Delta Dispatches Podcast – New Orleans, A Coastal City
On this episode of Delta Dispatches, Simone and Jacques speak to a couple of great guests about coastal restoration with Amanda Moore and Arthur Johnson. First, Simone speaks with Amanda Moore, Deputy Director of the National Wildlife Federation Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program, to talk with Simone about the restoration of the Gulf Coast. Then Arthur Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) joins the program to talk with Jacques about the key initiatives of the CSED. Listen Now
Below is a transcript of this week’s Delta Dispatches Podcast. Listen to the full recording here or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and Google Play.
Jacques: Hello, you’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife, and jobs, and why restoring it matters. This is Jacques Hebert.
Simone: Hey, Jacques.
Jacques: Hey, Simone, how are you?
Simone: This is Simone Theriot Maloz with Restore Retreat. I’m pretty good, I’ve had a busy week. How about you?
Jacques: Yeah, I’m doing well. It’s been a busy week for the coast. We were at the CPRA board meeting yesterday in Baton Rouge.
Simone: How did that go?
Jacques: It went well. They unanimously approved the 2017 Coastal Master Plan as well as the annual plan. That kicks off the legislative process.
Simone: Yeah, sure. It moves through the legislative process, the legislature is in session now. It’ll go into a committee starting next week. It has to go through senate transportation, senate natural resources, and then it moves over to the house side and has to go through natural resources and transportation on that side as well. It’s a long process, but it starts as early as next week.
Jacques: Yeah, and we’re going have a whole episode talking about the legislative process and the master plan and the annual plan, but for now what are we talking about?
Simone: Today we’re talking about fun stuff today. It was bring your kids to work day today, thankfully, so if they’re good enough maybe you can hear from my kids later on in the show. We are lucky enough to have Mandy Moore with us today. She’s going talk about some of her work in New Orleans and something fun that she’s doing. Who are you talking to?
Jacques: I’m going be talking to Arthur Johnson, he’s the chief executive officer of the Lower Ninth Ward CSED, and yeah, we’re going be talking about the recovery in that community since Hurricane Katrina, as well as why people in New Orleans should care about coastal restoration.
Simone: We’re having a New Orleans kind of day.
Jacques: It’s a New Orleans day in New Orleans.
Simone: You’ll come back with us in a little bit?
Jacques: Sounds good.
Simone: All right. We want to introduce Mandy Moore, Amanda Moore, with the National Wildlife Federation. She is the deputy director. She also works with us on the Mississippi River Delta program. Amanda joined NWF in the New Orleans office in 2009 after years of experience with the Gulf Coast environmental issues, and serving as regional representative for the Sierra Club in Florida. Mandy, you’ve done a lot.
Mandy: This is very fancy radio show.
Simone: I always joke that when people read their bios, it sounds like an obituary. It makes you kind of sad.
Mandy: The New Orleans Chamber read my whole bio today.
Simone: Oh, did you want me to finish?
Mandy: I was like, wow, I tuned it out like five seconds in.
Simone: If we are stalled for time and we need a filibuster, we’ll finish it out with she holds a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Mandy: Yes, that’s how the end it, and a master’s degree too. Just put that in there.
Simone: We’re friends, we’re friends for a long time, but why don’t you tell everybody who’s listening, the thousands of listeners, a little bit about yourself? Tell us about yourself, Mandy.
Mandy: I’m the deputy director of National Wildlife Federations Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program. I’ve been doing work in New Orleans since 2009, and have been in conservation work for a long time, 14 years, showing my age. I know I sound so young. A lot of my focus in the New Orleans area has, a lot of it started focusing on the Mississippi River Gulf outlet and restoration of that ecosystem that was damaged from the channel, and working with the Army corps and working with the state, and working with the community groups and stakeholders to see that area restored, which is a very vast area. It’s billions of dollars of restoration, so it’s been an honor to work on that with folks. That’s really where my heart is. I do all kinds of other stuff too.
Simone: One of the things that we got together on was talking to the parishes about some of the money that’s going to come their way as part of the restore act and part of the post-bill funds. Today marks the anniversary, by the way, seven years of the deep water horizon. 11 men lost their lives, obviously, so we’re thinking about that today. Mandy, why don’t you tell us a little bit, let’s just start at the beginning. Did you always think New Orleans was a coastal city?
