In this interview, Sarah Davenport shares her fieldwork experience and research in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
"My engaged/applied ethnographic research is in my home state of Florida (in the Central Florida/Orlando area) with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) for the non-profit organization Blue Trunk Garden Network. People who are part of this network, including myself, focus on increasing food security and environmental sustainability in marginalized communities. Through my engaged/applied dissertation research I seek to not only uplift BIPOC definitions of sustainability (which are often ignored and/or silenced within sustainability’s mainstream narratives) but to also advance the mission of the people I work with 'to grow food and power through sustainable arts and culture.'
For the past two weeks, Blue Trunk Garden Network has been taking a leading role in helping Central Florida communities prepare for and recover from the disastrous Hurricane Ian, that hit us in the last week of September. The hurricane not only caused unprecedented flooding throughout Central Florida, but also proved catastrophic for my hometown area of Southwest Florida.
Along with Blue Trunk, many other BIPOC-led grassroots social and environmental justice organizations have banded together to form statewide mutual aid networks. Through these networks, organizations and individuals have been able to request aid, such as housing, food and water, and legal assistance, and to volunteer their time to meet the various needs of the community. Additionally, and despite our struggles here in Florida, Blue Trunk Garden Network and others have been working in solidarity with Puerto Rico on their recovery from Hurricane Fiona that hit them in mid-September.
What Hurricane Ian shows us, like any other catastrophe (including the COVID-19 pandemic), is the deep racial and economic disparities we continue to face across the U.S. and Caribbean; low-income and racialized people face the most challenging and long-lasting effects of hurricane season. Therefore, for BIPOC in Orlando, sustainability is a necessary means of survival within the conditions of racial capitalism."