Day 2 was depressing. Today was the day we got the interviews we had expected to get.
Interviews with folks that are severely impacted by the spill. Interviews with folks that you have seen on TV – a charter-fishing operator named Captain John, Danny the crabber who now has to work for BP on the clean up because he has to keep food on the table -- and then there was Diane, the make shift therapist for the community. These people live in a place called Hopedale. A small spit of land that is surrounded by lake, estuary and bayou. This area is home to oystermen and fishermen and as Diane put it “water babies”.
For those of us who have lived in an urban environment most of our lives it’s difficult to truly understand the depth of the loss for these people. Sure we take the yearly camping trip and long that we can’t just pack it up and move to the “country” so we can better connect with nature, but those escapes merely provide a small glimpse into how life can be when the natural habitat you live within provides you with food, work and community.
Talking to these local people you learn that the oil spill has stolen their bounty, their identity and their communities. We met Diane when when we drove by and saw her sitting on the front porch of a tiny house with a couple of locals and a skull and cross bone sign that said “Defend our Coast”. She waved as we slowly drove by and we stopped.
We found out that Diane owned a marina and bar prior to Katrina and after it was destroyed, in spite of the loss she remained in the town. For her – hope remained alive in Hopedale. But then, like she said to us, the hurricanes come and go - then you move on. The oil spill is different. The oil spill lingers, pervades and seems to have no end in site. Her friends and brethren, the fishermen stop by on the hour – she counsels them, feeds them, and provides a venue for them to express their anger, sadness and frustration. She explains that in this place, the waters and the people areintricately intertwined. She explains that in spite of the clean up she fears that with the next hurricane the oil could spill onto her land and that too will be destroyed.
Diane is making plans to leave Hopedale. In these communities the prospect of hope is dwindling. I left her and the town with sadness and a bit of envy for what they have there – a connection to the land and waters that have always provided comfort and life. A connection that we in the cities rarely experience.