About 300 people gathered at West Beach on Sunday afternoon for Stand in the Sand, a gathering to support victims of the Gulf Oil Spill and raise public awareness. Members of the Chumash Nation greeted participants. Then, following a welcome by Mayor Helene Schneider, various community voices spoke on behalf of Santa Barbara’s environmental movement and about the need to recommit to sustainability, donate the resources we can and, promote changes in our energy policy.
Jean-Michel Cousteau of the Ocean Futures Society spoke last, remembering the oil spills in Alaska and Spain as well as the disaster here in Santa Barbara when a rig ruptured just offshore in 1969. The incident is reminiscent of what’s happening on a larger scale in the Gulf today, and it gave birth to a fervent environmental and preservationist movement that was ancillary in paving the grassroots community that gathered at West Beach on Sunday.
Cousteau relayed words his father told him: “People protect what they love,” he said, entreating the crowd to join him in fostering an understanding of the ocean. “How can you protect what you do not understand?” He has been twice to the Gulf, and will be going back on Tuesday to communicate with decision-makers, “We’re not pointing fingers — we’re all in the same bed, we’re all on the same planet,” he said.
Ten local nonprofits, helmed by the Fund for Santa Barbara, sponsored Stand in the Sand. About nine booths set up near the stage, dispensing literature and circulating sign-up sheets.
At 3 p.m., participants — mostly clad in yellow (at the organizers’ request) — locked arms along the shoreline, forming a “human boom,” a symbol of solidarity against the BP Oil Spill and offshore drilling. Participants remained in position for about 10 minutes, instigating the occasional wave and later forming a circle.
Just as event organizers insisted, Stand in the Sand was neither a protest nor a rally, inspired not in anger but in sympathy.