Friday, April 29, 2011

Tuscaloosa, AL

I often talk about shitty things that are happening on this space I've got, but I try my best to make sure that those shitty things are paired with something you can do to make it better.

On Wednesday night Tuscaloosa, AL was almost completely devestated by several tornadoes. One recorded as a mile wide. A close colleague of mine, who has tirelessly worked for us here on the Gulf coast over the past year to recover from the BP oil disaster now needs our help.

He is an independent journalist and self claimed trouble maker for chemical companies and anyone who threatens the quality of our water. He lost his computer, camera equipment, and his Waterkeeper office. He lost a portion of his house, his son-in law lost his house, and his mother-in law is in bad shape too. Several friends have already driven up to Tuscaloosa with supplies and generators and are helping to remove the debris from John's neighborhood.

The reports look bad. Almost 300 people have already been found dead and it looks like this is rising. Red Cross put the largest number of shelters up since just after Katrina. The people of Alabama need our help. To me it seems like we hear about disasters everyday. Someone always needs our help. Someone is always in crisis. It's overwhelming at times. If you can't drive to AL and help remove debris, there are many other ways to help. Donate money, call a local grocery store in AL and purchase supplies from someone in town to pick up and pass out, send this call for help to friends and family. I'm sure you're clever enough to think of things I can't, get creative.

I'm hoping to drive up in the next couple days to do what I can. If you are interested and able to give something to help John Wathen and the Waterkeeper Alliance help the community of Tuscaloosa, please donate here. If you don't feel comfortable giving to an organization, you can always give to me and I will make sure that food and supplies make it to Tuscaloosa.

John took this footage as a deadly tornado passed over his neighborhood.
You start to see the tornado at about 2minutes. Yeah, he's kind of intense. John is a good man doing good things to protect and defend our right to clean water. He is an amazing photographer and has helped those that were impacted by Katrina, Rita, and the BP oil disaster. Please take a moment to help him help his community recover.

Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

my brain today

Ben Franklin is giving away money: This fund was created with a portion of the investment proceeds from $5,000.00 left by Ben Franklin to the citizens of Pennsylvania, to be distributed 200 years later.

Desi is amazing!:
Rethinking Aerosol writing in the community

New favorite blues song:

"well, you got me wonderin' baby
who's makin dirty dishes with you?"

rain barrels and container gardening: I have 18 packet of seeds and enough found objects to start a pretty fucking big garden in my new backyard.

My new place: Is big enough to rent out some desks for others that are working from home but might want some company. Do I do it? I also am planning out building the desks from old New Orleans front doors and homemade sawhorses.

I built an awesome fundraising system!
I'm very proud. Now I feel prepared to raise tons of cash money for my organization, even with my tiny little brain thinking about rain barrels, container gardens and building french country rock and roll desks.

The citizens of Prince William Sound: Have a regional citizens advisory council to help with all things oil pollution/production related in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster. It started merely months after the disaster happened, I get eyes rolled at me when I ask for one in meetings on the Gulf coast. My tiny brain is confused.

Maybe sinking out of use oil rig platforms isn't good for the environment:
We should study that more. And maybe those new studies shouldn't be funded by the oil industry.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Distracted Gumbo.

Man, I'm having trouble concentrating again! Today has not been my most productive day. This week hasn't been my most productive week.

I went to my favorite chill coffeeshop, the one that reminds me of Amsterdam and I ran into that one dude that would be great to chat with if he wasn't such an asshole most of the time. You know the kind. An hour later I finally made my escape (he bought my tea for me I at least had to stay and talk to him). I then was on the hunt for 20 minutes for my next favorite coffee shop. I always get lost in Bywater. And I was driving since I have a flat and haven't fixed it. This is what having an available car does to you. I need a lock on my car that determines whether this is a necessary drive or not. Most will not be necessary. The dude next to me has his laptop on his lap and his hands ready to start working if only he was actually awake. The guy in front of me a moment ago bent down to put his head on the counter while he was waiting for his cuppa to arrive. Maybe my distracted mindset is just because of the mood of the city. The heat is rising and we are starting to move slower down here.

