I grew up in Shreveport, a city in north Louisiana that is home to an oil refinery called Calumet Lubricants. Ironically, I never had reason to give the refinery much thought until I began interning with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. I started interning this fall, and I never could have imagined how much I would learn about my hometown, Shreveport, from a nonprofit in New Orleans.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is pulling together data from various areas within our organization to release the next publication of Common Ground. Common Ground IV will feature community voices from Baton Rouge and Norco. Last week, Risha Bera and I traveled near and far to interview five people about each of their experiences living near a chemical plant or refinery. Going through the motions of setting up, interviewing, breaking down, and reflecting with my colleague was perhaps the highlight of the collective endeavor. Each session was so different and the experiences of each person interviewed were varied.
I would like to take this, my last post at the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, to call out the amazing folks who I have had the privilege of working alongside over the past year. Not only did I luck out with perhaps the best staff/family anyone could ask for, I also somehow managed to land my “dream” job the first time out. I was first introduced to Environmental Justice in a Sociology course one of my first semesters in college. Nearly instantaneously I fell in love. One of the clinching factors was a film I was meant to see: Blue Vinyl: The World’s First Toxic Comedy.
It’s always difficult to say goodbye to a great group of people that you’ve worked with for a short or a long time. I came to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade at the end of 2010 to craft a plan to make LABB’s New Orleans Earth Day Festival a financially sustainable event and to work on ideas for a revenue-generating social business that can contribute financially to the environmental health and justice initiatives of LABB. Although the plan was for me to be at the Bucket Brigade for one year, that morphed into 2 years.
I recently submitted an article on the behalf of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, discussing Hurricane Isaac’s impact on BP oil residues in the Gulf Coast. We also submitted several photos to accompany our article. We thank our partners at the Gulf Restoration Network for many of these photos and for their editorial guidance.
After spending a week engaging in service and educational opportunities around the topic of environmental discrimination in New Orleans, I feel confident in saying that the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is doing phenomenal work. In fact, I believe LABB represents what an environmental organization should be; one that provides tools and support for communities to empower themselves and work towards change based on the strengths of the collective group.
Thanks to all of the amazing residents who have taken the time to write down their concerns for the inexcusable accidents Louisiana continues to feel from the oil and gas industry; particularly from the ExxonMobil facility in Baton Rouge.
While one image may be worth a thousand words, what about an image made of words? LABB Monitoring and Evaluation Associate, Risha Bera, has employed one of the newest analysis tools for identifying frequency of topics: Wordles. This new tool allows for a quick breakdown of transcripts, articles, or other written materials, into a visual representation of how often particular words were said. Though there are limitations for this method, such as context, it does provide a very interesting summary.
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