A New Perspective 

It’s hard to properly reflect on the last week spent down in New Orleans. This trip opened my eyes to such a variety of cultural and environmental concerns that it’ll take some time before I can truly understand the meaning of what I’ve experienced. What I can say is this: my time spent in Louisiana was unlike anything that I’ve experienced before and the lessons I derive from it are sure to stay with me for a long time to come.

Perhaps most noticeable from our travels was how immediately our Southern Californian culture became apparent. From the expectation of good coffee to our surprise at existing in truly flat landscape, it became evident that we all came from an amazingly similar background and were about to experience something entirely different from what our upbringing provided us. The culture of New Orleans is an interesting mix of varying traditions that somehow weaves itself into a tapestry of uniqueness and tradition. This culture is something Americans should take pride in and make a conscious effort to preserve.

Also interesting was the relationship the people of Louisiana have with their natural environment. It’s often easy for we Californians to judge others for their treatment of the land. We rarely take into consideration the circumstances and associations that we experience in the comparatively mild California landscape. I quite honestly can’t blame the people in New Orleans for dismissing the subtle beauties of their local wetlands. Even the “hardiest” of our crew were overwhelmed by the heat, humidity, and discomfort associated with the swamp in a comparatively mild Spring season. How then to instill a sense of affection for an environment commonly described as “smelly” and “gross?” Sadly, I don’t have the answer. Fortunately, these wetlands also provide an opportunity for environmental protection based solely of humanitarian reasoning by protecting the city and its people from nature’s most ferocious storms. I stand as a deep ecologist, and ideally I wish the people of New Orleans would learn to appreciate the intrinsic value of their swampy neighbors through agencies such as the Woodlands Conservancy and their outreach programs. Until that day comes, let’s promote and educate the public about how these regions directly benefit them and through the restoration of these wetlands provide a natural buffer that preserves the integrity, history, and jazz-filled flair that makes the city of New Orleans such a delightful and unique experience.

-Kevin Gaston


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