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When They Blew the Levee is a fierce love letter to the power of community, one encoded to Black sociality, the broader American social imaginary, and the mythical power of the Mississippi River. In praxis, it is a political tool—a lyrical baseball bat—for the residents of Pinhook, Missouri to wield in a rally against the sustained structural violence of a biased justice system and racialized world.
While there are many ways of approaching community-engaged research, the way that research projects are set up rarely provides the time and resources to create a research deliverable for community partners. This needs to change. Creating research products for academia and partners advances both science and the conservation work of communities.
Early one September morning in 1975, in a quiet Metairie subdivision west of Transcontinental Drive, a ranch house suddenly exploded in a fireball so powerful it damaged 20 neighboring buildings and broke windows a mile away. The house plus four adjacent homes were reduced to rubble, and 11 people were seriously injured.
We live on a water planet. As the writer Arthur C. Clark noted, if we didn’t happen to be land-dwelling creatures, we would call our planet Ocean, rather than Earth. And for humans, fresh water is critical for life, health, our economies, and vibrant ecosystems. The vast majority of water on the planet—more than 97 percent—is salt water, in our oceans.