The Gulf Through the Eyes of a Child

We’re looking back on how the disaster has shaped our lives here on the Gulf Coast. We decided to revisit our 2015 interview with Calvin Love, my son, and one of the youngest contributors to our Postcards from the Gulf series. Calvin was six years old at the time of that first interview, and has since moved from his home on the bayous of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the salty air of the Alabama Gulf Coast where he is now able to more frequently enjoy the natural beauty of the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve invited him to share his story with us again, to understand how his perspective has changed over these years.

Matt Love: We last talked with you two years ago. What’s changed in your life since then?

Calvin Love: Now that I live in Fairhope, Alabama, I have friends nearby that I can play with without having to drive to go see them. I like biking to my friend’s house on my own. This summer I moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Fairhope so I can go to the beach whenever I want. The beach sand is really white here and I like to look for sand dollars and cool shells. I haven’t seen any sharks yet but I know they’re out there. For my seventh birthday we went fishing in the Gulf but we didn’t catch anything. I did see a sea turtle though, that was awesome!

ML: There’s a lot of money available to restore the Gulf after the oil disaster (over $20 billion, in fact). How would you spend that money?

CL: I would buy a bunch of fish and put them in little spots all around the ocean. I would buy clean water and put it in the ocean so the fish would have cleaner water. I would make all the people with boats put things on them so they didn’t leak oil into the water. I would have all the trash picked up that falls into the ocean.

ML: Describe one of your best memories of the Gulf.

CL: On my summer break I really liked going out with my aunt and uncle in the big boat with their dog Banzai. He is a big, hairy Golden Retriever. We went to Crab Island in Destin and swam with Banzai. There were a ton of boats all around with lots of people playing and swimming. On our way back we saw a dolphin from the boat and Banzai and the dolphin looked at each other. That was cool.

Calvin Love in 2015

ML: What gives you hope for the Gulf?

CL: I’m hopeful that people with the big boats will stop shipping oil across the Gulf. That people will stop catching too many animals and not kill whales and stuff like that. This gives me hope because people don’t want to keep cleaning up oil spills that’s not their mess.

ML: Thanks Calvin. I think you have a lot of reasons to be hopeful. You were two years old when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began, and there is no question that your generation will be dealing with the trails left behind by decisions made before you. But now we are sitting together at a new beginning. We are embarking on one of the greatest scientific endeavors of our time, certainly for the ocean. It is our responsibility to help fix the things we’ve broken so you can thrive in a healthy, flourishing environment. It would be unfair to leave our mess for you to clean up. This broad Gulf restoration effort resulting from the oil disaster represents a contract between our generation and yours: to make the water cleaner, give nature a chance to provide more fish in the ocean and return those top predators you’re hoping to see out there. We are committing to provide that natural playground that supports your health and wellness for many years to come.

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