Tag: Environment

Living, Being, and Doing

Living, Being, and Doing

Lisa McCarty

Over the course of eight years while living in North Carolina, photographer Lisa McCarty visited Lake Eden, former home of the renowned experimental art school Black Mountain College. McCarty writes, "My motivation was never to repeat what the original students made, and I never expected to see exactly what they saw. However, I did want to feel something of what they felt, to be a part of natureculture. When I go to Lake Eden with my camera, I can, and I do. I become sensitive to everything." Between 1933 and 1957, Black Mountain's roster included Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Barbara Morgan, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Susan Weil, and Marion Post Wolcott. Many of these artists are now part of the canon of American art and literature, and it is often the knowledge that many of them lived and worked together in the same place that sparks curiosity about the school. But despite the visceral effect of this specific place on a wide range of students, faculty, and even the subsequent admirers of the school that tour Lake Eden today, the importance of environmental stewardship and reverence at the College are often footnotes in its history.

When Trees Are Dying

When Trees Are Dying

Gesche Würfel
Me and Papa and Aldo Leopold

Me and Papa and Aldo Leopold

Anna Zeide, illustrations by Becca Stadtlander

Anna Zeide grew up as the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants in the woods of southern Arkansas. Her father Boris was an eccentric professor of forestry, whose research touched on Aldo Leopold, a leading thinker in the history of ecology and wilderness conservation. When Anna’s academic path unexpectedly led her to graduate study in the history of science and the environment at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, she rediscovered Leopold, who had been a professor there in the 1930s and ’40s. Tragically, Boris died in the middle of Anna’s time in graduate school, which led her to return to his past work on Leopold in an effort to recover her and her father’s intellectual connections amid her grief. As she unearthed the controversial reactions to his work, which was critical of Leopold’s ideas of ecosystem thinking, she came to reckon with ideas of authorial identity, family history, and environmental thought.

Snapshot: The Land, 2018

Snapshot: The Land, 2018

Timothy Ivy

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

Quicker than Coal Ash

Quicker than Coal Ash

photos by Will Warasila, introduced by Anne Branigin

The people of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, live in the shadow of Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station, where toxic coal ash is kept in a massive unlined storage pond, and toxins are pumped into the air, water, and soil. “Quicker than Coal Ash” depicts the slow violence of coal ash and its effect on the residents, the landscape, and the structures of energy and power. The harm done to the land and its residents is invisible. Nevertheless, this series of photographs attempts to address that harm. Anne Branigin’s introduction to these photos explores the history of coal ash in North Carolina, connecting it to broader environmental justice struggles across the United States. Walnut Cove is far from alone. But despite the massive amount of coal ash the United States produces each year, not enough is known about the health impacts on neighboring communities, also known as “sacrifice zones” or “fenceline communities.” Often, the residents of these areas are politically and socially marginalized: people of color, economically disadvantaged, and too often ignored.

Snapshot: Fish Display, 2014

Snapshot: Fish Display, 2014

Richard Knox Robinson

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

Mulberry Season Again

Mulberry Season Again

Lisa Sorg, with illustrations by Kristen Solecki

This essay reflects nature’s importance in coping with the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic shutdown and public health crisis inspired many people to reconnect with the natural world, which is also in turmoil because of climate change. The essay explores the circles of life and death through a bountiful mulberry tree that grows in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina, near the grave of Leon Jeffers.

Snapshot: Jean Hooper, 2018

Snapshot: Jean Hooper, 2018

Justin Cook

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

The Knife’s Edge of Ruin

The Knife’s Edge of Ruin

Madison W. Cates

This article uses largely untapped source collections to show how African Americans built movements for economic and environmental justice in Lowcountry South Carolina by the early 1970s. Looking at the area around Hilton Head Island, the essay starts by explaining how Black Gullah communities faced devastating land loss due to economic, legal, and demographic pressures. Into this context, the BASF company announced plans in late 1969 to build a petrochemical plant just west of Hilton Head. Although many Black leaders saw the plant increasing the purchasing power of their communities, others dissented out of concerns for industrial pollution’s threat to maritime industries. By June 1970, a temporary alliance between a Black fishing cooperative, white developers, and white retirees defeated the project. By studying these unusual alliances, this article helps explain how Black southerners shaped national debates about environmentalism even as Hilton Head became a well-preserved but exclusive landscape.

Snapshot: Water Treatment, 2020

Snapshot: Water Treatment, 2020

Monique Verdin

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

Snapshot: Two Sides to Every Story, 2014

Snapshot: Two Sides to Every Story, 2014

Aaron Turner

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

Snapshot: The Tea Room, Vizcaya, 2017

Snapshot: The Tea Room, Vizcaya, 2017

Anastasia Samoylova

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.