Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg and his wife Priscilla are road tripping throughout the south this week as part of Mark’s challenge to visit every state in the U.S.
Lucky for us, the first stop was Alabama, and Zuckerburg and his wife spent the day in Mobile and Bayou La Batre — the seafood capital of the state.
They lunched with Dominick Ficarino, a fourth generation shrimper, workers from the local fishing businesses right on the dock, and with our very own Randy Rhodes, president of Harvest Select Catfish (www.harvestselect.com). They enjoyed Harvest Select catfish as well as gulf shrimp, crab and oysters. They got a closeup of a shrimpers day-to-day as they toured Bayou La Batre on a working shrimp boat. They shared stories of their community’s perseverance through Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill five years later. They shared the challenges of low-priced foreign imports and not having enough workers to meet their labor needs. One of the families they met were the Zirlotts, who run an oyster farm and are succeeding by using Facebook and Instagram to show their product directly to chefs.
The fishing industry is more than a job to these folks — it’s their community and a way of life.
Says Zuckerburg, “I’m looking at more of the world through the lens of building community these days. In Mobile, we joined a baptist church for services this morning and saw how the church provides an important social structure for the community. We saw a Mardi Gras parade and met folks at a bar who were part of a women’s organization that has created a float for the parade every year for decades. We met musicians in the local music community, and restauranteurs in the local culinary community. We are all part of many communities. The strength of these local communities is what makes up our social fabric and that’s what enables us to come together as a global community as well.”