NEW ORLEANS — Inside of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts-- you will find a new exhibit showcasing urgent issues of environmental injustices. As a part of the project --- University of New Orleans Students worked with residents of Gordon Plaza, a neighborhood built on a former landfill and also with those living in Cancer Alley, an 85-mile stretch of land which has more than 150 petro-chemical plants and refineries.
“There are a lot of connections between the residents of St. James Parish and Gordon Plaza,” said Kathryn O’Dwyer, the project manager for Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at UNO. “These are both communities where you have black homeowners being deeply impacted by issues of environmental injustices.”
Students from UNO helped document the stories of these residents, including the alarming number of cancer deaths in these areas, to show the deep historical roots of climate inequality. You find the stories in the form of virtual reality exhibits, moving audio testimony and historical imagery, all created by students.
“They worked with community partners. They listened. They learned,” said UNO history professor Mary Niall Mitchell. “They also went into the archives. For instance they created a timeline for Gordon Plaza using the city archives at the public library.”
Students who helped in the project, like Ella McIntrye, called the educational experience a rewarding one.
“To get out into the thick of it and not only feel like we were bearing witness and documenting a lot of histories, which is very important but also getting involved because a lot of times academia and history can be isolated.”
The exhibit, called Climates of Inequality, also features the work of students from 21 other universities to explore how other communities around the world are impacted by climate inequity and to bring about real change both at around the world and at home.
“I think as you explore the many different aspects of the exhibit we can pick up tips on how we can better advocate for our local issues and then further partner with the global community to advocate as a larger group,” said O’Dwyer.
Regular hours for the exhibit will be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. through Feb. 13. It is at 5 Press Gallery at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.