This is a continuation of the interview with Patience Faulkner on February 7, 2014 by Alicia Zorzetto at the offices of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council in Anchorage, Alaska. Amanda Johnson operated the video camera. In this second part of a three part interview, Patience talks about frustrations of beach cleanup workers during the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, the emotional and financial impacts of the spill on families and communities, and sharing her experiences in Cordova, Alaska with people affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Feb 7, 2014
Narrator(s): Patience Faulkner
Interviewer(s): Alicia Zorzetto
Videographer: Amanda Johnson
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
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Getting floating field accommodations for beach cleanup workers
Frustrations of beach cleanup workers
Importance of local knowledge of tides
Effect of the oil spill on children and families
Long-term financial and emotional impact of fisheries collapse
Death of mayor
Effect of stress and development of the Peer Listener Program
Comparison of 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico with 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Sharing her experience with Deepwater Horizon effected communities
Relationship of oil industry and local people at Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: I happened to know the harbormaster in Yakutat where the boat has to check in every day. It has no mechanical. They are just holding it there to keep it away from Cordova.
And what -- what VECO ended up doing and Exxon ended up doing was getting enough floatel conditions or housing and work for every one on my list. My 125 people. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Wow.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: But it was pretty interesting to see the --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: The process.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: The process, yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: There was some resistance it sounds like --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, they just didn’t know beans.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Now my great aunt Helen who worked on the cannery -- she --
Aunt Helen is Aunt Helen -- she was probably -- well, she's 101 right now so 25 years ago, so she was 75. But she was a real good egg room worker, you know.
She talked to my brother and she said she wanted to -- cause there was no cannery work at that point -- she wanted to help clean up on the oil spill.
And my brother -- I stood there next to him and he said, "Well, Aunt Helen what would you like to be doing out there?" Not trying to discourage her.
"Oh, I’m going to -- I’d like to clean up the rocks." And he said, "Well, you know, Aunt Helen" -- didn’t want to tell her she was 75, you know.
"Aunt Helen, you know the living conditions are pretty hard." "Oh, I’m used to working in the cannery, I can do this." And he kept trying to discourage her.
Well, finally he said, "Aunt Helen, you’d have to stay out there in a camp and you wouldn’t be able to come in for a couple weeks."
And she goes, "Could they send me a bucket of oiled rocks and I’ll clean them here?" And so she didn’t.
But everyone -- 75 years old. I mean frail little old lady wanted to help. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: But it was pretty funny trying to keep a straight face with her.
But we had tons of young cannery workers that were there for the herring. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And fishing crew that were there for -- to go fishing. Getting ready to -- for the salmon, they were there. I mean so we had lots of able bodied people.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh. And how do you think as far as spill response, how successful do you think the cleanup effort was?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, as a sociologist I was very fortunate. I at a certain point was able to take clean crew out that had been on R&R in Cordova, and bring back dirty crew -- the ones that had been out there a while.
Most of them stayed out there three to six weeks. They never know how long they were going to be out there.
They were isolated. They were also cautioned about talking about things out there, and talking about things when they got back to town.
But when you’re on a six hour boat ride with Patience you spill the beans. But they -- they were -- they just needed someone to talk to and they knew that they could talk to me.
And so they would tell me about how difficult it was out there. And the only thing I could do -- because I was working for the cleanup industry -- I was trying to do something --
I said first of all, the oil spill is too big. We’re not going to get it cleaned up. Someone has to be out there trying to clean up. You might as well be out there knowing that you're doing your best.
I said you're going to have to work, take your money, and do something with the money when you get home.
I said this is bigger than we can handle, but if it -- if you don’t go out there and work, they’ll bring people in from Florida, elsewhere.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Because they were discouraged that it wasn’t actually -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- clean. Like what they were doing wasn't -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: They couldn’t get it.
They couldn’t get it clean. They could not get it clean.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So when you talk to these cleanup workers, what were they doing? Were they beach cleanup workers or --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They were beach cleanup. Yeah. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Beach.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Every day they would get off a floatel -- Navy ship sometimes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And they would go on landing craft and they’d go to the beaches. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Now one of the things was the landing craft operators obviously weren’t from Prince William Sound.
Because our locals knew the Sound, they knew the tide, they knew how that worked. They --
Number one, they made sure every trip -- our beach workers came into Cordova, they brought tide books out to educate people.
But while they were on their landing craft they’d say okay you can let us off here, but you have to go back out into the water. The tide is going out. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You know, you’re going to be stranded here for a long time if you don’t. A couple of them, their landing craft did get stranded for a while.
