Emergence Magazine presents Isle de Jean Charles by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

The island, like many small communities along the Louisiana coast, faced the brunt of Ida, enduring 150-mile-per-hour winds for hours. It’s still unclear how bad the damage is. When I made the film, the impacts from the previous years’ storms (Katrina, Ike) had forced many residents to leave and start over on the mainland. Only a few families were holding out. I went to Isle de Jean Charles thinking I would make a film about a vanishing island and how climate change was impacting yet another community and destroying another ecological habitat, another way of life. But I ended up making a film not only about loss, but about love—love of home, of land, of bayou, and of the powerful and intricate web of relationships that exist between people and an island. The residents of Jean Charles have a fierce love for this wild place, a love I tried my best to weave into the film—into a “love letter” to the island that I hoped they would be proud of. As you hear from Edison Dardar and Chris Brunet and his family, you can hear a love of home and place that we are all being pushed to find, to feel, and embody in these dark times.

This climate crisis is teaching us many things, but perhaps at the core, it is teaching us the need to love the Earth fiercely in the face of such extreme uncertainty. As Chris Brunet shares in the film: “Nowadays who’s not prone to hurricanes?”

That fierce love must be at the heart of how we respond, how we adapt, and how we grieve the loss we are now all experiencing.

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Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
Executive Editor

Emergence Magazine is an online publication featuring innovative stories that explore the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality.