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Loyola Academy Hosts One-Week Water Resiliency Workshop 

By Loyola University on Mon, 06/14/2021 - 11:05

Faculty experts from Loyola’s Environment program and organizations around the city will educate residents about water resiliency, gray and green infrastructure and living in flood-prone environments

(New Orleans, La. – June 14, 2021) Loyola University New Orleans students and professors are working to help educate residents about living with water.  Launching now is Loyola Academy, a collaborative science and design program using an interdisciplinary approach to understand the cultural, ecological and social implications of how residents of New Orleans manage their water systems. The environmental classroom project is partnering with local schools, industry leaders and community organizations to educate residents about water resiliency and sustainability initiatives in our community - and what they can do to help.

“As residents of a coastal environment, we face numerous challenges, including flooding issues, subsidence, and an aging gray infrastructure, canals, pumps, and levee system. Going forward, we need to consider what we can do to improve our water management infrastructure and create long-lasting solutions that work more positively with the environment,” said Dr. Aimée K. Thomas, Director of the Environment Program at Loyola. “Loyola Academy is designed to show our community how we can begin to live with water, rather than work against it.”

In an effort to highlight the innovative work of organizations throughout the city, this project, Loyola Academy is a one-week workshop from June 14 to June 18, for several dozen community members, including: high school students interested in science, design and/or earning service hours, high school teachers hoping to take concepts back to the classroom, community nonprofits, neighborhood associations, and representatives of industry. The workshop will include morning field trips to locations around the city to see the adverse effects of altered landscapes and innovative ways to reduce our impact, while each afternoon will be spent using the design thinking process to discover the best tools for educating the community about sustainably embracing water in New Orleans. 

Participants will travel around the city to learn about local water resiliency efforts and to hear from those who are working in the field as well as those impacted. Loyola Academy will meet with Dana Brown and Associates, LLC, the leading landscape architects on the Pontilly Hazard Mitigation Grant Program  project implementing green infrastructure, and visit Pontilly Park, the Blue and Green corridors and the Mirabeau Water Garden, one of the major projects in the Gentilly Resilience District. 

In another field trip, participants will canoe along Bayou St. John, as they learn about the formation of southeast Louisiana, natural waterways and the science behind it, which will help participants understand why our city is below sea level. Participants can also expect to hear from the Pontchartrain Conservancy, who will discuss how new green infrastructure projects can help improve water management, and representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will talk about the ways in which they protect us from flooding and hurricanes. Representatives from the Urban Conservancy and Thrive Nola will show us how they empower citizens and communities to thrive through green initiatives and the Sewerage and Water Board will introduce us to a recently completed stormwater management and nature center open to the public in Algiers.

Field work will then transition to the Loyola campus where Kern Maass, Dean of the College of Music and Media, and Loyola Design Chair Daniela Marx will together lead participants through a design thinking process.  Participants will apply the science they learned on field trips to consider and develop new tools, methods, and messaging to best communicate the initiative.
Entergy and AT&T have generously provided more than $150,000 in grants to support Loyola Academy. You can follow all of the activities on our Instagram @loyola_academy_nola  and  @loynoenvironment.

Reporters and photographers are welcome on field trips. See the schedule here. Interviews possible upon request.