New York City is not alone in facing sea level rise: half of US residents live in coastal counties. In ten years, close to a billion people worldwide will live in low-elevation coastal areas. These numbers are growing. What does it mean to call a water-edge city home in a time of rapid sea level rise? How can we accommodate the radical challenges climate change poses to our infrastructure--and our broader sense of safety, belonging, and place?
At this Climate Week event, we examine these questions with a focus on New Orleans. First we will screen the documentary short Station 15, which ran on PBS and won “Best Audience Award” at the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival, in its NYC premiere. Station 15 follows a New Orleanian teenager, Chastity Hunter, as she investigates her city’s water system, embracing the uncertainties of the future. Hunter has developed a poetry practice and spoken out on water issues in both creative and civic realms.
Following the film and audience reflections, a panel will discuss the changes ahead and what Hunter’s experiences and choices reveal about the need for: cultural transformation as well as technical design strategies; intensive collaboration across sectors, with community engagement and city policy operating as a feedback loop; and the inclusion of diverse voices, particularly those of low-income communities and communities of color most vulnerable to rising seas, in decision-making.
Kira Akerman is the director of Station 15 and the Artist-in-Residence at Ripple Effect, a New Orleans non-profit pioneering water literacy. Akerman’s work has shown at the Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans; the Smithsonian Water / Ways Exhibition; and the New Orleans, BORSCHT, Rotterdam, and Clermont Ferrand Film Festivals. She has received support from the Tribeca Film Institute and the Sundance Institute.
Jainey Bavishi is the director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. She was previously the associate director for Climate Preparedness at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, playing a major role in implementing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and the founding director of the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, a coalition of community-based Gulf Coast leaders focused on hurricane recovery.
Aron Chang is an urban designer and educator based in New Orleans. He works on community-based planning and design models for water infrastructure and resilience and teaches at the Tulane School of Architecture. Chang is a founding member of the Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans and the co-founder of Ripple Effect. He served on environmental and water plan committees for the City of New Orleans.
Chastity Hunter is the protagonist of Station 15 and a creative collaborator on the film. Hunter is now a student at the University of New Orleans. She attended Bard Early College (2015) and has worked with Young Women With A Vision, Ripple Effect, and 826 New Orleans. She recently spoke at a UN Climate Summit affiliate event with the WWF and Teen Vogue.
The panel will be moderated by Climate Museum director Miranda Massie.