Jesse Hardman

As the new Coastal Reporter, Jesse Hardman will draw on 15 years of worldwide experience in radio, video and print journalism. As a radio reporter he has reported for NPR, BBC, and CBC, and for such familiar programs as MarketplaceThis American LifeLatino USA, and Living on Earth. He served as a daily news reporter and news magazine producer for WBEZ in Chicago. He has worked extensively in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and has reported on New Orleans for Time. At WWNO Jesse has been the creator and producer of The Listening Post, the station’s civic engagement project. He holds degrees from Kenyon College, Ohio, and Harvard University, Massachusetts.

What happens when you combine the most popular sport in the U.S. with one of the most dire environmental situations in the country? The catchy analogy that a football field sized piece of Louisiana coastal wetlands is lost every half-hour.

Louisiana faces the highest relative rates of sea level rise in the world. As policy and funding debates rage over how to best restore and protect our coastal communities, local leaders also look for allies elsewhere.

The best way to understand Louisiana’s rapidly changing coastal map may be to look from above. That’s how you see the small highways headed south, slim like bony fingers, disappearing into a blue backdrop. What a map can’t express are the histories, hopes and desires of communities along the bayous of the Gulf Coast.

A big part of Louisiana’s coastal Master Plan centers around something called “diversions.” Fresh water from the Mississippi River is diverted so that the water, and the silt it carries, can rebuild the sinking coast. But this technique, a centerpiece of Louisiana's coastal Master Plan, is contentious.

The best way to understand Louisiana’s rapidly changing coastal map may be to look from above. That’s how you see the small highways headed South, slim like bony fingers, disappearing into a blue backdrop. What a map can’t express are the histories, hopes and desires of communities along the bayous of the Gulf Coast.

A new investigation from the Lens looks at the case of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries who are facing court proceedings in New Orleans. 

New Orleans native and local fine arts photographer Michel Varisco developed a curiosity about the Gulf Coast region at a young age. With a mother who is a former biochemist, and engineer dad, she started learning on family road trips. Her dad would explain the Bonnet Carré Spillway, or point out dead trees while driving down LA1 to Grande Isle. 

This spring a state committee approved $477 million for coastal protection and restoration. When you throw in federal dollars, and private funding as well, fixing Louisiana's coast is becoming big business.

Here are some of the people who stand to benefit.