Mandy: I am not from Louisiana.
Simone: Would you have thought that New Orleans was, if somebody asked you, having not grown up here.
Mandy: Yeah, yeah, because I’m a special flower. My dad was in the Coast Guard, so I did actually come down Houma for my eighth birthday. I was in the ship yards, but he was dry docked up in, what is it, Bollinger?
Simone: Ah, yeah.
Mandy: Yeah, that’s where he was.
Simone: That’s Lockport, girl. That’s a different part of the world.
Mandy: I spent my eighth birthday at Bayou Black Drive.
Simone: Oh, I grew up in little Bayou Black.
Mandy: You know the 40 days? Anyway. I had never been to New Orleans before 2009.
Simone: Before that miraculous eighth birthday.
Mandy: Yeah, absolutely I did, because everybody knew Hurricane Katrina. It was pretty evident then that it was very much a coastal city. I think that’s when the whole world came to understand exactly how coastal New Orleans is.
Simone: Yeah, and it’s important that Katrina obviously was a turning point for us, but I would say probably before Katrina, most people never thought that. A lot of people that lived in New Orleans probably never really understood how close they were to the water, and then of course they weren’t always that close to the water. Let’s talk about Katrina, let’s talk about your work on MRGO Must Go. Tell us about that. It was an amazing example of a coalition of folks getting together, working with the Army corps of engineers, and it’s a group that still is held together today, right?
Mandy: That’s right. MRGO Must Go coalition really came about in 2006, so just a year after Katrina. They released a report that influenced the WRDA, I don’t know how detailed we want to go here. It’s a lot of research.
Simone: Sure, go for it, girl. We got a lot of time. Go for it.
Mandy: The water resources damage assessment, we released a report and recommendations about closing MRGO and seeing it restored. When the WRDA came out ’06, it was for 2007, in the early 2007 it came out. They said yes, so we were going to close the shipping channel and we’re going to restore the ecosystem that was impacted by it. That was mandated by Congress, and that’s something that probably needed to happen and locals had said that it needed to happen for a long, long time. Unfortunately, it took Hurricane Katrina.
Simone: Literally an act of Congress.
Mandy: The catastrophic damage to actually get Congress to act to do it. Then the work of the MRGO Must Go coalition began because we were watch-dogging the Army corps who was charged with closing the channel and coming up with a plan for restoration. That was a big task for them. The New Orleans district was, they were pretty good to work with. I think what worked for them was the new level of stakeholder engagement. This was serious business, hundreds of people saw, lost their lives. Everybody knew somebody that had passed in Katrina because of this. This was something that impacted so many people and they took it pretty seriously, and they did some good stakeholder engagement. We were able to have quite an impact. We actually got an unprecedented number of comments in the Army corps.
Simone: How many?
Mandy: Over 75,000.
Mandy: That’s for a single project in the New Orleans district, that was a record breaker for them. We had to help them sort through the comments, because they just didn’t know what to do, which is a good problem. We got a lot of people engaged, and then as things turned out, then you had the deep water horizon and things kind of shifted away and went to the state, because the money started coming down. It looked like the state was going to actually have to call first to do that type of restoration. Which was fantastic was that we had worked with the state as a partner and our watch-dogging of the Army corps, so they were kind of in lock step with us, as Garrett Graves would say, on what we wanted to see done for the ecosystem restoration project.
That actually turned out to our advantage, because then the coastal master plan became the name of the game in 2012. The blueprint looked a lot like what the MRGO Must Go coalition had been advocating for a long time. We’re seeing a lot of those priority projects get funding, the restore act, and a lot of those projects get attention through NRDA dollars, and parishes are looking at those projects because they just know that, and CWPRRA projects are, you know, they’re getting a lot of movement. I think a lot of it’s because we have such broad-based community support and public support and political support behind those projects and the MRGO ecosystem.
Simone: Yeah, it’s just an amazing example of people mobilizing and starting with one particular issue and then moving forward. Like you said, it’s dominoed to the master plan and it’s been a jumping off point for several different projects. When we get back, we want to talk about, we have to take a little break, we want to talk about some of those projects that came off of it. Some of them are very accessible to people, we want to talk about that a little bit. We want to talk about some of your community partners, and then we want to talk about some of the support that you’re going have starting this weekend, or actually we’re going thank supporters coming this weekend. We’ll do that when we come back. This is Delta Dispatches, we’ll be back.
