New Orleans, LA – The Friends of New Orleans was founded after Hurricane Katrina to create a network of groups that could help with the city's recovery. Denise Byrne of Arlington, Virginia, is acting executive director.
"We're reaching out to people who are businesspeople. We're hoping to get them interested, to come down to Louisiana and invest down there, whether it's, you know, regular business investment, starting up their own business or doing social investments. We want people to know that there's amazing things going on on the ground in Louisiana and that they should come down and take a look at it for themselves."
But environmental leaders are also urging non-profit networks to remind members that the BP spill remains a threat, not only to the Gulf of Mexico, but also coastal communities. Matt Petersen is president and chief executive officer of Global Green USA.
"We're about a year and a half after the BP oil spill started, and the work in cleaning it up is far from done. We need to still hold BP accountable for their actions and unfortunately it's been out of sight, out of mind. We need to make sure the Obama administration and the US Congress hold them accountable and ensure that the necessary resources are being put back into the communities and not just do clean up but to help create an economic recovery that creates diversity."
Joining the meeting at the offices of Lotus Development Corporation founder Mitchell Kapur were several Louisiana residents explaining first-hand accounts of oil spill damage that continues. Commercial fisherman Lance Nacio says his business is down 40 percent since the spill.
"I'm just here to spread the message that, even though BP may, through marketing and media, say that everything is fine, you know, I mean, I'm a struggling fisherman that I know firsthand that it is not fine."
Diem Nguyen of the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation met before the meeting with the San Francisco-based group Give2Asia. Nguyen says the Vietnamese community needs help with finding mental health services for the fishing families now out of work, and expanding community development options. The Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing group of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes was also on hand, outlining problems in Native American communities affected by the spill.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming