Arlanda Williams grew up in Terrebone Parish next to a graveyard that also served as the kids’ playground. Today, she is a powerful voice on the Parish Council. She is living proof for one of her favorite phrases: “Your zip code does not determine your destination.”
Now, her leadership is needed more than ever, as at least five communities in the region are projected to become unlivable over the next 50 years. Arlanda is committed to finding funding sources for coastal restoration and resilience.
She feels hopeful that upcoming projects will slow the loss of land in her parish.
“We’ve been inundated by flood waters, our ecosystem is in trouble, but the solutions are coming. All the pieces of the puzzle are on the table,” she says, referring to the “puzzle” of creating resilient coastal communities. “We need to start doing things, and take coastal restoration to a whole different level.”
But to Williams, that doesn’t mean we should focus on the “doom and gloom” of the situation. Instead, she is focused on solutions.
“This area, this parish is resilient,” she says. “I see a positive future for us because most of us were born and raised here, our parents were born and raised here, we're raising our children here. But the difference here is our children are leaving, learning, and then coming back, and lending support to the vision and the growth of this parish.”
And women, Williams said, play an integral role in keeping the survival of this region.
“A bayou woman is a woman of strength and courage,” she says. “When the floods come, we're the ones that stay up late at night to make sure when the water rises that the children are going to be okay. A bayou woman is someone who has resiliency, but she also has class and sophistication while doing it, and important knowledge on others to help grow them in times of storm.”
This story was created from OCEANDOTCOMM and supported by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON). It was produced by Michelle Barboza-Ramirez, Becca Burton, Melissa Cronin, M.B. Humphrey, Gabi Serrato Marks, and Elizabeth Weinberg.