This is Pensaola Beach, awash with tar balls from the Deep Horizon Oil Spill.
Recently I ran across a phenomenal crowdsourcing initiative last week, Lego’s NXTLog Senior Solutions Challenge, which leverages robotic designs to create better living for the elderly. It was a brilliant blend of brand, cause and community that empowers customers to make a difference.
I could not help but wonder how can B Corps and nonprofits and general do-gooders leverage the power of new models like the collaborative economy to share and make great things happen?
Social good is no longer the domain of big donors or causes anymore, but we haven’t gotten much further than crowdfunding, social sharing, and participatory access to campaigns. There is a stiff arm between cause and community.
What if mission trips were something that anyone can take, regardless of faith? Or if you couldn’t participate in a full four week mission trip, could you offer a portion of your work to another person?
Can we build stronger volunteering platforms to allow people to intelligently make a difference when a crisis like the Oklahoma tornadoes or the Deep Horizon oil spill happens? In both of those instances individuals were turned away from making a difference because their unorganized presence created more rubbernecking than contribution. Right now it takes an organization like Crisis Commons to try and harness general volunteering and good will.
How about technology? Could people donate minutes or bandwidth to a region on a temporary basis? Or could a company share its Salesforce database with smaller nonprofit partners so they, too, might benefit from a top tier CRM solution?
You can see how collaborative model could offer significant progress to the cause space. Yet, here we are, playing the same game.
It has been six months since the height of public outrage about the Deep Horizon catastrophe and ensuing oil spill. Periodically, news bubbles up about potential lawsuits against BP and partners, but for the most part, the media has moved on to more current pastures. Meanwhile the damage left behind still ravages the Gulf Coast environs and economy.
Meanwhile economic relief efforts seem to be hitting some walls. While tourist centric business like casinos located far away from Gulf shores are getting Gulf Coast Claims approved by the government, fishermen are being denied after one of the worst shrimping seasons every recorded. These fisherman fall into four classes:
Small vocal number who have presented Feinberg with strong documentation.
A much larger group that has been paid, but far less than their emergency claims called for.
Another group of more than 30,000 claimants, led by an organized Vietnamese contingent in Louisiana.
Thousands who can’t produce enough documentation to satisfy the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
No one asked BP to negligently contract and manage the operation of the oil Deep Horizon rig and its ensuing damage. Regardless of how the government and BP spin it, Americans, and the global environment will suffer for years to come.
If you would like to take action to help the fishing families of New Orleans, please consider Citizen Effect’s CitizenGulf project. Money goes to provide fishing children after school education programs.
Considering that this whole effort is volunteer based on literally no budget and named after a hashtag, I am just stunned. Two months ago, four of us were heading down to the Gulf on a fact finding mission with no idea about what we would find. And two months later we had this incredible day of action, thanks to you.
Next week I’ll provide a post mortem analysis of what did and did not work about the campaign from my perspective. Today and this weekend are all about cherishing the action so many of us have taken towards a positive, mindful result after the oil spill. With BP and Obama responsible for and promising everything, and often falling short, this is not the easiest cause to take on, but a very important one. Taking mindful steps — instead of staying angry and letting the Gulf suffer — are acts of compassion.
There are so many of us who participated, from the more than 750 people who tweeted to the more than 400 people who attended our 20 events. Jeff Dolan even made a tribute music video! I know of at least 60 blog posts written about the Day of Action. It’s impossible to thank everyone, so please forgive me if I’ve forgotten you.
First, let me thank Dan Morrison and May Yu of Citizen Effect, and Jill Foster of LiveYourTalk. It’s amazing how far this crazy little trip went. And Dan, did you think the fajitas at Lauriol Plaza would turn into this?
Eric Johnson at El Studio deserves a huge thanks for designing our Posterous blog, and for his work migrating the site. Thank you to my long term cohort on cause based action Andy Sternberg for his hard work and running the LA event.
