July 11, 2018 by Dr. G
Before the OCEANDOTCOMM group came together in March 2018, we each received a box in the mail with meeting swag – a t-shirt, hat, water bottle, duct tape, chocolate bar, field notebook… all sorts of fun items. The smallest object caught my eye – a tiny bottle of TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce. I was curious what the connection was between TABASCO® and this gathering in Louisiana. I honestly did not know at that time that TABASCO® sauce comes from Avery Island in southern Louisiana, and it has its own story of coastal resilience and coastal optimism since 1868.
Ah, another story for another quilt for the Stitching Hope for the Coast project!
These are the following stories that provided me the information and inspiration for the quilt:
- Tristan Baurick (2018, January 27), “Tabasco’s homeland fights for survival in Louisiana against storms and rising seas,” NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
- Katherine Wei (2018, March 15), “Tabasco Hot Sauce and the Fate of Louisiana’s Shorelines,” Sierra.
- Oliver Milman (2018, March 27), “Hotting up: how climate change could swallow Louisiana’s Tabasco island,” The Guardian.
- Michael Isaac Stein (2018, April 25), “Tabasco Sauce Is in a Battle For Its Very Survival,” EARTHER.
Here is a short video from The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com with images of the area:
Once I learned about the pepper sauce and its battle with storms, rising seas and subsidence, the quilting pattern known as “windowpane block” or “attic window” was perfect for me to use. I had to be creative with the fabrics and pieces of the overall story I would highlight, and here it is!
A fabric with a brick pattern was selected for the border and the back to represent the brick of the TABASCO® factory building. The green and purple fabric in the six window frames pay tribute to New Orleans, ~150 miles to the west of Avery Island, the location of TABASCO®’s home.
Window #1 (top left) starts with the TABASCO® logo. It is a distressed logo, with the white screen print cracked and broken in several places, representing the stress the factory and warehouse is under in its location because of the environment.
Window #2 (top center) represents the landscape of bayou and marsh, and a cross-section of the “hill” where the TABASCO® factory sits on top. At ~150 feet above sea level, the factory actually is located on a salt dome (the fabric is salt crystals) and is one of the highest points on the Gulf coast.
Window #3 (top right) shows the equipment used for prior dredging the wetlands to build canals and lay oil and gas pipelines. These canals allowed for saltwater intrusion which killed off freshwater vegetation, which then led the canals to increase in size because of eroding banks.
Window #4 (bottom left) describes the wooden casks that contain the TABASCO® mash – peppers that have been ground into a salt mash and stored for three years. In September 2005, Hurricane Rita sent a surge of water that came inches from the production factory, but the warehouse and its 60,000 barrels of mash went under three feet of water.
Window #5 (bottom center) shows one of the immediate protection efforts undertaken by the TABASCO® factory, the construction of a 20-foot high earthen levee with a pump system around the production area. There was also extensive planting of hardy cord grasses to restore the marshes.
Window #6 (bottom right) is a snapshot the outcomes of the restoration efforts – the increasing numbers of snowy egrets, alligators, fish, black bears, to name a few. Several projects ranging from marsh creation to erosion control are taking place, thanks to TABASCO®, private property owners, the National Audubon Society, the Rainey Conservation Alliance and America’s Wetland Foundation. More marsh benefits everyone, especially when the next storm comes through (not if – but when).
This is my story of coastal optimism – a story of a company that has been in a family and in its location for 150+ years that is working with their environment to minimize loss of land and restore wetlands and wildlife. The quilt measures 40 inches wide by 36 inches in height with fabric from Spoonflower (online), The Old Country Store (Lancaster), and JOANN Fabric & Craft (Springfield).
So thank you for the little bottle of TABASCO® sauce in my OCEANDOTCOMM kit, which led me to ask questions, which led me to this story!
To see what others have created with yarn, fabric, etc., on the theme of coastal optimism, visit the Flickr group and join the conversation (or create your own Louisiana coastal inspiration and contribute to the collection!): https://www.flickr.com/groups/stitchingcoast2018/