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Sea Change

Rescuing our Past

What does it mean to keep a history alive when the place itself is disappearing? As climate change causes worsening storms and sea level rise, it’s not just people’s homes and businesses that are at risk of vanishing, but also the places that hold our past.

We travel across Louisiana's coast meeting people who are working to prevent histories from being forgotten from a local African American museum to the country’s first permanent Filipino settlement. And later, we talk with experts about how they’ve navigated historic preservation in an era of climate change.

A special thanks to Margie Scoby, Randy Gonzales, Brian Davis and Marcy Rockman for being so generous with their time.

This week's episode is hosted by Kezia Setyawan and Halle Parker.

Sea Change is a WWNO and WRKF production. We are part of the NPR Podcast Network and distributed by PRX.


Note: Transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors (including name spellings). Please be aware that the official record for our episodes is the audio version.

CBS Evening News: This is Ida as seen from space, it’s a monster life threatening hurricane millions of people are in its path. 

CNBC News: In Houma, Louisiana, in Terrebonne Parish the Sheriff says catastrophic damage 


KEZIA SETYAWAN: In 2021, Hurricane Ida left countless people devastated.

MARGIE SCOBY:  God, that's the worst experience of my life.

SETYAWAN: That’s Margie Scoby, or Ms Margie as I’ve known her. She’s the founder and president of the Finding Our Roots African American Museum in Houma, a small town on the coast of Louisiana that took a direct hit from Hurricane Ida. so did the museum….

SCOBY: The floors was just drenched in every area of that place. 

SETYAWAN: It’s now been nearly two years since Ida and I’m sitting with Ms. Margie, as she remembers that terrible night in the museum. When she and her family–– her husband, her daughter, her three grandchildren – decided to ride out the hurricane in the museum building, trying to protect it.

SCOBY: That particular year, hurricane, Ida, my husband said, let's stay. And in a sense, I'm kind of glad. In another sense, I think I'm suffering from PTSD.

The wind wailed outside all through the night while Ms. Margie and her family huddled together, terrified. For themselves and the stories preserved under the vaulted ceilings of the old building…

Today, the once tall proud museum building, known for its red brick columns and white paneling – is now a rotting, abandoned shell.


SETYAWAN: I’m Kezia Setyawan.

HALLE PARKER: I’m Halle Parker. And this is Sea Change.

PARKER: So Kezia, you actually live in Houma.

SETYAWAN: Yeah. I do. And I evacuated during Hurricane Ida . … But I came back early the next morning right after the storm passed through.

PARKER: Yeah, I stayed in New Orleans and it was awful. The power was out, it was hot, but the images out of Houma were horrific. What was it like when you came home?

SETYAWAN: Well – it was overwhelming. When I drove into downtown many of the iconic main street buildings were just turned into rubble.

My own apartment was wrecked too. When I first got home and opened the front door, I saw insulation just hanging from the ceiling. Everything was drenched. My bedroom even had a new skylight …because the wind tore out a chunk of the roof.

I was working at the local newspaper at the time, and driving through town that day it was hard to see so many important places that I’d grown close to destroyed, including the African American museum.

PARKER: Yeah, you know that I used to work in Houma too, and I remember that museum and how important it was to the community. And I know this place is also pretty important to you, right?

SETYAWAN: I think that’s because in Louisiana, there aren’t a lot of places in the state that are solely dedicated to local Black history. The Finding Our Roots African American Museum was one of them.

I’ve always admired the stories that the museum tells. Stories from people who didn’t have power in this country, people who haven’t had their voices heard.

I’m Asian American. Growing up, unless you sought it out, you didn’t see Asian American history in the classroom. And you didn’t learn much about the histories of Black people. Indigenous people….or any people of color.

And when I saw the museum destroyed, it made me realize how valuable places like this are to understanding our country and ourselves.


