“I know I’m just one person, but I really think that together we can really do something important and be a model for the future of the Gulf."
This visionary sentiment expressed by a participant at one of the Salons hosted by the Gulf Future Coalition sums our hopes for our collective work quite beautifully. In fact, the Dalai Lama's quote "if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito" is a central theme in our partners' Cry You One performance.
We creatively engaged over 200 people with our newest Coalition partners for a series of "Community Visioning Salons" across the 5 Gulf Coast states in Biloxi, MS; Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Pensacola, FL and Orange Beach, AL during the 5 weeks leading up to the Coalition's annual Gulf Gathering in Weeks Bay, AL just last week.
We closed our inspiring and unique Spring 2014 community visioning tour with 75 people, representing 37 organizations, across the five Gulf Coast states at the sixth Gulf Gathering. Ever since convening for the first time in 2009, the Gulf Gathering has been bringing together diverse communities to work across issues and geography, building the trust and relationships required for collaborative work in the long haul. Acting as an incubator for new projects and ideas, as well as a retreat for rejuvenation, the Gulf Gathering spurs thinking by bringing together allies working across a broad spectrum to think together, work together, and hope together.
This year, integrating art, culture and story-telling has "breathed new life into the Coalition" and is "inspiring hope to continue this work" as we mark four years since the explosion of Deepwater Horizon and the beginning of the country's biggest environmental catastrophe.
Along the way, we told stories, danced, drew, strategized, and built relationships so that we can better advocate for public participation, transparency, and accountability. In the wake of ongoing manipulation and lies perpetuated by BP in the media, as well as the closed door, black box negotiations between the States and their Councils, it is imperative that we stand together and demand transparent, participatory and meaningful action.
Four years later, the Gulf is still suffering and our communities are still struggling. The oil is still here and so are we, continuing to rally with collective vision and voice. We believe "the answer is in our dreams" for a healthy, vibrant and sustainable Gulf Coast. Our Salons and Gulf Gathering this Spring were a testament to the beautiful inspiration that we can build a better world for the generations to come.