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Narratives about the environment today are often frightening and relatively impersonal stories of extinction, ecosystem collapse, climate change, nuclear meltdown, and rampant pollution. Yet people who experience environmental danger and disaster firsthand tell stories that stand in stark contrast, humanizing what has happened. That’s the goal of this website, featuring so many of these stories in a single place.
Personalizing environmental danger and disaster through individual and collective story-telling:
says much about how people can and do find ways of coping and hoping, of valuing their own experiences and those of their communities, of absorbing, assessing, and addressing–or choosing not to address–the dangers with which they are confronted.
illuminates the personal levels and varieties of environmental suffering involved, often lost in large-scale tallies of human and ecological costs.
reveals patterns of narrative and personal identification that can reshape people’s motives and lives going forward. People interpret and remember what happened to them in characteristic ways, which can steer what futures they choose to embrace.
The original authors of this website, Christopher Sellers and Heidi Hutner, are beginning with testimonials drawn from our own research, into experiences surrounding Fukushima as well as communities in Texas and Mexico centered around lead smelters and petrochemical complexes. We hope to add testimony from other episodes as well. Please email us if you have video or other materials you’d like to contribute.