PARKER: Today on Sea Change, we’re traveling around the Louisiana coast meeting people who are working to prevent histories from being forgotten. As climate change causes worsening storms and sea level rise, it’s not just people’s homes and businesses that are under the threat of vanishing, but also the places that hold our past.

SETYAWAN: And we’re starting where I live in Houma Louisiana and with Ms. Margie. And with a big question: what does it mean to keep a history alive when the place itself is disappearing?



SETYAWAN: The day after Ida hit, I headed to the museum to see Ms. Margie – I knew she was there from Facebook. She had posted a video before the power went out. In the video you see sheets of rain hitting the museum sideways.


SETYAWAN: And then radio silence.

When I got to the museum, She was standing on the front steps…visibly upset, shaking her head. She took me inside

There were buckets catching water everywhere. Major roof damage. She and her husband hadn’t slept. While the storm raged, they tried to save the museum’s priceless artifacts. A collection I now saw scattered …piled anywhere that managed to stay dry.

When we sat together a few years later, she told me how they scrambled as the roof began leaking.

SCOBY: That’s how we was able to save a hell of a lot. if we wouldn't have been there, oh my god, we would have lost some valuable pieces

SETYAWAN: In the end, Ms Margie and her family saved most of their collection. which tells the story of enslavement and freedom in this part of rural Louisiana.

Like this iron brand used for marking cows that a free black man owned during the 1800s.

Or George, this amazing four foot tall wood carved statue of a man — one of Ms. Margie’s favorites.

SCOBY: I’m assuming he was an enslaved man because you have all the characteristics, from the worn hat to the corncob pipe, and one potato in his hand. And the only thing that he own is that low sack across his back. 

SETYAWAN: The museum holds an eclectic collection, from an exhibit on the underground railroad to a section on Oscar-nominated actress and Houma native Quevenzhane Wallis.

And then there’s an exhibit about how Georgetown University – in order to stay afloat – sold enslaved people to Louisiana plantations.

The museum’s records – auction papers, family trees– connect descendants, still living in the area, to their ancestors.

Ms. Margie helped these descendants find their roots. The whole purpose of this museum.

But a week after the storm, the museum’s drenched floors were buckling and the bathroom ceiling had collapsed. Ms. Margie had a new problem: There was nowhere to put the rescued artifacts, like the statue George.

SCOBY you want to preserve your history, you want to keep as much as you possibly can, you don't want this disaster to ruin everything.

SETYAWAN: Her problem wasn’t just how to protect the collection she’d saved, it wasn’t just Hurricane Ida: it’s also the threat of future storms. Stronger storms… as a result of climate change.

I have enough knowledge to know that the weather has changed. So no, the climate change has caused us to have to move around so much so now.

SETYAWAN: And led to an uncertain future – for Ms. Margie’s hometown, a place she’s invested a lot into. And for the museum.


SETYAWAN: Today, two years after Hurricane Ida, the Finding Our Roots African American museum still stands vacant.

The metal fence gate never opens. There’s rotting wood furniture under the pilings — where community gatherings used to be held.

The building itself is an important piece of local Black history, according to Ms Margie.

Built in 1918 —

SCOBY It was one of the first high schools for African Americans back then.

SETYAWAN: And while Ms. Margie was able to save a large part of the collection, she hasn’t been able to save the building. The people who own the building – the Louisiana Southern Baptist Association of the Fifth District – told Ms Margie that they weren’t going to be making repairs. The association didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

SCOBY I haven't heard from them. The last thing I heard was pack up and leave.

SETYAWAN: But to where? Ms. Margie’s museum holds the stories that few have bothered to collect and preserve, stories that she saves first and foremost for Black people in Houma who might not know their own history.

SCOBY: People can get the real truth about who we are as a people, because some have misconceptions. You know, many times I've heard just in a local community that people don't think of us as being anyone or anybody, you know, we’re nothing. But this tells the true story of exactly who we are. We are people that has done great things and contributed great things to the country.

