Hannah Cohen is a Master’s candidate at Tulane University studying Cultural Anthropology with a focus on environmental policy, climate change and the Gulf South. Her research centres embodied narratives of climate change, political attitudes and worldviews, and advocacy around environmental policy. Hannah is originally from New Jersey and has been committed to environmental organising and policy work in New Orleans for the last five years. Hannah has worked on campaigns for environmental justice with the Residents of Gordon Plaza, on mobilisation for climate change policy with the Sunrise Movement, and in coastal restoration advocacy with Healthy Gulf. In addition to her research and organising work, Hannah works in the Tulane Office of Sustainability and in public radio.
This project will involve creating a Toolkit for organisers, NGOs and policy makers building on my research into climate change and land loss policy advocacy and activism in the Gulf South. A major obstacle in addressing climate change in Louisiana is the prevalence of anti-regulation, pro-oil-and-gas constituents. Advocating for environmental policy here requires working in and with rural and urban, conservative, and oil-and-gas dependent communities. There are values that these constituents hold that are compatible with climate change action policy, and advocates must appeal to these attitudes and worldviews in order to shift the narrative of environmental policy from one of partisanship to commonly held necessity. This Toolkit will include research, talking points, activities and resources for organisers and policy shapers working in similar circumstances to better allow them to engage with previously averse demographics. There will also be an accompanying multi-media element involving a podcast with relevant interviews, stories and case studies.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
"As a young adult studying environmental policy and as a participant in activist circles, I’m scared and angry about the looming climate crisis, its social and physical ramifications, and inaction on the part of world leaders. I’m committed to channeling those feelings into action. Employing research, organising and community-based policy shaping, I’m motivated through activism and storytelling, highlighting those at the centre of social issues related to environmental crisis and drawing connections between cultural values and policy decisions. I believe in communication, unification and social movements. I’m hopeful that through these processes, the world can move towards a sustainable future.
As a canvasser with Healthy Gulf, I went door to door speaking with New Orleans residents about environmental policy and the effects of the oil-and-gas industry in Louisiana. I often heard responses like “I know the land is disappearing but I work in oil, I can’t support this.” I realised that nothing will be able to change our reliance on fossil fuels without the support of these workers and conservative voters. I began focusing my research on political values and their relationship to how policy is framed and explored the values held by conservatives that coincide with environmental regulation."