Coal in Ironton, LA — for Sierra Magazine

Driving down Louisiana Highway 23, the road that winds from New Orleans to the watery end of Louisiana in Plaquemines Parish, is a curious experience. Accoutrements of city life give way to a landscape that is simultaneously peaceful and restless, peppered with industrial plants and Mad Max-ish machinery. The tops hulking ships glide over the grassy levees, coming and going from faraway lands. Oil refineries churn steadily — “the cloud-makers” — as my friend Hamilton acerbically refers to them.

I had driven by the huge mound of coal in Ironton on previous excursions, each time struck anew by its visual strangeness. When Sierra Magazine commissioned me to illustrate their story about the community’s fight against the proposed new coal terminal I had a chance to meet the beautiful members of a community that had been nestled in this little curve on the Mississippi River for over 200 years.

“We have snakes in my home sometimes,” said the sweet 5-year old girl who promptly assigned herself to be my guide. Taking my hand she led me around the four streets in Ironton. I thought to myself: There are plenty of snakes outside too, monsters of other stripes — and not the resident alligator in the river’s bend, but the politicians who are maneuvering towards building a coal portal in the community’s backyard, without consulting the residents first. But they are fighting back, with council-woman Audrey Trufant-Salvant at the helm.

Writer Natalya Savka reports in Sierra Magazine:

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