SETYAWAN: After losing the museum’s home, its physical place, Ms Margie realized how big a part the museum played in her own sense of belonging.

SCOBY: When this happened with this building I felt like I was displaced – like I am in a foreign place now.

SETYAWAN: The grounds served as a center for Black joy. They had Juneteenth celebrations. cookouts. sewing circles.

Ms. Margie was determined to make sure this vital piece of the community would keep going. That a hurricane wouldn’t obliterate the stories Ms. Margie has dedicated her life to preserving.

SCOBY: I feel that I'm on a mission from God. And that is to not let it die. It's so important.

SETYAWAN: And so she started brainstorming.



SETYAWAN: It was a bright, shining morning in late January – Ms. Margie had called me a week earlier, saying she had something important to show me, and to meet her at the town’s tourist center.

When I arrived, a small crowd of community elders, church leaders and local officials had already gathered, waiting – there was an undercurrent of excitement. None of us actually knew why we were there. Ms. Margie walked up to the podium

SCOBY: Today is an exciting day. What I have to announce is that we have outside a mobile unit and this is the first ever African American mobile unit in Terrebonne Parish applause

SETYAWAN: The crowd looked at this unlikely new museum. It’s an RV. Just a regular RV, and from the outside, it doesn’t seem like much. Ms. Margie got this idea on the internet searching for ways to keep this history alive.

SCOBY: And all I seen was the RVs, nothing but RVs.

SETYAWAN: So while looking at this steady stream of used RV advertisements… a spark went off

SCOBY: So I told my husband, I said God said we're going to do an RV museum. And he said, That can't happen, you can't do that. I said, Oh, yeah, we can do it. Just keep your mouth shut, and it's gonna happen. 

SETYAWAN: And it happened. Ms Margie bought a 34 foot Brown Vacationer RV off Facebook Marketplace. And transformed it into a museum.

Now it travels across the state to different events. And Ms. Margie’s busy leading tours

I join one with a Black sorority.

It’s amazing how much history comes alive in an RV. She guides us through 200 years of stories …and then, she holds up a hambone. Yep, a dried bone covered in plastic cling wrap, and tells its story.

SCOB:Y …what they would do is they will pass it from one household to the next. And they use it to season their beans or  whatever they were cooking. And so to not to be selfish, they knew they had to share

SETYAWAN: Then Ms. Margie leads the group in song.

<<AMBI Hambone song – Y’all ready – then fade out at 4 seconds>>

SETYAWAN: The roving RV has an unexpected upside: It’s bringing the museum to far more people.

SCOBY: It's easier for the people, they don't have to come to us, we can just go to them.  a matter of fact, we've had more people in here than we had at that building and almost in a year's time.

SETYAWAN: The museum’s mission remains the same. But the RV gives insurance against worsening storms. When the next hurricane hits, this NEW museum, it can just drive away.

PARKER: Next, Kezia take us southeast of New Orleans to the bayous of St. Bernard Parish to find meaning in a place that no longer exists.


SETYAWAN: St. Bernard Parish sits at the intersection of land loss, and rebuilding. If its marsh isn’t restored, this parish could lose another three quarters of its land in 50 years.

But this is also where Louisiana’s largest marsh building project is. State agencies and local officials say it’s vital. They say It will replenish the area, build the land back up as a buffer for hurricanes.

They even say it will help protect the small shrimping communities that are clinging to this disappearing landscape.

But some places have already been lost.


SETYAWAN: 200 years ago, there was a small village on stilts called St. Malo.


SETYAWAN: I’m on a small fishing boat with Randy Gonzales –He’s a fourth generation Filipino Louisianan and University of Lafayette professor of English.

We’re floating on open water, that was once marshy land. Randy tells me to try to imagine with him – how this area looked in the 1800s, back when it was still St. Malo.

GONZALES: I don't just see the empty marsh and the water. I see St Malo, the village stretched along the shore, the buildings rising up over the horizon. I imagine what they were doing in this space. 

