Oppose offshore drilling with strong show of hands
February 11, 2010
It isn't always easy to organize people in a far-flung state like Florida. But we're trying to do it to stand up for our beaches.
On Saturday thousands of Floridians from all walks of life will gather on beaches throughout the state in a grassroots movement called Hands Across the Sand. We want to let our state leaders know that we don't want them to open Florida's waters to offshore oil drilling.
We're going to wear black to symbolize an oil slick, because an oil spill would wreck our tourist economy. This is a nonpartisan event for all Floridians who love to fish, swim or boat. It's for kids who like to build sand castles and grandparents who like to bask in the sun. It's for surfers and sailors, seafood sellers and beach walkers.
Anyone can join in to be part of Hands Across the Sand. The event is the brainchild of Dave Rauschkolb, a surfer and businessman who owns Bud & Alley's restaurant in the North Florida community of Seaside. When he heard the Florida Legislature was contemplating a proposal to open state waters to oil drilling just 3 to 10 miles from shore, he came up with a way that ordinary people could let legislators know that we don't want oil drilling off our beaches.
Hands Across the Sand was born, and it has caught on throughout the state.
Here's all participants have to do: Go to their local beach at 1 pm Eastern Standard Time, wearing black. At 1:30 pm, hold hands for 15 minutes along the shoreline, creating a human line in the sand to protect Florida's waters from oil drilling. That's it.
Protests are being organized at more than 50 beaches so far. Local spots include Gulfport Beach, Fort DeSoto Park at North Beach Bird Sanctuary, Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach, Upham Beach, Treasure Island Beach between 104th and 112th avenues, Madeira Beach, Redington Shores County Park, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach, Clearwater Beach at Pier 60, Tarpon Springs and Lassing Park at 18th Avenue South and Clam Bayou in St. Petersburg.
To find local organizers and more information, visit www.handsacrossthesand.org and become a fan of Tampa Bay's coastal alliance, Love Tourists Not Drilling, on Facebook.
Our goal is to convince legislators and Gov. Charlie Crist to drop the folly of offshore oil drilling. All it takes is one accident - one spill - to threaten our state's $65-billion-a-year tourist economy. It is just not worth risking the treasure that is Florida's coast.
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