YEAR IN REVIEW
What a year!
The Vessel Project of Louisiana had an ambitious plan for 2023. We aimed to provide mutual aid and emergency assistance to the communities in Southwest Louisiana, with a particular focus on the predominantly black, environmental justice community in North Lake Charles.
We successfully offered emergency assistance for rent, utilities, food, and emergency shelter to those affected by the ongoing challenges in the region. We provided assistance to residents who are still rebuilding from the past three years of disasters, helping them to build back better and more resiliently using renewable solutions such as solar power, weatherstripping, and metal roofs. We also held several town hall meetings allowing community members to voice their needs and solutions.
Community engagement and empowerment were key priorities for The Vessel Project. We organized various events, including a Coat Drive to support the community's needs during the winter months, a Women's Brunch for Women of Color, a Halloween event, Juneteenth Kids Zone, Back to School extravaganza, community Thanksgiving, Community Christmas party, and a Senior Citizens Bingo. We also hosted a Community Easter Egg Hunt and Resource Fair, providing both fun and necessary resources to the community.
In our fight against fossil fuel buildout, The Vessel Project actively participated in various activities throughout the year. We testified in the EPA methane hearing which resulted in the new EPA Methane rule. We attended COP 28 which ended with evidence that a fossil fuel “phase down” is needed. We joined the Keystone Pipeline Anniversary Joy Braun Day of Action, organized a series of events to raise awareness about the negative impacts of petrochemicals and plastic pollution, organized community meetings and provided educational materials to empower the local community. We created vocabulary cards to educate people about terms like LNG, environmental justice, climate justice, and methane. We attended hearings, met with federal regulators and decision makers, provided testimony and comments, and signed on to many letters and petitions.
In 2023, The Vessel Project achieved significant wins in our advocacy work, solidifying our commitment to climate action. From the denial of a Coastal Use Permit for Calcasieu Pass, the Roy S Nelson Coal Plant in Westlake retiring, Driftwood LNG still hasn’t been built, Magnolia LNG withdrew their request for an extension, successfully delivering over 200,000 signatures to the US Department of Energy urging them to say no to CP2, to ending the year with CP2 not being on the FERC agenda.
Through a partnership with the Gulf Fossil Finance Hub, we successfully met with the NYC Comptroller's office, Citibank, Allianz Insurance, Royal Bank of Canada, and other financiers and insurers of fossil fuels engaging in meaningful discussions and presenting compelling evidence to influence financial decisions. While these meetings are ongoing and nothing has been put in writing to divest from fossil fuels, we are positive that our meetings made an impact.
Furthermore, we were honored to have been invited as a headline speaker at NYC Climate Week. This prestigious platform allowed us to share our experiences, insights, and successes with a global audience, inspiring others to join the fight for environmental justice. Through our participation, we fostered collaboration, raised awareness, and catalyzed action on a larger scale.
Additionally, we were thrilled to have hosted and given a toxic tour to the US Department of Energy. By showcasing the environmental injustices experienced by marginalized communities firsthand, we created a lasting impact and urged action from those in positions of power. This tour served as a powerful tool to advocate for a transition to cleaner energy sources and highlighted the urgent need for environmental justice across the nation.
Throughout the year, The Vessel Project spoke on many stages both locally and abroad. We wrote many blogs and contributed to several articles. We provided real time video and photos of environmental injustice and we made many posts on social media. We adapted our schedule as needed and partnered with other organizations and coalitions, including Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, For A Better Bayou, Micah 6:8 Mission, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Rise St. James, Inclusive Louisiana, The Descendants Project, Better Brazoria, Taproot Earth, Resilience Is Power Program, Louisiana for A Green New Deal, Alliance for Affordable Energy, Solutions Project, Hip Hop Caucus, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Port Arthur Community Action Network, Permian Gulf Coast Coalition, Beyond Petrochemicals, Break Free From Plastics, Center for International Environmental Law, Louisiana Against False Solutions, OXFAM, WECAN, Stop the Money Pipeline, Rainforest Action Network, People over Plastics, Action for the Climate Emergency, Black Millennials for Flint, 350.org and many others that shared our mission, aided in our wins, marched beside us, uplifted our voice, and supported us in our fight. Our dedication to making a positive impact in Louisiana and fighting for environmental justice was evident in our efforts.
2024: A Year of Progress and Empowerment
As we reflect on the significant accomplishments of the past year, The Vessel Project is excited to outline our vision for 2024. We are determined to continue our efforts to protect the environment, empower communities, and drive meaningful change.
One of our primary goals for 2024 is to halt or delay any new fossil fuel development in Southwest Louisiana. Recognizing the urgent need to transition to clean and renewable energy sources, we will employ a multi-faceted approach. This will involve engaging in legal battles, employing strategic advocacy campaigns, and mobilizing community support to ensure that new fossil fuel projects are scrutinized, regulated, and held accountable for their environmental impact.
Another crucial aspect of our plan is to assist, educate, and empower more residents. By expanding our outreach programs, we aim to provide communities with the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to navigate environmental challenges and actively participate in decision-making processes. Through workshops, training sessions, and educational campaigns, we strive to empower individuals to become advocates for their own communities and champions for environmental justice.
In line with our commitment to civic engagement, we plan to register more power voters in 2024. Recognizing the power of the ballot box, we will work diligently to ensure that marginalized communities have their voices heard. By conducting voter registration drives, organizing educational forums, and collaborating with local partners, we aim to increase voter participation and amplify the impact of these communities in shaping policies that affect their lives and the environment.
In order to ensure a sustainable future, we recognize the importance of involving the youth in our efforts. In 2024, The Vessel Project is committed to expanding our outreach to schools, colleges, and youth organizations. Through environmental education programs, mentorship opportunities, and youth-led initiatives, we aim to empower the next generation of environmental leaders. By fostering their passion, knowledge, and creativity, we believe that young people can play a crucial role in driving change and shaping a more sustainable world.
Furthermore, we understand that the link between health and environmental justice is undeniable. In 2024, we will deepen our focus on highlighting the disproportionate impacts of environmental pollution on marginalized communities' health. By conducting research, organizing community health fairs, and advocating for stricter regulations, we aim to raise awareness about the connections between environmental degradation and public health. By addressing these interconnected issues, we hope to foster a holistic approach to environmental justice that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals.
In our commitment to reducing plastic pollution, The Vessel Project will actively work towards halting plastic production in 2024. We will advocate for stronger regulations on single-use plastics, collaborate with local businesses to promote sustainable alternatives, and engage in consumer education campaigns to encourage responsible plastic usage. By raising awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic on our environment, wildlife, and human health, we strive to create a culture of conscious consumption and contribute to a more plastic-free future.
In 2024, The Vessel Project remains dedicated to making a tangible and positive impact. We will continue to build partnerships, collaborate with like-minded organizations, and engage in community-led initiatives. We will use joy as a strategy, remember our heritage and our culture, and continue to show the world why we love and fight for this place we call home. By amplifying voices, fostering resilience, and driving change at both the grassroots and systemic levels, we are confident that we can achieve even more wins for environmental justice.
Again thank you for your support. There is more to come. We won’t stop until our community has the resources it needs to thrive and until there is a fast, fair, equitable, fully funded, feminist phase out of all fossil fuels without false solutions.
THE VESSEL PROJECT OF LOUISIANA