Bill Harrison, The Garage Gifts and Gallery, Point Clear, AL
SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2010
I was driving southbound on US Highway 98 headed away from Fairhope and toward the Gulf when a chalkboard sign caught my eye. “Save our Gumbo,” it said. I pulled off and turned around to investigate. Bill Harrison owns an art gallery and gift shop in a converted gas station he calls “The Garage.” Here Bill teaches painting classes and has recently helped found a movement he’s calling SOS – Save our Shores, a group that is invested in staying on top of oil-related health threats.
“We just want to be able to live and breathe here,” Bill said. His shop is less than 100 yards from Mobile Bay.  He says they’re in contact with doctors, scientists, and university professors. “There’s no good news.” The group has raised money to buy and install air monitoring equipment, and the EPA has agreed to process their findings, he said.
As Bill understands it, there’s a huge underwater oil plume in the Bay that surfaces in different spots from time to time. You can go days without smelling it, and then one morning or afternoon the winds shift and there’s the odor.
They are not sitting around. His group has even raised money, labor and resources to forge a long, absorbent boom made of 5000 pounds of donated alpaca hair and 1500 pairs of panty hose donated by Hanes.
And the T-shirts are flying. Bill says they’re selling through the fourth printing in a bit more than a month. Despite the fact that they’re actually trying on the most basic level to save their own lungs, the idea of saving the ingredients in gumbo seems to be a salient call to action for them. Sales are nearing 10,000 units he said. It’s no surprise that there are a lot of mad seafood lovers out here, and they want to wear the message right on their chests.
Gohere, if you want to learn more about this organization.
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Ashley Hall is an SFA member and contributer to Gravy, the SFA’s foodletter. She is traveling along the Gulf Coast to capture stories relating to the oil spill as a traveling Gravy correspondent. We’ll be posting relevant entries here, but visit the blog she’s set up for the project, Third Coast Byways, for more.