Samantha Zuhlke: Environmental Justice in New Orleans

Samantha Zuhlke is currently an intern with National Geographic
Education Programs. She graduated from Colgate University this past May
with a degree in Geography and a minor in Political Science. She loves to
travel and explore new places, some of her favorites being the
southwestern portion of the United States, Rome, and Edinburgh,

our college graduation this past May, two friends and I road-tripped
across the country. We planned a manifest destiny, starting at our small
liberal arts school in upstate New York and ending in Seattle,
Washington. We traced a giant “U” around the country: we explored civil
rights history in D.C. and Birmingham, camped on sand dunes in Texas,
hunted for aliens in Roswell, hiked the Grand Canyon, wondered at the
prehistoric beauty of Joshua Tree, bought cherries from a roadside stand
in California, and wound along the 101 to our final destination in
One of my favorite stops on the trip was New
Orleans. I was blown away by the unique spirit of the French Quarter,
hardly believing that the architecture, with its sculpted iron balconies
and relaxed mansions, existed within the borders of our own country.
The integration between environment and city was beautiful and
compelling, exemplified in the local cuisine, tourism, and fishing
economies. That the residents’ way of life and the environment were
twined was obvious; one would not exist without the other.

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