"Let Us Arise And Rebuild."
ZION TRAVELERS COOPERATION CENTER (ZTCC)
Organizing /Advocating :
Connecting Kids To Their Environment
ZION TRAVELERS COOPERATION CENTER (ZTCC)
Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana severe Coastal Erosion problem started 50 years before Hurricane Katrina, and Rita. Plaquemines Parish and Louisiana coast land is being lost at the rate of 25 sq. miles a year which represents more than 80% of all coastal saltwater in continual march loss. During the past 50 years, we have lost more than 1,000 sq. miles of land. Because of this advocacy, community and faith base organizations must be involve in the Coastal Restoration movement. If we do not demand Congressional funding for our Wetland and Coastal Restoration we can lose 700 sq. miles in the next 50 years. Preliminary estimation from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that 75, 520 acres (118 sq. miles) of marsh land along Louisiana coast was shredded or sank as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike. These storms have proven that our levee system is not the lone solution to hurricane protection. Proper funding from the Federal Government would help Plaquemines Parish develop multi-lines defenses to prevent wind surges. Using sediments from the Mississippi River to rebuild brackish marshes and raise a cypress-tree line ridge in front of our 100 miles of levees and to fortify barrier Islands. Part of Plaquemines Parish wetland and coastal Restoration can be contributed to the Petroleum companies offshore drilling. Over 750 miles of Oil and Gas Pipelines traverse Plaquemines Parish. In addiction over 1, 100 active Oil and Gas Structures are located off of the Plaquemines coast and served from facilities within the parish. Using Oxfam America Funding and other funders ZTCC Coastal Restoration Project & Environmental Project objectives were able to:
1. Held monthly Community Meeting with Parish President and Coastal Restoration staff and state agencies and community to discuss Plaquemines Parish Coastal Restoration Plan.
2. ZTCC brought our coastal restoration and environment pollution to Congress. Our Congressional advocacy and travel to Washington D.C. was because of our funding and networking with Equity & Inclusion, Unitarian Universalist Service Center, Oxfam America, National Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus, Louisiana Oyster Association, Louisiana Justice Institute, Advocate for Environmental and Human Rights, and many more. ZTCC testify before Congressional Committee, met with Congressional staff, Senators and Representatives.
3. We held meeting with the U.S. Corp of Engineers, FEMA, Louisiana governor, and local elective officials to get local, state, and federal dollars to rebuild our wetlands prevents further Coastal Restoration, to improve levees to protect Plaquemines Parish residents from future category 5 Hurricane surges/winds and to end environmental pollution. We were able to get the Parish government to develop multiple lines of Coastal Restoration and Hurricane Defenses and to destroying our environmental. (See enclosed pamphlet).
4. ZTCC network with Plaquemines Coastal Restoration Office and Advocate for Environmental and Human Rights to facilitate Community Training Session on Coastal Restoration and environmental pollution.
The Technology/Video Program teach youth ages 12 years of ages to 18 years old the technical and fundamental skills to create and produce video. Youth are provided with basic knowledge of various types of commuters, software, and video techniques for shooting and editing video. Experience instructors teach youth: white balance, tripod steady shot, lighting elements, camera function, position and movements, audio/sound elements, and importing and editing.
The foundation to ZTCC Technology/Video Program is Digital story telling. Youth with proficient skills will transition into Youth Entrepreneur Program. They will be paid for all contract video/photography service preformed.
If coastal erosion and the emission of gas and other toxin are allow to continue our children future will be rob. It imperative we make sure that our children and unborn children live in a safe, nurturing and healthy environment. The Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc Connecting our Children to their Environment Program were to develop so that our children are educated and involve in the Coastal Restoration and Environment movement.
1. To make youth aware of what are the causes of coastal erosion and environmental pollution.
2. To educate and train youth of all ages to how Coastal Erosion & Environmental pollution is robbing their future.
3. To engage Youth in the movement for equity in Coastal Restoration/Hurricane Protection, to help save their environment and become good environmental stewards.
