If you subscribe to an online news service, you’re used to getting notifications about news stories the algorithm thinks might impact you. In Southeast Louisiana, you’ll pretty regularly see variations on the headline, “Sea Level Rise Threatens Coastline” or “Louisiana Loses a Football Field of Wetlands Per Hour.”

If you’re like most people, you keep scrolling. Or, maybe you read the article, shake your head at the dire situation, but shrug it off because, well, what can you do?

The reason you can afford to take a laissez faire attitude toward our disappearing coastline and wetlands, is because there are people who don’t. There are people working every day, here in Baton Rouge, to preserve our piece of Planet Earth.

Darius Bonton is the founder, owner and principal of Bonton Associates.

Bonton Associates are an engineering company focused on designing and implementing infrastructure and transportation systems that allows us to build what needs to be built, and get where we need to go, without destroying the environment in the process.

To the contrary, Bonton is all about delivering solutions to water and transportation issues that do more than just comply with environmental regulations, they actually improve our existing way of life.

If you’re looking for an organization whose name doesn’t pull any punches, how about the Coalition To Restore Coastal Louisiana.

“The Coalition” the title refers to is a wide range of organizations and people who partner to do an even wider range of activities to save our coast – from planting grasses in marshlands to giving expert advice to local, state and federal organizations.

The Coalition is Louisiana’s first statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to coastal restoration. They started out in 1988, and since March 2024 Ethan Melancon has been their Advocacy Director.

In 1789 the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge published a poem called The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. You might not be familiar with the poem, but you probably know a line or two from it. Namely, “water water everywhere / Nor any drop to drink.”

The poem is about a sailor stranded at sea, ironically, dying from dehydration while being surrounded by water. The theme of the poem is nature’s indifference to human suffering.

Whether or not nature is indifferent to us, we humans continue to do our best to adapt to the elements, and even downright defy them.

We owe our very existence in Southeast, and Southwest, Louisiana to past generations’ willingness to drain swamps, build levees, and bounce back from hurricanes.

In our current generations, it’s the work of companies like Bonton Associates and organizations like Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana who are continuing to organize, design and execute strategies for containing the power of nature that allow us to remain here, and hopefully will for generations to come.

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs On the Boulevard. Jim Engster sits in as host for Stephanie Riegel.