If I haven’t said it already, I am originally from Mississippi.  I began my law practice on the Gulf Coast, in Gulfport, Mississippi, and moved to Denver just before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.

Katrina was an unprecedented disaster for the Gulf Coast region, doing more damage along the coast than in New Orleans, although the mainstream media couldn’t make as big of a story out of the less densely populated Mississippi coast’s total devastation.  Five years later, the Mississippi Gulf Coast still struggles from the remnants of the hurricane.

Now, the oil “spill” has happened.  I am not interested in assigning blame to anyone in this post.  I also won’t try to use any analogies for the occurrence’s effect on the region, such as how it has “struck another stunning blow”, etc., because it cheapens the reality of what is happening in the Gulf.

Plainly put, this continued oil flow will probably destroy the entire marine and inland marsh ecosystem from Galveston, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida.  I don’t think that is an overstatement.

In the meantime, there are people living in coastal towns trying to come to grips with the situation, and also trying to get involved at some level.  One of these people is Chip Cole, a 7th grade science teacher in Gautier, Mississippi, a small community near Pascagoula.  Chip is a huge open water enthusiast, and he loves his state’s marine environment, including the unique barrier islands that form and guard the Mississippi sound.  Nearly a year before the oil blowout, Chip started a company, Barefoot Barriers (www.barefootbarriers.com), whose sole mission was to get people involved in boating, and make them aware of the fragile nature of the barrier islands. 

His simple thought was to raise enough capital to buy a small boat to take those who weren’t otherwise able “out front” into the Gulf of Mexico and to the barrier islands.  In return, he would have his passengers take trash bags and fill them up from the leftover waste of careless others who had trashed the islands.  Simple enough.  Not a get rich type of venture, just a passion project.

Flash forward to today: Chip is working with many locals who are wondering how to get involved with the beach protection and clean-up, and is working both with the state and with British Petroleum, to offer assistance via his boat and those of other volunteers. 

I am posting this because I am far away from my birthplace, but feel the need to contribute in some way.  I am wary of donating money to any organization without some accountability.  However, in this case, I am buying t-shirts from www.barefootbarriers.com, so that Chip and actual residents of Mississippi’s coast can have some additional resources to participate in clean-up in any way possible. 

Please take some time to visit his site, buy a coozie or a t-shirt, or simply e-mail Chip to get more information.  The Gulf of Mexico has taken another enormous hit, and the rest of the nation will ultimately feel it in some form. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and TIA for any help you can give.