Coastal Restoration - The Daily Comet  

Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.

Why should we save coastal Louisiana?

There are as many answers as there are people who love Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, and Chauvin-based community nonprofit group Bayou Grace is on a mission to document those reasons and the people behind them.

For the last two years, Bayou Grace has been out at community events with markers and a sheet of paper, asking residents and visitors of all ages to write down their reason for saving coastal Louisiana and to pose for a photo.

So far, it has collected more than 600 photos, from 2-year-old children to 84-year-olds.

Next month, a collection of photos from the project will be put on display at the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, 7910 Park Ave., Houma.

The exhibit will run through November.

“What we tend to hear all the time is that coastal Louisiana is important because of the oil and gas, or the industry. But there are as many responses as there are people,” said Bayou Grace volunteer coordinator Diane Huhn, who founded the project. “This helps to show the reasons aren’t just five bullet points. They’re endless and personal.”

Huhn said she was inspired by a photo blog called, “Why do you do what you do?” The website posts submitted portraits of people with a short message about what inspires them in life and work.

“We were trying to find a new way to bring our advocacy message to a larger audience,” Huhn said. “I thought about it, and I said, ‘Well, I do what I do to save coastal Louisiana.’”


The project continues to expand. So far, Huhn said, Bayou Grace has turned the portraits into a book, and showcased them at the Chauvin Sculpture Garden Studio.

The reasons depicted range from personal to environmental. Some are short and sweet, and some make a larger point about Louisiana’s role.

A number of signs held by both children and adults say we should save Louisiana “because it’s our home.” Others mention the seafood, the alligators and birds. Some point out that the Louisiana coast offers oil and gas that power our nation. Others say the wetlands protect us from hurricanes.

“The exhibit is unique and completely community generated,” said Glenda Toups, executive director of the Houma Regional Arts Council.

As the project has gone on, Huhn said Bayou Grace has received submissions from visitors from around the country and even the world. There are submissions from as far away as Canada, France and Germany.

Many of the volunteers Bayou Grace works with come in from out of state to do service projects in the wetlands and learn about coastal land loss.

Thinking about and writing down a reason for saving Louisiana seems to help personalize the issue for people, Huhn said.

“We had a group of high school students from Seattle here over the summer, and (a chaperone) said that participating in the project took the issue from academic to personal,” Huhn said.

The exhibit will kick off at 4 p.m. Sept. 8, and Terrebonne Parish President Michael Claudet will speak at 4:30 p.m., along with Kerry St. Pé, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program director and parish council members.


There will also be food, music and a silent auction, including photographs and a signed copy of the “Beasts of the Southern Wild” movie poster.

The event is being held in conjunction with Art After Dark, which begins at 6:30 p.m., a night when artists set up shop throughout Houma’s downtown, inviting residents to stroll and check out local wares.

In addition, Cajun musician Zachary Richard will be performing a special invitation-only show at the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum later that evening in support of the project.

Bayou Grace will also collect new additions to the project at the gallery opening.

“I really hope to see the community come out and support and even participate and contribute,” said Rebecca Templeton, executive director of Bayou Grace. “It’s an important chance to add their voice to many others.”

Nikki Buskey can be reached at 857-2205 or nicole.buskey@houmatoday.com.