The past four months as a member of Gulf Restoration Network’s Summer Outreach Team was nothing short of an adventurous roller coaster ride. There was sweat, blood, and tears shed in my fight to restore the Gulf Coast. The sweat, of course, was a product of the sweltering southern heat that only momentarily let up for afternoon showers. Fortunately blood only appeared a time or two when the New Orleans sidewalks interrupted the hasty pace that most canvassers try to keep, ultimately leading to a fall and brush burns. And the tears, oh the tears, they came to visit during my moments of emotional passion to ensure that the Gulf remains the home to communities of all species, shapes, and sizes.
Being an activist and Outreach Team leader is a very fulfilling job. I had the opportunity to build public support to continue holding BP accountable and ensure that Clean Water Act Fine dollars are properly allocated to real coastal restoration. Having a one-on-one conversation at a person’s doorstep, believe it or not, is a highly effective way of spreading knowledge and empowering people to get involved. This allows us as individuals to band together and have our voices heard. It is through this unified voice that GRN has been successful in saving thousands of acres of wetlands from pollution and development and playing a role in getting the Restore Act passed.
Hands down, the most amazing part of being a canvasser is the deep connection I built with each community I walked through. I began to know and understand the joys and frustrations that individuals carry with them each and every day as members of the Gulf Coast community. The most powerful realization I had was that I am not alone. I am surrounded by folks that love and are willing to fight for the health of the Gulf. This organization could not be what it is today without the support of our members. I want to thank every one of you for standing up with us against political and environmental injustices and being the change.
Amanda Clesi was a Field Manager for GRN's summer canvass and is now an Outreach Team member.