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2020 wasn’t a good year for anyone—including nature. Wildfires spread across the western U.S., devastating millions of acres of forests. A record breaking number of hurricanes and cyclones hit the east coast during hurricane season. And we’ve hit a new high temperature record, causing climate-anxiety to skyrocket. Natural disasters across the country have cost at least $1 billion in initial damages.
And that number is just from the disaster itself—natural disasters have domino-like after-effects that can cause massive damage to homes, businesses, and personal health.
2020 and 2021 are behind us but natural disasters don’t look at calendars before striking. So while the new year brings with it a blank slate and renewed hope for the future, there’s one type of disaster we should be preparing to see more of: Natech disasters.
What Are Natech Disasters?
Think of Natech disasters as the second phase in a natural disaster. Natech (natural-hazard-triggered technological) disasters are a technological accident that has been triggered by a natural disaster. Fires, floods, earthquakes, lightning, and tsunamis are all types of natural disasters that can cause damage to technology.
These technology damages are less about blown down telephone poles or water-damaged computers, but about damage to areas storing dangerous chemicals, fossil fuels, and other toxic materials and byproducts. When buildings, pipelines, mines, waste sites, or other chemical storage sites are hit by a natural disaster, they can cause those chemicals to be released into the environment.
This can trigger a cascading disaster on the area surrounding the chemical breach—often contaminating the nearby water supply and soil, and causing potentially life-threatening damage to anyone nearby the chemical accident.
Natech Disasters Pose a Threat to Humans and the Environment
Natech disasters pose a threat to the safety of people not just near the facility when it gets hit by a natural disaster, but to environmental resources like nearby rivers and drinking supply. Dangers to potable drinking water can usually be detected without having to do any testing—black specks in water may indicate water heater corrosion, or a noticeable smell in water means a water filter needs to be replaced. But with Natech-related water contamination, those chemicals that have been released may not be noticed until someone (or a large group of people) become sick.
One recent Natech disaster occurred this past August after a dry lightning storm in California’s Santa Cruz mountains sparked a wildfire. After the wildfire had been contained, local officials warned residents to not use their home’s drinking water since Benzene, a carcinogen thought to have been released by the melted plastic pipes, had been detected. The chemical is very dangerous and the locals were directed to temporarily find other sources for drinking water.
Natech disasters also occured all along the eastern and gulf coast when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. Since the coast is littered with chemical plants, including about half of the U.S’s oil and gas refineries, these facilities essentially became ticking time bombs for a Natech-related issue. The hurricane caused chemical and petrochemical facilities to accidentally release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. Anyone nearby was exposed and was in danger of serious harm to their respiratory systems. Chemical burns and other respiratory injuries often occur after being exposed to poisonous gas, asbestos, or other toxic fumes from affected chemical plants.
Climate Change Leaves Tennessee In a Vulnerable State
One recent report from the Trust for America’s Health put Tennessee as one of the eight most-vulnerable and least-prepared states to deal with the risk of climate change and climate-related events. Tennessee’s top industries—automotive manufacturing and energy—create massive amounts of toxic byproducts that pose an extreme threat should an environmental disaster occur. And they already have.
The 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant accident was one of the most significant industrial accidents in U.S. history. After a 50-foot-high coal combustion waste containment pond at the plant failed, it released more than 5.4 million cubic yards of coal into the air and the Tennessee River. The spill also contaminated hundreds of other downstream communities across Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky. Toxic pollutants from this Natech disaster have been linked to cancer, birth defects, psychological stress, and other serious health concerns to those exposed.
Research on toxic exposure shows that the danger to humans doesn’t leave when the storm moves on. It can get worse. As the climate in Tennessee and across the world continues to change for the worse, Tennessee becomes even more at-risk of another Natech disaster like the TVA industrial accident. And while increased security measures have been put in place since these natural disasters, it may not be enough to hold back a worse storm should climate change continue to devastate the environment.
Fenix Arts, a diverse and inclusive art collective, announced in December 2021 that it is accepting entries from LGBTQIA+ artists for the upcoming exhibit “Queer.”
Artists from the mid-south region are invited to enter their visual art into the juried exhibition with cash awards of up to $500. The deadline for entries is March 20, 2022. The exhibit will open June 2, 2022, at Fenix Arts in Fayetteville, AR, and at Gallery 214 at 4512 Donna Street, Springdale, AR, and run through July 30, 2022.
Fenix Arts, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, non-profit arts center, seeks to support and nurture established, emerging, and under-represented artists of Northwest Arkansas and beyond. “We are committed to providing opportunities for collaboration and connectivity across art disciplines and creating opportunities for community involvement,” said Laurie Foster, President of Fenix Arts. “The focus of this exhibition will be to give voice to this under-represented population to share their stories and dreams. At Fenix Arts, we believe that all people deserve dignity and respect, and a connection to community and resources.”