This is Simone Maloz with Restore Retreat, you’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife and jobs, and why restoring it matters. We’re here with Amanda Moore of the National Wildlife Federation. Welcome back, Mandy.
Mandy: Thank you.
Simone: How’s it going so far?
Mandy: It’s going great.
Simone: Let’s just wrap up, because I think we were having an important conversation before the break. Let’s just wrap up the MRGO discussions. Final thoughts?
Mandy: Well, I think you hit on something as we were going to break, which is one of the biggest lessons learned for me in this work, we’re going on nine years with MRGO coalition and I feel like one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that you just never know, a big effort for a good cause, and we were really focused on pushing the Army corps for, that’s the inception of the coalition and how we came together, and what we were focused on doing. Really that has ended up being something that’s actually influenced the state and influenced the parishes, and they feel more confident supporting the projects that we are supporting because we have such broad show of support. We never really, when we began, we never really thought that we were going be influencing anybody but the Army Corps. Really it’s turned out to be really important and influenced a lot of other folks as well along the way. That’s helped us have a lot of success, so you just never know.
Simone: Yeah, you certainly have set an example on how to bring people together. Most importantly, how to have some credibility on issues and move forward, and how to engage folks in a meaningful way.
Mandy: I think we got a lot of our credibility because it’s not just, you know, it’s such a range of NGOs on the MRGO coalition. There’s 17 organizations from local community neighborhood associations to large national NGOs, and we all work together to pool our resources. The local folks are just as important as the large folks that have the resources and the people on Capitol Hill. It’s great to have the folks on the ground too, and that’s a really critical part of finding success and having people trust what you’re working on.
Simone: Yeah, so let’s talk about some of those people here on the ground. Y’all have, you have a partnership with the city, you also have a partnership with CSED, Arthur’s coming on in a little bit and he’s going to talk to Jacques. Let’s talk about those partnerships, the partnership with the city. What is that like? What does that mean for you? Then partnerships with groups like CSED.
Mandy: Well, we’ve been formally working with the city of New Orleans. We had a relationship through the MRGO coalition with Charles Allen, who was a community leader in the Lower Ninth Ward, and really helpful for our efforts down there. When Mayor Landrieu was elected, Charles was brought on as his coastal advisor. We kind of teamed up and wrote a scope of work, and figured out how can we help bring some resources to the city to help with that public outreach side on coastal restoration and have a good partnership there. We’ve been working with them for quite a while now with their team.
Simone: Y’all have done summits and different activities, community activities?
Mandy: We have done a lot. Community activities, we always have a big role at the annual neighborhood summits. Every year we’ll have a coastal session, just helping with giving them platforms to speak about restoration in various places.
Simone: Let’s talk about CSED, same case, right? Partnership on the ground and opportunities there.
Mandy: Yeah, so after Hurricane Katrina, Pam DeShields founded the CSED with Charles Allen. She passed away in 2009. She was really a community, just a star. She was so magnetic and so inspirational. She was very inspirational to me in the short time that I worked with her, and that’s really what kind of solidified us as partner with the CSED. She was very committed to restoration of the MRGO area, especially Bayou Bienvenue in the Lower Ninth Ward. She really has led the way and I think that her legacy still kind of impacts it as we now work with Arthur, who we’re going to talk to, who’s wonderful. It’s been a great partnership, and we give them resources to do community outreach. Really it’s about just making sure that the community is aware, the public’s aware and they can get engaged. They understand that we are a coastal city. They understand how they can get involved and how they can help move the restoration process forward. That’s a really powerful thing.
Simone: You mentioned Bayou Bienvenue, and that’s an important project, and things like the platform. Why don’t you talk about accessibility to projects? You mentioned that as the result of MRGO came projects. Talk about some specific project.
Mandy: The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle is a 400-acre triangle in the Lower Ninth Ward. If you haven’t been there, you have to go. It’s at the intersection of Caffin Avenue and Florida Avenue in the lower nine and here is a platform that folks built after Katrina.
