The Mississippi and the Mekong river basins have been massive land creators over the past 6,000 years.
The Mississippi built the Louisiana Coast, home to the largest wetlands in North America while the Mekong has created Vietnam’s rich fertile Mekong Delta. These muddy river deltas create biodiverse ecosystems that are home to two of the world’s largest fisheries and migratory fly routes. The incredible abundance of these coastal regions has given rise to world-famous cuisines that are surprisingly similar. However, the fragile coastal wetlands of Louisiana and Vietnam are now two of the world’s most rapidly disappearing regions due to climate change and industrialization.
- Tammy Greer, Ph.D. is a member of the United Houma Nation and the director of American Indian Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. She tends the 1000 sq ft Medicine Wheel Garden on campus and oversees the Petal Southern Miss Powwow. Her current research focus is on health disparities in Native communities and culturally inspired interventions, including native plant-based interventions that address disparities.
- Chung Hoàng Chương is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Relations, National University of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. His many focuses cover the current issues pertaining to the sustainable future of the Mekong Delta and the development of slow tourism for a number of southern provinces. Prior to his retirement, he was on the faculty of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University and the City College of San Francisco. He led a Vanishing Foodways tour of the Mekong Delta in 2017.
- Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes spent 31 years in the US National Park Service and presently spends his time foraging and photographing the coastal wetlands and swamps of Louisiana. He has toured the world as a musician and also serves as a cultural bearer in his role as Big Chief of the Northside Skull and Bone Gang, a Carnival organization in New Orleans. Bruce was a member of the initial Louisiana-Vietnam Vanishing Foodways Delegation to Terra Madre 2016.
- Khai Nguyen was born in Vietnam and grew up in New Orleans and experienced the strong cultural heritage of both of his origins. He graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Marketing. Shortly thereafter, the BP oil spill occurred, forcing many people in the New Orleans East community where he was raised to become jobless. Khai started at MQVN Community Development Corporation, a community-based non-profit, to help displaced community members find their way back to economic sustainability. One project that the organization started was the VEGGI Farmers Cooperative, which created jobs for those affected by the oil spill using urban agriculture. Khai also works with community members to inform them about the ongoing effects of land loss, sea level rise, and climate change on the Mississippi River Delta. Khai is looking forward to connecting with the Vanishing Foodways team and sharing his community’s story of resilience and progress.
Moderator: Gary Granata, PhD is the host of Rivers Connect the World and creator of Vanishing Foodways, an ongoing adventure to explore, collect and share stories of food systems along the river basins of the world. Gary is the former Chair of Slow Food New Orleans and now resides at Granata Woods, a permaculture food forest near his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Visit garygranata.com where he shares stories of food he grows, cooks and travels the world to taste, explore and experience.
This forum was made possible by the support of the Lighthouse Foundation and forms part of Rivers Connect the World curated by Dr. Gary Granata, member of Slow Food New Orleans and founder of Vanishing Foodways, a project to explore, collect and share stories of traditional food systems and cultures along the river basins and coastal regions of the world.
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