But it was -- but our Cordova people had to tell them how to do it, cause they were green. They did not know.
Even the Navy folks did not understand our tide.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, it was interesting, you know, and we were all kind and polite, you know.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: I want to go back to one thing you mentioned with regards to the Native communities.
You said that the children were emotionally abandoned in a way. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Did you notice, you know, how did you notice -- I guess I should say or should ask how did you notice that?
How was it you -- from your eyes? Was it, you know, a short-term problem or has it been something -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- that has led to long-term problems after, you know, after 25 years is it -- has it carried on?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Can it -- can it lead to long-term problems?
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, my niece was -- my sister-in-law did not go out. My brother went out. He was gone -- he had a contract that ended up to be about 180 days. So he was gone.
We never knew when he’d show up. He’d call. No cell phones those days, so he'd call and say he needed a part.
So that’s -- that would be the contact with him. And I would contact -- be in contact with him when I took the clean and the dirty crews.
I went to Valdez, and I would see him in the harbor, so I would see him more than his wife did.
My niece was about seven years old at the time, and it was all my sister-in-law could do to keep her engaged, you know, because able bodied people were working.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Anyone that, you know, Cordova, we don’t have any lay abouts.
Summertime we’re all busy. You’re fishing. You’re working in the cannery. You’re doing some environmental program or youth program.
So you have a limited pool of spare people in Cordova to draw from.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: So it was difficult. And I remember my niece went to a -- a Spanish class, you know, in cultural thing, you know --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: To compensate for --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: To try and keep -- we kept them busy. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Kept them busy, but, you know, when you’ve got able bodied people, we usually use them as coaches for baseball. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You know, youth hikes, all those things. We didn’t have that available, so it was a lot of women having to compensate.
And -- and we had husbands and boyfriends to worry about on the water. And overall political what is next year going to bring
And then trying to keep these children not traumatized.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh. And how do you think that worked out as far as that goal of not traumatizing the children?
Do you think it, you know, now these children are adults, do you think that --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: I think it worked out okay. It worked out okay, I think.
You know, women are pretty -- have their pulse on children’s emotions. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: But very difficult. But most big -- the biggest difficult came in families a few years later when the fisheries collapsed.
Because, being sexist, I want you to know Cordova and that's what Cordova is, we do have women in the fishing fleet,
but we have men -- mostly men doing the work because it's very hard work.
But anyway as the fisheries started to collapse price wise and time wise and marketing, everything, the women had already been working cause we were just an active community.
They'd been doing -- working as sales clerks or bartenders or hospital aides or something.
Their -- their money became very important for the benefits -- health benefits and stability. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well pretty -- and -- and -- but it was kind of like pin money. If a -- in 1988 if a woman was working let’s say at the drugstore, she was making I don’t know what dollars, you know, minimum wage, but she had a nice job.
She made enough money so they could go on a trip. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And she was valuable enough to the drugstore that if she wanted to go in February for the whole month, no biggie.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Any woman could step in and out of a job anytime she wanted, because they were valuable, respected, dependable.
Because and they made pin money, kind of, sort of. They made good money, but pin money kind of.
The husband made the meat of money. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, when he no longer made the meat, she was making the meat.
But there had been not a negotiated discussion on the switch in roles.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right. PATIENCE FAULKNER: And it caused a lot of friction.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Interesting.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, I mean here she's working every day. Her job is getting more stressful because the money isn’t going as far.
They can’t go on their little trip. She can’t step out of her job now.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And then meanwhile the -- the -- fish -- the man --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: The man's working hard -- ALICIA ZORZETTO: But not --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: He's not -- he's not gaining any traction, yeah, but it was non-negotiated.
Had they been able to sit down and know that that was going to happen, you know, then you can come to agreements.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Do you think that led to a lot of divorce and destruction?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: It did. It did lead -- ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: It did lead to a lot of divorce and destruction and alienation. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And then, of course --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Alcoholism too? PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, yeah, alcoholism was, you know, that’s a way of coping.
Drug abuse, yeah. And then we had enough suicides.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah. PATIENCE FAULKNER: And another --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: I’m sorry. This happened then around in 19 -- around ’93?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, up until then. And then even today when we have a suicide and we haven’t had -- I’m trying to think when we had one last,
but I always look at it and say, okay, is this oil spill connected or is it not, you know.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Wow.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: It’s pretty -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
And I analyze it and sometimes 25 years later I can connect it.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Really.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. We’ve had, you know, we’ve had -- people are -- in the world are, oh, I don’t know -- but we have people that are professionals that go to work every day, go to school. They're these upstanding citizens and whatever, but we also have people that provide us with assistance.