Simone: Like a literal platform, right?
Mandy: Yes, like on top of the 40 Arpent Levee. It has been built a few times, and community’s very dedicated to it. We actually a few years ago did a sign project out there so you can, with like National Park Service quality or style signs, and you can actually give yourself a self-tour so you understand what you’re seeing when you go out there. You have to go, because it’s a 400-acre wetland triangle that’s part of a 30,000-acre wetland unit called the Central Wetlands that extends down into St. Bernard Parish. The triangle in particular in the Lower Ninth Ward was once a, not so long ago, it was a cypress swamp. You could walk across the whole thing and there were cypress trees teeming with wildlife.
Then when the MRGO was built, there was an immense amount of saltwater intrusion, which wiped out the cypress swamps. Cypress trees of course need like zero salinity. It got too salty and all the trees died. What you see when you go out there is what we call a ghost swamp. You see a lot of cypress, dead cypress trees and stumps. Cypress knees. It’s a wonderful important place where we really feel like it’s kind of a portal to the crisis in the Delta. That’s a place that’s five miles from the French Quarter that you can just drive up to it and walk up. You can kind of see what’s happening in Louisiana, and you can see the crisis along the coast.
You can see what needs to be done. It’s a very powerful place to go, and we like to take decision makers out there and celebrities. There have been tens of thousands of people that have gone out there from all over the world. I can’t even tell you how many people, you know, from China to wherever, I’ve been out there with. They love to come see it. That’s one thing about getting support for coastal restoration. You usually have to get in a boat or a plane to really go out and see it. That’s what makes this area so important for our cause.
Simone: Speaking of support, we have a couple minutes left, but why don’t you tell us about the party this weekend? It’s not a party, you corrected me earlier. It’s a concert for the coast.
Mandy: It’s a concert.
Simone: It’s not a party, people.
Mandy: It’s going be awesome. Let me plug two things: you want to learn more about MRGO Must Go, go to www.MRGOMustGo.org. If you want to learn more about Bayou Bienvenue and how to get there and all the pictures, go to www.RestoretheBayou.org. We’ll set you up. Concert for the Coast.
Simone: Concert, not the party. Not the party for the people. The Concert for the Coast.
Mandy: Concert for the Coast is, we’re just, it’s kind of like a rally, a little rally. It’s a thank you for all of our supporters. It happens to be on Earth Day, because you know, good things just come together like that. It’s Earth Day, we’re, the master plan is now in the legislature and we’re making sure that folks know that this is really important to a lot of people. We have some amazing musicians, Harry Shearer is going to be hosting for us at the Jazz and Heritage Center on Saturday night starting at 7:00. We have Lost Bayou Ramblers and Voices of a Nation, and Dragon Smoke, which is super jam band in New Orleans made up of many groups you might know, like Bumps to Funk and Galactic. It’s going be a lot of fun. Isaac Toups will be out. It’s going be a good time.
Simone: It sounds like a very good time. Okay, so I didn’t get to ask you my fun question. I always ask a fun question of our guests. Favorite Jazz Fest booth?
Simone: Yeah, like food booth, booze booth, snowball booth. Oh man.
Mandy: What are you telling me over there, Jacques?
Simone: Crawfish beignets.
Mandy: No, that’s not what I get. What is my favorite thing?
Simone: Oh lord. Mandy’s going come back with her answer after the break. This is Simone Maloz with Restore Retreat.
Simone: You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’ll be back with Jacques Hebert.
Jacques: Hello, you’re listening to Delta Dispatches. This is Jacques Hebert, and I’m joined now by Arthur Johnson. Arthur is the chief executive officer for Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, or the CSED. How are you today, Arthur?
Arthur: I’m doing great, Jacques, how are you?
Jacques: Doing well. It’s been a fun show so far. We’re talking about New Orleans and I’m excited to have you on. First I wanted to ask, Arthur, you were born in Washington DC, but your family has roots in New Orleans, particularly in the ninth ward. Now you lead an organization working to build an economically, environmental, and culturally-sustainable ninth ward. What is it like to advance a mission in a place where you have such deep roots?
