Guest Blog: Tales of an Oil Spill Response “Widow”

I get to blog again tonight and wanted to report the “Tales of an Oil Spill Widow.”

Those of you who read and follow blogs such as this one understand how devastating this oil spill is on many levels:  to our environment, economy, animals, endangered species, people’s livelihoods, etc.  What I’ve been encountering back here at home in California is how this is affecting the “common man” (or “common woman / common child”).  Knowing that Mike, my husband, has essentially been in Louisiana for the past month and a half due to this catastrophe, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, etc. have been asking me daily what is going on, how sad they are that this is happening, how frustrated they are at a lack of a fast, clean remedy to this problem and how helpless they feel as to what they can do to help.  (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)  Now, before I continue, you all need to know that I am a social worker and therapist, so I am going to talk shop here a little.  People respond to crises in many different ways.  They can get angry or sad, they can ignore/deny the problem, they can complain about the problem, or they can become anxious and dwell on the problem.    All of these responses often immobilize a person, rendering them feeling helpless and hopeless.  There is, however, another mobilizing response that I have encountered over this last month and a half.  People have been approaching me and telling me what they are doing, in their little corner of the world, to help this national crisis.  Some people tell me that they are riding their bikes more to reduce THEIR consumption for oil.  They are telling me they are donating to relief agencies.  They are holding fund raisers to raise even more money for relief funds.   One thing that I am the most pleased with is that they are educating themselves.  They are reading newspapers and articles and blogs.  They are talking with each other about all aspects of this oil spill and discussing a variety of national policies and reforms.  Teachers are discussing all of the above with their students, who are our future policy makers.  Knowledge is power!  With knowledge we can learn from this and hopefully prevent this from occurring again.

A personal example of how teachers are using this as part of their curriculum is when Mike, a couple of weeks ago, was able to cut out some time from his numerous meetings and conference calls to Skype with two elementary school classes.  These 4th, 5th, and 6th graders prepared questions to ask Mike regarding the oil spill.  What impressed me the most was the active and thoughtful questions these students asked.  Some of the questions were:  “Where do dolphins go to get away from the oil slick?”, “How does this affect the food chain?”, “What are the fishing people going to do now?” , “Which species are the most affected?”,  “How much is this going to cost?”,  “How long before we can fish in the Gulf again?”, “What ways have they tried to clean the oil up?” , “Where does the oil go after they siphon it up?” , “Why are the animals stranding themselves more this year than last year”.  As you can tell, these kids are thinking!   Mike teased the kids that they asked tougher questions than the media did.

As I end this blog, I am reading the thank you notes they are sending Mike.  All are sweet, very colorful, and again, very thoughtful.  I ask all those who are concerned about this is to keep thinking, talking and communicating with each other.  Keep talking to your friends, families, neighbors, children, and yes, even strangers.  That is the best way we can come up with the answers we need for current and future problems.  Thanks for listening/reading a different perspective from the Oil Spill Widow in California. 🙂

One thought on “Guest Blog: Tales of an Oil Spill Response “Widow”

  1. Oil Spill Widow ~ I like that.

    Thanks for the positive spin. There are always opportunities for learning, sharing, and growing during catastrophes. Keeping this perspective and gleaning all we can from the circumstances gives us hope.

    Good post.

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