SETYAWAN: Picture villagers wearing straw hats to help shield away the sun, heading home after a long day of fishing. Their houses were built in a traditional Filipino bahay-kubo style- made of cypress, and on stilts connected by raised walkways.

GONZALES They come home, they're getting their nets done and tidied up. They're probably fixing a little dinner, you know, taking fish out of the fish cart chopping it up putting a little vinegar and eating some kinolau (laugh) fade

SETYAWAN: Kinolau: That’s Filipino ceviche. Because St. Malo was a Filipino settlement. In fact, The first in the United States.

The name St. Malo stems from Jean Saint Malo, who was a leader of runaway enslaved Africans, also known as Maroons. They escaped plantations to live in this isolated marsh.

Years later, Filipino fishermen settled here, also looking to have independence. They didn’t want to work on a plantation either .

It’s not well known – but early Filipino and Chinese immigrants helped propel Louisiana’s shrimping industry into a powerhouse. Before there was refrigeration, these fishermen introduced traditional drying techniques which allowed shrimp to be sold farther away. They created a thriving export business.

GONZALES: It was you know, Chinese, and Filipinos working together to kind of build that industry.

SETYAWAN: But this was never an easy place to live. Occasional hurricanes have hammered St. Malo ever since it was settled .

And in the late 1890s, one storm changed everything. The 1893 Chenière Caminada hurricane was known as the Great October Storm. It wiped out the village.

GONZALES: A lot of people had died in the storm. And they came back in and you hear the stories of “never again.” 

SETYAWAN: A lot of people never came back. They thought it wasn’t worth it to rebuild there. And the villagers who did stay decided only to build tiny huts — so they had less to lose in the next storm.

Over time, St. Malo became a skeleton, as more storms came and continued to take remnants of their homes. the village was slowly eaten away by the Gulf and today, the land is gone.

It wasn’t just that the Chenière Caminada (SHEN-NEAR CAMI-NAH-DAH) hurricane was a big storm, The story of St. Malo shows the danger of living in a fragile place and the difficult decisions that come from that: when people are forced to choose whether to stay or whether to leave.

It's a decision we are all increasingly faced with today.


SETYAWAN: Randy and I, in our small fishing boat, make our way back to shore, looking at the birds, and other boaters out enjoying the day.

Back on land, there's something else Randy wants me to see, so we drive 15 minutes north to Los Islenos Museum Complex.

The Complex is a collection of buildings featuring the history and cultural artifacts highlighting Spanish, Filipino and Native American history in St. Bernard Parish. Randy shows me a metal sign outside on the museum grounds commemorating St. Malo. It seems like it’s not much – just around 60 words on a sign, but…

GONZALES: This place is kind of special for us because it allows us to tell the story about Filipinos in Louisiana. You know, that marker is just a site where a pilgrimage for some Filipino Americans to come. And when people see it, they learn about the history, of course, just a little bit, but it spurs conversations.

SETYAWAN: I ask Randy why he’s so drawn to a place that doesn’t even exist anymore. Why does it matter?

GONZALES: People like origin stories… they like to know beginnings and firsts and so we can say that St. Malo is the beginning of Filipino American History. St Malo is possibly the beginning of Asian American history – 

SETYAWAN: History that far too many people don’t know about. Asians and Asian Americans in the United States are viewed as perpetually foreign – an idea that was even encoded into law, from the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 restricting immigration – to Japanese Internment camps in World War Two

And now today, with xenophobic, racist sentiment and hate crimes against Asians that increased during the pandemic –

Gonzales: This is kind of significant in the sense of, for Asian Americans, it brings a connection to the land in a way that we were often denied. Because it it gives us a sense of we belong here, we've always been here


SETYAWAN: A couple weeks later, I got on a call with Randy. I had lingering questions on my mind. I asked him why is it so important to preserve this history?

