Posts Tagged ‘Gulf oil spill’

REI and Patagonia Reaching Out

An REI store just opened near me. It’s a big thrill for me because our outdoor outfitter options are not plentiful, and I have great memories of childhood, driving over to the huge REI in Berkeley to get camping equipment before vacation each year. While not a bargain outdoor equipment and clothing store, by any means, I like the ethos of REI as well. It is a co-op, so members get a vote in how the company is run, and share dividends at the end of the year…but more importantly than the company’s creative commitment to me is their commitment to the environment. REI Gives annually grants a portion of profits to environmental protection projects, each store has hands-on volunteer projects for staff and shoppers, partners with VolunteerMatch to help shoppers find volunteer opportunities in their local communities, establishes PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness for Kids) programs for youth, and has established the REI Foundation to encourage outdoor activity among young people and families.

Another shopping option for outdoor activities that has their head screwed on straight, is Patagonia. This clothier has a superb commitment to the environment and huge stable of resources they have created to inspire customers to become activists. Freedom to Roam is their initiative to create and maintain wildlife corridors across North America; they activated a whole array of resources in response to the Gulf Oil Spill (and made it easy for the rest of us to get involved); and they have loads of other avenues that are right on course like environmental internships and grants, recycling programs for garments, Patagonian resource protection measures in that South American region, conservation alliance, percentage of proceeds going to the planet, etc. It makes me feel good about shopping with a company I would choose anyway–and certainly makes me a more loyal customer when I know they have my best interests at heart–and that is how to truly EARN profits.

Think about where you shop, and how to hold them accountable for the way they do business and the initiatives they get behind. Some great shopping options can be kind of evil when you look at their business practices, employee policies, and investments (yes I’m talking to you Marts…both K and Wal). Choose how to spend.

Baby Sea Turtles Rockin the Gulf

Nature is pretty amazing. We keep hitting it with our best destructive shot trying to destroy the planet, and Mother Nature might be on the ropes, but she comes back out on top every time. We are overdue for some good news from the Gulf, and there actually is some. Since the BP oil disaster, wildlife officials have just declared the waters of the Gulf of Mexico safe for young sea turtles. The young hatchlings reside on the surface of the water, and since surface oil abatement has been most effective (not so much the dispersed and suspended oil, but surface cleanup is going pretty well), that level can again support life. Additionally, thousands of turtle eggs that were rescued from the spill zone beaches and relocated to Cape Canaveral are now hatching in strong numbers. Most of those hatchlings are being released in the Atlantic Ocean waters instead of the Gulf to maximize their chances of survival.

Barbara Schroeder, the national sea turtle coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, helped plan the desperate rescue. This was an unprecedented effort designed to keep thousands of newly hatched turtles from swimming straight into the gulf’s toxic oil. Biologist, sea turtle specialist, and turtle “midwife” (as described in the St. Petersburg Times) Jane Provancha, said, “It’s not exactly cutting-edge science. It’s mostly just a dramatic conservation action. It’s probably the best action under the worst circumstances.”

Here is the link to CharityGuide and their volunteer opportunities for sea turtle rescue and conservation.

Here are the international volunteer and job listings from

Continue reading

St. Bernard Project Gulf Help

I just hung up the phone with my friend Simone, who is busting her hump helping charitable organizations devoted to several causes, and one of those nearest and dearest to her is in New Orleans. The St. Bernard Project works predominantly in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Orleans parishes, and has been responsible for building more homes for Katrina survivors than any other local, national, or international organization. In addition to being devoted to meeting the demand of those still trying to reclaim their lives from a disaster that happened years ago, the ST Bernard Project also focuses on a very important but little talked of side of the community work in regards to the Gulf Oil Spill.

The mental health of residents of the Gulf region is being attentively addressed by St. Bernard Project. They have a mental health center to address all sorts of issues. More than a quarter of residents of New Orleans and the region are estimated to have suffered/still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after Hurricane Katrina, and the uncertainty about the magnitude of the oils spill disaster, combined with loss of livelihood and work, is expected to cause similar PTSD issues. Michelle Many, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Professor in LSU’s Department of Psychiatry, says that, “The recent oil spill has already brought a blow to the prolonged recovery from Katrina, and LSU clinicians report that residents are suffering from re-traumatization.” Shrimpers and fishermen who are predominantly self-employed and without medical insurance, cannot seek service from most mental health providers in the community–except St Bernard Project.

