The Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy Gingerbread House

By Philip Russo, Plaquemines Parish Outreach Coordinator, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign

We have many holiday traditions down here in the Mississippi River Delta. But whether you’re planning to bask in the smoky warmth of a levee bonfire or tour the illuminated oaks of New Orleans City Park, we here on the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign have decided there’s room for one more holiday tradition: the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy gingerbread house.


The idea for this resilient confectionary model came in response to a contest held by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) at their annual holiday party in New Orleans. An organization dedicated to “providing leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating  and sustaining thriving communities worldwide,” ULI’s principles echoed our own for creating a resilient, sustainable Louisiana coast for the people who call the area home. With this in mind, we envisioned a gingerbread house – featuring as many saccharine forms of storm protection as we dared to coat in icing – would be a sweet combination of our organizational philosophies.


The Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy (MLODS), as illustrated above, is made up of eleven types of lines of defense, including barrier islands, marsh, ridges, highways, flood gates, levees, elevated buildings and evacuation routes. Incorporating both natural and non-structural defense measures, the strategy is a methodology for protecting and defending the people, communities and infrastructure of coastal Louisiana.


To best emulate the MLODS in gingerbread house form, we slathered, shaped and sprinkled our Creole gingerbread cottage into existence, placed it on elevated peppermint pilings and located it behind the protective layers of licorice levees, Hershey Kiss highways, sugary swamps and more. After hours of considering which candy would make the most convincing cypress siding and debating the moral ambiguity of utilizing an invasive species like the Swedish Fish, it was clear that this is a holiday activity worthy of South Louisiana tradition.


To give this tradition momentum, we hope to host a statewide competition for Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy gingerbread houses next year and, like Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan, we advocate that victory can only be assured with comprehensive execution.