Radical Joy for Hard Times
Gulf Coast Rising Event

Story Info

2010 Voodoo Experience Day 2

Story & Experience

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, three months after the disastrous BP oil spill that had spewed 130 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was finally stopped, Radical Joy for Hard Times presented Gulf Coast Rising. It was an invitation to people whose lives, land, and livelihoods had been drastically affected by the spill to share joy, stories, and delight with one another.

The events were movingly diverse and personal. Three women created a labyrinth out of birdseed on the beach at Grand Isle, a long, narrow pencil-shaped island south of New Orleans that was hurt by the inrush of oil. An artist made a painting of a pelican trying to raise its oil-soaked wings. At Voodoo Experience, the annual music festival in New Orleans, three groups of musicians dedicated songs, to Gulf Coast Rising, while audience members raised their arms to show their determination to prevail in hard times. One woman did a ceremony for threatened oyster beds. In Navarre Beach, Florida, people gathered to make a gigantic sand sculpture, perhaps the largest ever built on the shores of the Emerald Coast. And in Alabama, a group of friends gathered around a colorful gypsy wagon to play their flutes and drums together. People talked, prayed, sang, shared food and memories, and reached out to one another.

We had support from an amazing variety of people, most especially, Margaret Saizan of Baton Rouge, who brought energy, ideas, and contacts to the entire process. Others who helped included photographers Matthew D. White, Kyle Petrozza, and Michael O’Donovan; musicians Paul Sanchez, Flow Tribe, and Treme Brass Band; the organizations Green Light New Orleans, Concordia, Blue Ocean Institute, and Gulf Restoration Network; Unitarian-Universalist, Methodist, and Jewish congregations; and numerous individuals who declared to one another: Here is a way of dealing with an environmental catastrophe that we can get behind, for it is not about blame or judging, but about reconnecting people and the land they love.

Gulf Coast Rising Event

Image Credit:

  • 2010 Voodoo Experience Day 2: Kyle Petrozza


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