GONZALES: The history we've been told and I grew up with is the history of powerful people, people who, who could control the narrative who wanted to tell their stories.,

SETYAWAN: American history often leaves many voices behind. Randy said people like Filipino immigrants, haven’t always had the power to tell their own stories, to preserve their own history.

GONZALES: Without the stories of people from the margins, you know, we don't get to know what happened. So it's important to put up places that document that story, to enter that story into cultural memory. These people were part of developing Louisiana. These people had a history in Louisiana. 

SETYAWAN: And it’s people like Randy and Ms. Margie who are doing the work to keep those stories alive.

St. Malo is a 200 year old warning bell about how coastal communities can one day just disappear, and how much harder you have to work to remember that history after it’s gone.

And now, there’s even more urgency to figuring out how to save our stories as the physical places that embody them are slipping away.


PARKER: Louisiana, with our ever rising tide and worsening storms, isn’t unique at all in this situation, right Kezia?

SETYAWAN: Yeah these stories are personal to me but really, we’re seeing these trends everywhere across the country and around the world.

PARKER: Next up, Kezia talks with an archeologist who works all over the world and a leading historic preservationist in Louisiana. They work with people who have to make difficult decisions. People who have to choose what parts of our heritage can be saved while so much is being lost.


SETYAWAN: And we’re back here with Executive Director for Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation Brian Davis and archeologist Marcy Rockman, who previously served as a US National Park Service climate change adaptation coordinator for cultural resources. Both of you have a passion for keeping history alive.

And since you both have done this work for a long time – I’d love to know why you think it’s so important to protect these cultural and heritage sites.

DAVIS: Okay, I just think that it really tells the story, when I give a presentation to a community. And so toward the end, I'll flash up a PowerPoint slide of a strip mall or a big box store or a, you know, hotel chain. And I'll ask them about it. Tell me where this is. And so there's this look of bewilderment on everybody's face at one at the same time. Like, it's, it's anywhere, it's everywhere. And that's exactly it. And so it's so generic. And so then the next slide will be, you know, landmarks around historic landmarks around our state or around the country. And they really do give a sense of place. So when you see that building, or that landscape, or whatever that is, you know exactly where you are, and what kind of our point in history we are with those cultural landscapes.

ROCKMAN: Yeah, and I would add, I agree with what Brian just said, Absolutely. And to build on it, the way I've started to define cultural heritage is that it's essentially a conduit for knowledge and care of place. And the way in which historic preservation and heritage is often defined – it's often we often point to the things themselves, Oh, it's this building. It's this object, it's this museum exhibit. But what really matters or what makes them important is our connections to them and the stories that they hold and our interactions with those places.

DAVIS: I think the to Marcy's point, I think that we're even now in this, this point of reexamining the histories that have been told for the past, you know, 100 plus years, depending on who was writing the history, who was documenting who was what research they knew, you know, in the digital age, we have so much better connection with, you know, archives and data, that were really reexamining, you know, the different cultures, and I think being a lot more aware of what may have really happened and not just a one sided history that's been told.

SETYAWAN: We've seen how hurricanes and tornadoes and other extreme weather events have affected heritage sites. What do you see going into the future?

ROCKMAN: I think the future can be positive, but it's not guaranteed. yet. I think one of my deep overarching concerns is that the way climate change is currently being sort of shaped and pursued is there's so much emphasis on technology, technology, innovation, innovation, technology.

Whereas, and it's looked as again, the emphasis is on things and things we can count and things we can measure and things we can install, whereas innovation and human relationships and human knowledge, are not getting the same level of attention. And so there's deeper stories of what does it mean to live in a place? What does it mean to have to leave a place? What does it mean to go through a disaster and a place and be dislocated and come back? We're not grappling with all of those those issues, as Brian was saying, we now have these new technologies and abilities to see things and ask new things of our past. But we're almost in a race. Now as climate impacts are developing. And an example I love to point to you from the Park Service's, Jamestown Island at Colonial National Historical Park in 2018 is 27th 2018. They were able to make some connections between some really early documents of the first enslaved peoples to arrive at Fort Monroe. And they were brought to Jamestown island in 1619. And they actually had a name, Angela. And they're pretty sure they figured out where she lived on Jamestown island.