Arthur: Well, it’s quite interesting, Jacques. Never did I think that when I was a teenager coming to New Orleans to visit my grandmother in the lower nine that as I became an adult in 2007, well, 2012, that I would actually be heading up an organization that would be designed to help the people of the Lower Ninth Ward, and also to set an example for other communities of under-served people throughout the state near, and also throughout the country. You know, it’s very refreshing because it’s more than just running an organization or kind of a job. My roots are here, so I have such a vested interest in making this community the best that it can be, particularly after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Helping people to understand and to be engaged in environmental issues, sustainable techniques that helps to increase the quality of life for the community of the Lower Ninth Ward as well as the greater New Orleans community.
Jacques: I know you all do a lot of great work. Particularly for so many of the people that come to New Orleans and want to still get involved and help bring, restore the ninth ward and volunteer, you’re almost like an ambassador to the community in a lot of ways. Can you tell us a little bit, I know one of your areas of focus is on coastal restoration and environmental work in the city.
Jacques: What does it mean, exactly, to sustain the nine from the river to the bayou?
Arthur: Well, it’s kind of a tag that was created by our founders, that was Pam DeShields and Charles Allen. Pam unfortunately is no longer with us. She passed in 2009, but she was such a visionary behind the creation of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, or CSED. Putting, like I said, a slogan that people could relate to, the whole idea of the river to the bayou is that when you understand the physical layout of the Lower Ninth Ward, you have the Mississippi River on one side, you have the Bayou Bienvenue on the other, and across is the Industrial Canal. It’s three-quarters surrounded by water, I guess makes it a peninsula.
The whole idea is that the connection, because also knowing the history of the lower nine, you know, you had different neighborhoods, like the Holy Cross neighborhood which is closer to the river, and other neighborhoods throughout the lower nine going towards the bayou. The Lower Ninth Ward was one of the top communities in this country prior to Hurricane Katrina of minority home ownership per capita. That’s such a unique label for the Lower Ninth Ward, because with all of the challenges and issues of our history, segregation and the like, it was in the Lower Ninth Ward where people of color could buy a home and increase their quality of life.
The whole idea of from the river to the bayou is also connecting cultures and heritage and people together as one Lower Ninth Ward, and there’s not this separation of the Holy Cross area and other areas on the other side, that this is one united Lower Ninth Ward that is designed to address and educate and increase the quality of life for the residents that live there, and build a sustainable community that continues to deal with the challenges of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and prior to that other types of hurricanes, Hurricane Betsy that came in, but still bounce back and become stronger and better than ever.
Jacques: Yeah, and I want to talk a little bit about the community. I know like many places in Louisiana, the ninth ward people are and have been very connected to the land and to a sense of place of home. Obviously families have lived in the same neighborhood, same block, for generations. How have environmental threats altered that?
Arthur: Well, the understanding the issues of environmental challenges that come about, and I think Hurricane Katrina brought attention to the Lower Ninth Ward maybe better than anything else, because it was highlighted not only nationally but internationally with that disaster. It brought people to want to know more about what was this Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans? Where was it? Who are the people there? What is this about? The Lower Ninth Ward is made up of a coalition of New Orleans. There are musicians and artists and small businesses. Prior to Hurricane Katrina there were seven schools, seven elementary schools, public schools in the Lower Ninth Ward, one high school. Of course after Katrina, then there only became one school that prior to last year was a K-12 school. Then last year, we opened up online a new high school.
Education has always been a major thrust in the Lower Ninth Ward. All of this puts together a very kind of quiet community of people who conducted their business, who lived their lives, who dealt with the challenges, whether from the elements of environment or from man-made elements, and but still progressed. The environmental challenge that happened after Katrina, it destroyed many aspects of it, but it also allowed us to rebuild certain points in the community to bring more attention to those environmental issues and challenges that were there, like the Bayou Bienvenue Triangle, and the platform that was built after Katrina by a number of students and professors from universities across the country, including University of Wisconsin, University of Colorado, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, and others. Building a platform, literally to raise the attention of this body of water in the lower nine that prior to that was pretty much covered from brush and railroad tracks. You really didn’t go over there unless you were a little bit more adventurous. There was no technical path to go through.
