The Gulf Coast Initiative

The southeast Texas Gulf Coast features massive tracts of undeveloped wild country and miles and miles of bayous, estuaries, lakes, and bays.  Yet few know much about Houston’s wild places or waterways. Why?  What environmental difference might it make to improve water literacy?   A group of Rice University students and IWS Director, Professor Comer, set out to find some answers. To get out on Greens Bayou in kayaks was part of the experiment.

Launching . . .

Along with the students of “Youth Studies: Issues of Access” and expert kayaker Eric Granquist of Rice University, the Institute for Women Surfers announces the Institute Gulf Coast project.  Its aim is to create knowledges about the waterways of the Gulf Coast region that will advance feminist environmental justice actions. As an initial offering, we present below a report organized around key overlapping concerns: Water, Oil, Youth, Neoliberalism, Kayaking.  The report was generated collaboratively through group discussion and writing, as well as it features individual contributions. As a concept, “access” grew from work at the IWS 2017 Training at Stanford University; access serves readily as both an analytic and a practical point of departure. In contexts of a course that teaches critical race, feminist, and indigenous theories,  “access” provided additional frameworks for considering youth in relation to networks of power and in relation to specific environments. The decision to produce this knowledge together and publish it on the IWS website emerged from the conviction that the topic we studied — “issues of access” —  had unmistakeable public dimensions.  We wished to make accessible to a broad public audience our own skills as sophisticated readers and writers about culture and representation.  As people living on the Gulf Coast during, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we feel new regional accountabilities.  The work that readers find below is among our next steps.