Last I had the pleasure of joining a group from the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans on a trip to Manchac, Louisiana, more specifically, the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station. GRN has been partnering with the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development on a campaign to empower residents to effect policy decisions that will make their communities more resilient against man-made and natural disasters. We have been talking to residents in the Lower 9 about the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy , a methodology to design flood control and wetland restoration in coastal Louisiana. The strategy works on the well-founded premise that coastal Louisiana and its communities must be protected from hurricane surge by both man-made features, such as levees, and by the natural coastal wetland buffer along the Louisiana coast. Levees alone will not work. Together, a healthy coastal estuary and appropriately designed levees system can sustain Louisiana’s ecology and economy of the coast.Many residents in cities across the Gulf, especially New Orleans, have not had the chance to experience the surrounding natural environment such as wetlands, lakes, and rivers. Often times, flood walls obstruct residents’ connectivity with nature and close off the surrounding environment which can be both enriching and damaging if not managed properly by the powers that be. The CSED and GRN are working to change that for the Lower 9. In our second boat trip in as many months, we have had the privilege of taking residents outside the floodwalls and levees on tours of the surrounding environment so that they can be awed with the splendor and educated about the real threats that past and future policy decisions have and will have on their homes and communities. With important decisions pertaining to coastal protection and restoration coming down the pike, it is critical that all residents in south Louisiana become and stay engaged in the process. The first set of photos below is from our trip to Manchac and Turtle Cove. The second set is from a previous tour to view the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and recent Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects.Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.