There are two things, two forces now intersecting. We now have a sense we can actually point to some of those experiences and the traces of the early enslaved people that can help build that empathy and that connection to the issues of racism we now have.

But all the projections are Jamestown water is it's being inundated from the top, it's being eroded from the side, there's groundwater coming up from below. And so we're in this race, to essentially, how can we learn things and make those connections quickly, before our ability to do that with the physical things goes away.

DAVIS: I think it's really a big part of our jobs right now as stewards. And we all are stewards. And we, it's our job to keep these sites and these stories and these resources around for future generations to learn even more than we ever could. And I think that right now, a big part of that, especially in areas that are impacted on a regular basis by storms, and sea level rise, and other factors is education, and to show them the value of what this really means.

SETYAWAN: What obstacles have you seen when you’re trying to protect these spaces? Marcy, you were talking about the overemphasis on protecting the physical space, rather than focusing on the people or the relationships they have to that place. Do you have any examples?

ROCKMAN: I think one of the ongoing themes of my work in climate change over the past decade and more is that I have so often been told that the work that I do with cultural heritage, that it's not real climate change that what I'm doing. Like, that's just not part of climate change. That's not real. It's not atmospheric models. It's not. It's not the technology, it's not a source of energy, and just literally been taught, like, why are you here? What are you doing? And so one of the responses I always have, like, if we recognize that climate change is coming out of human behavior, then the fields that study human knowledge of place and care for place in interactions with the environment, how that is absolutely part of climate change. But it is that that struggle of how we have defined what climate change is and how we've defined what appropriate responses are, often does not include cultural heritage. And so there isn't the funding for it, there isn't the awareness for it, there aren't the programs for it. So really building that awareness of what heritage can do. And, and what it needs to really go for it is one of the great obstacles.

DAVIS: I think that we have one of our Divisions of the Arts here in Louisiana, the Folklife Director Maida Owens has started a Bayou Culture Collective. And so she's having she's going into those communities that are along the south part of the state next to the Gulf, and talking with those people, those tradition bearers, those those people that have lived there, and started to have these discussions about how, how are you being affected by the climate change, and also looking at receiver communities, which basically, what they found in their discussions, is that as the water gets higher, people are moving one community up the bayou, or the up the river, and not like at far distances right now. But I think that as more storms come through there, there are certain parishes and areas along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, that have had major storms on such a repetitive basis, that there's little to no historic fabric left, you know, houses that we were on our most endangered places list, just several years ago, were completely wiped away by, you know, two hurricanes within several weeks of each other in 2020, Laura and delta. And so, you know, when you see those places that were familiar, and it's nothing but a blank landscape now, you know, there's really not much, and the physical scars from from storms back in, you know, 15 years ago, are still there, it's really difficult to have a culture that survives in that kind of setting.

SETYAWAN: Do you think the responsibility for Cultural Preservation falls first on just ordinary folks and grassroot efforts?

DAVIS: I think it has to, to some extent, you know, having failsafes for those records of those documents, or those photographs, one, one thing, and also that is, is changed, my way I do my legal documents is that we don't we no longer print photographs anymore, we're not going to find boxes of photographs, everything is digital, we don't even know we'll be able to read JPEGs and 50 years. So, you know, that kind of thing? How do we document our culture now, as it's changed so much in the past, you know, 20 or 30 years. And so I think that a lot of that sharing is making sure that, you know, repositories and archives, you know, share those bits of your culture with those organizations that have the capacity and the funding to be able to protect that or at least give them a copy of that. So I think it could be a good first step. But you're documenting culture, I think is really important.