The exhibit is open to LGBTQIA+ artists, age 18 and above, currently living in the mid-south (Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi). Artworks must have been completed within the past two years and should reflect some aspect of the queer experience. Artists may enter up to three works for an entry fee of $25. 3-D artworks may include up to three views per artwork. The entry fee is non-refundable and does not guarantee entry into the show. Artists are encouraged to submit works that will be available for purchase. Fenix Arts will take a 40 percent commission on works sold during the exhibition. Works will not be accepted after the March 20, 2022 deadline. Entrants will be notified of their acceptance into the exhibit on April 1, 2022.
The guest juror for “Queer” Is Brad Cushman, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Wingate Center of Art+ Design Director/Curator and a studio artist living in Little Rock, Arkansas. Cushman’s curatorial projects have included exhibitions that promote cultural diversity and social justice, through the voices of Black, White, Latino/Hispanic, LGBTQ+2, South Asian, and African artists. Cushman exhibits his own studio art in regional and national exhibitions featuring paintings, polymer gravure etchings, and mixed media works. He is the voice of Picture This on NPR in central Arkansas. His audio essays on art and design have been broadcast since 2005. He can also be seen hosting Inside Art, a television program produced on University TV.
ABOUT FENIX ARTS
Visual and Performing Arts Center at Fenix dba Fenix Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit committed to the artistic experience in Northwest Arkansas. It is a diverse and inclusive art collective of accomplished Arkansas artists who have been juried into the gallery by a curation committee of professional artists, arts advocates and appraisers. The mission of Fenix Arts is to support, encourage, and raise up and promote a diverse arts community in Northwest Arkansas.
On February 12, hundreds of people in Kansas City will brave the cold in just their undies during Cupid’s Undie Run, the nation’s largest pantless party and mileish run for charity.
The event raises awareness of neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body, and fundraises for NF research through the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF).
In addition to Kansas City, Cupid’s Undie Run will take place in 37 other cities across the United States including Chicago, Nashville, and Phoenix. More information regarding the event can be found here: https://my.cupids.org/cur/city/kansascity
Registration for the 2022 Cupid’s Undie Run is open! While there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds, organizers remain optimistic that we will be able to party pantless in-person come in February. The focus remains on fundraising to find a cure for neurofibromatosis (NF). Organizers are continuing to monitor all national, state, and local public health guidelines in order to give you the Cupid’s event you know and love, while ensuring the safety of our runners, event directors, staff, and volunteers! If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t see your city? Not to worry! This year, you can join from anywhere! Just select “Virtual Runner” when you’re registering.
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RALEIGH – DURHAM, NC • 2/19/2022
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WILMINGTON, DE • 2/26/2022
Nashville Repertory Theatre presents Jocelyn Bioh’s award-winning Off-Broadway play School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play in TPAC’s Andrew Johnson Theatre.
Named “the most important play off Broadway…” by Essence Magazine and an “uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings” by the Hollywood Reporter, Nashville Rep’s production will be performed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Johnson Theater, 505 Deaderick Street, from Thursday, February 10th through Sunday, February 20th, 202. For ticket and showtime information, visit www.nashvillerep.org.
“We are thrilled to be presenting the Nashville premiere of this exciting contemporary piece. Jocelyn Bioh’s play is ferociously funny, but it also has a lot to say about western standards of beauty and the struggles teen girls face,” said Drew Ogle, Executive Director of Nashville Rep.
School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play follows Paulina, the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, who has her sights set on the Miss Global Universe pageant. But the arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter—and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. This buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe.
“When presented with the opportunity to direct School Girls, there was no way I could say no,” says director Alicia Haymer, making her Nash Rep directorial debut.
“Making history in my hometown with a cast of all Black women, and a BIPOC crew was a no brainer to me- especially if I want diversity to be the rule, and not the exception. I also believe it's important for audiences to experience a world outside of themselves; that's how we grow. Although School Girls focuses on these specific students in a specific decade, I believe it touches on topics we can all relate to. If you've ever felt like you didn't belong, that you weren't good enough, or that you didn't have enough, this story is for you. If audiences leave with a different perspective, then we've all done our jobs.”
The cast is led by Joy Pointe as Paulina and her rival Ericka played by Tosha Marie. The rest of the cast includes Carli Hardon, Kortney Ballenger, Tamiko Robinson Steele, and making their Nashville Rep debuts Valicia Browne, Ashley D. Brooks, and Cynthia C. Harris.
The creative team for School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play include Nashville debut designers including sets by Josafath Reynoso, costumes by Skyler Glaser, and lighting by Rachael N. Blackwell. The team also includes stage manager Nikkita Staggs, props by Abigail Nichol, dialect coaching by Jacqueline Springfield, and mental health support provided by Crystal Owens of Red Cedar Psychotherapy.
Following School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play, Nashville Rep will close their 2021-2022 Season with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins running from April 28 to May 10, 2022. The Nashville Rep has been named Best Professional Theatre by the Nashville Scene, Best Local Theatre by The Tennessean, Largest Arts Organization by Nashville Business Journal, and recognized by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County for 35 years of service to the community. The Rep’s shows, actors, directors, and designers have been honored by Nfocus, Nashville Scene, The Tennessean, and the First Night Awards.