Did you see this latest adventure from the Yes men?

Best scooter ever.

This month I had readers in new places: Arizona, Massachusettes, New Hampshire, Tennesse, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Sydney, London, Kharkiv, Winnipeg, and Patrai. Who are you?

I will be building raised flowerbeds in two weeks. Any helpful hints?

I have come to realize that I will not be able to afford all four days of Jazzfest and will thus camp outside the gates. I will be biking with my ice chest full of sangria and appetizers (because that's all I make) and comfy chairs and one of my good friends from DC. Maybe I can sell something. Do people still buy friendship bracelets? That's about as crafty as i get. I need a skill. That can make me money. Where do you get one of those?

A picture of me was in the USA Today yesterday. I think I might have been asleep behind my enormous sunglasses. And I was sweating. It was 8am. The picture shows all of this. Good Morning New Orleans. Sierra Club held a morning candlelight vigil to remember the Deepwater Horizon explosion. It was great little press conference, which I wasn't aware it was going to be, which is why I wore my moo-moo.

The Safer Chemicals Act was just re-introduced into Congress. Senator Lautenberg, a children's health advocate, introduced it and posted this video about the legislation. I kind of like it.

That is all. Time wasted. Must get back to creating a document that shows all the pieces of the three bills introduced to bring the Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf coast. yea me!

Since we have seen ZERO legislation passed to help fix the exploitation of corporate power which created the break down of regulation and enforcement that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and those over 250 million gallons of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico, it would be great if you asked your congressional delegation to support legislation to get all clean water act fines to the gulf coast.

Take action!

Renee Claire

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Workitout. Workitout. Work.It.Out.

This week is almost over. I'm exhausted and distracted and disoriented and something else that I can't quiet put my finger on. The humidity is setting in and the mindset is starting to change in this city. Jazz fest starts next week. The Blessing of the Fleet is on May 8. I'm not sure I can mentally handle another meeting where sick Gulf coast residents scream at public officials about needing health care and public officials get up and walk out the door without committing to anything. And I keep running into this woman that I fired a couple years ago and haven't spoken to since. It all makes me a little nervous.

Two days ago at a meeting room in the Riverside Hilton in New Orleans, LA the Yes Men pranked BP. They announced that BP and HHS is setting up 35 health clinics on the Gulf coast to address the growing health crisis due to the toxic cocktail of crude oil and dispersants. A BP employee who was somehow at the Gulf Coast Leadership Summit though refused to take part in this multi-stakeholder conference to find solutions to the problems we are still facing, showed up at the fake press conference to say that in fact BP would not be setting up these clinics and this press conference was a fraud. This morning BP did announce that they would release $1 Billion in up front eco-system restoration in the NRDA process.

(NRDA = boring, long term federal legal process to restore the environment to pre-disaster conditions = Natural Resources Damage Assessment)

After Senatora Mary Landrieu made this announcement at the Gulf coast Leadership Summit, where I have been for three days, and after audience heckling after audience heckling, she also committed to agressively search for solutions to our growing health crisis. She promised to bring a group of those that are ill and working with those that are ill together to figure out next steps. This is a great gesture and I hope that it bears fruit that truly addresses our concerns. But given the government's and LA in particular's past actions, it is unlikely that the people of the Gulf will see any redress before hundreds more become ill.

I love this city and I love this state, but those put in charge don't care much about people.

On Tuesday I met Kevin Costner. The same Kevin Costner that sat in front of Congress last summer begging for the industry and government to make technology,he has, available to help clean up the oil. I met the scientists that created this technology and I stood on the barge that wasn't utilized very well last summer. One of the scientists is from Berkeley. I shared my woes of not seeing Scraper bikes in town and having no access to quality kale. The kale is fucking grey here. Not intense I can smell the sunshine radiating off it green, grey. Very sad.

