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‘Hands Across the Sand’ sends conservation message

By Staff | Jun 26, 2011

MICHAEL PISTELLA Local organizer Rose Young walks by participants during the Hands Across the Sand event Saturday at the Cape Coral Yacht Club beach. Hands Across the Sand is a national movement to oppose offshore oil drilling and champion clean energy and renewables. For more information, visit www.handsacrossthesand.org. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.

For the second year Cape residents joined hands on the Yacht Club Beach as a sign of solidarity, but also to send a message that they do not want drilling in Florida’s waters and last year’s devastating BP oil spill is not forgotten, or even completely cleaned up.

“Hands Across the Sand” was a nationwide event on Saturday, but here in Florida, and Cape Coral, it was important for those who joined hands to make certain that no one forgets last year’s tragedy.

“People respond to a crisis,” said Cape resident Steve Chupack, who also sits on the Bike-Walk-Lee committee. “If you put oil on the beach they respond. As soon as it’s gone, they forget all about it.”

Chupack said Saturday’s event was symbolic and that it was important to get away from oil dependency in general.

Organizer and local artist Rose Young, a New Orleans native, said she was somewhat disappointed about the turnout – which was smaller than last year – but that the message remained the same.

It is important to pay close attention to the problems here in Lee County, too, she said.

Looking out at the Caloosahatchee River, Young cited the recent algae blooms upstream near the Franklin Lock as a cause for concern. The Lee County Health Department issued water safety warnings the last two weeks.

“There is a tragedy in our river,” Young said. “In a few weeks it won’t even be swimmable. It’s not just oil, it’s so much more.”

To keep the message going beyond Saturday’s efforts, Young said it was important to keep young people informed and educated about the issues. Those future generations will have to keep that information alive, she said.

“The kids will change the future,” she said. “It’s a better chance than if we tell them nothing.”

Lynda Mastronardo, publisher of SWFL Naturally, a local resource guide for “life sustaining” products and services, said it was important for people to remember that it’s never “someone else’s problem”, and that each of us has to take responsibility for ourselves and for the future.

A Cape resident, Mastronardo said people have to be realistic about the environmental problems we’re all facing.

“If people aren’t going to make an effort they have no right to complain,” she said.