Like you’d have a fishing crew member, oh you might have alcohol problems, but not so bad. He fished and did well and then half a year he had problems.
Well, margidley and I call them kind of marginal, you know, marginal in the labor force.
All the time -- because we always had work that had to be done somewhere that would get to these marginal people so they didn’t have to straighten up their act.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right. PATIENCE FAULKNER: They were always able to get something because they needed a warm body that was dependable and knowledgeable.
Well, pretty soon we didn’t have -- the fishermen or whatever did it himself, no help. I’m going to do it myself because I can do --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: He can’t afford to pay someone.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: I can’t afford to do anyone. And so these marginal people got less and less employment, less and less positive reinforcement or role modeling.
And eventually some of them -- I mean they just -- they couldn’t function.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: They fall into their abuse -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: At least the behavior.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes, yeah, so that was sad. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: But we even had one mayor who was a really good friend that committed suicide. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Bobby VanBrocklin. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah. And he was a good, you know, just a really good friend.
He was trying to do -- he had a fiefdom or a kingdom. He had a motel, a laundromat, a bar, a restaurant, property, you know, big properties.
I think that might have been it. And all of those he was the manager of them all -- owner, manager. He might have had a partner, but they all took paying attention and he was a very social guy, anyway.
So you'd go up to him and oh, let’s have a cup of coffee together. He worked hard.
He eventually had trouble getting bartenders so he’d slip in and bartend. He had trouble with -- in the kitchen with the cook -- with the restaurant. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Housekeeping.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You know, all this stuff. He was in maintenance. I mean, all those things where you have people that -- good dedicated people you don’t have them, and he was trying to fill those gaps.
On top of it, of course, he was the mayor -- on top of that though he was trying to help the fishing fleet get through this whole process of making sure we had proper claims.
And very little help. And he was on the City Council at that time, you know.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So you think maybe for him as well as some of the others --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Everything fell apart.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: It was just like a constant adding of stress that eventually broke down?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And he couldn’t turn anywhere. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: I did some part-time work for him while I was working with fishermen’s claims. Then I was working with the lawyers.
I would - fishermen’s claims, he called me and he said,"Patience, there isn’t anyone in town that I can entrust going through my legal documents. But I know that you have that -- have those skills and the whatever."
And so for about six weeks I went -- sorted his legal documents and everything else to help him, because he couldn’t -- he couldn’t otherwise. There was no one.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So can I -- can I ask you with regards -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Uh-huh.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- to all this stress. It sounds like from what you've said the women and the men both experienced stress -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- but they experienced different situations. So the men have been a little bit -- they might have felt a little bit less, or a lot less, productive and as, you know -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- they weren’t the -- the primary care -- or provider --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, they were working hard.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: They were working hard, but they weren’t bringing home the meat like you said. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Whereas the women had this added stress because they had, you know, this fun money that they had.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Now had to become their only money. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Right.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: That they had. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So would you say that, you know, as far as suicide and alcoholism and substance abuse did that impact the women more or the men or was it kind of equal?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: In your observation and I know you can’t --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Hum, hadn’t --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Did you even notice a difference or --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: We just responded. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Responded. From all, you know, from the -- listening to everyone when I worked with VECO. The dirty crew and the clean crew. And the boat owners and the security guards. And I listened well cause I didn’t have a lot to say.
And from when I worked for the class action attorneys, and I dealt with a lot of people there.
I listened to their stories and from that I was able to get Dr. Picou, who was doing the social impact study. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: To put together the Peer Listener and that was -- he managed to get funding from RCAC [Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council] and the Trustee Council [Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council].
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So that helped?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, gosh, well, had to do something.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Do you want to talk about what exactly the Peer Listener Program was? Like what did it involve?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, you know how it is when you’re fishing and where you're sitting around drinking coffee later or a beer later, and you’re telling how big your fish is.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh. PATIENCE FAULKNER: And my fish was this big. I’m the first liar because it was really this big.
The first liar doesn’t have a chance, because the next person my fish was this big. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, when you’re -- people were talking about the -- the impact on the oil spill on them.
Everyone had a different story, but it was pretty much the same.
If you told me that gosh, you know, my wife doesn’t understand me and the kids don’t want to talk to me and I got to move, well wait to you -- if you think that’s a problem.
I lost my car and I went through all my savings and now I’m drunk, you know.
You wouldn’t -- if you had to download your problem, you didn’t have a chance because my problem already was worse.
So the Peer Listener Program happened to be with wonderful folks. We had net menders, bartenders, grocery store clerks, people that were just in every walk of life.