Connecting our Children to their Environment haves done the following:
1. Staff has use Before the Saltwater Came Curriculum to educate and train our youth on coastal erosion.
2. ZTCC contracted with Project Rebirth to facilitate an eight session curriculum on Coastal Restoration. Session include Coastal restoration terminology; water quality testing; marsh grass planting that will grow in marsh; learn about the adaptations plants and animals have develop that allow them to survive in the wetlands. Youth maintain planting of marsh grass. Youth participate in. all community /town hall meeting.
3. Youths has develop video and photography about Coastal restoration and review video and have review maps of the damaging effect on Coastal Restorationto their wetlands and have discussed the effects on their community.
4. ZTCC youth developed the first recycling programs on the east bank of Plaquemines. They got the Parish Government to supply them with special garage containers that they painted green.
5. Youth have conducted monthly clean-up campaign of community, park and playground.
Working in collaboration with local grassroots organizations, faith based groups, state, regional, and national non-profit organizations to accomplish community goals.
When Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Plaquemines Parish, LA on August29, 2005 over 10 communities were devastated. The rural southeast east bank (Phoenix – Bohemia) was inundated with over 14-25 ft of water after the Hurricane. Homes, churches, and businesses were swept off their foundations. The Parish Government was not giving displaced residents any information on when or if they would ever be able to return home. There was no relief organization to assist Plaquemines Parish east bank internal displaced residents.
The ZTCC took the lead in opening up the southeast east bank of Plaquemines Parish which was practically close. The local government told them at their own risk. ZTCC anchored in Rev. Edwards revelation and conviction of “Let us arise and rebuild’ from the biblical prophet Nehemiah became the Human Service Center for east bank displaced residents without any government support of funds. The Center began it operation by gutting out houses, removing debris, cutting trees, and distributing donated water, rakes, and shoves from under two tents. In January 2006 ZTCC open it Distribution Center in a gutted out trailer which in the spirit of Rebuilding was saved from demolition.
With the assistance of The People Institute for Survival & Beyond, the ZTCC identified additional funders who agreed to support the organization’s Distribution Center and rebuilding activities. Using initial donations of $100 -$1,000 from community residents and funds from the Unitarian Universalist Service Center (UUSC), Oxfam American, the City of Nyack, and N.Y. Southern Partners Funds, Bert and Mary Foundation, Covenant World Relief and Margaret Casey Foundation, ZTCC established lumber/electrical supply voucher project to assist displaced families working on rebuilding their home. The project gave needy families vouchers for $500-$1,000 without going through bureaucratic case management. ZTCC started is Rebuild Program. ZTTC successfully brought in over 400 volunteers to assist Internally Displaced families to rebuild as their homes. With funding from Unitarian Universalist Service Center, Oxfam America and Covenant World Relief, ZTCC created a Tool Resource/Lending library with essential building equipments to be used by community members and volunteers to assist in the recovery and rebuilding of homes. ZTCC lend rebuilding equipments to local displaced families for a specified period of time.
After five months of negotiation with Covenant World Relief, ZTCC received and approved blueprints for two and three bedroom affordable homes that met Parish Government’s building department requirements. The 900 square ft. two bedroom houses had an estimated cost of $29,000. The three bedroom houses were 1,200 square feet and have an estimated cost of $38,000. Both designs included central air and heating, toilets, doors, windows, a large and small porch.
In a standing –room only community meeting at Zion Travelers Baptist Church, on October 16, 2006, the blueprints, the estimated costs, and the requirements to participate in ZTCC’s Affordable Home program were presented to east bank residents from Braithwaite to Bohemia. The meeting was film by Mike Wallace’s TV’s program. To participate in ZTTC’s Affordable Home program, the homeowners had to supply the foundation and the material for building. Professional volunteer contractors agreed to donate time and labor to construct the new homes. Over twenty –five residents signed up for the new affordable homes construction program.
On Thanksgiving weekend of 2006, ZTCC and Covenant World Relief framed the first affordable three bedroom house in Phoenix. Since then ZTCC has completed construction on twelve new homes and assisted displaced families with the renovation of over forty homes that were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
In 2007 ZTCC closed down its Distribution Center to have it totally renovated into its current Community Center. The ZTCC program consisted of coastal restoration/environmentalclass for youths (Connecting Kids to Their Environment), community wellness, technology/audio video, drama, teen sexuality classes, CPR/AED training, youth entrepreneurship, physical fitness and education. ZTCC has created and open forum for community residents to address their concerns, demands, grievances and needs to and with local, state and national elective officials.
