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Citizen witnesses and observers are using Ushahidi, a mobile reporting platform, to collect information and data on the impacts from the BP underwater oil volcano. Ushahidi (Swahili for testimony or witness) is a tool for record-keeping by the crowd-sourcing of texts, photos, tweets and email messages. When the traditional media wants to ignore an issue, on-the-ground citizen reporting to the rescue.

The technology was created so bloggers could track political violence in Kenya in 2008 after the election and has been used for tracking everything from monitoring elections in Sudan, assisting post-earthquake crisis response in Chile, helping first responders like the U.S. Coast Guard find earthquake victims in Haiti, tracking wildlife in Kenya and crime in Atlanta.

Now, it's being used in the Gulf Coast. The tweets, texts and email messages are used by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to map a database of damage related to the "spill." The "brigade, a New Orleans advocacy group, hopes that thousands will help populate the map over the coming weeks with reports of odors, unemployed oystermen and oily birds and other animals."

A representative of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade informed me that they are taking reports from all the Gulf States. This is the map of red dots identifying the location of reports so far:

Incidents from the map are listed in chronological order and include things, such as oil smell, red sheen, and oil found on plants and animals.

A click onto an individual incident report provides a description of the report, as well as data on the location, date, time, and whether or not the report has been verified.

The database of information collected will be used to help scientists and engineers in cleaning up the mess but also to assist lawyers filing legal actions against BP.   Information tweeted includes "everything from dead animals and toxic fumes to sickness outbreaks and food shortages. The goal is to create a comprehensive map of impacts that will support not only scientists and engine¬ers in their cleanup efforts, but also lawyers when the time comes for BP to go on trial."

To add your observation: Send texts to (504) 272-7OIL or provide reports to Louisiana Bucket Brigade:

Reports can be made and viewed at http://oilspill.labucketbrigade.org.  Mobile phone users can text or call in reports to  (504) 27 27 OIL.  Reports can also be sent to bpspillmap@gmail.com and through Twitter with the hashtag #BPspillmap. Eyewitness reports for the map require a description, and location information such as address, city and state, zip-code or coordinates. Citizen reporters can remain anonymous or disclose their contact information. Photos and video can be uploaded via the web.
We can help by spreading word about the existence of Ushahidi so that people in the Gulf Coast States can submit reports about the impacts from this oil gusher.

Supporting 3 Wilderness Bills
 By Meteor Blades

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Wilderness Society, the folks we have to thank for the fact that nearly 5% of U.S. land is designated as wilderness, a legacy for our grandchildren's grandchildren. It took decades to get the first federal protection of wild lands under the Wilderness Act of 1964, passed eight years after it was introduced into Congress. Originally 9.1 million acres of federal land were included. Since then, 100 million more acres have been added, more than half of them in Alaska for a total area the size of California. Two million acres in a dozen regions were added to wilderness by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2009 after having been threatened with filibuster by Sen. Tom Coburn in 2008. Not all wilderness is in the West. The very first designation, granted in 1968, went to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey's Morris County.

The effort to extend wilderness designations never ends. And if you've a mind to, you can help support three wilderness bills by lending your letter-writing and phone-calling efforts to members of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and Senate Energy and Natural Resources and its Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. If one of your Representatives or Senators sits on the committee or subcommittee, that's your best shot. Here are the bills:

Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act of 2010,  S. 3310, introduced by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) for 48,000 acres of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in western South Dakota southeast of Rapid City.

Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act of 2010: HR 5009, introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) for more than 16,000 acres along the Wasatch Front, Lone Peak and Mount Olympus. The bill would also designate two new areas, the Wayne Owens Grandeur Peak/Mount Aire Wilderness and the Bear Trap Wilderness.

Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness Act of 2010, S. 2963: introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (Ds-OR) for more than 16,400 acres, including a land exchange with a private owner.

You can take additional action with a personalized message supporting restoration of the Bureau of Land Management wilderness inventory process suspended by former Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton by clicking here.

A New Paradigm: Using Climate Change To Motivate Citizen Action
By boatsie

In a prescient 2008 article in The  Encyclopedia of Earth, Susanne Moser previews the role a savvy social media might play in promoting climate activism. Moser promotes a new paradigm of public work, one which elevates the issue of climate change to an integral role in the ‘res publica’.  In essence, she suggests reluctance to participate in climate action is attributable not only to psychological, social, and political  barriers, but also to structural, economic, institutional, and technological obstacles.

Her advice?  Make it local, real, and practical; ensure it is inclusive and empowering and fosters shared values and measurable outcomes; and provide ample, readily replicable examples of successful campaigns.

“Tapping into people’s desires for a better future, their social identities and aspirations, and cultural values that promote individual and collective action and engagement for the greater good (e.g., ingenuity, responsibility, stewardship, being a good team player, and leadership) can all increase people’s motivation besides the more instrumental reasons (such as personal economic gain, competitiveness, legal compliance, and so on),” Moser writes. Link

How can media motivate and encourage necessary behavior changes?  One mega success story which reflects the urgent need for collaboration to address the climate crisis is the announcement this week of a new climate news consortium “operating from a flat hierarchical network based upon mutual respect” which unites “under one collegial roof "The Atlantic, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Slate, Wired, and PBS’s new public-affairs project Need To Know.

