Dear Rodef Sholom community,
On behalf of the 17 people who made the journey to New Orleans this year, we want to share with you what we did to help heal the Gulf Coastline as a result of the BP oil spill of 2010. Some of you contributed to the tzedakah effort and some of you held us in your hearts and your thoughts, sending us off as your emissaries of good will, because you yourself could not go. We went on behalf of all of us and we want to thank you for all the support you gave us.
We were originally assigned to work at The School at Blair Grocery, but at the last minute, the school became involved in a reorganization process, and could not accept volunteers at that time, so Jewish Funds for Justice (our partner organization) reassigned us to Gulf Coast restoration work. We were given a new assignment to work with two organizations called Bayou Rebirth and Common Ground.
Bayou Rebirth and Common Ground are two small non-profit grassroots organizations that recently joined forces in an effort to get the toxins out of the water in the area of the oil spill and simultaneously plant native grasses to rebuild the coastline and protect it against hurricanes at the same time as providing a healthy ecosystem for native birds and animals.
Click here to see many of the photos from New Orleans
Colleen Morgan of Bayou Rebirth, a hands-on wetlands conversation group, summed up the work when she described her goal in the project to get as many American hands into Louisiana dirt as possible...before it's too late. The more we come to see and understand the vitality of the Gulf for our country and our world - and to connect the environmental issues we see in Louisiana to those in our own communities - the more we will all be forced and empowered to think critically about our own energy use and environmental behavior. Click here to read more at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism blog.
Colleen taught us how to scientifically measure the health of water, while Common Ground volunteers taught us how to build ponds anywhere in the inner city that had a vacant lot so that we could propagate bayou grasses to be planted 2 hours South of New Orleans right on the Gulf Coastline. And so we were blessed to get our hands dirty in all of those ways. We not only dug ponds in the city and separated and replanted grasses into temporary ponds so that they would multiply, but we also drove two hours south to a place called Venice, LA, the place closest to the oil spill and bagged 2,000 pounds of humus, an organic combination of soil, microorganisms and manure that can house native plants and at the same time literally suck the toxins from the oil spill out of the water.
We got plenty dirty that week, and did a small part in a very large undertaking to restore the health and beauty of the bayous at the same as naturally protecting the coastline from future hurricane devastation. The purpose of work in our lifetime just does not get any better than that, dear friends. We hope that you will join us another year as we go out and get dirty on behalf of this beautiful G-d given earth. We are proud to be G-d's partners in that endeavor. Click on Leslie Laskin-Reese's blog above to see pictures of our work.
Many thanks from all of us,
Claire Mikowski, Cantor David Margules, Molly Baer, Hana Bellin, Jay Bellin, Scott Gerber, Merv Giacomini, Talia Guliasi, Aviva Hamel, Alex Landeck, Emily Laskin, Leslie Laskin-Reese, Joe Leonard, Elliot Levin, Benny Margules, Lexi Thompson, Steve Wasserman