Louisiana’s coastal zone is changing dramatically along with our climate; it is currently losing an amount of land the size of a football field every hour. Even as scientists track weather patterns and engineers rush to design for flood protection, the zone’s two million residents are navigating their home’s shifting terrain – among them, shrimpers whose livelihoods depend on the water; roustabouts who work on oil rigs in the Gulf; and the many residents of Louisiana who experienced hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav.
Michael Pasquier’s Coastal Voices project will bring these perspectives to the new Center for River Studies at Louisiana State University, an 8,000 square-foot space prominently situated on the banks of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. The Center was conceived to bring together engineers and scientists researching Louisiana’s rivers and coastline; Pasquier will inject history and culture. Gathering oral histories through both fieldwork and an interactive recording booth on site, he will curate radio and video versions of the stories of ordinary people impacted by environmental changes in their communities.
By putting a human face on pressing environmental questions, Coastal Voices will help ensure that the perspectives of Louisiana’s coastal communities inform public discussions about the complex relationship between people, land, and water in endangered landscapes.