Gulf Fact Finding Mission to Help Fishermen

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We believe that BP and Obama administration have been incapable of providing a satisfactory resolution to the incredible devastation from the Deep Horizon oil spill (White House Image: Obama talks to Gulf region fishermen). In fact, both BP and the federal government mostly seem to act only under the gun of media pressure.

The clear losers are the people of the Gulf and the environment. One of the most afflicted parties are the fishermen, who will receive aid from BP, but are likely to lose their careers due to the incredible and likely irreversible damage the marine environment is receiving.

As a society, we continue to experience great anger about this situation. While BP has taken responsibility, it’s clear they cannot resolve the matter. We cannot wait for corporations or the government to act. It’s been almost two months and the crisis is deepening.

We will create a Citizen Effect: Find local charities to pair with a national fundraising drive and help fishermen to find a sustainable, environmentally friendly future. This would be the best outcome from the oil spill.

To accomplish this we are going to the Gulf to talk to the people: The fishermen, local businesses and organizations. They best understand their economy and environment, and needs more than anyone– not BP and the government. We hope to pair their local expertise and knowledge with our ability to create a national, social media driven citizen movement and fundraising drive.

In addition it is clear that both BP and the government are blocking stories from reaching the public. We hope to provide a citizen journalist accounting of the story using our social media tools, specifically, Twitter, Facebook, FLickr, U-Stream and of course our blogs.

Geoff Livingston, May Yu and Dan Morrison  593

Citizen Effect’s May Yu and Dan Morrison and I are going to the Louisiana Coast on an exploratory mission from June 27 through July 1. Citizen Effect is fundraising $10,000 to underwrite the Gulf Mission and set up the larger fund to benefit the fishermen. If you feel inclined to fund this mission, please donate here.

We will publish the full itinerary next week, and if you are a local organization or fisherman who would like to talk, please contact us at gulf [at] citizeneffect.org.

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  • http://www.frostonfundraising.com Jay Frost

    Couldn’t this assessment be made more easily and efficiently by contacting area organizations already engaged in this activity by phone and email? They may well benefit from your involvement but it could also be duplicative.

  • http://geofflivingston.com Geoff Livingston

    Thanks, Jay. Our purpose is a little more sophisticated than creating a new effort. We seek to find the right partners to work with locally and want to vet the nonprofits. Further, we are not seeing a sufficient effort nationally to engage w/ social tools, which is our expertise. The combination requires in person meetings. We need to build a relationship that will require lots of back and forth. Phone calls and email won’t cut it.

  • http://budurl.com/chapman Mike Chapman

    Great job, Geoff. Every bit helps. One area that you could provide some leadership in will be to keep an eye on the federal spending, when it comes, to make sure that local businesses get a first shot at the contracts before out of town folks snatch them up. Being that you’re from out of town, you can credibly spearhead an effort using social tools to expose the kinds of carpet bagging that occurred after Katrina. That would be very helpful to the local folks, and is a story that the mainstream media doesn’t find all that sexy.

  • http://www.frostonfundraising.com Jay Frost

    Geoff, coming in to the area absent that initial research and contact might well be perceived as presumptuous at best and looking for consulting contracts at worst. I don’t think it is safe to assume that because you haven’t yet seen a national effort by nonprofits with a significant social media component that it isn’t already in draft. Just to restate, I’m not suggesting that you don’t do it–it’s a great idea–but rather that you take a little time to investigate from your chair before you take to the air.

  • http://geofflivingston.com Geoff Livingston

    Jay: Thank you for your concern. We’ve done our homework, no one we know of is targeting this kind of effort nationally. We are already talking to nonprofits locally who work with fishermen. None of them that we have talked to have had someone try to extend their efforts in this way.

  • http://www.citizeneffect.org Dan Morrison

    Thanks for all the comments. Geoff and I have been on the phone since Friday talking to local organizations in the Gulf to set up meetings. We are trying to be humble and going in with ears open and mouths shut so we can simple talk to and learn from local organizations, fishing families and small businesses to hear their stories and ideas for how to get out of this mess. Please continue to send us suggestions and connections. Appreciate all your support and feedback.

  • http://www.jamesjbaker.com Jimmy

    Geoff,

    I have read some of the comments. I will be in prayer for you and your team. Putting social media aside; I think you get the bigger picture. It is about helping people period. My hat is off to you and your team that are simply going to help. The pictures and stories we all have read can not convey what is truly going on.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see the world.”

    God speed ahead as you all work to be the change that you wish to see in the world.

  • http://oceana.org jeff

    Geoff – I love the idea of supporting the local fishermen & shrimpers effected by this. But are you also taking into account some of the other industries that would affected by this? Not only the production groups but related foods?

    There was a good post on Grist about the food justice issues, if you haven’t seen it: http://www.grist.org/article/oil-spill-threatens-to-smother-gulf-coast-food-cultures/

  • http://www.mahilapartnership.org Angela

    Definitely let us know your plans. We (Mahila Partnership) and GDRA (www.usgdra.org) are working with/talking several grassroots organizations across the region. Also, I am based in FL so we are active in our local response and preparing for what the future may hold across the region. In any case we may be able to collaborate. Best, Angela

  • http://geofflivingston.com Geoff Livingston

    Jimmy: Thank you for your kind words…

    Jeff: Certainly wish we could expand our scope to include the larger food economy effected by this. Given Citizen Effect’s mission on targeted initiatives, and frankly, our focus on creating a focused actionable program that will accomplish measurable change, the fishermen will get our attention.

    Angela: We may be in touch. Thank you for reaching out to us!

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  • http://www.crt-tanaka.com Mike N

    The news today seems muddled with special interests. Taking the time to uncovering and share pure, personal stories from the region is a great initiative. Thank you and good luck.

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  • http://www.citizeneffect.org Dan Morrison

    UPDATE: Geoff, May and I have set up meetings and tours with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Catholic Charities, and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. During these meetings and based on contacts made in these meetings, we will be talking to local family fisherman and local businesses. Please continue to send us thoughts, contacts, and feedback. We look forward to sharing our learnings with you.

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  • http://www.citizeneffect.org May

    Angela, thanks for the update— we’d love to connect with them. Please email us directly at gulf@citizeneffect.org

    Look forward to hearing from you

  • http://www.mahilapartnership.org Angela

    Just a quick update: The Black American fishing community of Plaquemines (“PLACKA-min”) Parish, Louisiana have been deeply affected by this crisis and may be one group to connect you with as well. One of my colleagues is associated with them and other similar underrepresented communities and I’d be happy to facilitate an introduction.

  • http://www.citizeneffect.org Dan Morrison

    Folks, trip starts tomorrow. Thank you for all your input. Keep it coming while we are there. Dan

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