GRN’s Voodoo Weekend

What a whirlwind! Three days of great weather and great music out at the Voodoo Experience in NOLA’s City Park was once again, an important opportunity for the Gulf Restoration Network to educate musicians and music worshippers about the need for action for a healthy Gulf.This was our fourth year as the festival’s official non-profit partner, and we marked our presence with another installation of our ‘coastal lines of defense’ wetlands model, with a line of barrier islands, coastal marshes, and cypress swamps to educate fest-goers about the importance of our natural storm protection, and the sad fact that we’re losing a Voodoo mainstage worth of wetlands with every song that you hear.For the lines of defense demonstration we owe a big debt to the LSU Ag Center at City Park who loaned us the plants, and Bayou Rebirth who helped build the project with the assistance of a number of Tulane service learning students.We also brought back the ‘lines of defense’ theater, with our partner the Charitable Film Network (big thanks to Jerald White, Dillon Roberts and Courtney Eagan for their help), featuring our K+5 movie series.One one side of the theater, we organized a handprint petition to Congress, letting the crowd send ‘oily’ handprints to Washington, letting our leaders know the oil is still here, and so are we, still waiting for action to direct BP’s fines to Gulf restoration, and give those affected by oil spills in the Gulf a seat at the table to watchdog the industry. This great addition to our Voodoo outreach was put together by former GRN campaign assistant Sunshine Bond with the help of GRN campus organizer Nick Pogglioli and a number of Tulane service learning students.We had some great help from current volunteers and interns as well as a number of former summer staff from our outreach offices in reaching out to music worshippers and signing up new members – dozens of folks received ‘enGULFed’ tees and nalgene bottles with their memberships – big thanks to Massroots Media/Quiksilver/Nalgene for the donations!Backstage, we were able to reach out to a number of performing artists, and ended up with 90 musicians on a letter to President Obama on the BP drilling disaster (more on that later)! Thanks to Metric, Dead Confederate, Feulfollet, Boots Riley, JP Chrissie and the Fairground Boys, River City Extension, Rock City Morgue and many others for signing on at the Artists Lounge.Sunday we hosted a press conference with Voodoo, featuring the Acting Outlaws, musicians Dr. John, Big Sam Williams, Paul Sanchez, Craig Klein (of Bonerama), and John Michael Rouchell (of MyNameIsJohnMichael), all calling for more to be done for the Gulf.We had just returned from a coastal wetlands/oil impacts tour of Bay Jimmy, which was led by Rosina Philippe and other members of the Atakapa Ishak tribe of Grand Bayou Community in lower Plaquemines Parish. Actresses Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff were able to see first-hand why they rode motorcycles from LA to NOLA for Gulf awareness, and the local musicians were able to learn from one of the most affected communities, what the BP drilling disaster means.It was a powerful way to close out a whirlwind weekend.Aaron Viles is GRN’s campaign director. You can follow him on twitter at

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