Alright, off to get some real work done.


Monday, April 11, 2011

It Ain't No Joke

It's been said before, but seriously this town is not for the weak. I'm not sure what I've been doing, but I know I haven't left in New Orleans in a couple weeks. I'm incredibly broke and exhausted, a little bit sunburned, and about to be homeless. I would guess that I'm also hungover but I think that's the baby benedrel that has become my regular nightcap. I might live with the most spiders I've ever seen since the jungles of Thailand. And it's very likely that my new roommate will be some German Shepard mix, as a bodyguard not a companion.

My job is, like I express all the time, a lot. Not much of anything like I expected, but hey what is. As I said to a colleague late Friday afternoon; sometimes I love organizing and sometimes I hate organizing. And sometimes I just would rather be at the French Quarter Fest dancing to zydeco. This past weekend was French Quarter Fest, a free four day long Jazz festival. I danced some cajun. I lusted over Troumbone Shorty, made a fool of myself wiggling around to the Treme Brass Band, and heard a zydeco version of Kiss by Prince complete with a washboard.

But last Tuesday I found out that I had to move out of my apartment sometime within the next two months. Being that this will be my 12th move in the past 12 months, I felt nothing by this news. A lazy 'of course' waved passed me while I searched Craigslist for my new home and about two hours later I was walking through what has turned out to be my new apartment. Two blocks from where I originally wanted to live, three times the size of my current place, and a sketchy enough neighborhood that I'm picking up a very large dog from SPCA sometime shortly. Hopefully one that looks scrappy with wild hair, like I do in the morning.

Though the streets where I currently live, maybe less than 2 minutes by car to my new place, has some uneven roads, this new street looks like a fucking bomb went off. I can't even imagine when the last time anyone from the city drove up this street. Actually, there are probably several policemen that live in my new neighborhood, but keeping the murder rate under 300 and not being arrested by the FBI themselves is a bigger priority for our New Orleans cops these days.

The weekend before last I traveled with a new friend to Laplace. A tiny cajun town just outside New Orleans. The accents are slightly different than cajun but it takes a local to notice. Most of the time I have no idea what my new friend is saying, but he's so cute I'm not listening anyway. We spent Saturday afternoon and early evening in a bar called Bullys. First opened in 1927 off some small bayou, a few hundred feet from I-10. Most of the new friend's family happened to also be there or stop by during the night and the beer came in goblets. Like the kind of gobelts I use to drink Kir Royal's out of when I worked at an all night diner and wear wife beaters and unmatching earrings. I may or may not have been 22 at the time.

Regardless Bully's was an experience. First they don't season the outside of their crawfish. This has been a shocking revelation to me. I'm from what they call cajun country, where everything is fucking spicy, including the outside of your crawfish, which you don't eat. Though the crawfish was tasty it didn't have that eye watering can't touch anything because your hands are full of red peppers and crawfish juices I love so much. When I asked 'whatthefuckisupwiththiscrawfish?" I was laughed at in some deep gutteral "I've been smoking for 45 years and you must be from Lafayette parish' bayou laugh. I was not amused by the response I received.

In the end, I made it out of Bully's alive, even though my new friend's uncle kept asking my if I was Irish and making comments about different parts of my body, while screaming on about how his grandchild always ask if he's drunk again, mostly in the same breath. The Sheriff was also there at his usual table with his usual kiss-ass entreage, as I was told. And the bloody mary was the best I've ever had in my entire fucking life. If you are ever drive I-10 and pass by exit 209, stop at Bully's order a bloody mary, then sit back and watch the show unfold. Just a small warning, Bully's is a contact sport.

Well . . . I would like to share with you some environmental health news article or something of substance, but that's all I've got right now. Two-steppin to Prince songs, drunk inappropriate uncles, brass bands, being kicked out of my apartment after two months, and goblets of beer. What kind of stories do you want from me anyway?

Renee Claire