Building this platform and a path now made it one of the most attractive tourist attractions for people all over the world to come, because you actually can see from the bayou, you can see where the marshes were, where the cypress swamp was. You can see the levies and of course we have a unique type of levy that’s there that the Army corps built as a means of protection. Again, part of that environmental challenge of metal levies instead of just being hills and dirt and gravel. You’re able to see that on both sides, the front and the back. This allows people to get a better understanding of how this blends in and what this means as it relates to this could be a structure of the community.
It becomes so important as we continue to build and educate our residents and others from all over the country. Each year, for example, we have a group of southeast Asian graduate students that come to the lower nine through a program through the University of Minnesota. They’re able to come in and we’re able to dialogue about places in southeast Asia, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, in relation of how they deal with these challenges of water, things like bayous and living with water and adjusting to the disasters that come through on their homeland, similar to ours, and how the community works together, and also how governments help within the community.
Through the disaster and through the environmental element, it has allowed the community to really be part of changing the way that how the world deals and looks at environmental issues, and how to use environmental tools as a positive aspect for quality of life, and for more sustainability.
Jacques: Obviously Katrina was a uniquely terrible event here in Louisiana, but the challenges we’re facing are not unique to Louisiana. For y’all to make that connection is so important. Arthur, we’re about to head into a break, but before we do, can you tell our listeners where they can go to learn more about, get involved and support Lower Ninth Ward CSED?
Arthur: Sure, they can visit our website, which is www.Sustainthe9.org. Then there’s lots of information on there about what we do, and we try to keep it updated. You can also even contact us directly by phone, which is area code 504-324-9955.
Jacques: All right. We’ll get more into that right after the break.
Jacques: Welcome back, you’re listening to Delta Dispatches. This is Jacques Hebert, and I’m here with Arthur Johnson, CEO of Lower Ninth Ward CSED. Arthur, you and I participated in a program at Loyola with Dr. Bob Thomas, the Institute for Environmental Communications. We learned about importance of open communication, open dialogue, and addressing these pretty heavy environmental challenges.
Jacques: In thinking about being a community organization, what advice would you give people whether they’re a federal or state agency, an NGO or other entity, looking to come into a community, communicate with them about their needs, a particular project, yeah. What would you say did you learn or have you learned in your experience about that?
Arthur: Well, I think it’s very important, communication is probably one of the most ultimate mechanisms that’s needed when you’re looking at being engaged in the community. First is to be able to find the right mechanism and the right temperament to address that community. Sometimes we have these large community meetings and we want to invite to community, want to tell them about a different program or what’s going on. It doesn’t always work well because for many people in the community, that is not really the right forum for them to learn from, because they have felt that it’s too sterile. It doesn’t allow them to engage. What you really want is a mechanism and a way to help them understand what’s going on. Communication is key.
Then being able to realize that how do you break that down? Many of the times in many of the panel discussions, you have the scientists and the professionals that are there, and the people in the community, you kind of have to break it down for them in some instances. Different terms can mean the same thing, but if you don’t understand the community or audience you’re dealing with, it can get lost in a lot of the scientific jargon and terminology. I always talk about that maybe 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, the term ecosystems was not necessarily a term that was most commonplace. Today, everybody understands what ecosystems are, because that education mechanism has continued to turn around and has become part of who we are as a community across the country. It’s no longer just a term only used in academia or in scientific settings.
I think we’re beginning to understand more that the community is also can be very helpful in helping to explain certain scientific mechanisms that have happened in the environment, because they’ve lived, they may not call it the same thing, but they’ve been doing this for decades, for centuries. Our forefathers have come in, they needed water to get into a certain place, how to build a little trench to have that water come in. They’ve used rainwater coming in because there wasn’t faucets. How to use that water for their planting, for their own personal use and the like. There’s different ways of doing things, but to reach the same conclusion.
Communication is so important, and being able to be as transparent as possible to help people understand why you’re doing something and why it’s important to them. Again, I think what we try to do is kind of break it down. Why is this important? Why is the coastal master plan in the document, why is that important to you? When people look at it, they say, “Well, it’s going to deal with infrastructures that are not in my backyard that I don’t see. I shouldn’t be concerned about it.” We try to help them understand that you’re impacted by these decisions that are being made, even though they’re not being made directly in your backyard or directly in your community, but it does impact your community.
