Hands Across the Sand set Saturday at Sporthaven Beach

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer August 01, 2012 09:31 am

 

Hands will unite in peace and protest across the sandy shores at Sporthaven Beach at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug 4.

The event, Hands Across the Sand, is part of a worldwide awareness initiative to support  clean energy and oppose offshore oil drilling. The line will form between the beach ramps in front of the Beachfront RV Park near the Best Western Beachfront Inn in Harbor, and will be marked with Tibetan prayer flags.

 

Last year’s event, which lasted 15 minutes, attracted more than 50 people, said organizer Bev Bacak. This year, she hopes at least 75 will show up.

This year, people in Egypt, Jordan, Ireland, Portugal, Cambodia, Greece, New Zealand, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany and 32 states have signed on to conduct local events. Most of the states that haven’t signed on are land-locked, although Iowa, Colorado, Tennessee, Idaho and Arkansas will hold events.

Statewide, citizens in Florence and Portland will also participate.

This year, the inaugural gathering of the Brookings-Harbor Drum Circle will provide the heartbeat for the event, meeting at 10 a.m. at the beach. All are invited to bring drums, shakers or other percussion instruments to participate or watch drumming, singing, chanting and dancing.

The drum circle is organized through Stagelights Musical Arts Community and board member Steve O’Brien.

Hands Across the Sand is a global call for clean energy solutions and a unified gesture of opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the group’s website reads. The movement is nonpartisan, and comprised of people from all walks of life who cross all borders and political affiliations. 

“It is about supporting the advancement of clean energy sources that will sustain our planet,” Bacak said. “It is about protecting coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and fisheries from the threats of expanded offshore drilling and the accidents associated with such practices.”

The movement was founded in October 2009 after Florida legislators considered a bill that would lift a ban on near-shore drilling. The following year, Dave Rauschkolb of Florida jumped into action, rallying more than 10,000 Floridians – from more than 60 towns and 90 beaches – to join hands along the state’s coastlines and show their opposition to near-shore drilling.

“We are all complicit in the slow death we are inflicting on our oceans and earth,” Rauschkolb said on the website, handsacrossthesand.com. “We must join hands and weave a thread of balance and wisdom for our planet. We have done our damage, we now have the power to undo and, together, build a clean energy path that sustains us all. There is no more important issue we must focus on as humans.”

Two months after the bill was tabled in Florida, the BP Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

“If we learned anything from the Deepwater Horizon disaster it is this,” Rauschkolb said on the website. “There is no such thing as cleaning up an oil spill.”

Rauschkolb then organized a global Hands Across The Sand to urge President Obama to abandon his bid to open the continental United States waters to offshore oil drilling.

On June 26, 2010, more than 1,000 events took place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and in 42 countries. Bacak learned of the event after MoveOn.org placed information about it on the Internet.

And on April 20, the one-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Hands Across The Sand’s 2011 event website launched, enabling people worldwide to organize and participate in demonstrations in their neighborhoods, cities, parks and beaches.

Bacak estimates 100,000 people participated in the national event in 2011. And globally, she “conservatively” believes 500,000 people attended in 2011 and “easily” the same number will come out this year.

Last year, participants in the windsurfing competition in Pistol River even took time out of their schedule to conduct a “Hands” event – a month earlier than the worldwide event.

“It’s been remarkably effective,” Bacak said of Rauschkolb’s efforts. “What astounded him was how many chambers of commerce – which tend to be kind of conservative –  signed on to it as sponsors. They caught on. Commerce is affected tremendously by oil spills.”

In February 2010, the Oregon legislature passed a 10-year moratorium on oil drilling in state waters in recognition of the importance of protecting the beaches, fisheries, marine life and tourism-related coastal businesses. Tourism and commercial and sport fishing together generate $1.2 billion annually to the Oregon economy.

Hands Across the Sand is endorsed by national environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, 350.org and Friends of the Earth.

Bacak said her group will distribute flyers to campers at the nearby RV park, many of whom participated last year.

“This year, with the drum circle, they’ll hear something,” she said. “And they’ll want to know what’s going on.”

For more information visit http://www.handsacrossthesand.com or contact Bacak at 541-469-3090.