Let’s be frank, lots of people are helping with #citizengulf and it’s awesome. There are so many people spreading the word, I can’t even begin to thank them. But this is not Haiti, in large part because of BP’s responsibility for causing the oil spill, and its moral and legal obligation to clean up the mess.
But as we have seen over and over again, BP continues to promise fully responsible actions, only to have its actionscompletely contradictits PR and messaging. Consider the most recent lies that have been exposed this week:
2) Phytoplankton, the base element of the fishing food chain, have been poisoned by this oil. This means the entire Gulf food supply has been affected and will have crude oil poisoning to contend with.
This continued public lying (and the co-signing of this behavior by the Obama Administration) should tell all of us one thing: BP will abandon its responsibility to clean up the Gulf at the first opportunity. The Gulf cannot count on BP or the federal government to resolve this situation.
Any of us would be furious if our homes and livelihoods were treated in such a fashion. In fact, many of us who do not live in the Gulf are angered by the public hucksterism we are being offered by BP and the Obama Administration. But what can we do about it? Plenty, and as my trip to the Gulf convinced me, this hurricane ravaged region definitely needs our help.
Beyond the citizengulf program, there are more mindful actions: Write your elected officials and tell them to stand up to big oil and large corporations ruining our country, live a better sustainable life, and restore ethics to the communications profession. Want more? The AARP offers six ways you can make a difference for the Gulf.
No , it’s not Haiti. But it’s happening in our own back yard at the hands of corrupt oil company with the federal government cosigning it. Whatever you do, friends, I encourage you not to sit this one out. In my mind, it’s a civic duty. Take mindful action and say no to BP.
Today we opened the first #citizengulf city events for registration on the Citizen Gulf site. Citizen Effect‘s national day of citizen action seeks to help fishing families in need by providing an education for their children, in the hopes that they may be able to pursue new careers in the wake of the oil spill’s long term impact.
And as we launch, a raging controversy brews about the latest spin from BP and Obama – claims that the oil spill’s impact is disappearing. Fishing families and other members of the Gulf economy still struggle to survive. As the above video from a Grand Isle City Hall meeting last week, shows even with BP’s financial aid, the oil spill survivors are suffering and cannot pay their bills.
The fishing families of Louisiana and the Gulf beyond still need our help. It’s clear that BP and Obama will shirk this responsibility at the first opportunity. Meanwhile fishing families are left to pursue their profession of generations in diminished, or worse, permanently tainted waters.
Andy Gibson’s story is the classic example (on Friends of the Fishermen’s charity site). A fourth generation fisherman who found his waters closed to shrimping and the market for his goods bottomed out, Gibson simply went further out to the fertile fishing grounds of western Louisiana and Texas, untouched by the oil spill. Gibson is “determined he will figure out a way to make it through.”
Many fishing families will continue to choose this life style in the face of adversity. But their children can have an option. Working with Catholic Charities of New Orleans — an organization working directly with fishing families everyday in eight parishes — we can provide an opportunity for kids to have a better education and the choice for a different career path.
Above find a slideshow of my favorite photos from our Citizen Effect Gulf Mission trip. The slideshow really tells the story of what we saw. Quite a crushing blow has been dealt to the Gulf marine environment and the communities built around it.
The fact-finding trip, representing the listening phase of our effort, is complete. You can find links to all of the content — from CNN iReports, photos and podcasts to Mashable, Live Earth and other blog posts — aggregated on the Citizen Effect Gulf Mission project page. We will likely write an executive summary over the next week.
Next steps will be a public gathering here in Washington, DC the week of July 12. Time and location to be determined, but we will U-Stream it. At that time, the Citizen Effect team will review our findings (find my initial conclusions here), take questions, and announce our program of action, which will likely be a Day of Citizen Action.
The entire purpose of the trip was to assess the situation first hand, and then create a way for Americans across the country who want to find mindful ways to help. This Day of Citizen Action will be the start of the program, and will provide several ways, from a simple Facebook Like to full on grassroots activism, for people to act. Stay tuned.