Hundreds participate in “Another Gulf Is Possible”
Week of Resistance, Solidarity and Love

Grassroots organizations, national allies and activists in historic display of unity for social, racial, economic and climate justice amidst catastrophic flooding in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS — On Saturday, August 20th, nearly 200 Gulf Coast residents and allies marched through New Orleans to kick off a week of events dubbed “Another Gulf is Possible: A Week of Resistance, Solidarity & Love.” The march, which was full of colorful visuals, stopped at sites of resistance in the city to highlight a legacy of movement building in the region and a unified vision of racial, social, economic and climate justice. Being led by the Hot 8 Brass Band, folks marched with banners declaring an aspiring vision for the Gulf South including “Black Lives Matter”, “Migracion Sin Miedo”, “Water Is a Human Right” and “Indigenous Rising”.

Bold Louisiana's Cherri Foytlin joins the Another Gulf Is Possible march on Aug. 20, 2016.
Bold Louisiana’s Cherri Foytlin joins the Another Gulf Is Possible march on Aug. 20, 2016.

The “Another Gulf is Possible” march represented a historic coming together of groups working on issues including immigrant rights, LGBTQ justice, indigenous land sovereignty, the movement for black lives and climate justice, all united in demanding a just transition for the Gulf away from an economy that relies on the extraction of natural and human resources.

Events continued throughout the week, such as the “Just Transition Solidarity Summit” on Sunday and Monday, aimed at bridging racial divides specifically in the environmental and climate justice movement.

There were two direct actions on Tuesday, including direct flood relief service to gut the flooded home of an elderly cancer patient in North Baton Rouge by a group of a dozen “Another Gulf” activists.

Another Gulf Is Possible Service Day
Another Gulf Is Possible Service Day to help restore a flood-damaged home in North Baton Rouge, LA.

There was also a petition delivery action at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offices, resulting in 4 arrests.

The week culminated on Wednesday, August 24 with a giant “balloon banner” rising above the iconic Superdome declaring “Another Gulf Is Possible” and a call to cancel the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s offshore drilling lease sale that was taking place inside.

Another Gulf Is Possible visits the closed-to-the-public BOEM sale of leases to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
Another Gulf Is Possible visits the closed-to-the-public BOEM sale of leases to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Abigail Hopper, in attendance at live-streamed auction, refused to meet with activists outside after indicating initial willingness to do so. Hopper instead responded with the request from the public to engage about their concerns with “I’ll tweet at you later” on Twitter. August 24th marked the first time the auctioning of public water or lands was live-streamed behind closed doors by any federal agency.

“The Gulf Coast has long suffered disproportionate impacts from the country’s over-reliance on fossil fuels, from poor health in communities of color near oil refineries to pipeline dredging that has eroded wetlands and made the region more vulnerable to hurricanes to regular oil spills that pollute the water, to rising sea levels fueled by climate change,” said Cherri Foytlin, mother of 5 and State Director of BOLD Louisiana, whose home was amongst the 40,000 in central and southwestern Louisiana that experienced extreme floods. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated, and eleven people were killed . There are now five states, most of them in the South, which have experienced deadly flooding in the last 15 months.

“At a time when communities in Louisiana, including my own, are once again living through a climate-driven disaster, we must reckon with ourselves to come together and call for a more equitable future,” said Cherri, “For too long, we have been used and abused in the name of profit and suffered from so many types of violence in our communities. We will no longer stand to be a sacrifice zone for this country, we demand justice.”

Saturday’s march included the participation of New Orleans-based community organizations such as Congreso, Congress of Day Laborers, Stand With Dignity and Take ‘Em Down NOLA. “I can’t worry about a marshland, if I gotta still worry about my body. I can’t worry about disappearing wetlands and what’s coming 5-10 years down the line if I’m still worried about walking away from here and being murdered by the police and nothing being done about it. Once we engage that conversation – connect that conversation to the fact that the same system that profited off of our bodies, only for the money to trickle up higher so the oil companies could continue to do what they do to these wetlands to become wasteland – can we have a holistic conversation, can we holistically heal, not a second before”, said Quess Moore of Take ‘Em Down NOLA.

On that note, Another Gulf activists and their allies gathered at Craige Cultural Center in Algiers for the Just Transition Summit on Sunday and Monday to deepen relationships within the movement. The Summit aimed to create space to frankly discuss how to shift towards truly just organizing practices. Conversations delved into deep inquiry around transforming historical inquiries, injustices and harms caused by mainstream environmentalism and how to collaboratively by directly confronting and addressing them. “We must come together, all nations, all relations, all water,” said Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who co-facilitated the Summit.

Throughout the week, displays of solidarity between the No Dakota Access Pipeline and No New Leases fights were evident, from banners to chants to strategic shared social media strategies. “It is time that we realize we must connect our struggles, for we are truly all in one interconnected fight to heal our people and our planet from generations of violence, oppression and extraction. I truly believe we can build a better world if we are willing to look deeply and change ourselves, our relationships with each other and our systemic structures towards a just future. We will keep resisting with solidarity for all our struggles and love in our hearts,” said Jayeesha Dutta, co-founder of the Radical Arts and Healing Collective, who created the vision and facilitated the arc of events for the week.