One year ago this week

The Deepwater Horizon oil well blew a year ago but the effects of the disaster are ongoing and the full extent to which, unknown. Reminding us of that fact is Leslie Kaufman’s article in the NYT, Gulf’s Complexity and Resilience Seen in Studies of Oil Spill. She opens with this quote from Christopher Reddy, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  “Hundreds of scientists are working day and night trying to carve out a piece of that giant puzzle, but it is an entire region and it is complicated.

Meanwhile over at Places Design Observer, Timothy Beatley in the essay Blue Urbanism: The City and the Ocean uses the anniversary to suggest that while the concept of green urbanism is gaining ground, oceans largely have been left out of the discussion. Beatley’s essay makes use of terms like marine sprawl and “Ocean Management Planning Districts”. He ends with a call for a blue urbanism as design frame, political agenda and imaginative endeavour. He writes: “Blue urbanism asks us to imagine a world in which urban citizens — challenged, educated and informed — use their political power on behalf of marine conservation.

Finally, The Guardian commissioned (Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England) Tim Gautreaux to write the fictional  Gone to Water  for their Oil Stories series. Early in the story his two protagonists have an encounter with an underwater stump which serves as a device to clarify that the damage to the Gulf began long before Deepwater Horizon.

“After several miles they began to pass oil company canals cut into the marsh on both the left and right, and the motor hit a stump, hard, jumping up and puttering in open air until Claude could find the kill switch. As he replaced the propeller’s shear pin with a cut nail, the boy asked them what a stump was doing out in open salt water.

“Aw, Jackie, this used to not be water.”

The boy brushed dark hair under his cap. “What was it?”

“Ha. Land, you little fool. You see how what we in now looks like a lagoon? Years ago it was a long narrow cut, not a hundred feet wide.” He looked up from his work. “All this was land. Over there was camps, but they fell in the water every one. A farmer grew sugar cane in a sure-enough field over there. I remember a road. The world’s meltin away on account of all these rig canals.”

The rest of the story is full of illusions to lost marsh-scapes and ends in a both literary and physical loss. Memory and the present experienced simultaneously. Atemporal, perhaps?


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