Actions:

Join 1 Sky's Dirty Energy Hunt and document where ‘dirty energy lives” near you. An interactive map directs you to a nearby coal plant or oil. Print out signs, visit the site, take and upload a picture.

OneClimate’s Global Action Map:  enter your postcode or town and connect  with local campaigns.

The Convention on Biological Diversity  yesterday launched a new website promoting free courses to promote fluency in the tools necessary to participate in the work to assimilate projected areas into larger economic and natural resource sectors.
Skeptics Arguments and What the Science Says.  Educate yourself in how to most effectively address climate deniers.

Upload your Hand! at Hands Off Mother Earth (H.O.M.E) to protest geoengineering experiments.

Take Action Letters You Can Email Government And Eco NGOs To Advise Them Of Louisiana Bucket Brigade's Ushahidi Project
by Mariko Toyoji of Louisiana Bucket Brigade

(1) NGO Community

Sierra Club Delta Chapter, Senior Regional Representative/Manager:
jill.mastrototaro@sierraclub.org

Collition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Steven Peyronnin:
stevenp@crcl.org

Louisiana Wildlife Federation:
 lawildfed@aol.com

To Whom it May Concern,

The ongoing BP Oil Spill has the Gulf Coast Region in a state of emergency and uncertainty.  As the NGO community mobilizes to protect the Gulf Coast we want to bring a new information tool to your attention.  The Oil Spill Crisis Map is a public, dynamic web based map which visualizes citizen reports of the impact of the BP Oil Spill.  Reports can be made via text message, email, twitter and the web. Since our launch on May 3rd, over 200 eyewitness accounts of oil, affected wildlife, odors and threatened livelihoods have been made from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida demonstrating the widespread impact that this oil spill is already having on the environment, health and well being of Gulf Coast residents.  This map utilizes the Ushahidi software platform, which proved invaluable to relief efforts after the Haitian Earthquake.  

This cutting edge, crowdsourcing tool is useful for geographically identifying hot spots of oil contamination of the air and water in the communities along the Gulf Coast.  Please utilize this tool so that the people of the Gulf Coast can help you help them in protecting their environment, homes and way of life.  

Sincerely,
Your Name

(2)  Government Officials

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:
 jackson.lisap@epa.gov

USCG-- Rear Admiral Landry:
Justin.W.Reed@uscg.mail  
Attn: Rear Admiral Landry

Louisiana Parish Presidents
Plaquemines:
Billy Nungesser bnungesser@plaqueminesparish.com

St. Bernard: Craig Taffaro ctaffaro@sbpg.net

La Fouche: Charlotte Randolph parishpresident@lafourchegov.org

Jefferson: Aaron F. Broussard ABroussard@Jeffparish.net

Terrebonne: Michel Claudet
 mhclaudet@tpcg.org

To Whom It May Concern,

The ongoing BP Oil Spill has the Gulf Coast Region in a state of emergency and uncertainty.  As response agencies mobilize to protect the Gulf Coast we want to bring a new information tool to your attention.  The Oil Spill Crisis Map is a public, dynamic web based map which visualizes citizen reports of the impact of the BP Oil Spill.  Reports can be made via text message, email, twitter and the web. Since its launch on May 3rd, over 200 eyewitness accounts of oil, affected wildlife, odors and threatened livelihoods have been made from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This demonstrates the widespread impact that the continuous oil spill is already having on the environment, health and well being of the American people.  This map utilizes the Ushahidi software platform, which proved invaluable to relief efforts after the Haitian Earthquake.  

This cutting edge, crowdsourcing tool is useful for geographically identifying hot spots of oil contamination of the air and water in the communities along the Gulf Coast.  Please utilize this tool so that the people of the Gulf Coast can help you help them in protecting their environment, homes and way of life.  

Sincerely,

Your Name

EcoAdvocates is a new series initiated by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, who are contributing editors. This series focuses on providing more effective political pressure and taking action on environmental issues.

Contributing writers provide a diversity of perspectives including wind/energy/climate change; water; agriculture/food; mountaintop removal mining/coal; wildlife; environmental justice; and indigenous/human rights/civil rights. Contributing writers include: Bill McKibben, Jerome a Paris, mogmaar, boatsie, Aji, rb137, Ellinorianne, faithfull, Oke, Jill Richardson, Patric Juillet, Josh Nelson, beach babe in fl, Ojibwa, Muskegon Critic, Desmogblog, A Siegel, gmoke, DWG, citisven, mahakali overdrive and FishOutofWater.


                                                             Get the eKos widget code!

Originally posted to Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Wed May 12, 2010 at 05:11 PM PDT.

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