Airlie Center, Rural Virginia – I’m typing this as I wait to head to the airport, and back to the Gulf Coast. As this Times-Picayune article explains, I was here with other members of the Advisory Board of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health to discuss our plans for the future. The Gulf Coast Fund is an impressive initiative which drew together community and advocacy organizers in the wake of Katrina and Rita to help direct philanthropic investments in the region to groups on the ground who were doing the critical work of tackling the social, racial and environmental injustices that the 2005 storm season exposed to the world.It’s a radical concept, using the groups on the ground, doing the work, to identify the most important organizing efforts underway to fund. Over the three years the Fund has existed, it’s made over 200 donations to over 100 organizations, totaling about $3 million. It’s not huge, but to the groups that recieve the $3,000 – $15,000 grants, it’s often the difference between saying ‘yes we can’ and ‘sorry, maybe another day.’Check out the Gulf Coast Fund, and maybe make a donation. The groups we support and the work that gets done truly did get a shot in the arm by the inaguration of the nation’s first Organizer-In-Chief, but it’s still going to take a lot of work to make our coastal communities safe and sustainable.Aaron Viles is GRN’s campaign director, and has been a member of the Gulf Coast Fund’s board of advisors since the Fund’s inception in early 2006.

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