data visualization

Covid Visualizations

In the article, the authors address visualizations of COVID cases, including related satellite mages of air pollution in Southern California and China (generated by NASA/ESA) as well as of ...Read more

Visualizing Cancer Alley

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Visualizing St. James Parish, Louisiana

Illustration by Kora Fortun (2020) 

Opportunity Index: St. John the Baptist

The Opportunity Index was developed in 2011 by non-profit Child Trends the Forum for Youth Investment to index communities on basis of their educational, economic, health, and other community-related indicators. The grade of C- hides layers of historical disadvantage in the region.


This visual originates from a Harvard-led (Wu et al. 2020), investigating the relationship between exposure to PM. 2.5 and COVID-19 mortality in the US. After the onset of the pandemic in spring, St. John Parish, Louisiana saw one of the COVID-19 highest death rates in the country (Kasakove 2020); in August, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,1442 cases and 92 deaths. 

Kimberly Terrell, Outreach Director at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, further analyzed the data on request of the environmental justice group Concerned Citizens of St. John. Terrell particularly looked into the significance of underlying conditions. In her final report, Terrell notes low diabetes and high obesity rates. However, she emphasizes that the number of COVID-19 deaths in St. John is much higher than in parishes with similar obesity rates (Terrell 2020).

No Formosa Sign

Scott Lause took a photograph of this protest sign in St James Parish. Part of a digital gallery in The Tennesean: "St. James Parish residents fight against incoming industrial plant" (2020)

St. James Gypsum Stack

From a distance, you see a white mound rising over green fields. 960 acres and 960m tonnes of radioactive phosphogypsum, moving 0.7 inches per day. Owned by the fertilizer-producing Mosaic Company, the stack is located in St James Parish. Residents through their activist organization Rise St James have been alerting Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) for years about Mosaic. The Guardian reports that if the stack falls, those tonnes of waste would seep into nearby communities and remain there for millennia.

Meanwhile, company spokespersons deny claims that the stack is moving. Mosaic even proposed vaporizing gypsum and releasing it into the air.

Plantations and Industry in St. James Parish

Left: Plantations along the Mississippi in 1858. The visual is taken from a genealogical archive maintained by Jim Cox and Margie Pearce, zoomed-in to where St James Parish stands today.  

Right: Petrochemical industries in St James Parish. The visual was contributed by Wilma Subra, an environmental chemist-activist and technical advisor to Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN)

Together, they show how toxic legacies continue via the transfer of land from former plantations to present petrochemical industries.

Wilma Subra collecting air quality data

Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist, has been helping and organizing vulnerable communities in the Mississippi Delta by documenting and archiving the health effects of toxics for decades.

The Shape of Epidemics (2020)

Article on waves as metaphors and data visualizations of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

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