Protecting People and Water in Mexico City
I created a long-form radio documentary to raise awareness about watershed conservation in Mexico and to highlight local leadership in these efforts. Mexico City is facing increasing water stress. The region is home to ~23 million people that rely on a rapidly depleting aquifer for 70% of their water. Overexploitation of the aquifer and loss of the watershed that recharges it put increasing pressure on the region. This watershed is known as the Bosque de Agua, the Water Forest.
The Water Forest is key to protecting Mexico City’s water resources, but few know about it. While international media has paid attention to Mexico’s water insecurity and the Cutzamala System, a trans-basin water transfer system that provides ~30% of Mexico City’s water, there is a lack of recognition that the majority of the region’s water comes from the aquifer and the Water Forest. I sought to fill this information gap by interviewing, recording, editing, narrating, and producing a long-form radio documentary on the Water Forest and local efforts to protect it. I pitched the piece to Making Contact, part of Public Radio International, who did final mastering and offered input on my initial pitch. The piece was broadcast on public radio stations worldwide and shared online.
Protecting People and Water in Mexico City brings attention to the importance of natural ecosystems in and around Mexico City, the interdependence of rural and urban communities, and the grassroots stewards addressing water challenges using green infrastructure. The audio documentary reflects many field visits; extensive interviewing with nonprofit leaders, community members, academics, and scientists; and hours of storyboarding and refining the piece using advanced audio editing software.
Listen to the full radio documentary here.
Retaining Rondon: Creole Food in a Changing World
My interest in environmental advocacy and audio storytelling led me to pursue a long-form audio piece through the Stanford Storytelling Braden Grant during the summer of 2015. I conducted this project alongside my internship as a Solar Power Community Liaison with blueEnergy in Bluefields, Nicaragua.
Retaining Rondon: Creole Food in a Changing World is a piece that explores the social impacts of globalization and environmental degradation on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. On the coast, palm oil plantations, overfishing, and poorly planned growth are negatively affecting Creole communities, from their food choices to how and where they live. To ensure the piece was relatable to a wide and general audience, I approached the topic of environmental degradation in the most personable way I could think of: through food. Whether you a farmer in Nicaragua or a teacher in Nebraska, everyone's got to eat. It's something we can all understand and relate to. Food is us.
Storytelling is powerful. In editing and packaging a story, a storyteller shapes their subject's narrative through their own perspective. This project helped me acknowledge some of my own biases, ignorance, and the cultural lens with which I see the world. As I continue to explore storytelling and environmental advocacy I ask myself: Am I doing justice to the experiences of those whose story I am sharing?
Almost fifty years ago, my grandfather Bob Doerr woke up before dawn and drove down a winding gravel road to the Gasconade River. He slid his dark green fiberglass canoe into the water and with a gentle push of his oar he was off, not to return for a month. With my grandfather's 1971 river log in hand, I head back to the Gasconade River in southern Missouri to retrace a portion of his month-long canoe trip.
River Roots is a sound-rich, narrative audio diary about my trip on the Gasconade and my attempt to better understand my environmental heritage. Over the years, the Gasconade River helped shape my grandfather's land ethic and work as an environmentalist. I inherited his care for the Earth, pursuing Environmental Systems Engineering at Stanford University with the aim of protecting water systems.
Local history and family stories shape us all. Shining a light on my own family and our connection to the Gasconade River helped me reflect on the roots that have inspired my life's work.
Reporting at COP21: The Paris Climate Conference
I was part of a delegation of Stanford students at the 2015 COP21 Paris Climate Conference. While at the Conference, I reported daily on the proceedings and interviewed subnational officials and local government leaders about the role of cities and states in addressing climate change. So often when engineers, scientists and policy-makers talk about climate change, they focus on what needs to happen at a national and international level. In reality, much of the action and potential is more localized: in cities, regions and states.
Through a short podcast series and a longer form audio piece entitled Cities Can: Subnational Action at the Paris Climate Conference, I attempted to demystify the complicated international negotiations and the policy frames through which local actors get involved. I tailored my audio pieces to an educated audience with the goal of informing them on localized climatic impacts and role of local governments in adaptation and mitigation.
This project was my first time doing live reporting, a formational experience that piqued my interest in environmental reporting. Given more time to interview and assemble these podcasts, I would have structured them differently to more effectively communicate the potential and critiques of localized climate action. Making this series was an informative exploration into technical communication that later led me to attend and report at the Singapore World Cities Summit in 2016.
Hosted by Human Cities, an Initiative of Stanford University.