In April of 2012, the Human Impacts Institute was invited to be guest panelists for a NYC reading of the new play about the 2010 Deep Horizon Oil Spill, environmental justice, and family hardship: The Way of Water.
The Way of Water is a play that presents the human dimension of an environmental disaster in the U.S. Although the play doesn’t explicitly say it, the audience quickly connects the situation with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. For the playwright, Caridad Svich, the intention is to get the human story, the emotions experienced by the characters when facing the hardships of this and other environmental disasters.
The characters are two married couples, where the men are fishermen and their wives who have part time jobs and do not make too much income. In both the play and in real-life, the clean-up actions that BP company undertook after the oil spill used strong chemicals that affected people’s health. So, the Way of Water presents characters with high vulnerabilities related to this disaster. These are fishermen who are in direct contact with the chemicals, and their livelihood depends on how much they can fish. They think about other sources of income, but it’s not that easy… they have no health insurance, not going out to fish means no income, not paying mortgages, and well, life become very difficult. The play, nonetheless, presents this very sad situation in a very tender way, with funny situations here and there.
A post reading conversation followed the play. Tara DePorte, the Human Impact Institute’s Executive Director and Founder was one of the panelists in this conversation, in addition to Caridad Svich, and Juianne Lutz Warren, a teacher of Environmental Studies from New York University. The conversation focused on our connection with this environmental disaster. DePorte emphasized how we may live far away from the Gulf of Mexico but, we are all a part of this problem and a part of the reason for the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010. She continued saying that we all use petroleum-based products almost every day. Subsequently, we are the reason these companies are drilling oil and, therefore, we should be part of the solution. DePorte invited the audience to make a commitment to bring about change, and share this commitment with another person in the audience. “We are a community”, she said, “and we should find support between us to make an impact in this world”.
By Alicia Jimenez, 2012 Human Impacts Institute Costa Rican Fellow, Earth Charter Secretariat