On Saturday, June 25 you can join hands on Pensacola Beach to show your opposition to expanded offshore drilling and call for clean energy solutions for a sustainable planet. The message is to say no to offshore drilling and yes to clean energy.
Hands Across the Sand was founded by Dave Rauschkolb, a Florida surfer and restaurateur. Rauschkolb was a founding partner and owner of Bud and Alley’s restaurant in Seaside, Fla. In 2009, he formed the Hands Across the Sand group in response to a bill passed in the Florida House of Representatives to lift the ban on near-shore drilling. With the support of sponsor organizations, he rallied over 10,000 Floridians representing 60 towns and cities and over 90 beaches to join hands on Feb. 13, 2010, covering the state’s coastlines, to show a united opposition to near shore drilling.
This year Rauschkolb won the Florida Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year Award for Hands Across the Sand.
IN spoke to Rauschkolb about the group and the event. He said, “During a poker game one night I was told about the bill to allow unregulated drilling really close to our shoreline, in the Gulf—I was blown away.”
Additionally, Rauschkolb said, “I have been living along the Gulf Coast since 1972; I am passionate about the Gulf, about living here and raising my family here. We need to keep our shoreline free of near-shore oil and gas production. The idea of Hands Across the Sand came to me when someone asked me to take action. Line in sand, I thought. That is how it started.”
He created the website and made sure it was self-sufficient. He was in the middle of running three restaurants in 2009, and his wife was about to give birth to their daughter—time was of the essence. There are downloadable posters, flyers, t-shirts, press releases, banner ads and logos. It is like pre-packaged event facilitation.
Rauschkolb’s take on the whole situation is, “People in love hold hands, people who want to change the world join hands.”
The mission statement of Hands Across the Sand is to bring together like-minded individuals and organizations with the conviction to organize a global movement. To promote a clean energy future for our earth and end our dependence on dirty fuel sources. These gatherings will bring thousands of American and global citizens to our beaches and cities and will draw metaphorical and actual lines in the sand; human lines in the sand against the threats fossil fuels and offshore oil drilling pose to our present and future planet. To convince our state legislators, governors, congress and President Obama and world leaders to adopt policies encouraging the growth of clean and renewable energy sources in place of oil and coal.
In June 2010, in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster, Hands Across the Sand went national and global. It became the largest gathering of people in the history of the world united against expanding offshore oil drilling and championing clean energy and renewables. Over 1,000 events were held worldwide. Events took place in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Events were held in 42 countries outside the U.S., including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Greenland, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Tanzania and South Africa.
Currently the sponsors of the event are nationally recognized environmental groups such as Oceana, Florida Wildlife Federation, Save our Seas, Beaches and Shores Inc., Sierra Club, 350.org and 1Sky.org (formed to solve the global climate crisis), Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition and the Surfrider Foundation, among others. These are heavy hitters in the environmental community.
As of this week, the Santa Rosa Island Authority approved our local event, planned for Saturday, June 25. Everyone will gather at 11 a.m. at the Pensacola Beach Pavilion, the lineup begins shortly after 11 a.m. east of the pier, and the event is scheduled to start at 12 p.m.
According to Margaret Biggs, local organizer and accidental activist, “We need to raise awareness and focus on stopping drilling so close to our coastline.” When asked about the expected head count she said, “We do not know at this time, but last year over 800 people joined hands for the cause.”
There are some recommended tips for the day of the event. Use only approved beach accesses and parking, create as long a line or as many lines as you wish, be courteous and respectful to those who disagree with your view, please steer clear of bird nesting areas, and most of all, enjoy yourself—it’s the beach.
HANDS ACROSS THE SAND
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25
WHERE: Gulfside Pavilion, Pensacola Beach