About once a month, in one of Terrebonne Parish’s 5 bayou communities, you can expect to hear children playing, neighbors catching up, and everyone enjoying a home cooked meal while talking with guest speakers about Terrebonne Parish’s most critical issue: coastal land loss and the need for extensive coastal restoration and protection. This is the goal of the Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners Initiative.
On May 16, the Community Dinner at the Dulac Community Center was a success with nearly 110 people in attendance. Christopher Pulaski from the Terrebonne Parish Planning and Zoning Department was present not only to update the community on relevant issues but also to answer questions from local community members. Everyone was very responsive to Mr. Pulaksi’s presentation and felt welcomed to ask important questions they’ve had for some time. Some local residents praised the event by saying, “It was very helpful and a good time. I hope they don’t stop this event.” Bayou Grace was also fortunate enough so share this event with AmeriCorps student volunteers from Lafayette who shared the same thoughts as local members. One student commented, “As a visitor I was pleased with the courtesy of the members of this community. Thank you for having us as your visitors.”
A total of twenty one community dinners have been organized since 2010. Over one thousand community members have had dinner and discussions with local, state and federal leaders and representatives who can impact decisions about coastal restoration and protection. Leaders and representatives include State Senator Norby Chabert , TPCG Coastal Director Nicholas Matherne, Natalie Snider with Governor’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Reggie Dupre, Director of Terrebonne Parish Levee & Conservation District, Drue Banta with the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities and Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.
We hope to continue the Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners initiative for many years to come and to bring decision makers to the people and rural communities who experience coastal land loss and the great need for coastal restoration and protection on a daily basis. Through this initiative, residents will get the vital information they need about coastal land loss and restoration and protection while also raising their own concerns and questions to those who lead and represent us. All this, in our own beautiful rural communities!
In 2012 Bayou Grace received funding from the Coastal Communities Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation to continue this initiative. If you would like to support our 2013 efforts, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Bayou Grace. Donations can be made securely through our website or mailed to Bayou Grace, P.O. Box 238, Chauvin, LA 70344. Or, drop by our office located at 5228 Hwy 56 in Chauvin.
Bridging the communications between community leaders and local people is an important goal of the Community Dinner program, truly building resiliency. Bayou Grace will continue to hold these events throughout this year, and hopefully beyond.