The oil spill might be off the front pages, but as coast lovers, it's our job to make sure it stays on our minds. In our October issue (on newsstands now), we highlight five standout citizens—one from each Gulf state—whose passion and loyalty changed the way their respective areas responded to the crisis. In our "Heroes of the Gulf" blog series (happening every Tuesday in October), you'll have a chance to hear how each is doing now, five months after the spill. To kick off the series, Colorado-based writer of the story, Heather Hansen, shares with us what she learned from the locals she interviewed:
"Not long after oil began rushing into the Gulf, I flew along the coastline. With a birds’ eye view, I could see gentle waves slapping the shore, verdant islands harboring natural treasures and boats busily cutting courses through jade-colored water. Then, not far off the coast of Louisiana, I saw what I’d been looking so carefully for—cloudy bands of rust-hued oil. It was a bold intrusion into the bright waters surrounding it, as it was into the lives of Gulf Coast residents.
In the following weeks, I talked to some of those people whose worlds changed the day the Deepwater Horizon blew. Each are from different Gulf Coast states but have a lot in common, including a profound sadness over the spill and a fierce, protective love of their coastal environments. If I hadn’t thought much about the health of the Gulf before, I was inspired by their unwillingness to be silenced, and their tireless efforts to draw attention to oiled waters, coastlines and wildlife. I was brought to tears by stories of livelihoods and futures called into question by the disaster, of memories that would not be made.
At long last, the DH well may finally be capped—but let’s not fool ourselves—the Gulf is just beginning down the path to recovery. This catastrophe won’t be part of the past until communities are re-developed, ecosystems are restored, and these waters are protected from future storms and offshore drilling tragedies. It’s not time to turn away from the Gulf and its residents, but it is the right moment to ask what they need to make their lives whole again."
To read more of Heather's writing, pick up our October issue and buy her book, Disappearing Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them, by clicking here