ROCKMAN: Yeah, I'd love to build on that. I'm going to point again to our colleagues over in Scotland who have built alongside their app, a program that works with communities associated with heritage that's eroding along the coast. And I've had the chance to be part of some of the conversations that they've had with those communities. And they've put it I think so beautifully or the way they've approached it, they've said essentially, we cannot hold back the sea. We cannot keep things as they are. But we can work with you to help carry forward some of what is important about this place. What would you like that to be? And what I saw in those conversations is that what came out of being asked that question was incredible, to be creative and positive and forward looking.

And one of the things that I would love to see in the US is how do we have more of those conversations? How do we have some of those conversations, more of those conversations here in the US, but then also create a space to act on them.

And I think you need, then you have to have that confidence of the communities need to be able to say, if I'm going to say what's important to me, I need to have the confidence that someone's going to hear it.

SETYAWAN: Is there anything else important that hasn't been touched upon?

DAVIS: I think that one thing that has been an obstacle for saving communities and sites in the past is just a knowledge of the system. In the past many of our historic sites here in Louisiana especially had been lost to industrial encroachment.

And a lot of those have been African American communities because they'd been adjacent to large parcels of land that are accessible and, you know, then the next day you have a you know, have the big industrial plant next to your community and it's an all the associated things with that. So, I think that no knowing and getting organized is a major part of say

leaving what we have left. And so that's why, you know, it's important to us to be out there and connect with those people across the state.

ROCKMAN: Brian just mentioned industrial sites. And I think there is also this sense of, again, it's back to his definitions of where is heritage and where, where are the stories that are significant. And when I was with the Park Service, I worked with park rangers to help them figure out how to talk with the public about climate change.

And I created a program called Every Place has a Climate Story. And it connected climate change, heritage and place, that every place that is now a park, regardless of why it was founded, at some point in time was a home to people.

And so if we can look at the history of those people, we can talk about how they came to live there, what they experienced what they knew of their environment, what is happening to that environment now and the physical, the physical, tangible things, the lived experience, the long term experience of change, and the industrial history of those sites, how modern climate change has come to be. And I've shared that with since I left the National Park Service with a number of communities, and particularly there's been one group in South Philadelphia, that's right next to one the Dow Chemical plants, you know, just an industrial community that has been through so much in that area. And they've said yes, we have stories here too.

Because we're not Yellowstone or Yosemite. But we matter too and we have a history in this place. And so, again, I'd love to just go back to that ability to talk about what matters to people and understand their experiences in that place. And so industrial history also has a place in talking about climate change, talking about it in rural places. Every place literally has a climate story, there is something that every place can tell and can share.


SETYAWAN: These stories complicate our history – but in a good way. They’re for everyone. Maybe they spark empathy. At the very least, these stories show how our present wasn’t paved with just one road. Lots of people made the country we have today. And we all belong here.


PARKER: Thanks for listening to Sea Change. This episode was produced and fact-checked by Kezia Setyawan. Editing help was provided by Carlyle Calhoun, Rosemary Westwood, Eve Abram and me, Halle Parker. Our sound designer is Maddie Zampanti. Kezia also helped with handling promotion.

A special thanks to Ms. Margie Scoby, Professor Randy Gonzales, Brian Davis and Marcy Rockman for being so generous with their time.

Sea Change is a WWNO and WRKF production. We are part of the NPR Podcast Network and distributed by PRX.

To see photos from our trip to St. Malo and the Finding Our Roots African American mobile unit, check out our website: WWNO dot org/podcast/sea change

Sea Change is made possible with major support from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. WWNO’s Coastal Desk is supported by the Walton Family Foundation, the Meraux Foundation, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Thanks so much for joining us, and we’ll be back in two weeks

Kezia Setyawan is a coastal reporter for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of Houma.
Halle Parker reports on the environment for WWNO's Coastal Desk. You can reach her at hparker@wwno.org.