1% for the Planet rides with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade
On their team trip to Bulbancha (place of many tongues), presently known as New Orleans, our Environmental Partners team connected with Louisiana Bucket Brigade—a 1% for the Planet Environmental Partner working to end destruction caused by the petrochemical industry.
The team participated in Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s “Down by the River,” an organized bike ride through “Cancer Alley,” a region alongside the Mississippi River containing over 100 refineries and chemical plants. As our Environmental Partners Coordinator said:
"The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is very important, highlighting and educating on the lived experiences of communities of color, especially Black communities, on how the exploitation of our natural landscapes translates into policies of exclusion… Going on this bike tour was a powerful experience, the air itself already indicates the extraction and exploitation of the non-human relatives around, as well as the human relatives who lived and live there. The air felt heavy, and the location not easy to access, which makes it very intentional for us as people not to go ‘out of our way’ to learn about the impact of the petrochemical industry on our bodies, communities and Earth" — Tony Pérez Soto, Environmental Partners Coordinator of 1% for the Planet
Down by the River was created by the founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Anne Rolfes, to provide education from the perspective of those that were past enslaved—a stark contrast to the typical tourist-focused plantation narratives centered around the lives of enslavers. Other local "toxic tours," often bus visitors in like safari-goers to gaze upon the polluted landscape, without ever engaging directly with fence line residents or spending any significant time in these communities.
Instead of simply spectating, Down by the River riders will learn how petrochemical plants replaced plantations and hear stories from local residents about the ongoing fight for environmental and racial justice in the area.
A particularly memorable story details the 1811 German Coast Uprising, the largest enslaved rebellion to take place on North American soil. This radical act of resistance parallels the work of local environmental justice activists who continue to stand up to an extractive economy that disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and working-class people.
While on the ride, our team witnessed a broad juxtaposition: native swamps, wildlife and the vibrancy of Black communities posed against air pollution and threatening petrochemical plants. The subject matter is heavy, but Down by the River centers the radical power of hope and the importance of taking action to create a society free from pollution and racism:
"Grassroots means starting small, starting local, moving from the ground up. But our world is one of interconnectivity and interdependency; the local stretches to the global, and both impact one another. A crucial component of grassroots work is building relationships to further a collective cause for the greater good. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade appreciates its partnerships with larger organizations such as 1% for the Planet who share our values and support our mission. Weaving these relationships strengthens the web of life we are all entangled in. They replenish the ground from which we grow." — Sheila Tahir, Bike Ride Manager of Louisiana Bucket Brigade