Our world is in constant flux, and sometimes change happens in dramatic ways, in the form of disasters, natural or human-generated. Because we’ve all grown used to 24-hour news cycles and are immersed in everything from contentious election rhetoric to award season gowns and shenanigans, it is understandable how our collective memory might be challenged to hold on to priorities and perspective. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has been reduced for many of us to the occasional BP television commercial addressing the work they are committed to doing to continue cleanup. For the folks living in the area who lost livelihood, and the ecosystem that lost life, the challenges in the aftermath have not gone away. Quite the contrary–there is still so much to do to help the region heal.
Elevate the Gulf is a fantastic “urgent service” volunteer trip from Elevate Destinations. This organization helped me get to Haiti post-earthquake, and is deeply committed to the same kind of direct service for the Gulf. The trip is April 9-14, and signing up needs to happen quickly (shooting for next week–March 5 deadline). In addition to the expert team leaders and local partner organizations, you’ll be learning from and working alongside Mark Spalding, the Executive Director of the OceanFoundation. Each of the six days you’ll work with scientists and researchers from the Alabama Coastal Foundation and The Nature Conservancy to restore oyster reefs, seagrass beds, and coastal marsh habitats. The planet has always done a pretty good job at restoring itself, but we made this mess, we ought to be dedicated to the cause of cleaning it up. We have lost probably an entire generation of sea turtles and fish, and the shrimp and oyster population, on which so many locals depend for income, was slammed in a way that won’t bounce back for several seasons of natural renewal.
Trust me on this one–if you are looking for a volunteer vacation opportunity, here is a great option. Domestic destination so you needn’t mess with international airfare, springtime in the South=gorgeous, and a host (Andrea Atkinson) and host organization I know and adore, and promise will take care of you in ways more professional and efficient than you likely would take care of yourself…and the planet needs your help and your effort.