We know about going down to New Orleans (a thing I feel lucky and blessed to do whenever I can) and the larger Gulf region to help with beach cleanup and rehab, help clean oil from sea birds like in the dish detergent commercials, and also just go there on vacation and spend our tourist dollars in a region that is suffering from the absence of visitors…but the gentle care of the emotional health of the amazing people who have been twice-struck by enormous tragedy is truly worth your support.

Donate to support St Bernard Project here, or click here to find out more about volunteering when you are visiting. Just a day of your time can have a powerful impact.

Threat to Manatees Even Higher

We’ve only just begun to see the devastation wrought by the Gulf oil tragedy. Dead sea birds are the first round of images that crack open hearts. Under water, the affects are going to be insurmountable for at least a generation probably several generations, of sea life. Sea turtles will miss an entire breeding cycle. Fish and shrimp and other marine wildlife will be wiped out. One of my favorite marine mammals, with which I’ve had the joy of working/seeing and the pleasure to advocate for their protection, is the manatee.

The uncommonly cold winter already took a vicious toll on the manatees that congregate around the Florida Gulf coast…and now the oil in the waters may prevent them from getting to the fresh water springs they need to survive. For such hearty-looking animals, manatees are remarkably fragile and cannot tolerate diverse conditions. They need very specific environments to survive, much less thrive…and like every other life form, an oil-filled body of water is not the ideal.

“This year is off to a very bad start for manatees,” says Save the Manatee Club’s Executive Director, Patrick Rose.  “Florida’s harsh winter took a huge toll on them.  Now they are facing the worst oil spill in America’s history.  The spill couldn’t have come at a worse time for manatees because they are widely dispersed now and can be found along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida – in the very areas that could be most affected.”

Consider adopting a manatee, volunteering with this great charitable organization, or giving your support in other ways. We’re all going to have to give to the Gulf, and not just this summer season, but for a long time to come as the earth tries, in spite of our mismanagement, to heal.

Gulf Oil Spill Options for Helping

OK–mobilizing to do something to help this situation is SO important, and there are ways to support cleanup efforts from near and far. You needn’t book a flight or slip on waders to move the effort forward–and, of course, if you can–brilliant! This is going to take a long time and a lot of financial support to make a dent in the effects of what is becoming our nation’s worst environmental disaster. Luckily, we can be comforted by super-wise rocket scientist, Rush Limbaugh, when he tells us this oil spill is as natural as ocean water, and nothing to worry about. Comforting, right? As he so often is…(I sure hope the sarcasm is evident)


Call (toll-free) to report if you come across animals affected by the oil: 1-866-557-1401.

Audubon Action Center (anticipates needing volunteers for next 12 weeks). Will facilitate finding appropriate tasks based on experience and expertise. You can’t just go out with a bucket and sponge to try and clean up animals.

Deepwater Horizon Response latest news and volunteer response options.

Environmental Protection Agency response to the BP oil spill.

Global Green spill volunteers in the Gulf.

Oil Spill Volunteers Cleanup in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Oiled Wildlife Care Network Louisiana Oils Spill outreach.

Sierra Club Disaster Relief volunteers for the Gulf.

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is ready to take in birds in crisis, but needs donations and support to help the avian hospital keep up with the need.

Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research spill response.


Alabama Governor Oil Spill response.

Mobile Baykeeper needs support.

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program Gulf spill information.


Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana oil spill recovery volunteer sign up.

Greater New Orleans Foundation Disaster in the Gulf Fund welcomes your donations.

Volunteer Louisiana volunteer response from the state.


Biloxi, Mississippi Volunteers for coastal cleanup.

Pascagoula River Audubon Center will train volunteers to wash oiled birds.

There are other ways to support no matter where or who you are. This is a dire injury our planet is suffering–we can help.

Oil Spill

Well this is a hell of a welcome back. I’ve been traveling and out of range of phones and Internet (in the magnificent Galapagos Islands–more on that soon) and have come home to the news of the Gulf spill.

There are many many ways to help, more of which I’ll try to collect and post here, but for a first line of offense no matter if you are near or far, anyone-can-help option, my friend Char in New Orleans has let us know that the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans is accepting hair, animal fur, and nylons to help create “hair booms” to absorb and contain the oil. Hair and fur absorbs oil and it clings to the fibers, so nylon pantyhose, filled with natural hairs, becomes a big sponge. Find directions for sending these easy to assist items to the Ritz or other mail-in and drop-off sites around the Gulf, here, at Matter of Trust.