Loss of a Leader

We learned yesterday of a tragic loss to New Orleans and all who care about our city and region’s future. Pam Dashiell, a long-time leader in the Holy Cross neighborhood, was found dead in her home. As the co-leader of the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, she was a strong and steady voice for a truly long-term, sustainable recovery for her neighborhood, a recovery that embraced a vision of carbon neutrality, robust coastal lines of defense, and environmental & social justice.Personally, Pam was one of the first activists I ever worked with when I made my move to New Orleans about ten years ago. I was working for a national environmental group and we were about to release a report detailing environmentally harmful and fiscally irresponsible federal projects. The industrial canal lock expansion topped the list locally, so Darryl Malek Wiley with the Sierra Club introduced me to the Holy Cross Neighborhood leaders who had been spearheading efforts to stop the project, Pam and John Koeferal. They were both so welcoming, and so passionate about the cause, I knew I had found long-term partners.As I moved onto other issues, campaigns and organizations, Pam was always there. We ran into each other in the Hague at an international Shell protest (the photo is our group enjoying some corporate accountability camaraderie). We served together on the board of advisors of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal & Ecological Health. We worked together on coastal wetlands restoration advocacy, on closing the MRGO (see the WDSU clip below), on global warming advocacy, on Gulf recovery advocacy. We joked about how much time we spent together in meetings, sometimes four a week.I always wanted to sit next to her to make sure we could collaborate, bounce ideas off each other, and most importantly make each other laugh. Pam was the heart and soul of her community, and we are all going to miss her. Her legacy is her work. We will keep heading to the vision that Pam was diligently working towards. We’ll get there together, it’s just not going to be nearly as much fun now along the way.Aaron Viles is GRN’s campaign director Update:The Times-Picayune ran their obituary on Pam today. You can see it here.Included in it are details for Friday’s memorial and Saturday’s funeral:A memorial tribute will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at All Souls Episcopal Church, 5500 St. Claude Avenue. A funeral will be held at All Souls on Saturday at 11 a.m., with visitation starting at 9 a.m. Rhodes Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.The Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development will be covering all the costs for the burial, memorial and funeral.Donations can be made out to their 501 (C) 3 partner Teagras Helping Hands, and sent to the CSED at 5130 Chartres St. New Orleans, LA 70117One additional thing I have heard is that next week’s meeting of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association will include sharing memories of Pam, as part of their holiday potluck. All are welcome. It’s next December 10th, from 5:30-9:00 p.m. at 4804 Dauphine Street.Also, the Gambit blog has a piece on her, and some folks have made some very nice comments.

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