Jacques: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Arthur: Things that are being done further away, the levies and the like, are again, will impact those that live in other communities and other parishes. If we don’t do that, we won’t be able to, none of us will be protected. When you start to help them see that, then they say, “Aha.” Then you get that aha moment. They say, “Well, okay, I understand now why I need to know about this, and how can I help to make this happen?” That’s where we try to work with our community and educate our community members to give them that aha moment, and make it where they can understand what does it mean to me, why is it important. What’s going on in Lafitte or Lafourche Parish, or Grand Isle, things that are in the very southern area of Louisiana. Why should I be concerned about that if I live in the Lower Ninth Ward?
Arthur: We bring that connection in place.
Jacques: I want to talk about that specifically. Obviously as was mentioned earlier in the program, Hurricane Katrina was a huge wake up call. We’ve learned that we can’t rely on our levies alone to protect us. That’s only going to be more the case over time. If you’re living in New Orleans, why should you care about coastal restoration? What’s your elevator pitch?
Arthur: Well, we live on the coast. Like I said, it’s all in the lower nine. We have the river on one side, we have the bayou on the other. These are bodies of water, and they’re coastal bodies of water. They lead into the Gulf of Mexico, of course the Mississippi River is its own body of water that leads from the north to the south, so the United States. We have to be concerned about what goes on in these bodies of water because they are part of our recreation, our education, our transportation, our commerce. Our ports are important. It’s a port city. We should be very much concerned what’s going on with the ports and what comes in and what goes out. What are the ports doing, not in such negative, but just as a matter of information and knowledge base. That becomes also more important to the quality of life that we attempt to achieve and to keep in our communities. Again, it’s these types of things that I think say that coastal restoration is very important to us.
The other factor is that many people who live in Louisiana, their roots sometimes are not always in the place they live. They live in New Orleans, their roots may not necessarily be in New Orleans. Their roots may be in St. Bernard Parish. It may be in Plaquemines Parish; it may be in Lafourche Parish or Tangipahoa or some other area. There are connections of family that are all over the state of Louisiana, even if you live in New Orleans, in the city. Again, there’s an interest there. What we try to do is bring that in so that people understand why that’s such important to know and to share as we look at the direction of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
Jacques: Yep, and absolutely as a Plaquemines boy living in New Orleans, I deeply understand that. Arthur, we’re about out of time I’m afraid to say. Can you remind our listeners where they can go to learn more, volunteer, and support the Lower Ninth Ward CSED? I think you were going to give us a phone number and I cut you off.
Arthur: Okay, sure, yes. You can again look online at www.Sustainthe9.org to our website. You can also reach us by phone at area code 504-324-9955, that’s 504-324-9955.
Jacques: All right, well thank you so much, Arthur. We appreciate having you on the show and hope to have you on back soon.
Arthur: Okay, thank you, Jacques. I appreciate it and I think this has been great. I look forward to it.
Jacques: All right. Hey, Simone. Welcome back.
Simone: Hey, Jacques. I appreciate all of Arthur’s La Bouche shout outs.
Jacques: Yeah, I know, he must know his host.
Simone: He was great. So was Mandy. They were excellent. Excellent guests today. What are you doing this weekend, Jacques?
Jacques: Well, other than going to Concert for the Coast, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is having their Pontchartrain craft fair?
Simone: Ooh, do you have a craft booth?
Jacques: I don’t have a craft booth. I might be building a birdhouse or something. For those interested, bring out the kids. It’s this Saturday, April 22nd, 10 AM to 4 PM at Lake Pontchartrain Basin’s Foundation’s New Canal Lighthouse. That’s located out on Lake Shore Drive.
Simone: Very cool. I’ll be at the St. Katherine Sienna Crawfish Cookout. Team number six, Craw Daddies sure would appreciate your votes.
Jacques: Oh, what’s the special ingredient?
Simone: I know the team captain. He would kill me if I told you the special ingredient. Jacques, we had another great show. You can catch us online, right?
Jacques: Yeah, go to MississippiRiverDelta.org/DeltaDispatches. Subscribe and catch up on old episodes. Make sure you get notices for new ones.
Simone: Great. We’ll be back next week.
Jacques: That sounds good. Everyone have a great weekend.