Monday, May 21 , 2018, 12:54 am | Fair 59º


‘Stand in the Sand’ Sends $8,000 for Gulf Recovery

Local residents and groups unite on behalf of the Gulf Coast Fund

On June 27, 41 years after Santa Barbara’s own oil disaster launched the modern-day environmental movement, nearly 1,000 local residents gathered on Santa Barbara’s West Beach to express solidarity with Gulf Coast communities affected by the Gulf oil disaster. Today, nearly six months after Stand in the Sand organized this symbolic action, the group released more than $8,000 to aid in the ecological and humanitarian recovery efforts that continue in the Gulf region.

“Our effort was one of goodwill,” said Eric Cárdenás, Stand in the Sand’s main organizer. “In that spirit, Santa Barbara sends our heartfelt prayers, hopes and this small contribution to support ongoing recovery efforts in the Gulf and for its residents.”

Months of fundraising included benefit concerts, raffles and calls for personal donations.

“Especially in difficult economic times, Santa Barbarans are known to come together to assist those in need for the greater good,” Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said. “Stand in the Sand was a great example of our city and residents making a positive statement and lending a hand, just as we have received help from so many in our own times of crisis.”

The $8,000 donation will be sent to the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health — a grantmaking institution that supports progressive movement building in the Gulf Coast region. Funds have been held by The Fund for Santa Barbara since fundraising efforts began in June.

“I can think of no better organization to receive this support than the Gulf Coast Fund,” said Geoff Green, executive director of The Fund for Santa Barbara. “While most media have stopped reporting on the issues that face the Gulf region, critical humanitarian and ecological recovery work is just beginning. The Gulf Coast Fund shares The Fund for Santa Barbara’s commitment to movement-building and is led by policy advocates, community activists and grassroots organizers from throughout the Gulf region.”

“The Gulf Coast Fund is honored to receive this generous donation from Stand in the Sand,” said LaTosha Brown, director of the Gulf Coast Fund. “It comes at a much-needed time, as communities in the Gulf continue working to protect and preserve their communities, their coastline and their way of life. We recognize a kindred spirit in Stand in the Sand and we appreciate their support in helping to create a sustainable and healthy Gulf Coast.”

Release of the funds comes at a time when BP has challenged the U.S. government’s estimate of 206 million barrels of oil spilled while scientific studies continue to find increasing impacts, including “dead zones” — some up to 80 square miles in size — on the ocean floor.

Stand in the Sand was organized as a direct response to the Gulf Oil Spill to send a positive message of support to the Gulf Coast region without the finger pointing, blame and negativity that prevailed in the media and public discourse. While Stand in the Sand acknowledged at the time that a negative response may have been warranted considering the catastrophe at hand, its organizers further acknowledged that negativity would do nothing to resolve the problem.

In just three weeks, organizers raised funds, launched a media campaign, secured regional allies, rallied corporate support and launched a Facebook fan page that grew to 1,700 people and drew national attention.

On June 27, those three weeks of organizing culminated in a mass gathering on West Beach that included Schneider, ocean advocate Jean-Michel Cousteau, local nonprofit organizations and members of the Coastal Band of Chumash.

— Geoff Green is executive director of The Fund for Santa Barbara.

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