Bringing LABB’s canvassing program back to life

LABB Canvass Director Matthew Kern and EJ Corps Fellow Akasa Thomas pose with Xavier Associate Professor Ross Louis and his family. Louis donated his van to the field canvassing project.

By LABB’s newest staffer, Canvass Director Matthew Kern

It was almost six years ago that the worst storm we had ever seen ravaged our community. Like many in New Orleans, Katrina left a devastating mark on the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Our office weathered the floods, but the storm displaced many of our staff and the communities we worked in. The winds and rains caused the roof of our office to collapse washing away years of records. As a result, we had an established field canvass that could not be sustained as our organization and community were deeply fractured by the storm.

Katrina brought with it a tragic reminder why our work is critical to public health. Not having an adequate emergency plan, Murphy Oil’s refinery in St. Bernard Parish spilled more than a million gallons of crude oil into the communities of Chalmette and Meraux. The Murphy Oil spill and more recently the BP Oil Spill have reaffirmed the need to get the public involved in holding our large industrial neighbors accountable for the damaging effects they have on the health of our families.

With the memory of this tragedy fueling our resolve for a better tomorrow, we are proud to announce the return of LABB’s canvassing program. This is the first year since Katrina that we are launching a field canvass. We will be in the community talking to neighbors, educating people on environmental injustices, and getting everyone involved in holding industry responsible for the health-threatening pollution carelessly spewed into our air and leaked into water. It is an exciting time with many issues to address, especially with hurricane season already reaching its most active months.

A special thank you goes out to our members. Through your support, this final step to recovery is made possible. We look forward to keeping you updated on the rebuilding process in the near future. For those of you looking to help, we will have job openings for activists looking to make a difference in your community and are accepting donations of office supplies or furniture.

For more information, please contact our Canvass Director Matthew Kern at You can also get updates through our weekly eNewsletter by becoming an eMember. Click here to sign up!

This entry was posted in Field Canvass, Oil spills, Public Health. Bookmark the permalink.

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