Turkey Creek provides conference lesson

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Community leaders and planners from Mississippi and Louisiana are busy networking in North Gulfport.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities hosted a two day conference that encourages participants to share their success stories and form new partnerships.

They came from Moss Point, Mississippi to Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. A group of about 40 community leaders are sharing ideas and exchanging business cards.

Friday's lesson about building better communities focused on Turkey Creek.

"So, that was when we really got the wake-up call. Like, wait a minute. We're being planned out of existence. Literally. On paper. Planned out of existence," said Derrick Evans.

Evans is passionate about preserving Turkey Creek.

"It is also located smack in the middle of some of South Mississippi's most important transportation infrastructure," he told workshop participants, while pointing to a map.

The ongoing struggle to protect Turkey Creek is an appropriate lesson for "sustainable communities."

"The most unsustainable type of community is a community that someone else has different goals or plans for its future," said Evans.

After a brief history lesson at the Good Deeds Center participants take a tour of Turkey Creek, while their discussion continues.

They visit the spot where Evans' ancestors staked a claim more than a century ago.

"My great grandfather's grandmother's land purchase in 1866. They were the second generation of African-American people to live and breathe in freedom," he explained.

David Gauthe from Thibbadeaux says small communities along the Gulf Coast can learn much from one another.

"When we go back home, we have quite a few tid bits of stuff that we can say, 'Well, we learned that this can be done and that can be done in our community,'" he said.

The participants say networking resources makes great sense.

"Because once you share information, they may have the same problems we're dealing with, same challenges we're dealing with. And vice versa. So, it's important we interlock and network and talk to one another. And it helps a great deal," said Richard Marsh from North Gulfport.

Among the conference participants is Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry's ice cream fame. He's on the board of directors at the Institute for Sustainable Communities.