Climate Change Needs Folklorists! An AFS Workshop with Maida Owens

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stylized weave of 4 wavy red lines interwoven with 4 more red wavy lines

This workshop digs into the ways you can be involved in addressing the impact of climate change. It was led by Maida Owens (Louisiana Folklife Program and the Bayou Culture Collaborative) on February 22, 2022.

Climate change is predicted to cause increasing disruption throughout the world. While most focus has been on environmental changes, our cultures will also be impacted by massive migration—twice as large as the Great Migration from the U.S. South or during the Dust Bowl. Many communities will have to deal with newcomers; other communities will gradually collapse. Both declining communities and those rapidly growing will benefit from folklorists’ skills and approaches.

A black and white photo of a small white house standing in water past it's foundation
Photo by Monique Verdin

Folklorists can be key, not only for communities where their cultures are at risk of disappearing but also in preparing communities to receive newcomers. Engaging with policy makers and participating in community resilience conversations also builds best practices and refines interventions for this new, highly relevant folklore specialty. 

Louisiana, one of the states coping with sea level rise and intensifying storms, has one of the more organized and focused state plans to address this existential threat. As state folklorist, Maida Owens has become involved with climate change policy makers and coastal planning agencies in order to have cultural issues be considered in planning. She shares lessons learned, suggests ways for folklorists to join these efforts in their own areas, and hopes to prompt a dialogue among folklorists.

This workshop provides an introduction to the field of climate adaptation and resources for those new to this topic and offers opportunities for those with experience working with climate change to participate.  

This is an opportunity to more deeply engage with Maida’s work, which she discussed in “Conversations for the Field: Urgencies for the Field” at the 2021 Annual Meeting. 2021 meeting registrants can access the conference proceedings through April 2022.

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