During my time in Olinda and Recife, I was privileged to meet Andréia Vieira and Fatima Brayner, José Elisio da Costa, “Dançarino,” and his daughter, Alma. All of them helped me gain access to two “palafitas” communities in Recife: Coelhos and Afogados. These are communities where low-income individuals and families live in stilt houses on the river’s edge, and they are some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Water regularly floods these homes when the river rises with high tide, and fire is another threat. But real estate speculation may be the most significant danger facing these areas now as the city expands and developers seek new spaces to build high rises.
The Guardian recently published a piece of mine about the impact that the Suape Port Complex, just south of Recife, is having on traditional fishing communities. This is the project that brought me back to Brazil, and I’m working on developing other outputs for it. My hope is to create a photographic and audio installation that will communicate some of the experiences of the people who live in the area near the port. In the meantime, you can read the story on how pollution from the port is impacting women shellfishers here.
I proposed this story to Marketplace when the RESTORE Act was being debated as part of the Transportation Bill. A number of people provided critical help to me in getting this story off the ground, particularly Scott Eustis of the Gulf Restoration Network, who tapped into his rolodex, and Susan Bergeron of the U.S. Geological Survey, who did the same. I also have to credit Oluseyi Fayanju of the Environmental Defense Fund whose blog post gave me the initial idea for the story. You can listen to the story here. It starts at what is approximately 16:15 into the podcast.
This spring, Louisiana’s legislature approved the most sweeping education voucher program in the country. The program has been excoriated from a range of quarters as lacking in accountability in terms of the educational standards in the schools receiving state voucher dollars and as potentially defunding an already struggling public school system. My article for New America Media, which was published as students began the school year, highlighted the voucher program’s shortcomings for students with special needs.