When science meets voodoo and forms a coalition

Wow. This is a unique case of very different parties uniting over a common concern.

FEATURE-Science meets voodoo in a New Orleans festival of water.

Perhaps no other city in the United States is as well-suited as New Orleans to wed a scientific discussion of environment with a celebration of the occult.

That’s exactly what unfolded on Saturday at “Anba Dlo,” an annual New Orleans festival where prominent scientists joined with practitioners of the voodoo religion to look for answers to the challenges of dealing with water.

The festival, now in its seventh year, is the brainchild of Sallie Ann Glassman, a longtime New Orleans resident who is a high priestess in the Haitian religion of voodoo and an anti-poverty activist.

During the afternoon symposium, which drew about 100 people, both Katrina and the BP oil spill figured prominently in the discussion about how Louisiana can restore its coastal marshes.

As twilight fell on New Orleans, the scientific discussion faded into the background and hundreds of costumed revelers gathered for a parade that would launch a night of live music, psychic readings and acrobatic performances.

I really really like this idea. In many aspects, issues that have a scientific basis must be emotionally sold to the public. If using trusted non-science outlets can do, including those of religious beliefs, so be it.

Once upon a time I conducted a workshop where the participants were to image a community problem that was tackled by groups of diverse interest. There is often a piece of common ground to focus on. This is coalition building and it’s how human society moves forward.

  4 comments for “When science meets voodoo and forms a coalition

  1. Don
    October 20, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    The problem is you wind up giving scientific credibility to other beliefs. Our Green party built a coalition of scientists who accepts climate change and new age environmentalists who accept climate science, but not much other science.
    The general public see all the anti-vax, anti-gmo, homeopathy, wifi causes cancer etc rubbish and either go along with the whole lot or lump climate change in with the quackery.

    The one party to take environmental issues seriously cannot be taken seriously and will remain a fringe party. The other parties can afford to ignore climate change and other issues because they know any votes they loose will go to a party that is ineffective. All because ten years ago we tolerated the mystical element when we needed their support. Now we can’t get rid of them, and won’t get more support as long as we have them.

  2. Haldurson
    October 21, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    I think of it more as picking your battles. I don’t agree with everyone I meet on a day to day basis, but that doesn’t mean that those encounters must always be contentious. The trick may be to control the message.

  3. Bill T.
    October 21, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    No word in the linked article about the “scientists” participating, their credentials or affiliations. One is not surprised.

  4. Mike C.
    October 22, 2014 at 6:56 AM

    I just got back from a vacation there. My girlfriend wanted to see the voodoo shops. She bought a few souvenirs there. There are two types of shops there. One kind is basically for the tourists. I never have seen so many tourists in one place before. And there were a couple of other shops we went into that were for the locals, that is the people that actually believe that voodoo is real. They just had oil potions, candles, herbs and concoctions. And I can tell you these shops have a lot on common with the new age places I see in Atlanta. They both have psychics, tarot, palm reading, crystals and all that nonsense. Bourbon street is one wild party street too. What a town. We just did mainly the French Quarter.

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