We did training for about twenty-five with Dr. Picou in Cordova. And then RCAC staff came down also and we did a couple follow-ups on it also.
Cordova was so lucky, I want you to know, so lucky. The other communities are absolutely green with envy for what we were able to get.
Maybe we were more vocal or something, but anyway we got -- we had a 40 hour training and we learned how to talk with people and how to listen.
We weren’t psychiatrists. We weren’t counselors. We had to know where the resources were.
And there was many a person that all I did was listen to what they had to say, and then I’d say, you know, my friend Margie she’s a counselor over at Sound Alternatives.
She's a good friend. You’d really like her. If I thought I could get them to go there.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And maybe they'd be more inclined to because you're not then throwing your stress at them. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Right.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: You’re taking it in -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And making -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- a suggestion for improvement.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes, yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Wow, I see.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: There were many a -- many a person -- I mean I didn’t know what their personal background was, but
they’d come in and they’d say I don’t know what I’m going to do, I mean I depend on this for a living. A hundred percent.
And I said well what did you do before you were a fisherman? And I’d find out and I’d say that’s a really good skill.
This is where you could go with it. It could blossom.
And many a person took my creative thinking and dug within themselves and they expanded on it. And they survived.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: It helps.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, it helped a great deal.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Now, I want to kind of shift gears a little if -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Okay.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Unless there's something else -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: No. No.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- you want to talk about for -- for the 1989 oil spill. PATIENCE FAULKNER: No.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: But Patience, you have a lot of experience within RCAC, and I know one of the -- well, I don’t really think this was involved -- you were involved with RCAC doing this, but I do know this from -- from knowing you --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Right. ALICIA ZORZETTO: That you experienced -- you went down to the Gulf of Mexico after that spill, as well.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: 2010, yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah, can you talk about any of the similarities that you found between what happened to people here in Alaska versus what was happening down there?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, the -- the -- the -- with Exxon Valdez, once I went through all the paperwork process and with the attorneys and whatever else, I knew that the oil industry was not stupid.
If there were another oil spill, it would not be handled the same way. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: For anyone else. They were -- they were -- they learned their lesson paperwork wise and they were going to be smarter.
So when the Deepwater Horizon happened, I got a phone call from lower Louisiana tribes.
They needed someone to come down and talk to them. And so I went down there and I listened to what they had to say.
The similarities to begin with paperwork wise.
The oil industry wanted to buy up people right away. They locked them down. They did the prison behavior, you know.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You can’t be on the water unless you contract with us.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Can't take pictures or --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- or videos or anything.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. And you could settle out money wise for like five grand.
So that you get rid of those people. Shut them up and forever hold your peace.
And so they were trying to do that.
They were keeping the people -- there were no incident reports that people could know what the air quality was or what was being done.
With Exxon Valdez we were so fortunate that DEC has their web site, and they give that report so we know what's going on.
So we know how we should react. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They don’t get that down there. They’re surprised. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, I mean they’re treated badly.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And they -- they had a fair bit -- I mean they tested dispersants in Valdez. Well, in the site. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Right.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: In the Prince William Sound, but they used a fair bit over there so --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, well, they just -- they -- well, I don’t know. It’s like, what'd they dump? It’s like a kid trying to get rid of Kool-Aid in the bathroom, you know.
And -- and the red Kool-Aid doesn’t go away and you keep pouring more water. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You know. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And that’s what -- how they did the dispersants.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And that -- that’s very toxic as far -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, gosh.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- the air quality -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So they really -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- needed to know what was --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, definitely.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: The air that they were breathing.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, yeah. And -- but they weren’t given any information.
When I went -- they invited me down there and I spoke to tons of people.
If I wasn’t at -- at least four different venues speaking every day I was lonesome. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: You know it was -- it was -- they -- we drove miles between. and meals and whatever.
BP [British Petroleum Corporation] was unfortunately giving such a big PR like they did with Exxon Valdez that people were trying to believe them, but they couldn’t quite.
They looked at me and I was -- I -- I had been tasked by Cordovans when they found out that I was going to go down there to tell the truth.
And I said you know I’ll tell them the truth. Tell the truth. I mean I was threatened by my two young men, tell the truth.
Tell them about the social disruption. Tell them about the claims process. Tell them about the suicides. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: The domestic violence. Tell them. Don’t be sweet coating it. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And so I went down there with knowing that if I wanted to come back to Cordova, I better tell the truth.
And I -- the -- I followed two other speakers because one was on land erosion and the other was anti-oil, which can’t go there.
But anyway people were there to -- to hear me because I'd been headlined on that.
