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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tell The Story of The Gulf Catastrophe

When the oil rig exploded in the Gulf on April 20, did anyone realize what a catastrophe had happened? Along with the loss of 11 workers on the rig, the final effect on the environment can’t even be measured as yet. I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later with America’s lust for oil. Add to that the barely policed and regulated industry full of government workers watching porn at work, doing coke, and getting it on with the people they were supposed to be monitoring, and there you have it, the inevitable disaster. Does it sound like the “financial meltdown” to you? Yeah, me too.

Like most of you I have alternated between unmitigated rage and overwhelming sadness at the scope of this debacle. I read stories in the MSM and try to wrap my brain around what is happening while I wait for the photographs that will bring it all into deeper focus for me. That hasn’t happened yet.

With BP and their private police force, the US government controlling access to the effort to cap the plume, access to beaches and clean-up workers, I’m wondering: Who is telling the full story? Read more about the controlling of the press here

This week I looked at more than 300 photos online—both pro and amateur and felt there were several stories missing. Relying on the mainstream media to tell the story is to listen to both a 2-minute story bite and a cacophony of cable voices muddying the information. Otherwise it’s a newspaper headline with a decreasing column inch attention span.

This will be the loss of an extraordinary eco-system and a way of life people have lived for generations. Yet there is a certain controlled, passive reaction to it all—so it ends up sounding like every other story. The only true outrage I’ve heard has been James Carville, the rest of the press has had their typical, passive response.

What happened to the stories of the men who died in the explosion? Where are the stories about the economic dependency of towns all along the Gulf who live an almost surreal double life—working on these under regulated rigs, and hoping to continue fishing? Why haven’t I been seeing stories about people working to rehabilitate injured wildlife? Where are the photos of dead wildlife? Where are the stories about the people who live off the water and now face devastation?

This is a human story and I’m just not seeing enough of it. I know getting there and getting access isn’t easy, but I’m hoping more people try, so that this can be documented and the story kept alive when the media has moved on to the next big-rating horrorshow.

There are photographers already in the area shooting and I’m looking to hear from anyone who is down there covering this horror. Should there be a coordinated call to action—trying to gather dozens of photographers to show up and shoot? David Bram of Fraction magazine and I are talking about this. We’re thinking of creating a central site/blog for photos and information.

Oil has hit the beaches of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida and it’s come ashore in Alabama. Anyone with a camera is encouraged and urged to shoot, to tell the story so it can’t be completely controlled by the controllers.

What do you think?

All photographs courtesy of Andy Levin. A Day at What Was the Beach: Grand Isle, May 25th 2010

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Blogger Robert Herman said...

This catastrophe is the most destructive thing we've ever done to the planet. To undo this damage will take generations. Anything we can do to make the truth as well as the oil rise to the surface of our consciousness is most welcome and essential. Thanks so much for adding your voice and pushing this idea of honest photography forward as an antidote to the mis-information in the mainstream media.

June 04, 2010  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am soooooooooooooo exicted that I found you! I feel exactly the same way! Where is everybody? This, like Katrina, is a crisis of expotential devastation. I posted my photos from Grande Isle on FB and got one or two comments. We have to wake up the people! Why does it seem to be more of a nuisance story, than the story of the century??? The reason I use FB is because it is easier to upload my photos, but I will happily to contribute to your project! I am here!!

June 05, 2010  

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