Ten years after Katrina, ZTCC vision and plans to rebuild our community spiritually, mentally and physically and maintaining our self-determination (community pride, strength and cultural development) has been successful. We are thankful to God, our community commitment, hard works and the many funders that partner with us in our community rebuilding endeavors. We have over 100% of our community back home. Our communities have renewed spirit, hope and a sense of their own power. The southeast east bank African- American advocacy Voice is very strong in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
With Oxfam funding and other partner’s funders ZTCC’s general objectives have always been:
ZTCC specific objectives:
1. Coastal Protection: To organize/advocate locally and nationally to get local, state, and federal dollars to rebuild wetlands and to build improved levees to protectPlaquemines Parish residents from future Category 5 hurricanes surges and wind. Promote community engagement in the movement for equity in coastal restoration and environmental pollution.
2. Disaster Preparedness: Organize/advocate to establishing hurricanes shelters for African-American communities on the southeast bank of Plaquemines Parish.
3. Political Representation: Organize/advocate to maintain Plaquemines Parish nine single members district federal court order form of government to ensure African – America representation and voices.
4. Rebuilding: Support staff work to renovation and the construction of new homes, playground/park and businesses.
5. New Program Development: Support staff development of holistic programs and community development projects
6. Organizing: Provide continual education on issues that directly impact community and to be conduct community outreach, canvassing, and garnering broader participating in community meeting.
7. Networking: Work in collaboration with local grassroots organizations, faith based groups, state, regional, and national non-profit organizations to accomplish community goals.
8. Leadership development: To develop community intergenerational leadership to continual our self determination as a community.
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB)
Louisiana Oystermen Association (LOA)
Fishermen & Concerned Citizens Association (FCCA)
Christian Ministers Missionary Baptist Association (CMMBA)
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (AEHR)
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ)
Emanuel Baptist Church Brooklyn, NY
Unitarian Universalist Service Center
Common Ground Collective
Covenant World Relief
Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation
Plaquemines Parish’s southern east bank community residents
This list doesn’t include all the many funders and advocacy groups that has contributed to our rebuilding and advocacy.
Rev. Tyronne Edwards is a native of downtown Phoenix, Louisiana on the east bank (best bank) of Plaquemines Parish. He has 45 years of community organizing/human services experiences on local, state, national and international levels. Rev. Edwards is the husband of Gail Gregory Edwards, a father of four, and the grandfather of four. He is an ordained Baptist minister, facilitator, paralegal, playwright, photojournalist, local historian, and substance abuse specialist. Rev. Edwards is the founder and Executive Director of the Zion Traveler Cooperative Center of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana which was organized in the aftermath of Hurricane. Anchored in the biblical revelation and conviction of “Let Us Arise and Rebuild”, the Cooperative Center was the only relief program available to east bank residents after Hurricane Katrina. Rev. Edwards successfully written proposals that brought over $600,000 in grant monies and millions of dollars of in-kind donations for rebuilding the southern east bank of Plaquemines Parish ; created an Afforded Housing Program that recruited, trained and coordinated thousands of volunteers from national and international faith-based organization and universities to rehab 40 homes and built 12 new homes; developed staff, trained and developed women’s leadership, managed a technology center, youth entrepreneurship project, health/wellness and nutrition programs, successfully motivated youths to organize and develop a community park and playground; brought national attention to Plaquemines recovery work by effectively collaborating and networking with local, state, regional, and national, organizations and created an open forum for community residents to address their concerns, demands, grievances, and needs to local elective officials. Rev. Edwards has participated on congressional hearing panels and lobbied representatives to support the continuing work of rebuilding Plaquemines Parish and the Gulf Coast. He is a core-trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond and for 35 years has facilitated Undoing Racism workshops throughout the United States. He was active in the Human/Civil Rights movement of the sixties and seventies. Rev. Edwards work on the Steve Wonder’s Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Committee; a staff member with his son (Saddi) on the historical Million Man March. As Executive Director of the Fishermen & Concerned Citizen Association, he brought national attention to the grassroots social change in Plaquemines Parish. Rev. Tyronne Edwards is proud that he has helped his community to get a sense of their own collective power and self-determination.