Anyway, I would go in there and I’d say in Rome they killed the messenger, you know. Please don’t kill me.
But I 've been tasked with telling the truth. And I say, "In Prince William Sound we have no herring. I want you to know" -- room of a hundred people I might as well have been talking about a guppy. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Oh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Or a sardine or Ariel from the Little Mermaid or Nemo or Free Willy.
I might as well have been talking -- you know, they were polite.
So I could see I got no connection there. I said, okay, 17 years since --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Can I interrupt you? PATIENCE FAULKNER: Uh-huh.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So they didn’t understand how important herring was -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Right.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: In Alaska. PATIENCE FAULKNER: To us.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So herring's like the major -- the major -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Was Nemo. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: It was Nemo.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Herring's a fish that -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: A guppy.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- everyone else eats.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: So when you lose the herring, you lose this --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes, the nutrients. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: So as I said --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: They didn’t understand that.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: No. And I can see no connection.
Okay, I said, but this year I'm here to tell you after 17 years we go shrimping. Now that they connected to.
In a room of a hundred people. Temperature is a hundred degrees. No air-conditioning. Kind of like air moving. Ice water, no water clinks, no silverware clink, nobody moves. It's a horror movie where everyone is frozen.
And always a little old lady in front said. "Did you say herring or -- or shrimp?" I said., "Yes." "Seventeen years?" "Yes." And they all -- then the questions came. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh oh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They -- but we live -- we have to have our shrimp. That’s our fishery.
I said I know. And then I explained what they were going to go through. That they had to partner up with people. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They had to work together and they had to take care of each other. That was the most important thing.
I even brought a healing drum that I had made with no one in mind when I made the drum and I never do that.
And I brought it from each event I went to. I had streamers that people signed. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And so that they would know that Lafayette was connected to Houma -- that they were not alone.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: That everyone and -- They have it now in Louisiana -- a beautiful drum. They have it in Louisiana and it's got streamers hanging down all the time. I mean it's beautiful.
I wanted people to know that they were not alone. That was what we'd gone through before in Exxon. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: People -- communities thought they were alone. That no one was there to help them.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And they understood that -- Did you explain to them how Cordova wasn’t right at 19 -- right during the year of 1989 that you saw this fallout happen.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes, yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: A little bit later?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes and --
ALICIA ZORZETTO: They at least knew that -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- things were going to change? PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And that they had some preparation for that? PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yes. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Mentally.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah. And during -- during the first oh, I'd say month and a half, two months, Dr. Picou trained 400 Peer Listeners. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Wow.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: The stress -- and he lives down there. Oil on his beach.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And he lives down there, and he trained that many because they -- they were needed.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh. And did you see any oil there?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: We -- we went out yes.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: You did?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah, it was very fascinating to see.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Did you see oil with Exxon Valdez, as well?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh, yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Or were you just too busy working?
PATIENCE FAULKNER: No, no, I was -- I saw.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: You saw. Wow. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: And did -- was the reaction similar between the two as far as, you know, fishermen working and --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, there were only limited number down there. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Uh-huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They were very selective. What -- well no, they weren’t selective.
They were politically, grab the leaders, get them out of town. ALICIA ZORZETTO: But --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Exxon Valdez, grab the leaders, get them out of town. So people were wandering around confused.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Now, that’s the oil companies were getting --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: And sell them, yeah, no, they’d take them -- ALICIA ZORZETTO: Oh, I see.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Put them on contract. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Okay.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Tie them up.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: I see. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Tie them up, so they couldn’t say anything. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah. It was -- it was very sad. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: So, you know, it isolated people, you know.
And then in the whole process we'd have people I won’t work with the oil industry. I will work with them. I’ll take their money or I’ll -- or I’ll sell them trade secrets.
I had people tell me in the claims process -- you’d be surprised, Well, I can sell ice cubes to Eskimos so --
But you’d be surprised what -- what people would tell me. One guy told me he said I talked to Exxon early in the oil spill and told them they could hire me and I would tell them how -- how this whole process works.
You know, give away basically who was weak and who was -- you know, be a spy.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right. Wow.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: He didn’t get anywhere. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Huh.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: They didn’t take him.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Wow. Interesting.
PATIENCE FAULKNER: But that came out, you know, later and I went oh if I could reach across this desk I could choke you.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah. PATIENCE FAULKNER: Yeah.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: That’s really interesting, Patience. Is there anything else that you want to mention after doing this interview? Any other thoughts -- PATIENCE FAULKNER: Oh.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: -- or things you’d like to --
PATIENCE FAULKNER: Well, one of the important things --