London an emerging leader in the community

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
gfischer@weeklycitizen.com
Travis London (center) and Misha Mitchell, staff attorney of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper (second from the left), on the People vs Oil and Gas Summit’s Regional Research Case Study Panel held in Pittsburg, Penn. at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

It is safe to say that Travis London is a key figure in the economic advancement that is projected for Donaldsonville in the coming years. He remains humble at the same time.

You can often find him at city hall for council meetings and elsewhere important decisions are being made. He will soon be combining what he has learned from a 14-year career experience that includes education, medical, and law into his upcoming business Fine By Me Computers.

"There are positive people in the community, and I am fighting for them," London said.

Fine By Me is a computer-based research and academic tutoring model that has evolved over the years. It began as a home-based service for kids in the community grades kindergarten through 12th, but it is becoming a classroom atmosphere, according to London.

The business is part of the Small Emerging Business Development Program of Ascension Parish, the Louisiana Economic Development Program, and the Hudson Initiative Program, which helps minority citizens get contract bids.

London said what began as a service for kids, evolved into adults needing help for GED testing and even college students who wanted help with their term papers. He said he helps with all subjects, including English and Math. Lee Melancon, Founder of the Micro-business Enterprise Corporation of Ascension, is aiding London in his business startup.

London is the true definition of a grassroots worker. He takes opportunities to help others an runs with it. Moreover, he is currently taking donations in the form of computers in order to grow his business's resources. He said he has had three donated so far, and one laptop.

That grassroots know-how began in 2005. London left Northwestern State University after an incident involving mold in the dormitories to eventually finish up a degree at Camelot College in Baton Rouge.

This was the year of Hurricane Katrina. He was working as a cashier at Movie Gallery, as he tells it. He was unexpectedly offered a job at Dream Center in Baton Rouge, where his work with non-profits and tutoring began.

"It got really heavy, really quick," London said of the non-profit work post-Katrina.

Although that ended for him in 2012, along with a divorce, he has remained active in tutoring and education also by volunteering at the schools of his four children. London stayed active in volunteerism and non-profit work. He eventually moved his sights to the environment.

On November 16-19, he attended the People vs Oil and Gas Summit in Pittsburg, Penn. London was invited on behalf of Extreme Oil Campaign Director of Stand.earth Matt Krogh. Stand.earth is an environmental organization based in Washington and Vancouver. Ethan Buckner of the environmental organization Earthworks, based in California, State Director of Bold Louisiana Cherri Foytlin, and Secretary of 5th District H.E.L.P. of St. James Parish Eve Miller also aided London through sponsorship.

The topic of the summit was not limited to the building of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which was voted a go by a narrow margin 4-3 by the St. James Parish Council on August 23, marking one of the final hoops for company Energy Transfer Partners to go through. A spokesperson in August said the pipeline will be in service by the first quarter of 2018.

London said the summit also involved discussion of oil pipeline issues in N. Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

London said he shared about South Louisiana’s varying cultural background, Cancer Alley, and the Gulf of Mexico at the November summit. He spoke about other community topics across the United States and Canada. He said he was interviewed by five different media outlets.

London said that Donaldsonville's water could be affected in a worst-case scenario accident from the pipeline, which he said would more likely hurt the Napoleonville area of Bayou Larourche.

I love to help people," London stated in an email. "I've been doing community activism for 12 years. Currently, I am helping all Louisiana’s environmental groups and communities on these dangers around the state that are not talked about on the news or in newspapers.

"The groups have been doing a great job on the frontline for years as great, strong leaders. I think they are the best in the world. Our environment is important, and I pray that everyone will help restore Louisiana’s sportsman's paradise and beauty.”

London added that the role of local environmental groups now is to play watchdog. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has recently made funding cuts at the federal and state levels, different local groups do not have animosities towards one another. London said they have shared a certain level of unity for a long time. That is their strength.

"They were in unity long before I came along," London said, "if anyone asks for my help, I'll make it out there."

London is also involved in four future projects involving technology, volunteering, business growth and education in Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, and St James Parishes next year. He hopes to get different community leaders to collaborate with each other. It is also not uncommon for Donaldsonville leaders to reach out to him for simple tasks like creating church flyers.

"I wake up to a happy face, and I want others around me to wake up with happy faces," he said.