAST
Friday, 23 October 2009 08:46
In June, the President created an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to develop a first-ever national ocean policy.

If you've been paying attention to our coast and oceans for a while, this may sound a bit familiar. Back in 2003 and 2004 two separate commissions made recommendations on actions needed to help protect our coasts and oceans, the independent Pew Oceans Commission, and the Bill Clinton created, George Bush appointed U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. As with many commission reports, these generally weighed down bookshelves and gathered dust.

This past Monday, October 19th, the Ocean Policy Task Force was in New Orleans for their fifth of six listening sessions across the nation to gather expert opinion and public input. Over 300 people came to voice the issues confronting the Gulf of Mexico. Listen to me talk about what a national ocean policy should address in the Gulf, and see some of the other media that resulted here.

The hearing was really an impressive display of support for the Gulf, Louisiana's wetlands and the need to link the Mississippi River to all coastal coordination. Thoughtful testimony was offered by a number of friends of the GRN, such as Tracy Kuhns, Steven Peyronnin, Maura Wood, and Jordan Macha (representing GRN member groups Bayoukeeper, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, National Wildlife Federation & Sierra Club respectively), former GRN board member Mark Davis of the Tulane Institute on Water Law and Policy, Pam Dashiel from the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainability, and Charlie Smith of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association. Issues such as sustainable fishing (and managing areas such as blue fin tuna spawning spots better), off-shore aquaculture (against), and global warming were all brought up.

Colorful testimony was put on the record by Messiah Darryl Paul Ward, (who I'm pretty sure offered the first spoken word performance for the task force so far) and Lucianne Carmichael of A Studio In the Woods who talked about the role of art in connecting people to nature, and extolled the current production of the one-man performance Loup Garou that's closing this weekend (and which GRN is the community partner for).

BUT that wasn't the beginning of the Obama Administration's attention on the Gulf. The President himself was in town the week before, bringing with him key cabinet officials such as Janet Napolitano, Arne Duncan, and most importantly for the coast, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley. Ms. Sutley held a listening session in St. Bernard parish with coastal advocates including my boss Cyn Sarthou and others, held a press conference at Bayou Bienvenue to communicate support for coastal restoration, and even took a couple of coastal wetlands tours when she was back the next week to chair the Oceans Policy Task force public hearing.

Said Sutley "We've heard before and we've heard here again today the need for urgency and we certainly understand the need for urgency." Sutley is co-chairing an inter-agency working group on Gulf coast wetlands restoration efforts that GRN and others feel is a critical opportunity to speed up the Corps and make sure federal agencies are all working together, with the state to make restoration a priority.

That working group is a useful sign that the Obama administration is prioritizing the coast in their attention to our region. Of course, he's got an awful lot of important priorities that we're competing with, so let's make sure he continues to hear from us.

Another hopeful sign was that the President brought up the coast as he was addressing the town hall last week. Apparently, he even added an additional reference to the issue when he edited the speech himself. Though the President didn't get any questions on the coast, he weaved it into an answer he gave to a question about recycling and global warming. Oh, and don't doubt that there were plenty of folks who WANTED to ask him about the coast. My arm was in the air, as was at least 8 folks I KNOW of.

Call me crazy, but I'm hopeful.


Aaron Viles is GRN's Campaign Director
 
Aaron Viles
Save Our Schools (the Underwater Kind)
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 10:15
 

Gulf Fish Forever: Support Healthy Schools The Gulf of Mexico is an amazing natural treasure. From deep water corals far off shore, to miles of seagrasses hugging our coasts, we have diverse habitats which can help spawn enormous fish populations. Unfortunately, we haven't always followed scientific advice to ensure that there will be enough fish for our great-grandkids to catch. From commercial trawlers to recreational sportfishermen to folks ordering off a restaurant's 'fresh-catch' menu - we haven't demanded the best possible management of the Gulf's natural resources.

Thanks to leadership in Congress, the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is ensuring that local fish populations have sensible, science-based annual catch limits. Please take a moment today and support the rules that our federal and state regional managers at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are putting together to conserve and rebuild our schools of fish.

Red snapper, mackerel, grouper, and other species have shown that when sensible limits are put in place, fish populations can begin to rebound. Fair and uniform rules should be set up to make sure that all fish populations in the Gulf have the protections they need to thrive, while feeding our families, providing recreational opportunities, and playing critical roles in the marine environment. Please take a moment to ask the Gulf Council to put science-based rules in place.

Aaron Viles is GRN's campaign director

 
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