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You can keep up with the latest project developments from the people on the ground making them happen via the BWB Blog. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments.

Back to the Bayou

Two years after Burners without Borders pulled out of Pearlington MS, we returned to where it all began last week to thank the town of Pearlington for hosting the birthplace of what is now a burgeoning international volunteer movement. Twenty-five volunteers representing 8 states showed up and worked for four days, put on a BBQ for the town, previewed the new BWB film about how it all started and most importantly, connected with old friends.

Why Pearlington?

Burners without Borders moved to Pearlington in January after having finished gutting and reconstructing the Buddhist Temple in Biloxi. The following 3 months in Pearlington were spent transforming the landscape of this small town by knocking down houses that had been rotting for five months to make room for the new houses that stand there today. BWB volunteers also built a house out of recycled wood recovered from the surrounding bayou and constructed the Pearlington town sign made of debris from the storm. This sign is a great pride of the town. The sign’s care is now in the capable hands of William, a 17 yr. old from Pearlington, who has learned the craft of woodworking from his father.

What was our Mission?

Our intention was to return to Pearlington, with new friends in tow, to fill in the gaps by doing a special work project that has now enabled 82 yr. old Willy Lee to move out of his FEMA trailer. We also wanted to put on a special night for the town that allowed them to come together as a community and to be witnessed in how far they have come since Katrina devastated their town over two years ago.

The word got out that the “Burning Man” people were returning, and we had quite a turn out. Patrick (read his blog entry) came in from Austin with his crew including a videographer and almost singlehandedly put on a BBQ for 150 people. We then previewed the new hour long “Burn on the Bayou” film that was just completed that included interviews with residents from the town. The response was amazing, and members of the community told us that Pearlington had never seen a night like this and that this was exactly what the town needed. The coolest thing is that because we had done weekly art burns in Pearlington during our three month stay, they expected us to have a burn after the film… and burn we did.

Let’s get down to work…

When we looked at the amazingly  skilled people we had coming to the work weekend, we decided to try and make a real difference by helping Mr. Willie Lee finally move out of his FEMA trailer and into his house that was only half-built with no plumbing, electricity or gas. Mr. Willie worked for the Sheriff’s dept. as the county jailer for 30 yrs. and was having trouble finding the resources to make his small 2 room cottage livable. BWB volunteers were able to purchase the materials and build a 12X6 bathroom addition on to his house that will allow him to have plumbing and hot water.

We also wanted to support our old friend, Jimmy in assessing whether or not his Katrina wrecked Kiddie Toy business was salvageable. Matt and Andy came out from Oregon and helped take the motors off of the pieces to assess the damage.

Thanks to to all of the volunteers who showed up, offered your gifts and made this magical weekend happen.



2 Responses to “Back to the Bayou”

  1. smsims says:

    mike here, (one half of the oregon boys in pearlington 08) getting back to the grind is not welcomed. since returning i’ve thought about the people involved at every level every day. i miss my new friends and can’t wait to see yous again. i have nothing important to type, but this makes me feel better. slingblade says hmmmmm mmmm….thanks mike-

  2. Thank you for your help!