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SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories (includes BP oil spill)

SoLa is available for immediate broadcast. Please contact Jon Bowermaster

“It’s not news that water is a significant issue here in Southern Louisiana. Everywhere you look in Southern Louisiana there’s water – rivers, bayous, swamps, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico – is never out of sight. And everyone in SoLa has a water story, or ten.  Its waterways support the biggest economies in Louisiana – a $63 billion a year oil and gas industry, a $200 million a year fishing business, tourism and recreational sports.

It is also home to some insidious polluters: The same oil and gas industry, 200 petrochemical plants along a 100-mile-long stretch of the Mississippi known “Cancer Alley,” the world’s largest Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and erosion that is costing the coastline twenty five square miles of wetlands a year.

At the same time SoLa is home to one of America’s most vital and unique cultures; if everyone who lives there has a water story they can also most likely play the fiddle, waltz, cook an etouffe and hunt and fish.” from Notes From Sea Level by Jon Bowermaster.

For the past two years, since July 2008, Jon Bowermaster and crew have been making a film about the relationship between man and water in southern Louisiana. When they began they had no idea that their filming would coincide with the worst ecologic disaster man’s yet concocted. Through rich portraits of people who have committed their lives to protecting the environment of southern Louisiana the film illustrates just how we got ourselves into this mess. And ponders both the future
of Louisiana, and us.

SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories was never intended to be a film about hurricanes or storms, though their impact will soon be felt in a brand new way as the coming season threatens to carry all that still-floating oil even deeper into Louisiana’s heart. The film’s intent is not to romanticize fishermen or Cajuns (or their music!).  It’s not to turn hard-working environmentalists into heroes and heroines, or lying politicians into even bigger scum than they are.

The goal all along was simply to show the complex and connected way of life that links this entire southern coast. Anywhere you turn in Louisiana, there’s water.  Filmed in some of the most beautiful corners of the state, from the Atchafalaya swamp, filled with more wildlife than any place in the U.S, to the Gulf off Grand Isle.

They have also documented some of the region’s most horrific environmental problems, including but not limited to oil spills, the dead zone, petrochemical plant  pollution of the air and sky, the cutting down of its natural barrier (the cypress forests), the incredible detritus left behind by the oil and gas companies when  they move on, and the corruption in government that has for decades led to Louisiana far too often being compared to “America’s toilet bowl.”

Jon Bowermaster is a noted oceans expert, award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker, adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council. Other films by Jon Bowermaster include ‘What Would Darwin Think? Man vs. Nature in the Galapagos‘ and ‘OCEANS 8‘, his long-term project, a series of expeditions and films that explore the world’s oceans from the seat of a sea kayak.

If you are interested in analyzing the  environmental conditions of the BP oil spill further, why not use the BP Oil Spill Data Tools from Greenversations, the official blog of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

UPDATE: See Jon’s ongoing coverage in “Voices From the Spill: a 5-part video series” on Participant Media’s website Take Part.

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