Sat September 19th
Jayeesha Dutta is a tri-coastal artist, activist, and strategist who has been working with more than a hundred organizations across the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean since 2009. One of those efforts, Another Gulf Is Possible, is a collaborative of artists and activists based in the Gulf South dedicated to creating a just transition to non-extractive, regenerative economies based on cooperation, sustainability, and transformative justice. Their work is focused on climate justice and decolonization, and fighting coastal land loss occurring through human and corporate encroachment, environmental racism, and economic injustice.
For too long the Gulf has been prey to big corporations whose actions have hurt the environment and disenfranchised women and communities of color. Through media, art, culture, healing, and direct action, Another Gulf Is Possible works to create a new narrative for the Gulf Coast. Their collective is primarily funded through an annual $250K grant from the Chorus Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting projects that promote equitable transitions to regenerative economies. Another Gulf Is Possible works through a three-tiered strategy. The first tier is to make a cultural shift while working to heal people and the environment by finding and amplifying new narratives about the Gulf South. The second is to galvanize communities toward a just transition by organizing and working with marginalized, frontline communities to coordinate policy and advocacy across the region and the nation. The third tier is decolonized direct action, involving the organization of protests and actions to stop pipelines and other corrosive activities.
In response to an open call for films and media that showcase stories of just transition and climate justice, Another Gulf Is Possible commissioned one animated short film in partnership with Working Films, as part of the StoryShift initiative (of which they are a part). The animation was recently shared along with other short films in Houston, New Orleans, and four cities in Puerto Rico (Loiza, Comerio, San Salvador, and Toa Alta) as part of the “Stories of Survival” tour, timed during the observances of Hurricanes Harvey, Katrina, and Maria. Along with solar-powered “Cine Solar” film screenings at each event, Another Gulf Is Possible worked with community partners, artists, and organizers to share stories, cultural offerings, food, and music, and then brought those stories along with them to the next location, connecting local issues across the region and building strength and solidarity. As people across the South band together to fight for the environment, many have been contributing to and supporting Another Gulf Is Possible’s most pressing direct-action campaign: fighting the planned Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.
Another Gulf Is Possible is illuminating the connections of communities to their complex and fragile ecosystems: the land and water that their lives center on. Their knowledge of their own people and place is an asset more valuable than anything that could be extracted from that geography. Another Gulf Is Possible illuminates these assets by amplifying and supporting communities to shift narratives, change policies, and take action.
Says Jayeesha Dutta, Another Gulf Is Possible cofounder: “CultureBank’s approach positions the community as investors. Through a unique gifting circle, we could create a model of investment that is crucial in a region where financial constraints and a sense of scarcity have provoked tensions and seeming competition among art and activism organizations. CultureBank’s model can help us develop a shared vision of what our future can be if we invest in the people of the Gulf South, challenging the conditions in this region and putting forward culturally rooted, progressive work. CultureBank, especially in the Gulf South, could really change the mindset around giving—changing it from a check written to a faceless nonprofit to something local and grassroots and cooperative with immediate, tangible impact.”
Lead image: Jayeesha Dutta. Courtesy of Another Gulf is Possible.