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Timing of release for ‘unspOILed’ book coincided with Deepwater oil disaster

By Staff | Jul 20, 2010

The recently released book, "unspOILed," features 38 writers, scientists and students who share their abiding love of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast and its sea life.

A literary project that had been initiated from the idea of rallying a number of Sunshine State-based writers, scientists and students speaking out against off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico hit bookshelves only days after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

Be it coincidence or bad timing, the newly-released 163-page softcover collection of essays about Florida’s delicate environment and the threat it would face as a result of any potential — now actual — oil spills, "unspOILed" debuted on May 26 and is already one of the most talked about summer releases on Sanibel and Captiva.

"We Floridians love our coasts. We love our fishing. We love to swim and surf and eat seafood and build sand castles. Florida’s beaches are pure white stretches of bliss that feed our souls, a natural gift as important as the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon," the book’s website states. "Now, as we face the Gulf of Mexico’s worst ever environmental disaster, the British Petroleum oil spill off Louisiana, we must ask: How could it possibly be worth it to risk the health of Florida’s number-one economic engine – its coasts – at the hands of the careless and unaccountable oil industry?"

Jessica Wheeler, one of the 38 contributing essayists to "unspOILed," is a former extern and employee at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. She explained that she had been contacted by two of the book’s editors — Susan Cerulean and Janisse Ray — to submit a story for the collection.

"I wrote my essay about the potential impact an oil spill would have on mangroves," said Wheeler of her chapter in the book, entitled "Pricing The Priceless."

Wheeler, who graduated from the New College of Florida in 2009, where she majored in Ecology," said that although the initial mission of the book remains intact, the April 20 oil spill did steer the editors in a more purposeful direction.

"Janisse Ray’s opening chapter speaks in very simple terms, yet it is deeply emotional," said Wheeler. "She talked about growing older and looking back on your life and wishing you could have done things differently. I think we can all relate to that. So many of us have such a close connection with nature. And once these things are gone, we won’t be able to recover them for a really long time."

In "Pricing The Priceless," Wheeler writes, "I want my legislators to tell me how much money Florida would make by allowing oil drilling in our pristine waters. Then tell me if they’ve accounted for the coast, both in capital and in ecological damage, of dealing with an oil spill — the cost of cleaning up the oil, the dead birds and fish. Have they accounted for the cost of dune restoration? Sea grass restoration? Oyster reef restoration? Is the attempt to recreate fragile coastal ecosystems included in the estimation of job creation? What about the attempt to reinvigorate confidence in the safety of oil rigs during hurricanes?Could money bring back the tourism industry?"

Florida Gulf Coast University professor Jesse Millner contributed an essay entitled "Sanibel Island" in which he writes about kayaking through the mangroves at "Ding" Darling NWR.

In addition to Wheeler, Millner and Ray, contributors to the book include Doug Alderson, Marty Ambrose, Bill Belleville, Erin Canter, Susan Cerulean, Felicia Coleman, Jan DeBlieu, Connie May Fowler, Thomas Hallock, William F. Hammond, Lola Haskins, Julie Hauserman, Grace C. Jackson, Jeff Klinkenberg, Christopher Koenig, Ellie Alexandra Levy and Megan M. Melvin.

Other essayists include Myra Mendible, Jono Miller, O. Victor Miller, Julie Morris, Riki Ott, Oannes Arthur Pritzker, Dawn Evans Radford, Mandie Rainwater, Diane Roberts, Jack Rudloe, Michael Savarese, Matt Smith, Linda Taylor, Crystal Wakoa, A. James Wohlpart, Kathryn Keene Wohlpart, Sasha Linsin Wohlpart and Edward C. Woodward. David Moynahan added several illustrations throughout the volume.

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU, whose mission works toward "realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education and action," also supported the publication of the book.

"unspOILed" reminds us that now is the time to shift from the oil dependent, industrial economy that is devastating our planet and driving climate change," the website continues. "It is time to transform our culture into a way of living in balance with the greater web of all beings, a culture based on truly sustainable lifestyles and clean, renewable energy sources."

To purchase a copy of "unspOILed," visit MacIntosh Books and Paper, located at 2407 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel, or via the website at www.unspoiledbook.com.