BP and the Gulf of Mexico – 2 Years Later

2 years ago, a tragic accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig quickly became an epic environmental disaster that captured the attention of the world. In the US, we watched helplessly as oil gushed from the well day and night, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it hit the shores along the coast. For months on end, we were served up horrific images of oiled birds, fish, turtles, etc. 24-7 as the oil continued to spew into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage didn’t end there, nor has it been fully acknowledged.

There are stories that are waiting to be told by people whose lives have never been the same after the BP oil spill, if only we would be open to listening to them. Many people along the coast are disheartened by the lack of attention to their plight, while the rest of the world has largely moved on, forgotten, or been convinced that everything was cleaned up and we can leave it in the past.

Devin DrawingA big part of acknowledging the true impact is the recognition that the kids who live along the Gulf coast have suffered a unique set of setbacks and challenges as a result of the spill. These impacts have been largely invisible to the rest of the world.

The kids are not the activists who protest at BP shareholder meetings, they are not the ones that lined up to vent their frustrations at community meetings with the Coast Guard and BP during the spill’s peak, and they are not the ones that have filed paperwork to be ‘made whole’ by the responsible party in the disaster. No, they are the kids of all of those frustrated residents. They are the sons and daughters of shrimp boat crew members, shop owners, charter fishermen and many other local workers who have seen their parents lose their livelihood, and in many cases, their dignity over these past 2 arduous years.

Don’t think for a minute that this has been tied off nicely with a happy ending for these kids. Stress in Gulf coast families has impacted their lives in ways that are not easily seen. Kids that grew up on the Gulf waters and spent their childhood in and around the bayous are living with a different reality today. The care-free days of spending free time on the beaches has been replaced by concerns over how safe the area is and whether their families are ever going to recover from the disaster.

After talking with people who live along the Gulf coast over the past two years, it is clear to me that there is a lot of healing left to do. I believe that kids in particular have a lot to share and their stories can help us understand the true impacts of this tragedy. We must learn from it if we’re ever going to keep it from happening again.

Here on this 2-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, let us pause for a moment and reflect on the lives lost and the lives forever changed as a result of this disaster. Let us not forget that this was unprecedented in scope, and the impacts are still being felt today. Let us remember the children who still grapple with the effects on their families and the environment that they call home. And finally, let us be open to learning from this disaster. This is the way we can respect the losses endured and honor the many sacrifices that have been made in the 2 years since the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

To support our efforts to document the plight of kids along the Gulf coast, visit the Support page and find out how you can get involved.

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Inspiration for Kids of the Gulf

Our fundraising campaign for the film is off to a great start, and I want to take a moment to say a special thank the 92 people from around the world that have put their money on the line to help us make this film.  It’s incredibly humbling and inspiring to see people from across the globe standing up for this.

I have been following the story of the Gulf coast since I first heard about the oil spill last April.  I had a friend that worked on the rig next to the Deepwater Horizon and he saw the raging inferno the night of the explosion.  He shared pictures a week or so later over dinner one night when we gathered with friends. It was my first ‘real’ contact with the disaster apart from the round-the-clock news reports that the rest of the world was seeing.

I went on to lead a small documentary team to the coast last Summer – to hear from the people in the communities.  To let them share their stories.

Today, I wanted to take a moment to explain why we are making this film now. Most people believe that the oil spill is old news and the coast has recovered and is back to normal. It’s not quite that simple, however.

I visited the Gulf coast on April 20-23 of this year to check in on the communities that our team visited last Summer.  I wanted to see how things were progressing 1 year later.  What I heard was troubling to say the least.

Check out this short video below I put together that has some of the personal stories from the coast.  If you can’t see the video, click here.

Regardless of the progress that’s been made to restore the communities and the environment to their pre-spill state, there is much ‘silent suffering’ going on down there, particularly in the small fishing communities.

Here’s what I heard over and over again – many of the coastal residents are living paycheck to paycheck during ‘normal’ times, so when a disaster like this comes along, it’s not something they can readily adapt to. There is simply no precedent for it. They are used to adapting to natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, coastal erosion, etc., but even those things are issues that they have some sense of control over. When a hurricane hits, they can rebuild.  But when an oil spill happens like the BP spill, they can’t rebuild the entire Gulf of Mexico.  Nobody can.

This oil spill was totally out of their control and it has disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people along the coast.

Cutoff LouisianaYou see, their lives are different now.  They are not the same as they were, regardless of how much advertising BP runs to make the world believe everything is perfectly fine and dandy.

These are the stories that I believe deserve to be told, so when Devon and Devin approached me and said they wanted to help, the idea for this film popped into my head immediately.  There was never a question as to whether or not this was a good idea, or if people would care.  I KNEW people would care.

92 generous people from around the world have proven that to me today.

Ian Somerhalder and Sophia Bush have proven that to me today.

The long list of emails from friends and family that sit in my inbox awaiting response have proven that to me today.

What I’m asking for today is a little faith. Faith that this story is worth telling. Faith that these kids are going to do their best to share this story with the rest of the world in a way that inspires other kids from every corner of the globe to speak out and work together on issues they care about in their own communities.

Last week, I saw a headline that Halloween is projected to generate $6.9 Billion (yes, that’s Billion with a B) in consumer spending in the US due to an increase in the number of Americans celebrating the holiday. I’m all for celebrating, so let’s celebrate, shall we?

I’d like to see us celebrate the spirit of these kids as they do their part in making our world a kinder, more understanding and compassionate place for us all to live.

Can you celebrate with us?  If so, click here to join your fellow global citizens in helping to bring Kids of the Gulf to life.

And please, if you know people along the coast – share this with them and let them know that people still care. We won’t forget, period.

Thank you for all you’re doing to help!

Brandon Sutton
Creator & Executive Producer
Kids of the Gulf

Introducing Kids of the Gulf

“I may be a kid, but I still have a voice.” – Devon Haas, age 7.

Devin DrawingMore than 4,200 miles of coastline was affected by the BP oil spill of 2010, and problems like that don’t disappear overnight. Two kids and a documentary crew are heading down there to shed some light on the devastating impact on kids and families in the area, and they need your help to do it.

Kids of the Gulf is a documentary film featuring 7-year-old Devon and 13-year-old Devin on their journey to the Gulf Coast to gather and share the stories of kids and families affected by the BP oil spill of 2010, along with what they are doing to adapt and recover. We don’t hear much about the BP oil spill anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the recovery effort is anywhere close to being over.

Many residents in the region rely on the Gulf for survival and Kids of the Gulf will draw attention to the young people that live there and how their lives have been changed forever in the aftermath of this disaster. More importantly, it will draw attention to what they are doing to come together in the recovery effort. Through these stories, we’ll also touch on the themes of dependence on oil, importance of conservation, and the role of renewable energy in the coastal economy moving forward.

The goal for Kids of the Gulf is to use exposure on network television, film festivals, and public screenings to share the uplifting stories of kids working with other kids on important environmental and social issues such as the BP oil spill. We ultimately want to inspire other kids to speak up and take action on issues that are important to them in their own communities.

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