When I first began working here as a staff member, there were many things going through my mind. First, “How in the world did I go from being an actor/dancer to working in environmental justice?” and second was “Without a background in environmental work, how am I going to really be able to work alongside some of the most brilliant minds in the state of Louisiana and fit in”?
It took me a long time to find a comfortable place in this career field and for me to be able to be confident enough to get the job done. But, then it hit me…….this was all about humanity. This was about working selflessly and with an open-mind to give people a voice and most of all, HOPE. It all lies within the name of the organization that I work for, the Louisiana BUCKET Brigade. The bucket is a simple yet sometimes intimidating tool at first that seems so small in result, but gives so much promise and hope to people who are experienced in using it. I started recieving many calls from people around Gulf Coast who were desperate for answers about the quality of the air that they were breathing. So many of these people with the same story; sick, oppressed and hopeless. It was then that things started to make sense for me. The bucket (an EPA-approved tool that takes air samples by taking the air you breathe into a handheld vacuum cleaner, into a tube and then into a bag that sits in a bucket) is a simple way for an average, everyday citizen to get answers and lift up the voices of the concerned citizens that “share the air” that they are breathing.
I have seen what teaching someone to use this bucket can do. The person becomes empowered and confident and is able to demonstrate, through example how easy it is to get answers and take a stand. We are not only fighting for justice, but for the lives of people. These are innocent people who like you and I are trying to make a living and enjoy the time that we are given on this Earth.
I am so proud to be part of this movement and I urge you to get involved. If you are concerned about the air quality in your community or know someone who is and won’t speak up, we are here to help. The bucket is easy to use and put the power back into the hands of the people who are breathing the unclean air due to these refineries. Take a stand and be a member of the Bucket Brigade!
If you are interested in creating a group to be trained in using the bucket or are concerned about the air quality in your community, please contact us at (504) 484-3433 or e-mail me (Clayton Shelvin, volunteer coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org