Image courtesy of USGS

Current projects

A prayer to Iemanjá: The collapsing fisheries of northeastern Brazil

BY BARRON BIXLER + ALLISON CARRUTH • Delivered as a case study at a workshop led by Allison Carruth and Barron Bixler at UT Arlington in 2023, A Prayer to Iemanjá tells a story about the Brazilian fishing village of Pontal do Coruripe as the community's relationship to fishing is upended by overfishing, fisheries mismanagement and climate change.

Archival ecologies

LED BY JAYME COLLINS • Archival Ecologies is an audio storytelling project inspired by a series of recent crises at archives, such as the melting permafrost that imperiled samples at the Svalbard Seed Vault in 2017 and the 2018 fire at the National Museum of Brazil, which destroyed thousands of Indigenous artifacts. These events render clear the urgent interface between cultural preservation and environmental transformation during climate change.

California on the edge

BY BARRON BIXLER + ALLISON CARRUTH • California on the Edge revisits and revises the coast of dreams through the stories of the people who are adapting to, displaced by and working to salvage a climate-changed California. Our animating question is this: What still draws people and their imaginations to California’s storied coastline as environmental stressors reshape both its material terrain and its mythologies? The project is also a meditation on our own memories, and dreams, of California as they crash into the unsettled ecological and social realities of the place we call home.

Carried by water: Super Typhoon Haiyan, 10 years on

LED BY MARIO SORIANO • Carried by Water explores stories revolving around water as a force of nature, a resource and a pillar of well-being. Season one travels to communities in the Philippines impacted a decade ago by Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which made landfall on November 8, 2013. We explore changing ideas of risk communication and climate adaptation and shed light on the prolonged and often contentious process of disaster recovery.

Mining for the climate

LED BY NATE OTJEN + JUAN MANUEL RUBIO • Mining for the Climate examines the different narratives that are being told about the extraction, production, and development of lithium in the context of a changing climate and global histories of energy extraction. The project surveys and assesses perspectives on this critical mineral from a variety of global, national, and local actors, including government agencies, lithium mining companies, Indigenous groups, farmers and ranchers, and environmental advocates.

River rock

BY MAGDALENA POOST • Centered around the rippling effects of 2021's Hurricane Ida and ensuing major flooding in the town of Lambertville, NJ, River Rock is a multimodal meditation on the themes of fluidity, stability, and the construction of identity through relationship.

wet/land

BY BARRON BIXLER • A work-in-progress, wet/land is a multimedia experiment in documentary surrealism that explores the interstitial New Jersey topographies where land and water meet—places made all the more mysterious and precarious by climate change. The project aims to illuminate something new and meaningful about these complex, shapeshifting landscapes—how they resist classification, defy our demands for utility, and summon our bodies and imaginations even as they threaten our undoing.

Mission

The Climate Stories Incubator is Blue Lab’s flagship area of research-driven storytelling and creative practice. The incubator is inspired by this question: how are different people and places experiencing climate change and advancing climate action?

Working against the grain of dominant approaches to environmental narrative, CSI projects investigate how, for whom and why climate change and related challenges become both urgent and meaningful, or not. The incubator in turn documents how diverse communities make sense of real-time climate change—and in some cases catastrophic loss—in relationship to places they love, value and call home. Current Incubator projects are based in British Columbia, California, New Jersey and the Eastern Seaboard, North Carolina, Paiute and Shoshone lands in northern Nevada and the Philippines.

Methods + impacts

Incubator projects interweave multidisciplinary research, multimedia storytelling and aesthetic experimentation to explore localized experiences of planetary problems. Our projects bridge climate science, paleoclimatology, hydrology, science communication and the environmental humanities and employ that interdisciplinary research to create innovative climate stories on behalf of communities in the places where CSI projects take place. Those stories adapt and interweave such art forms as documentary photography, audio narrative, digital and stop motion animation, story mapping and data visualization.

Long term, Blue Lab will build a living library of climate stories as well as a platform and toolkit for collaborators—from media and science organizations to community organizers, arts groups and policy think tanks.

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